Movies playing in mid-valley theaters as of Friday. Complete and updated Movie Scene listings can be found online.
3 ½ stars
(Historical biography, PG-13, 125 minutes, playing at the Darkside) This look back at Winston Churchill's leadership during the early days of World War II is filled with authentic touches, large and small. Most authentic of all is Gary Oldman's performance as a flawed but deeply passionate man who summoned all of his courage, all of his oratory skills and all of his love for Britain at just the right moment. (Richard Roeper, Chicago Sun-Times)
(Science fiction, R, 135 minutes, playing at the Regal 7 in Albany and the AMC Corvallis 12) A rare misfire from director Alexander Payne, this heavy-handed satire is about a mild-mannered therapist (Matt Damon) and his wife (Kristen Wiig), who decide to undergo a process in which scientists shrink people to live in small communities. It’s a massively muddled mess of ideas, and Damon’s bland performance doesn’t help. (Rick Bentley, Tribune News Service)
(Comedy, R, 113 minutes, playing at the AMC Corvallis 12) Owen Wilson and Ed Helms play a pair of brother who learn that their mother (Glenn Close) lied when she told them their father died when they were young. They set out to discover their real father. A strong cast includes J.K. Simmons, Ving Rhames, June Squibb, Bill Irwin and Harry Shearer.
THE GREATEST SHOWMAN
(Musical, PG, 105 minutes, playing at the Regal 7 in Albany and the AMC Corvallis 12) There were times when I rolled my eyes to the ceiling at the corny and cheesy and shameless sentiment of this musical starring Hugh Jackman as P.T. Barnum. But then I'd realize my foot was once again tapping in time to the beat of the catchy tunes, at which point I'd acknowledge I was thoroughly enjoying myself, despite all cynical instincts. (Richard Roeper, Chicago Sun-Times)
JUMANJI: WELCOME TO THE JUNGLE
2 ½ stars
(Comedy fantasy adventure, PG-13, 119 minutes, playing at the Regal 7 in Albany and the AMC Corvallis 12) Dwayne Johnson, Kevin Hart, Jack Black and Karen Gillan star in this stand-alone sequel, about four teenagers who are sucked into a video game set in a jungle and take on the bodies of their avatars. Generally entertaining and mostly sweet, if you don’t think about it too much. (Lindsay Bahr, Associated Press)
PITCH PERFECT 3
(Comedy, PG-13, 94 minutes, playing at the Regal 7 in Albany and the AMC Corvallis 12) Anna Kendrick, Rebel Wilson and the rest of the singing Bellas get a chance to reunite for an overseas USO tour. Hailee Steinfeld, Brittany Snow and Anna Camp return, along with John Michael Higgins and Elizabeth Banks.
THE SHAPE OF WATER
3 ½ stars
(Fantasy adventure, R, 118 minutes, playing at the Darkside) Sally Hawkins gives a sweet and moving performance as a maid in a top-secret government facility who falls in love with a mysterious sea creature in captivity there. Gorgeously color-coordinated, this fairy tale from director Guillermo del Toro is one of the most romantic and most breathtakingly beautiful movies of the year. (Richard Roeper, Chicago Sun-Times)
THE DISASTER ARTIST
(Comedy biography, R, 98 minutes, playing at the AMC Corvallis 12) Given James Franco's sometimes perplexing resume, he's the right guy to direct and star as Tommy Wiseau in a movie about the making of the infamously bad cult debacle "The Room." Franco's film is breezy, entertaining and even affectionate. (Richard Roeper, Chicago Sun-Times)
(Animated comedy, PG, 108 minutes, playing at the Pix in Albany and the AMC Corvallis 12) John Cena provides the voice of the giant but gentle bull in this new animated offering, based on the 1936 children’s book. Sight gags and humorous bits abound, but what really stands out is the message about friendship, problem-solving and learning to be true to yourself. Kate McKinnon co-stars. (Maricar Estrella, Fort Worth Star-Telegram)
STAR WARS: THE LAST JEDI
3 ½ stars
(Fantasy/sci-fi action, PG-13, 152 minutes, playing at the Regal 7 in Albany and the Regal 4 in Corvallis) Although it doesn't pack quite the same emotional punch as "The Force Awakens" and lags a bit in the second half, this is still a worthy chapter in the "Star Wars" franchise, popping with exciting action sequences and sprinkled with good humor. Surprises big and small abound. (Richard Roeper, Chicago Sun-Times)
THREE BILLBOARDS OUTSIDE EBBING, MISSOURI
(Dark comedy, R, 115 minutes, playing at the AMC Corvallis 12) The story of a grieving mother (Frances McDormand) trying to shame the police chief (Woody Harrelson) into solving her daughter's murder provides some of the strongest laughs and most poignant moments of heartbreak of any movie in recent memory. Somehow writer-director Martin McDonagh has taken the bleakest of subject matters and treated it seriously while also serving up one of the best dark comedies I've ever seen. (Richard Roeper, Chicago Sun-Times)
(Animated, PG, 104 minutes, playing at the Regal 7 in Albany and the AMC Corvallis 12) A 12-year-old boy (Anthony Gonzalez) crosses over, while alive, from his village in Mexico to the Land of the Dead, an exciting metropolis populated by deceased humans. The visuals jump off the screen, but the movie’s flights of imaginative frenzy are too constrained by formula: “Coco” is a good, but not great, Pixar flick. (Justin Chang, Los Angeles Times)
(Comedy, R, 93 minutes, playing at the Darkside in Corvallis) Greta Gerwig already has made a fine career for herself as an actress, but with "Lady Bird" she has written and directed a film that's smart without being smug and insightful without being condescending. Saoirse Ronan delivers a pure and honest performance as the title character, a high school senior, and the work by Laurie Metcalf and Tracy Letts as her parents is what greatness looks like. (Richard Roeper, Chicago Sun-Times)
1 ½ stars
(Action-adventure, PG-13, 121 minutes, playing at the Regal 7 in Albany) DC’s biggest heroes — Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman, Aquaman, Flash and Cyborg — unite to battle a space monster intent on destroying the world. The film had a troubled production, and it shows: The final result is a chaotic, baffling, breathtakingly bad mess. Ben Affleck, Gal Gadot and Henry Cavill star. (Katie Walsh, Tribune Media Service)
(Animated, PG, 86 minutes, playing at the AMC Corvallis 12) A small but brave donkey and his animal friends become the heroes of the first Christmas in this new animated flick.
MURDER ON THE ORIENT EXPRESS
(Mystery, PG-13, 114 minutes, playing at the Regal 4 in Corvallis and the AMC Corvallis 12) Kenneth Branagh stars as Agatha Christie’s famed detective Hercule Poirot, and runs away with this star-studded remake, with lavish production design and an intoxicating and dazzling display of cinematic style. But the movie’s sad ending seeps away much of its energy. (Katie Walsh, Tribune News Service)
2 ½ stars
(Sci-fi action-comedy, PG-13, 130 minutes, playing at the AMC Corvallis 12) After being defeated by his evil half-sister Hela (Cate Blanchett), Thor (Chris Hemsworth) is imprisoned as a gladiator on a distant world run by Jeff Goldblum. Director Taikia Waititi brings a welcome comedic touch, so this is the most fun of the three “Thor” flicks, but it’s still a flawed effort with egregious tonal shifts. (Lindsey Bahr, Associated Press)