Starring: Natalie Portman, Joel Edgerton, Ewan McGregor, Rodrigo Santoro, Noah Emmerich

Jane Got a Gun

The Story: A young mother must defend her family from a band of outlaws seeking revenge. The Lowdown: Ninety minutes of yawn-inducing melodrama interspersed with eight minutes of “stuff getting blowed up real good” and Natalie Portman being repeatedly victimized.
Starring: Lauren Cohan, Rupert Evans, Jim Norton, Diana Hardcastle, Ben Robson

The Boy

The Story: An American woman on the run from an abusive ex takes a lucrative nanny position at a creepy estate in the English countryside, only to find that her charge is an inanimate doll. Or is he? He probably is. The Lowdown: A solid psychological horror effort that works more than it doesn’t, even…
Starring: Robert De Niro, Zac Efron, Zoey Deutch, Aubrey Plaza, Julianne Hough

Dirty Grandpa

The Story: After the death of his wife, an aging Green Beret tries to help his estranged grandson escape a doomed engagement and to bed a girl a third of his age. Not necessarily in that order. The Lowdown: If you are easily offended, this film is likely to enrage you. If not, you might…
Starring: Chloë Grace Moretz, Maika Monroe, Nick Robinson, Ron Livingston, Liev Schreiber, Maria Bello

The 5th Wave

The Story: When aliens invade, it’s up to a group of plucky teens (naturally) to save the world. Or screw everything up drastically, apparently the writers decided to leave that plot thread dangling until the sequel. The Lowdown: I’m hoping there’s no sequel.
Starring: (Voices of) Rob Schneider, Heather Graham, Ken Jeong, Bill Nighy, Colm Meaney

Norm of the North

The Story: An oddball polar bear sets out to save his Arctic home from gentrification. The Lowdown: Low-end computer animation showcases an even lower quality script that inexplicably conflates tourism with climate change, offering an even more incomprehensible solution: social media and impromptu dance parties.
Starring: Jason Lee, Kimberly Williams-Paisley, Tony Hale, John Waters

Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Road Chip

The Story: Alvin, Simon and Theodore try to preclude their adoptive father Dave’s happiness by traveling to Miami in the hopes of sabotaging his proposal to a new girlfriend. The Lowdown: You already know, if you’re going to have to see this film. If Star Wars is sold out or if your children’s sadism can…
Starring: Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Seth Rogen, Anthony Mackie, Jillian Bell, Lizzy Kaplan, Michael Shannon

The Night Before

The Story:  Three longtime friends cling to youthful irresponsibility one last time as they put to rest a time-honored Christmas tradition: getting wasted and avoiding their families. The Lowdown: A broad farce cashing in on holiday angst that works better than it has any right to.
Starring: Julianne Moore, Ellen Page, Michael Shannon, Steve Carell


The Story: A New Jersey police detective dying from cancer bands together with her domestic partner to fight bureaucratic idiocy for justice, equality and legal recognition of their relationship.  The Lowdown: A capable cast fails to elevate a weak script in this attempt to preach to the choir.
Starring: Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Ben Kingsley, Charlotte Le Bon, James Badge Dale

The Walk

The Story: A dramatic retelling of Philippe Petit’s 1974 high-wire walk between the twin towers of the World Trade Center. The Lowdown: A glossy, but unnecessary, retread of a story told more effectively (and affectingly) seven years ago.
Starring: Jason Clarke, Jake Gyllenhaal, Josh Brolin, John Hawkes, Michael Kelly, Emily Watson, Robin Wright, Keira Knightley, Sam Worthington


The Story: Yet another recounting of the 1996 disaster on Everest that claimed the lives of eight climbers, at that time the greatest loss of life in the mountain’s history. The Lowdown: Shortchanging story in favor of spectacle, Everest should be seen in IMAX 3D or not at all.
Starring: Hayden Christensen, Kate Bosworth, Dwight Yoakam, Fred Thompson

90 Minutes in Heaven

The Story:  A pastor severely injured in a car accident is presumed dead for an hour and a half, time he believes himself to have spent in heaven. The Lowdown: A tedious, predictable and overlong attempt to extract cash from evangelical Christians and, apparently, McDonald’s.
Starring: Jesse Eisenberg, Kristen Stewart, Walton Goggins, Connie Britton, Topher Grace, John Leguizamo, Bill Pullman

American Ultra

The Story: A perpetually stoned convenience store clerk with an inexplicably attractive girlfriend discovers that he is a highly trained but artificially amnesic CIA asset when the perpetually stoned kid from That ’70s Show tries to have him killed. The Lowdown: An insipid waste of time that seeks to serve as both action film and…
Starring: O’Shea Jackson Jr., Corey Hawkins, Jason Mitchell, Neil Brown Jr., Aldis Hodge, Marlon Yates Jr., Paul Giamatti

Straight Outta Compton

The Story: The rise and fall of hip hop supergroup N.W.A. The Lowdown: A solid biopic that overstays its welcome slightly but will still appeal to fans and outsiders alike.
Starring: Adam Sandler, Kevin James, Michelle Monaghan, Peter Dinklage, Josh Gad, Brian Cox, Sean Bean, Jane Krakowski, Dan Aykroyd


The Story: Aliens intercept footage of a 1980s video game tournament, implausibly interpret said footage as a declaration of war, and inexplicably employ 8-bit game sprites on steroids as the arbiters of Earth’s annihilation. The Lowdown: A contrived confluence of '80s and '90s nostalgia that never rises to the promise of its concept.
Starring: Carlos (as Max), Thomas Hayden Church, Josh Wiggins, Luke Kleintank, Lauren Graham, Robbie Amell, Mia Xitlali, Dejon LaQuake, Jay Hernandez


The Story: A military working dog (MWD) returns from Afghanistan after his handler is killed and is adopted by the handler’s family. For no logical reason he then helps thwart a gun-running plot. The Lowdown: A dog of a film that never rises above emotional exploitation, despite excellent canine performances and beautiful WNC filming locations.
Starring: Kristen Wiig, Linda Cardellini, Wes Bentley, James Marsden, Tim Robbins, Joan Cusack, Jennifer Jason Leigh

Welcome to Me

The Story: A mentally ill woman wins the lottery and decides to host a talk show. The Lowdown: A comedic (?) exploration of psychological disorder that accomplishes nothing further than allowing Kristen Wiig to chew scenery.
Starring: Russell Crowe, Olga Kurylenko, Jai Courtney, Yilmaz Erdogan

The Water Diviner

The Story: An Australian farmer whose sons died at the Battle of Gallipoli sets out to find their remains. The Lowdown: Actor/director Crowe makes a thoroughly sincere, if ultimately forgettable, feature directing debut.
Starring: Emily Watson, Tom Wilkinson, Michael Rapaport, Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa, Jakob Salvati

Little Boy

The Story: A young boy in World War II California turns to the Catholic Church for reassurance when his deployed father is captured by the Japanese. The Lowdown: A painfully slow and contrived period piece that attempts to examine the power of faith, with appalling results.