Bohemian Rhapsody


Rami Malek gives himself completely to the role of Freddie Mercury in this biopic of the lead singer of the rock group Queen, with impressive artistic results. And Mercury’s musical career, including his collaboration with the other members of the band (Gwilym Lee, Ben Hardy and Joe Mazzello) as they resisted narrow categorization and took such creative risks as releasing the lengthy pop aria of the title as a single, is portrayed congenially enough. But the vocalist’s tangled personal life, beginning with his doomed engagement to his live-in girlfriend (Lucy Boynton), who remained his lifelong muse, his descent into a decadent lifestyle of homosexual promiscuity and what is presented as his redemption through an exclusive bond (with Aaron McCusker) in the years leading up to his 1991 death from AIDS-related pneumonia is another matter. Though screenwriter Anthony McCarten and director Bryan Singer treat this aspect of their story with restraint and some complexity, their film nonetheless predictably sends the message that at least committed gay relationships pass ethical muster. A benign view of homosexual acts, cohabitation, a couple of same-sex kisses, a few uses of profanity, at least one rough and numerous crude and crass terms. O; PG-13

The Nutcracker and the Four Realms


Visually rich but dramatically impoverished fantasy in which, while searching for the key that will open a Christmas gift left for her by her recently deceased mother, a teenage girl (Mackenzie Foy) from Victorian London finds herself in an alternate world divided into the territories of the title. There, she learns, mom once reigned as queen. But one of the regions (led by Helen Mirren) has since gone to war with the others (presided over by Keira Knightley, Eugenio Derbez and Richard E. Grant). So, aided by a life-sized nutcracker in the shape of a soldier (Jayden Fowora-Knight), she sets out to defeat Mirren’s apparently villainous character and restore unity. Though suitable for most, directors Lasse Hallstrom and Joe Johnston’s riff on both E.T.A. Hoffmann’s tale “The Nutcracker and the Mouse King” and the Tchaikovsky ballet indirectly derived from it may satisfy few. And, while its messages about believing in yourself and cooperating with others are perfectly acceptable, they are driven home ham-handedly. Occasional peril, some frightening images. A-II; PG

Dr. Seuss’ The Grinch


This adaptation of Theodor Geisel’s 1957 children’s fable “How the Grinch Stole Christmas!” is an extravagant animated adventure, directed by Scott Mosier and Yarrow Cheney and narrated by Pharrell Williams. The eponymous grump (voice of Benedict Cumberbatch) lives high above the hamlet of Whoville with his loyal dog by this side. With a heart “two sizes too small,” he wants nothing more than peace and quiet and to be left alone. Determined to put a halt to the incessant joy and goodness of the Whos, he strikes on the idea of masquerading as Santa Claus and stealing every Christmas present, tree and decoration in sight. One intrepid girl (voice of Cameron Seely), has plans of her own, however. With a few welcome nods to the true religious meaning of Christmas, this is perfectly acceptable holiday fare for all ages with a core lesson about the redemptive power of kindness and forgiveness. Mild cartoonish action. A-I; PG

The Girl in the Spider’s Web


Bitter espionage drama, set in Sweden, in which the title character (Claire Foy), a skilled computer hacker with a dark past who also dabbles in vigilantism, agrees to help a disaffected U.S. intelligence operative (Stephen Merchant) steal a program he created from the National Security Agency. Since the program enables anyone to take control of all the nuclear arsenals in the world, he’s not the only one interested in its fate and the protagonist no sooner succeeds in swiping it than it’s purloined from her. To retrieve it, she teams with a journalist (Sverrir Gudnason) and an NSA official (Lakeith Stanfield). In following up on David Fincher’s 2011 film “The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo,” director and co-writer Fede Alvarez tones down the mayhem and restricts the do-it-yourself justice to one nonlethal incident. Still, with an abusive childhood in the background and a same-sex relationship on the margin of the story, Alvarez’s thriller, adapted, like its predecessor, from a series of bestsellers begun by Stieg Larsson and carried on by David Lagercrantz, is unsuitable for most viewers. Considerable violence with some gore, torture, a few gruesome sights, strong sexual content, including brief graphic images of adulterous activity, a lesbian relationship and a glimpse of full female nudity, mature themes, vigilantism, a suicide, a mild oath, about a dozen rough terms, occasional crude and crass language. L; R

Nobody’s Fool


This vulgar romantic comedy from writer-director Tyler Perry traffics in a flippant, degraded view of human sexuality. At the urging of her mother (Whoopi Goldberg) a straitlaced advertising executive (Tika Sumpter) reluctantly takes in her wild, otherwise homeless ex-con sister (Tiffany Haddish) while also dealing with professional challenges (shared by workmate and best friend Amber Riley) and a complicated romance (with Omari Hardwick). Haddish’s undeniable comic energy is squandered on base running gags such as her character’s eagerness to sleep with every man she encounters. As for the serious aspects of the proceedings, they’re too unrealistic to make an impact. Skewed values, strong sexual content, including graphic adulterous and premarital activity and an aberrant act, rear male and partial female nudity, a narcotics theme, pervasive rough and crude language. O; R



This weird, wild but surprisingly effective blend of war story and chiller from director Julius Avery is far too gory and gruesome for most moviegoers. Those with a taste for the macabre and a strong stomach can follow the exploits of a humane GI (Jovan Adepo) and his more ruthless commander (Wyatt Russell) as, on the eve of D-Day, they and a few comrades (most prominently John Magaro and Iain de Caestecker) survive being parachuted into France to take out a radio transmitter the Germans have placed on the steeple of a church. Though vastly outnumbered by the occupiers (led by Pilou Asbaek), they gain the help of a courageous and wily local (Mathilde Ollivier) and press ahead. But they soon face a far different challenge after discovering that a Mengele-like doctor (Erich Redman) has been carrying out frightful experiments in the basement of the church aimed at creating a force of invincible zombie soldiers. Amid the frequently hideous proceedings, screenwriters Billy Ray and Mark L. Smith explore the legitimacy of using brutal means to combat evil and implicitly portray Christianity both as a civilizing force and as the antithesis of the temporarily prevailing Nazi depravity. Extreme, sometimes excessive bloody violence, including torture, many grisly images, the preliminaries of an aberrant act of compelled sex, numerous uses of profanity, at least one milder oath, frequent crude language. L; R