Freeze Frame: “The Woman King” (PG-13), “Pearl” (R), “Confess, Fletch” (R), “See How They Run” (PG-13)

“The Woman King” should be a contender for a gold crown come Oscar time. Viola Davis leads a stellar cast in this action-packed historical epic about an elite unit of female warriors who protect the West African Dahomey kingdom in the 1820s. It’s a rousing, crowd-pleasing saga that benefits from terrific production values even though the script sometimes gets a bit too melodramatic. There is a major plot coincidence that stretches credibility, but for the most part, “The Woman King” is a dynamic epic that lives up to its regal title.


The slasher movie “X” was a grisly arthouse throwback inspired by horror movies like “The Texas Chainsaw Massacre.” “Pearl” is a prequel inspired by glossy 50s-era Hollywood melodramas. Mia Goth plays a disturbed woman in 1918 Texas who gives Lizzie Borden a run for her money. “Pearl” is well made and has a terrific central performance by Goth, but it’s still a lurid slasher movie with arthouse pretensions.


Jon Hamm steps into the shoes Chevy Chase wore the 1980s in the mystery comedy “Confess, Fletch.” Hamm plays a wisecracking investigative reporter who becomes a murder suspect when he tries to solve a kidnapping case involving some missing art masterpieces. You won’t be too surprised by any of the revelations, but Hamm’s charisma makes “Confess, Fletch” a painless popcorn affair.


Sam Rockwell and Saoirse Ronan lead a large and talented ensemble in yet another mystery comedy, “See How They Run.” They play British police officers investigating a murder during a theatrical run of Agatha Christie’s “The Mousetrap” in the 1950s. This beautifully produced, old-fashioned comic whodunit is an amiable timewaster, even though it never quite hits the satiric bullseye.

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