Movie Capsules: Now showing

 Tom Hanks and Ayelet Zurer track down clues to murder and conspiracy in 'Angels & Demons.'

Photo by Zade Rosenthal/Columbia Pictures, Zade Rosenthal/Columbia Pictures

Tom Hanks and Ayelet Zurer track down clues to murder and conspiracy in "Angels & Demons."

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

OPENING TODAY

Imagine That (PG, 107 min.) See review on Page 18.

Forest Hill 8, Stage Cinema, Majestic, Collierville Towne 16, DeSoto Cinema 16, Raleigh Springs Cinema, Cordova Cinema, Paradiso, Palace Cinema, Hollywood 20 Cinema, CinePlanet 16, Southaven Cinema.

 Tom Hanks and Ayelet Zurer track down clues to murder and conspiracy in 'Angels & Demons.'

Photo by Zade Rosenthal/Columbia Pictures

Tom Hanks and Ayelet Zurer track down clues to murder and conspiracy in "Angels & Demons."

Rudo y Cursi (R, 103 min.) See review on Page 22.

Ridgeway Four.

The Taking of Pelham 1 2 3 (R, 106 min.) See review on Page 16.

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.

Tyson (R, 90 min.) See review on Page 21.

Ridgeway Four.

SNEAK PREVIEW SATURDAY

The Proposal (PG-13, 108 min.) A romantic comedy with Sandra Bullock and Ryan Reynolds.

Collierville Towne 16, DeSoto Cinema 16, Cordova Cinema, Paradiso.

SPECIAL MOVIES

Cold Steele (Not rated, 99 min.) University of Memphis business law professor Larry Moore stars as a lawman on the trail of a blond, sometimes samurai sword-wielding serial killer (Donna Nelson) in the local debut of his third feature as a writer-director.

7:45 p.m. Saturday, Michael Rose Theatre at the University of Memphis. Admission: $11.

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 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 (4629) for general information or 320-6362 for reservations.

Jaws (PG, 124 min.) Steven Spielberg's fish story, often credited with inaugurating the concept of the Hollywood "summer blockbuster." Moviegoers are asked to bring a vacation photo for entry into a raffle for a prize package.

7:15 p.m. today at the Orpheum, 203 S. Main. Admission: $6 per adult, $5 per senior or child (12 and under). Visit orpheum- memphis.com or call 525-3000.

Li'l Film Fest 10: "Family" is the theme for the 11 films in the latest installment of the Live From Memphis-organized festival dedicated to truly short shorts (under five minutes in length), created by such area moviemakers as Donald Meyers, J. Lazarus Hawk and Jessica Sprenkle.

2 p.m. Saturday, Memphis Brooks Museum of Art. Admission: $5. Visit livefrommemphis.com.

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 (4629) for general information or 320-6362 for reservations.

Were the World Mine (Not rated, 95 min.) Director Thomas Gustafson's stylish, gay-themed, Shakespeare-inspired musical fantasy won numerous film-festival awards during the past year. It stars Tanner Cohen as a youth cast as Puck in a high school production of "A Midsummer Night's Dream" who creates a magical love potion that causes chaos when it sexually liberates his entire town.

8 p.m. Wednesday, Studio on the Square. Tickets: $9. Presented by the Outflix Film Festival.

NOW SHOWING

Angels & Demons (PG-13, 139 min.) Menacing clerics, skull-lined catacombs, branding irons, the ancient cult of the Illuminati and the gimmicky serial murder of four Roman Catholic cardinals -- these elements promise a good, goofy time at the movies, yet director Ron Howard's bloated followup to "The Da Vinci Code" is even more burdened than its dull predecessor with a desire to avoid risibility. But how un-silly can a movie be when it's about a conspiracy to blow up the Vatican with an antimatter time bomb? Tom Hanks -- shorn of his Muck Sticky "Da Vinci" hairdo -- is back as Harvard "symbologist" Robert Langdon, recruited by the Holy See to trace a sort of Kook's Tour trail of crime through the chapels, obelisks and tombs of ancient Rome. The highfalutin science- vs.-religion philosophizing that occurs is little more than stained-glass window dressing that camouflages what otherwise might be a nice, entertaining murder mystery.

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

The Brothers Bloom (PG-13, 113 min.) Adrien Brody, Mark Ruffalo and Rachel Weisz in a comic con-artist caper from writer-director Rian Johnson ("Brick").

Ridgeway Four.

Dance Flick (PG-13, 83 min.) Another movie-genre spoof, this time from the Wayans Brothers.

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

Drag Me to Hell (PG-13, 99 min.) "Spider-Man" director Sam Raimi returns to his "Evil Dead" roots -- while borrowing liberally from "Night of the Demon" and EC Comics (the story here barely justifies its feature length) -- for a scary, wacky, gooey and timely tale of a young bank officer (Alison Lohman) cursed by the gypsy (Lorna Raver) whose housing loan she denies. The sleeve inside the Rolling Stones album Let It Bleed advised: THIS RECORD SHOULD BE PLAYED LOUD. Prints of this film must be stamped with a similar order: Much of the tension is created by ear-smashing NOISE, which isn't a cheat but a characteristically Raimiesque attempt to create a feeling of hell-on-Earth temporary insanity within the rattled viewer.

Wolfchase Galleria Cinema 8, Majestic, Collierville Towne 16, Raleigh Springs Cinema, Cordova Cinema, Paradiso, Hollywood 20 Cinema, CinePlanet 16, Southaven Cinema, Summer Quartet Drive-In.

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

Hollywood 20 Cinema.

Fighting (PG-13, 105 min.) Terrence Howard introduces Channing Tatum to the profitable world of organized bare-knuckle street-brawling.

Wolfchase Galleria Cinema 8.

Ghosts of Girlfriends Past (PG-13, 100 min.) Arrogant womanizer Matthew McConaughey learns a supernatural lesson in this Dickens-inspired romcom.

Stage Cinema, Collierville Towne 16, Hollywood 20 Cinema, CinePlanet 16.

The Hangover (R, 100 min.) Or: Dude, Where's My Bachelor? Sometimes tasteless, frequently hilarious, this "Superbad" with grown-ups (the dentist played by Ed Helms even resembles an adult "McLovin") chronicles several hours of irresponsible, sometimes criminal male behavior, as three best buds (Helms, Bradley Cooper and Justin Bartha) and a tagalong demented future brother-in-law (Zach Galifianakis) road-trip to Vegas for an overnight bachelor party; director Todd Phillips ("Old School") cuts from the pals' Jägermeister toast to the painful morning after in a destroyed hotel suite, where the evidence of debauchery includes a live chicken, a missing tooth, loss of memory, an Elvis jumpsuit, Mike Tyson's Bengal tiger, an unidentified baby and the absence of the bachelor himself. The talented cast and the mystery structure of the plot keep the film fresh and funny; but as the title suggests, you might regret your good time the next day, as you contemplate the at best ambivalent, at worst hostile relationship to women that motivates the narrative: This is another film in which men's infantile behavior is celebrated as a necessary, sanity-preserving reaction against what's presented as the choking if essential civilizing influence of women.

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.

Hannah Montana: The Movie (G, 102 min.) Drawing from the traditions of Cinderella (the scullery maid who is really a princess) and Superman (the superbeing who pretends to be a "normal" person), the push-and-pull tension of the Miley Cyrus/Hannah Montana dichotomy provides the premise for this feature-length expansion of the hit TV show about a teen girl (Miley Cyrus) who enjoys the "Best of Both Worlds" through her secret life as a pop sensation. Deciding that his increasingly spoiled daughter needs a time-out for "Hannah detox," Miley's onscreen and real-life daddy, Billy Ray Cyrus, takes "the most popular teenager in the world" back to the family farm, where Miley regains her appreciation for Minnie Pearl collector's plates while also introducing the locals to a new "hip-hop" dance craze, "The Hoedown Throwdown." Shot in Middle Tennessee, this hit musical diversion for training-bra initiates should do wonders for the Volunteer State's film industry, if not for its reputation for worldliness. Says Billy Ray, after a waiter places a lobster in front of him: "That's a heck of a crawdad, isn't it?"

Wolfchase Galleria Cinema 8.

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.

Bartlett 10.

Is Anybody There? (PG-13, 95 min.) This sentimental BBC Films production overcomes the potential deadliness of its "cute" old folks' home setting and the programmatic uplift of its theme (end-of-his-rope curmudgeon teaches ghost-obsessed whippersnapper "to make contact with the living"), thanks to the pictorial tastefulness of director John Crowley and a brace of fine performances. Bill Milner ("Son of Rambow") plays the friendless 10-year-old; Michael Caine -- who makes acting seem effortless, pleasurable and even noble -- is the lead codger, a scruffy retired magician who resents the infirmities and indignities of old age. The movie has been renamed for U.S. advertising purposes from its more colloquial original title, "Is There Anybody There?," a phrase spoken by Caine during a seance he conducts for the boy's benefit; the question isn't heard again, but it hangs over the rest of the film, existential and desperate, as Caine's character begins to slide into senility.

Ridgeway Four.

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 MIT 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 contains details about 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.

Bartlett 10.

Land of the Lost (PG-13, 102 min.) Revamping the 1970s Sid & Marty Krofft Saturday-morning cult classic as a family-friendly comedy-adventure would have made sense, but this misbegotten project immediately alienates kid-toting parents with shameless and incessant product plugs, surprisingly foul language and other inappropriate references (the perfect woman, we are told, would have big "boobs" but no head; show tunes are "gay"). Will Ferrell is a goofy "quantum paleontologist" who lands in a timeless alternate dimension, along with an eye-candy colleague (Anna Friel) and a crude self-appointed sidekick (Danny McBride); there, they befriend Jorma Taccone as Chaka, the ape-boy, and are menaced by cool-looking dinosaurs and reptilian alien Sleestaks. Between the tired Matt Lauer cameos that bookend this dud, director Brad Silberling manages three or four funny scenes. My favorite: Ferrell is punctured by a thirsty prehistoric mosquito.

Forest Hill 8, Stage Cinema, Majestic, Collierville Towne 16, DeSoto Cinema 16, 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 sadistic, audience-rousing vengeance (true to the domestic associations of the title, the evildoers are dispatched 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 cowardice and cynicism.

Bartlett 10.

Madea Goes to Jail (PG-13, 103 min.) Tyler Perry's pistol-packin' grandmomma is raising hell behind bars.

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 non-sequitur 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 a 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.

Majestic.

My Life in Ruins (PG-13, 96 min.) Just as the removal of a pair of eyeglasses could transform a mousy secretary into a bombshell in an old movie, the shaving of a beard changes a bus driver from Sasquatch to Fabio in the latest sitcom-style romantic wish-fulfillment fantasy for women from writer-star Nia Vardalos, the creator of one of the biggest surprise hits in recent film history, 2002's "My Big Fat Greek Wedding." Vardalos plays Georgia, a lonely classics professor-turned-tour guide in Athens; Alexis Georgoulis is the strong, silent tour-bus driver, whose name, Poupi Kakas, sounds like "Poopy Caca," a coincidence that generates much hilarity among Georgia's nitwit clientele (stereotyped vulgar Americans, drunken Australians, priggish Brits, and so on). Director Donald Petrie shoots some pretty pictures of the Parthenon, but the movie is so lacking in surprise and originality, the grecian formula this time just doesn't get the gray out.

Collierville Towne 16, DeSoto Cinema 16, Cordova Cinema, Paradiso.

Next Day Air (R, 84 min.) Forty years from now, this Guy Ritchie/Quentin Tarantino-influenced crime comedy about a misdelivered cache of cocaine may be fascinating for its relentless early 21st-century "urban" slang and attitude; let's hope it also seems antique for the idea that guns are as accessible as Kleenex and as amusing, when used as comic props, as rubber chickens. Novel only for its African-American and Hispanic cast and African-American director (music video veteran Benny Boom, making his feature debut), this coarse and visually ugly movie gets by solely on the appeal of its talented ensemble, which includes Donald Faison and Mos Def as stoner deliverymen, Mike Epps and Wood Harris as bumbling bank robbers and Yasmin Deliz as a head-bobbing hottie.

Wolfchase Galleria Cinema 8, Majestic, Palace Cinema.

Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian (PG, 105 min.) As Amelia Earhart, Amy Adams adds plenty of welcome "moxie" (and a tight pair of aviator's britches) to an extraordinarily busy but simple-minded scenario that finds security guard-turned- infomercial magnate Ben Stiller traveling to Washington when his New York living-exhibit pals (Owen Wilson as a cowboy, Steve Coogan as a centurion, etc.) are relocated to the Smithsonian, where an evil pharaoh (Hank Azaria) with a Karloffian lisp plans to take over the world the help of Napoleon, Al Capone and Ivan the Terrible (who prefers to be called "Ivan the Awesome"). Director Shawn Levy's sequel contains a few cool ideas (the Lincoln Memorial statue comes to life) and a few decent gags involving such Smithsonian artifacts as Archie Bunker's chair, but there's not much here besides noise, chaos and monkey-slapping.

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

Obsessed (PG-13, 109 min.) Beyoncé gets mad when skank Ali Larter goes after her man.

Wolfchase Galleria Cinema 8, Majestic, Hollywood 20 Cinema, CinePlanet 16.

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

Bartlett 10.

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.

Bartlett 10, Summer Quartet Drive-In.

17 Again (PG-13, 102 min.) Matthew Perry finds himself transformed into Zac Efron.

Bartlett 10.

The Soloist (PG-13, 117 min.) Robert Downey Jr. is Los Angeles Times reporter Steven Lopez and Jamie Foxx is homeless, schizophrenic, classically trained street musician Nathaniel Ayers in this based-on-a-true-story inspirational drama -- and American movie debut -- from British director Joe Wright (the ampersand version of "Pride & Prejudice"), who resists tugging at the heartstrings even as Ayers coaxes the melodies of his beloved Beethoven from the catgut of his violin and cello. Emphasizing wry humor and gritty "realism" over in-your-face uplift, Wright has created a sort of mainstream art film; but even in what is essentially a two-man drama, he seems a man born to make epics: The colorfully choreographed, impeccably composed Bedlam of bedbug-infested bedhead insanity found in the homeless shelter depicted here is a rival for the organized chaos of Wright's already famous Dunkirk beach sequence in "Atonement."

Wolfchase Galleria Cinema 8, Majestic, Hollywood 20 Cinema.

Star Trek (PG-13, 127 min.) Director J.J. Abrams' megabudget reboot of the beloved science-fiction franchise rushes along at warp factor 12, crowding its story with an impressive amount of characterization and action as it introduces new actors (Chris Pine is Kirk, Zachary Pinto is Spock) in youthful Starfleet-recruit versions of the roles made famous by William Shatner, Leonard Nimoy and others in the 1966-69 TV series. The result is fun and ingenious (a time-travel subplot enables this new "Trek" series to exist alongside the "alternate history" of the original program), but like most of the 10 previous movies, it doesn't approach the quality of the best television episodes of "Star Trek" or "Star Trek: The Next Generation." Obviously eager to guide his redesigned Enterprise to where no "Star Trek" film has gone before (into the box-office stratosphere, alongside that other space opera, "Star Wars"), Abrams let the phones of most past "Trek" actors remain quiet, but he did recruit king-of-all-media Tyler Perry to play a Starfleet admiral. As Nimoy's Spock (the one oldtimer who does appear here) would say about that decision, if he were a Paramount stockholder: Logical -- not fascinating, but logical.

Forest Hill 8, Stage Cinema 12, Majestic, Collierville Towne 16, DeSoto Cinema 16, Studio on the Square, Cordova Cinema, Paradiso, Palace Cinema, Hollywood 20 Cinema, CinePlanet 16.

Sunshine Cleaning (R, 99 min.) Scrubbing splattered brains from a shower stall is a character-building bonding activity for the malfunctional Lorkowski sisters in New Zealand director Christine Jeffs' New Mexico-set film, which might clot from the pressure of too much unlikely, writerly detail if not for the elbow grease applied by its charming stars, Amy Adams and Emily Blunt. The subject matter (the sisters form a crime-and-trauma-scene cleanup company) seems ripe for dark slapstick, but the movie contains only one pratfall, when Blunt falls onto a foul mattress that she and Adams are toting to a trash bin; Megan Holley's script has some stenchy spots, too, but Blunt and Adams each emerge from this self-consciously oddball comedy-drama smelling like a rose.

Bartlett 10.

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.

Bartlett 10.

Tennessee (R, 100 min.) A young teenager (Ethan Peck) with leukemia who needs a bone marrow transplant from a relative convinces his reluctant older brother (Adam Rothenberg) to drive him from New Mexico back to East Tennessee, to find the drunken, abusive father the boys escaped years before. Director Aaron Woodley's well-intentioned indie road drama (which lists former Memphian Chris Ridenhour as a co-executive producer, but doesn't include the Bluff City on its plot itinerary) boasts a convincingly de-glamorized Mariah Carey in the supporting role of a Texas waitress who dreams of being a country music star, but it exists in a sort of entertainment limbo: It's too formulaic to be the sort of low-budget film that garners critical buzz or a cult audience, and it's too low-key to click with the mainstream audience.

Wolfchase Galleria Cinema 8.

Terminator Salvation (PG-13, 115 min.) It's crabby human freedom fighters vs. even crankier Rock 'Em Sock 'Em Robots of all models and makes (hey, fanboys, dig those literally electric eels!) in this appropriately mechanical fourth film in the series, programmed for maximum blockbuster efficiency by the director who calls himself McG. Essentially, this is a grim and gritty war movie, airlifted and updated from 1940s Europe to America in 2018, complete with ambushes in bombed-out city streets, ego clashes among resistance fighters, Holocaust references of dubious tastefulness (the robots shuffle their human prisoners into what we presume to be death camps) and a final-act secret infiltration of the enemy's headquarters. Christian Bale -- whose infamous leaked-from-the-set tirade is longer and more passionate than any monologue in the movie -- stars as rebel soldier John Connor, the prophesied hope of mankind, but the true lead is Sam Worthington as a convicted killer from 2003 who wakes up from a medically induced coma to find himself in the nightmare world of the "Terminator" franchise. In its own blunt-force-trauma way, the film's man-vs.-machines theme confronts viewers with the same key question that is at the center of such such less-hardware-heavy fantasy masterpieces as "Frankenstein," "Invasion of the Body Snatchers," "Planet of the Apes" and, yes, "Pinocchio" -- a question that that never loses relevance: What makes us human?

Stage Cinema, Majestic, Collierville Towne 16, DeSoto Cinema 16, Cordova Cinema, Paradiso, Palace Cinema, Hollywood 20 Cinema, CinePlanet 16, Southaven Cinema, Summer Quartet Drive-In.

Up (PG, 102 min.) "Up," up and away -- Pixar, with its 10th feature film in 14 years, again demonstrates it has no intention of losing ground to the competition, which at this point includes not just other animation studios but all of Hollywood. If "Up" (in 3-D at some theaters) doesn't quite soar to the heights of some previous Pixar releases, it nonetheless is unfailingly charming, exciting, inventive and moving. It's kind of weird, too -- a vibrantly colored, highly stylized and literally uplifting tale of house-hoisting helium balloons, talking dogs and prehistoric goony birds that owes as much to Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Jules Verne, L. Frank Baum, Frank Capra and even Richard Connell (author of "The Most Dangerous Game") as to Walt Disney. Having already turned a rat and a robot into movie stars, Pixar's artists have no trouble making a surly septuagenarian into an admirable cartoon hero: Carl Fredricksen (voiced by Ed Asner) is a widower and would-be explorer who's as blocky as the old house he refuses to abandon. When he and a chubby boy scout land on a lost plateau in South America, director Pete Docter's story takes on something of the craziness of the classic Donald Duck adventures created by comic-book artist Carl Barks in the 1940s and '50s.

Forest Hill 8, Stage Cinema (in 3-D), Majestic, Collierville Towne 16 (in 3-D), DeSoto Cinema 16 (in 3-D), Studio on the Square, Raleigh Springs Cinema, Cordova Cinema (in 3-D), Paradiso (in 3-D), Hollywood 20 Cinema (in 3-D), CinePlanet 16 (in 3-D), Southaven Cinema, Summer Quartet Drive-In.

X-Men Origins: Wolverine (PG-13, 109 min.) It's no surprise the pirated, incomplete version leaked to the Internet didn't dent this Marvel Comics adaptation's muscular box office: "Wolverine" without special effects is like "King Kong" without the ape. Reprising his scene-stealing (scene-slashing?) role from three previous films, Hugh Jackman is the title mutton-chopped mutant, a surly Canadian with retractable adamantium claws and an intractable personality who -- even in his pre-"X-Men" days -- attracts trouble the way Magneto attracts metal: Among the "freaks" he battles and befriends are Deadpool (Ryan Reynolds), John Wraith (Will.i.am), the Blob (Kevin Durand) and his bloodthirsty brother, Sabretooth (Liev Schreiber). As staged by director Gavin Hood ("Tsotsi"), the almost nonstop action in this sometimes callous tale of revenge is poised halfway between the ADD whiplash of "Crank" and the more elegant spectacle of "Spider-Man"; as pure pulp entertainment, it works.

Stage Cinema, Majestic, Collierville Towne 16, Palace Cinema, Hollywood 20 Cinema, CinePlanet 16.

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

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