Movie Capsules: Now showing

movies

Capsule descriptions and starred mini-reviews by The Commercial Appeal movie writer John Beifuss.

OPENING TODAY

Adventureland (R, 106 min.) See review on Page 18.

Collierville Towne 16, DeSoto Cinema 16, Cordova Cinema, Paradiso, Hollywood 20 Cinema, CinePlanet 16.

Using a car as a rollerskate, giant Susan (voiced by Reese Witherspoon) flees a robot   in 'Monsters vs. Aliens.'

Photo by DreamWorks Animation

Using a car as a rollerskate, giant Susan (voiced by Reese Witherspoon) flees a robot in "Monsters vs. Aliens."

C Me Dance (PG, 89 min.) "Save the Last Dance" meets "The Exorcist," with a Christian message: A teen dancer battles Satanic forces.

Wolfchase Galleria Cinema 8, Collierville Towne 16, Hollywood 20 Cinema, CinePlanet 16.

Fast & Furious (PG-13, 107 min.) The definite articles are gone but the stars are back: Vin Diesel and Paul Walker reunite, eight years after "The Fast and the Furious."

Forest Hill 8, Stage Cinema, Majestic, Collierville Towne 16, DeSoto Cinema 16, Studio on the Square, Raleigh Springs Cinema, Cordova Cinema, Paradiso, Palace Cinema, Hollywood 20 Cinema, CinePlanet 16, Southaven Cinema, Summer Quartet Drive-In.

Sunshine Cleaning (R, 99 min.)

Ridgeway Four, Studio on the Square.

SPECIAL MOVIES

Grand Canyon Adventure: River at Risk: The latest IMAX documentary follows two environmentalists on a daring rafting ride down the Colorado river. Narrated by Robert Redford; music by the Dave Matthews Band. Runs through Nov. 13. Tickets $8, $7.25 senior citizens, $6.25 children ages 3-12; children under 3 are free. Call for show times.

IMAX Theater at Memphis Pink Palace Museum, 3050 Central. Call 763-IMAX for general information or 320-6362 for reservations.

Indie Memphis Micro Cinema Club #50.

7:30 p.m. Wednesday at The Power House, 45 G.E. Patterson. Admission is free; popcorn and beverages are available. Donations are appreciated.

Mummies: Secrets of the Pharaohs: Follow researchers and explorers as they piece together archaeological and genetic clues of Egyptian mummies. The IMAX film plays through Nov. 13. Tickets: $8, $7.25 senior citizens, $6.25 children ages 3-12; children under 3 are free. Call for show times.

IMAX Theater at Memphis Pink Palace Museum, 3050 Central. Call 763-IMAX for general information or 320-6362 for reservations.

The Trap (Not rated, 106 min.) Dedicated to international cinema, the library's "Wider Angle Film Series" continues with this 2007 "modern film noir" from Serbia about a desperate man who finds works as a hired killer. The film contains "enough suspense to guarantee rapt audiences," according to The Hollywood Reporter.

7 p.m. Wednesday, Benjamin L. Hooks Central Library, 3030 Poplar. Admission is free; children under 17 admitted with parent or guardian.

Zen (Not rated, 127 min.) Kantaro Nakamura, a 19th-generation Kabuki actor, portrays Master Dogen, founder of Japanese Zen Buddhism, in this impressive new biopic, set in the 13th century. Sponsored by the Memphis branch of the Japan-America Society of Tennessee and the Japan Outreach Initiative of the University of Memphis.

6 p.m. Wednesday, University of Memphis Psychology Auditorium, 3710 Veterans. Admission is free. Call 678-5918.

NOW SHOWING

Bedtime Stories (PG, 95 min.) A lovable loser (Adam Sandler) discovers the wacky stories he makes up while babysitting his niece and nephew magically come true, so he begins incorporating such details as "the uncle gets a Ferrari"; the kids counter by adding, "and then he's kicked by a dwarf." This phony mix of inspirational family drama and pandering humor (one story involves a "booger monster") marks a big step backward for director Adam Shankman ("Hairspray").

Bartlett 10.

Bolt (PG, 96 min.) "Lassie Come Home" for kids raised on superhero movies and "Hannah Montana," this charming and thoroughly family-friendly computer-animated tale of canine/human loyalty and companionship marks an auspicious first feature for new Walt Disney Animation Studios chief John Lasseter. Directed by Byron Howard and Chris Williams, the film cannily taps into several irresistible-to-kids fantasies. Bolt himself (voiced by John Travolta) is an American white shepherd puppy who stars as a superdog on a popular TV series; this double identity allows young viewers to imagine the fun of owning a cuter version of Krypto while it also affirms Charles M. Schulz's assertion that happiness is a warm puppy. Similarly, Bolt's "person," Penny (voiced by Miley Cyrus), is a TV star whose obligations are intended to reassure young moviegoers that "normal" life is preferable to celebrity. Bolt himself is lovable, but he essentially plays straight mutt to his beautifully voiced, scene-stealing animal companions: Mittens (Susie Essman), a sardonic alley cat, and Rhino (Mark Walton), a hamster who travels in a clear plastic exercise bubble.

Bartlett 10.

Coraline (PG, 100 min.) If 3-D is going to survive in cinemas as more than a carnivalesque gimmick, filmmakers will have to deliver more movies like this macabre and wonderful "Pan's Labyrinth"-like fantasy, in which the stereoscopic "dimensionality" becomes part of the story when a feisty young girl (voiced by Dakota Fanning) crawls through an esophageal passage to reach a mirror world ruled by her spooky "other mother" (Teri Hatcher), whose eyes have been replaced by shiny buttons. The theme is suited to the method of production: "Coraline" was created by director Henry Selick (working from a slim novel by Neil Gaiman) through the painstaking process of three-dimensional stop-motion animation, in which doll-like models are posed, a frame at a time, on miniature sets. Even children who enjoy the supernatural and monster action of "Harry Potter" and "Jurassic Park" movies may be unsettled by this creepy notion of an evil mother whose "love" is a form of possession and parasitism.

Stage Cinema.

The Cross -- The Arthur Blessitt Story (Not rated, 90 min.) A documentary from Gener8xion Entertainment ("The Omega Code") about a man who has promoted Christianity by spending the past 40 years carrying a 12-foot wooden cross to "every inhabited place in the world."

Wolfchase Galleria Cinema 8, Majestic, Hollywood 20 Cinema.

The Curious Case of Benjamin Button (PG-13, 167 min.) Like "Forrest Gump" (also scripted by Eric Roth), this is a novelistic, picaresque fantasy about a kind-hearted man-child whose adventures span the globe and the decades -- but in this case, the hero (Brad Pitt) is born old and doomed to age in reverse, toward infancy. Forrest Gump told us life's like a box of chocolates, but Benjamin Button forecasts the melted, shriveled and petrified futures of those candies; Benjamin tells us: "Nothing lasts." Cate Blanchett is wonderful as the love of Benjamin's life, a ballet dancer who mourns: "Every day I have more wrinkles, not fewer." A curious film, indeed, but also very moving; credit director David Fincher ("Zodiac") for finding the balance between shadow and light.

Bartlett 10.

The Day the Earth Stood Still (PG-13, 104 min.) Keanu barada nikto: As Klaatu, emissary from another planet, Keanu Reeves is typically and appropriately inhuman, but his emotionless posturing seems to have infected the entire production, transforming director Scott Derrickson's big-budget remake of a beloved 1951 classic into a dull eco-fable. (Predictably, Klaatu is no longer an antiwar apostle but an extraterrestrial Al Gore, promising the extinction of humanity if we don't accept his inconvenient truth.) Even Gort -- the coolest robot in science-fiction cinema -- has been re-imagined as a cartoonish CG colossus who ironically resembles the Oscar statuette that otherwise will remain a universe away from this hammy misfire. With Jennifer Connelly as the world's hottest microbiologist, Jaden Smith as her bratty stepson and a Hillary-presaging Kathy Bates as the secretary of state.

Bartlett 10.

Duplicity (PG-13, 125 min.) Julia Roberts and Clive Owen are deceitful lovers and corporate spies in this clever but flat film from writer-director Tony Gilroy, who makes the mistake of applying the artful lighting, measured pace and severe sensibility of his fine "Michael Clayton" to screwball caper material. The convoluted, backtracking story becomes a bit of a slog, so that Gilroy's cynical message -- never trust anybody -- seems inevitable rather than surprising. The most entertaining characters are the rival CEO's played by Paul Giamatti and Tom Wilkinson; they deserve a movie of their own.

Forest Hill 8, Stage Cinema, Collierville Towne 16, DeSoto Cinema 16, Cordova Cinema, Paradiso, Hollywood 20 Cinema, CinePlanet 16.

Fired Up! (PG-13, 90 min.) Two horndog high-school friends ditch football to be the only boys at a cheerleader camp.

Summer Quartet Drive-In.

Friday the 13th (R, 95 min.) In a blunt, direct way, the "Friday the 13th" movies are about the fear of death -- especially violent, untimely death, the type that is most scary to the teenagers who flock to the films. Thus, the "star" of the movies -- the hockey-masked, homicidal Jason Voorhees -- is basically a cross between the Grim Reaper and "Refrigerator" Perry; ready or not, he's coming for you. He's the car that runs a red light and kills a kid on the way to the prom -- or perhaps after the prom, after the kid's been drinking and fooling around, considering the context of many of Jason's showboating murders. This franchise reboot (produced by Michael Bay and directed by Marcus Nispel, who revived "The Texas Chainsaw Massacre" in 2003) ups the ante in flesh as well as blood, with topless wakeboarding in addition to sadistic, brutal violence -- all photographed with a surfeit of care and art, as if Jason were Greta Garbo at MGM. The movie's a relentless scare machine, and like some machines, it makes a racket -- Nispel scares audiences more often with SUDDEN LOUD NOISES than with special makeup effects.

Bartlett 10.

The Haunting in Connecticut (PG-13, 92 min.) Never play hide-and-seek in a haunted house, unless you want to discover you're sharing your dumbwaiter hidey-hole with a ghostly charred corpse. That's what happens to one of the unfortunate kids in director Peter Cornwell's lukewarm chiller, perfectly timed for the current housing crisis. Virginia Madsen stars as a mother-I'd-like- to-(haunt) who relocates her family to unfortunately named Goats Woods, Conn., so her teenage son, Matt (Robert Pattinson-lookalike Kyle Gallner), can be closer to the hospital treating his cancer. Mom picks out a rambling old house that is "spacious and affordable... I'm just wondering, what's the catch?" The catch: The house was formerly a funeral home-cum-crematorium where seances were conducted by a boy medium who spit ectoplasm from his orifices like supernatural toothpaste from a squashed tube while also opening a gateway to our world for the disgruntled dead. "Based on the true story," according to the credits -- not a true story, but the true story, as if this post-Amityville boofest has been vetted for authenticity by some sort of paranormal accreditation agency.

Forest Hill 8, Stage Cinema, Majestic, Collierville Towne 16, DeSoto Cinema 16, Studio on the Square, Raleigh Springs Cinema, Cordova Cinema, Paradiso, Palace Cinema, Hollywood 20 Cinema, CinePlanet 16, Southaven Cinema, Summer Quartet Drive-In.

He's Just Not That Into You (PG-13, 129 min.) A romantic comedy with Memphis' own Ginnifer Goodwin in an ensemble cast that includes Jennifers Aniston and Connelly, as well as Ben Affleck and Justin Long.

Stage Cinema.

Hotel for Dogs (PG, 100 min.) Director Thor Freudenthal's Nickelodeon adaptation of a 1971 novel by Lois Duncan offers an appealing wish-fulfillment fantasy for kids, with Emma Roberts and Jake T. Austin as resourceful foster siblings who secretly transform an abandoned inner-city hotel into a luxury home for stray pooches that -- like the orphaned kids -- are unwanted because "they're not puppies any more." Young viewers will enjoy the hotel's makeshift Rube Goldberg contraptions, which include a "fetching machine," automatic poop-disposal toilets and a vending machine that dispenses shoes for chewing; parents, meanwhile, will appreciate the kindness-promoting message.

Hollywood 20 Cinema.

I Love You, Man (R, 105 min.) Director John Hamburg's entertaining comic "bromance" flirts with darkness but ultimately proves as light as the escapist "chick flicks" it parodies, as husband-to-be Paul Rudd -- a guy who's had plenty of girlfriends but no close male buddies -- goes on several "man dates" to audition a potential best man for his wedding. The most likely candidate proves to be Jason Segel, as a suspiciously carefree bachelor with a yen for Rush and fish tacos. Nonessential but fun, thanks to Rudd's performance as an awkwardly un-macho hetero male whose idea of a perfect evening is snuggling with his fiancée (Rashida Jones) while watching Johnny Depp in "Chocolat."

Forest Hill 8, Stage Cinema, Majestic, Collierville Towne 16, DeSoto Cinema 16, Studio on the Square, Cordova Cinema, Paradiso, Palace Cinema, Hollywood 20 Cinema, CinePlanet 16.

Knowing (PG-13, 122 min.) A preposterous meld of in-your-screaming-face end-times anxiety, special-effects cataclysm and booga-booga M. Night Shenanigans, this wacked-out, quasi-religious "Donnie Darko" for dummies earns my endorsement not because it's coherent but because it's so over the top that it's engrossing, even when director Alex Proyas (the intriguing "Dark City," the rusty "I, Robot") is focusing on the emoting of Nicolas Cage rather than on an scary plane crash, a shocking subway disaster or (in what may be a movie first) a burning moose. Cage plays a widowed M.I.T. professor whose belief that life is a result of "chemical accidents" with "no grand meaning" is shaken when he discovers that a 50-year-old note accurately predicts five decades of disasters, including 9/11, Hurricane Katrina and several tragedies yet to come. The film exploits fears of ecological and infrastructural collapse while also providing a distressing yet reassuring parable (you know, like the Flood) for an increasingly skeptical nation.

Forest Hill 8, Wolfchase Galleria Cinema 8, Majestic, Collierville Towne 16, DeSoto Cinema 16, Studio on the Square, Raleigh Springs Cinema, Cordova Cinema, Paradiso, Palace Cinema, Hollywood 20 Cinema, CinePlanet 16, Southaven Cinema, Summer Quartet Drive-In.

The Last House on the Left (R, 109 min.) Unlike its grungy inspiration, director Dennis Iliadis' remake of Wes Craven's infamous 1972 shocker is shot and scored with such delicacy and technical professionalism it might as well be, say, the life story of Gandhi rather than a wallow in rape, murder and the sadistic, audience-rousing vengeance of the parents of the victims (who, true to the domestic associations of the title, dispatch the evildoers with garbage disposal and microwave oven). The varnish of "art" applied to the story's ugly content is supposed to serve as a defense against the movie's critics; instead, it's evidence of the film's redundancy and cynicism.

Wolfchase Galleria Cinema 8, Majestic, Collierville Towne 16, DeSoto Cinema 16, Raleigh Springs Cinema, Cordova Cinema, Paradiso, Palace Cinema, Hollywood 20 Cinema, CinePlanet 16, Southaven Cinema.

Madea Goes to Jail (PG-13, 103 min.) This time Tyler Perry's pistol-packin' grandmomma is raising hell behind bars and lobbying for her freedom.

Stage Cinema, Majestic, Collierville Towne 16, DeSoto Cinema 16, Cordova Cinema, Paradiso, Palace Cinema, Hollywood 20 Cinema, CinePlanet 16, Southaven Cinema.

Marley & Me (PG, 115 min.) Owen Wilson and Jennifer Aniston are perfectly cast as likable husband-and-wife journalists who begin a "family" in Florida by acquiring "the worst dog in the world," a Labrador retriever puppy who grows into an incorrigible but lovable chewing machine. Directed with admirable sensitivity and spot-on populist instincts by David Frankel ("The Devil Wears Prada"), the movie is better than it has any right to be, given the dogsploitation elements of its inevitable here-come-the-waterworks final act.

Bartlett 10.

Monsters vs. Aliens (PG, 94 min.) Like all DreamWorks Animation features, this colorful homage to the science-fiction B-movies of the 1950s relies overmuch on nonsequitur pop-culture jokes, worn-out comedy crutches (TV weathermen sure are vapid!) and celebrity voices; but the central "monster" and heroine, Susan (voiced by Reese Witherspoon), who's hit by a meteorite on her wedding day and grows to be a friendly update of Allison Hayes in 1958's "Attack of the 50 Foot Woman," is a character with real, um, weight. The action set pieces -- especially a battle with giant egg-like alien robot on the Golden Gate Bridge -- are spectacular. Susan's co-stars include a Black Lagoon refugee, the Missing Link (Will Arnett); a "Fly" guy, Dr. Cockroach (Hugh Laurie); the gargantuan (and inarticulate) Insectosaurus; and -- best of all -- B.O.B. (Seth Rogen), a dimwitted blob. Directed by Rob Letterman and Conrad Vernon.

Forest Hill 8, Stage Cinema, Majestic (in 3-D), Collierville Towne 16 (in 3-D), DeSoto Cinema 16 (in 3-D), Raleigh Springs Cinema (in 3-D), Cordova Cinema (in 3-D), Paradiso (in 3-D), Palace Cinema, Hollywood 20 Cinema (in 3-D), CinePlanet 16 (in 3-D), Southaven Cinema.

Paul Blart: Mall Cop (PG, 91 min.) Kevin James ("The King of Queens") is the title bumbler in this surprise box-office hit.

Wolfchase Galleria Cinema 8, Majestic, Cordova Cinema, Hollywood 20 Cinema.

The Pink Panther 2 (PG, 92 min.) A redundant followup to an unnecessary remake, director Harald Zwart's film is nothing more than another slapstick showcase for Steve Martin's impressive yet dead-end mimicry of the late Peter Sellers, who will forever own the role of the clumsy and ridiculous French police detective, Inspector Clouseau. No movie is produced to lose money, but the new "Pink Panther" films have no apparent reason to exist except to wring more dollars from an already throttled franchise. The impressive supporting cast includes Alfred Molina, Andy Garcia, Lily Tomlin, John Cleese and Emily Mortimer.

Bartlett 10.

Push (PG-13, 112 min.) Blam-o! -- Dakota Fanning and Chris Evans have telekinetic powers.

Bartlett 10, Wolfchase Galleria Cinema 8.

Race to Witch Mountain (PG, 99 min.) Director Andy Fickman and wrestler-turned- family-friendly movie star Dwayne Johnson (no longer billing himself as "The Rock") follow their bland collaboration "The Game Plan" with a noisy, action-heavy revamp of "Escape to Witch Mountain," the well-remembered 1975 Disney film about a pair of fugitive children who prove to be paranormally gifted extraterrestrials. (Times change: In the first film, the kids were pursued by Ray Milland in a luxury car; this time, they're on the run from a Predator-like alien assassin in a flying saucer.) AnnaSophia Robb and Alexander Ludwig are fine as the space siblings, and Johnson is both cut and cute as a heroic cabbie, but this "X Files" for small fry has about as much heft as a bubble of swamp gas.

Forest Hill 8, Stage Cinema, Majestic, Collierville Towne 16, DeSoto Cinema 16, Cordova Cinema, Paradiso, Palace Cinema, CinePlanet 16.

The Reader (R, 123 min.) "Take off your cloze," says a beautiful, working-class older woman with a German accent (Kate Winslet) to a seemingly lucky 1950s teenage intellectual (David Kross) in this odd addition to the "Holocaust genre" that suggests -- what? That Nazis might have been nicer if they'd spent more time reading books instead of burning them? Adapted by scripter David Hare and director Stephen Daldry (the team responsible for "The Hours") from German author Bernard Schlink's well-regarded 1995 best-seller, the film examines the impact of the Nazi legacy on the postwar generation, as the teenage hero grows into a typically morose Ralph Fiennes, scarred by the revelation that the dream woman who taught him about sex while he taught her about Chekhov had been a death-camp guard. When Lena Olin tells Fiennes that "the camps weren't therapy" and he should "go to the theater if you want catharsis, go to literature," the scene seems a repudiation of the movie itself; however, the film does offer something the novel can't: Kate Winslet really does take off her cloze, a lot.

Ridgeway Four, Wolfchase Galleria Cinema 8.

Slumdog Millionaire (R, 120 min.) This almost fairytale "rags to rajah" saga of an impoverished underdog "slumdog" (Dev Patel) who achieves overnight fame (and a fortune in rupees) on India's version of "Who Wants To Be a Millionaire" is the rare crowd-pleaser that earns its feel-good denouement as well as our respect. Shot on location (the train station in the film was hit in the Nov. 26 terrorist attacks), the movie's brilliantly designed visual and sonic density seems as much a mandate of the chaos endemic to teeming Mumbai as of the nonlinear, flashback-filled storytelling strategy of British director Danny Boyle, aided by Bollywood veteran Loveleen Tandan, who is credited as "Co-Director (India)." The Dickensian early sequences focusing on the hero's childhood are especially vibrant and thrilling -- alternately comic (the boys scam tourists at the Taj Mahal) and harrowing (the children are recruited by an evil Fagin figure).

Ridgeway Four, Collierville Towne 16, Hollywood 20 Cinema.

Street Fighter: The Legend of Chun-Li (PG-13, 96 min.) Kristin Kreuk (Lana Lang of "Smallville") kicks mucho booty in this video-game adaptation.

Summer Quartet Drive-In.

Taken (PG-13, 91 min.) Liam Neeson makes like Charles Bronson to rescue his kidnapped 17-year-old virgin daughter from the swarthy threat of white-slaver Albanians and their Arab patrons in this morally specious but undeniably efficient brainstem-tickler from director Pierre Morel (the superior futuristic actioner "District B13") and indefatigable producer-writer Luc Besson ("The Transporter," "Unleashed"). The combination of Neeson's gravitas and Morel's coherent staging of the violence makes this the most effective action/revenge film in years.

Stage Cinema, Majestic, Collierville Towne 16, DeSoto Cinema 16, Cordova Cinema, Paradiso, Hollywood 20 Cinema, CinePlanet 16.

12 Rounds (PG-13, 108 min.) Wrestler John Cena is a police detective in an action thriller from director Renny Harlin ("Die Hard 2").

Forest Hill 8, Stage Cinema, Majestic, Collierville Towne 16, DeSoto Cinema 16, Raleigh Springs Cinema, Cordova Cinema, Paradiso, Hollywood 20 Cinema, CinePlanet 16, Southaven Cinema, Summer Quartet Drive-In.

Two Lovers (R, 110 min.) Joaquin Phoenix (in what will be his last movie role, if he stays true to his pledge to give up acting for rapping) is bipolar Leonard Kraditor, whose scarred wrists testify to a history of depression. Leonard works in his immigrant father's dry-cleaning business and lives in his old bedroom in his parents' apartment in Brighton Beach; he seems fated to marry the beautiful daughter (Vinessa Shaw) of his dad's new business partner, but he falls for a privileged blond shiksa, played by Gwyneth Paltrow. In his fourth feature film, writer-director James Gray continues to worry his Brooklyn home turf, but for the first time he's working without the safety net of the crime genre: The violence here is emotional, self-directed -- interior. The result is earnest and convincing, and will reward the viewer who is attentive to the story and sympathetic to the characters.

Ridgeway Four.

The Unborn (PG-13, 87 min.) Instead of the usual Catholicism, this horror movie taps into Jewish tradition, as a young woman (Odette Yustman) is haunted by a malevolent dybbuk; even the exorcist (Gary Oldman) is a rabbi rather than a priest, armed with a shofar instead of a crucifix. Laughable but interesting, the movie -- like some Stephen King rewrite of "The Reader" -- traces its characters' distress to the Holocaust. In other words, never forget: "Jumby wants to be born!"

Bartlett 10, Majestic.

Underworld: Rise of the Lycans (R, 93 min.) Those who know British actor Michael Sheen as David Frost (in "Frost/Nixon") and Prime Minister Tony Blair (in "The Queen") may not know he already had a movie career as hunky, hairy Lucian, the vampire-battling "lycan" (werewolf, to you) in two "Underworld" movies. Directed by promoted special effects/makeup artist Patrick Tatopoulos, this trilogy capper, a prequel set in some unspecified "dark age," borrows from "Romeo and Juliet," "The Passion of the Christ" (there are two, count 'em, two gory scourging scenes) and, especially, "Spartacus," as Lucian leads a lycan slave revolt against vampire aristocrat Viktor (a typically campy Bill Nighy), father of Lucian's secret love (Rhona Mitra, in the skintight warrior-woman leathers worn in the previous films by Kate Beckinsale).

Bartlett 10.

The Uninvited (PG-13, 87 min.) The 2003 Korean film "A Tale of Two Sisters" is a modern masterpiece of psychological horror, and perhaps the best of the many Asian "ghost girl" films. Directed by a British pair of feature newcomers who call themselves "the Guard Brothers," this less subtle DreamWorks remake is a horror update of an "evil stepmother" fairy tale, with a troubled teen (Emily Browning) returning home to her sarcastic older sister (Arielle Kebbel) and her recently widowed father (David Strathairn), who has taken up with her late mother's young nurse (Elizabeth Banks). Preteen girls looking for slumber-party DVD rentals probably represent the film's ideal audience.

Wolfchase Galleria Cinema 8, Palace Cinema.

Watchmen (R, 162 min.) The world of "Watchmen" is not for the faint of heart. Set in an alternate-history version of the 1940s to the 1980s, this is a comic book-inspired superhero movie with scenes of jailhouse dismemberment, meat-cleaver murder, "lesbian whores," the assassination of John F. Kennedy, attempted rape, a naked blue giant and -- scariest of all -- Richard Nixon, serving his fifth term as president. Slavishly faithful at times to its ambitious, celebrated source, the movie -- directed by Zack Snyder ("300") -- is worth seeing for a few showstopping sequences and some stellar performances (Jackie Earle Haley steals every scene as the psychopathic Rorschach), but it contributes nothing new to the ideas developed by author Alan Moore and illustrator Dave Gibbons in their 12-issue DC Comics series, originally published in 1986 and 1987. Comic books and movies both tell stories with pictures, but "Watchmen" demonstrates that the animating spirit of a rich, fully realized graphic novel may be as hard to transfer to the screen as that of any other type of successful literary work.

Stage Cinema 12, Majestic, Palace Cinema, Hollywood 20 Cinema, CinePlanet 16.

© 2009 Go Memphis. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Comments » 0

Be the first to post a comment!

Want to participate in the conversation? Become a subscriber today. Subscribers can read and comment on any story, anytime. Non-subscribers will only be able to view comments on select stories.