A computer-generated dog makes a poor stand in for a real-live very good boy in 'Call of the Wild'

New in Theaters

"Brahms: The Boy II"

There's still time to catch up on "Brahms: The Boy I," which I'll assume is a real movie, so that you're not behind on the action going in. 

"The Call of the Wild"

Maybe some of the criticism that computer tech has become a crutch for filmmakers is valid? More than 60 years after Lassie first aired starring a real-live canine, Harrison Ford shares the big screen with a digital dog whose appearance, even in the trailer, is jarringly unrealistic. 

Previously Reviewed

"1917"

The single-take construction makes for moments of earned tension and narrow escape that are meant to get the heart pounding. But telling this story in real time has some real downside. The emotional connection with our lead characters is never fully built, and the larger scope of the conflict gets lost. (3 stars)

"Bad Boys for Life"

The film arrives 17 years after “Bad Boys II,” and Michael Bay isn’t behind the director’s chair for the first time in the series, but you would hardly notice. Directors Adil El Arbi and Bilall Fallah pump the screen full of the same level of inane action. Smith and Martin Lawrence are so naturally funny, it only sometimes matters how bad the jokes are. (2 stars)

"Downhill"

There are moments when the drama really hits on an authentic story, touching on the challenges of marriage and parenthood. And while it’s nowhere close to a laugh riot, there are moments of solid comedic delivery. But the challenge here is seldom fully overcome and “Downhill” suffers greatly from shifting tones.

"Frozen 2"

It’s not really fair to expect the makers of “Frozen” to capture lightning in a bottle twice, nor are many of the kiddos helping to sell out theaters this weekend going to be disappointed in the least with “Frozen 2.” But an overcomplicated story proves that more isn’t necessarily better. If you’re expecting this sequel to be on the same level you need to let it go, let it gooooo! (2 stars)

"The Gentlemen"

“The Gentleman,” with its solid cast, is director Guy Ritchie's return to the criminal underbelly, and, as far as January films go, it's pretty entertaining. (3 stars)

"Knives Out"

I have a tendency to qualify a lot of my most fawning reviews by saying, “This one’s not for everyone.” I’d just about give you a money-back guarantee on “Knives Out.” See it as soon as you can before everyone starts talking it to death. (5 stars)

"Parasite"

Korean director Bong Joon-ho’s “Parasite” has gotten raves since winning the Palme d’Or at this year’s Cannes Film Festival, and I’m here to tell you it’s every bit as good as advertised, maybe better. A twisty and uproarious thriller, “Parasite” packs a ton of entertainment around some sharp and timely social satire.  (5 stars)

"Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker"

But, chin up, because in the end you’ll know that one of us, Johnson, made the best “Star Wars” movie of all time, and another one of us, Abrams, navigated the backlash that we created to land the last “Star Wars” trilogy in a way that eases these pains, even if it sometimes goes too far in its fan service. (4 stars)