Movie Capsules: Now showing

Matt Damon stars as Mark Whitacre in a scene from, 'The Informant!'

Photo by Claudette Barius/Warner Bros./Associated Press

Matt Damon stars as Mark Whitacre in a scene from, "The Informant!"

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

OPENING TODAY

Blood Creek (R, 90 min.) Last year, "The Midnight Meat Train" bypassed first-run houses to open at the second-run Bartlett; this year, it's this Lionsgate horror (originally titled "Town Creek"), about an occult experiment dating back to the Third Reich, directed by Joel Schumacher.

Bartlett 10.

Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs (PG, 90 min.) See review in Page 18.

Forest Hill 8, Stage Cinema (in 3-D), Majestic, Collierville Towne 16 (in 3-D), DeSoto Cinema 16 (in 3-D), Cordova Cinema (in 3-D), Paradiso (in 3-D), Hollywood 20 Cinema (in 3-D), CinePlanet 16 (in 3-D), Summer Quartet Drive-In.

Matt Damon stars as Mark Whitacre in a scene from, 'The Informant!'

Photo by Claudette Barius/Warner Bros./Associated Press

Matt Damon stars as Mark Whitacre in a scene from, "The Informant!"

In the Loop (Not rated, 106 min.)

Ridgeway Four.

The Informant! (R, 108 min.) Matt Damon chubs up to play a government spy in the new film from Steven Soderbergh!

Stage Cinema, Collierville Towne 16, DeSoto Cinema 16, Studio on the Square, Cordova Cinema, Paradiso, Hollywood 20 Cinema, CinePlanet 16.

Jennifer's Body (R, 102 min.) Oscar-winning "Juno" screenwriter Diablo Cody penned this chiller with Megan Fox as a high-school horror hottie.

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

Love Happens (PG-13, 109 min.) Can Seattle florist Jennifer Aniston and self-help guru Aaron Eckhart find love? Probably.

Collierville Towne 16, Studio on the Square, Cordova Cinema, Paradiso.

World's Greatest Dad (R, 99 min.)

Ridgeway Four.

SPECIAL MOVIES

Cigarette Girl (Not rated, 89 min.) Mike McCarthy, Memphis "godfather" of independent cinema, unveils his first feature in 10 years: a dystopian future fantasy in which tobacco has been criminalized except in designated urban "smoking sections."

1 p.m. Thursday, Memphis Brooks Museum of Art. Admission: $7, or $5 with Gonerfest ticket or museum membership. Visit cigarettegirlmovie.com.

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 320-6362 for tickets and reservations.

La Bohème (Not rated, 115 min.) A sumptuous Puccini adaptation, starring the opera "dream team" of soprano Anna Netrebko and tenor Rolando Villazón, set in Paris in the 1830s. Presented in conjunction with Opera Memphis.

7 p.m. Thursday, Memphis Brooks Museum of Art. Admission: $12, or $10 for museum members. Visit brooksmuseum.org.

The Manhattan Short Film Festival: Filmgoers in 172 cities around the world will view and vote on a winner in this showcase for 10 new and acclaimed international shorts. Presented by On Location: Memphis.

7 p.m. Thursday, Studio on the Square. Tickets: $7. Visit msfilmfest.com or onlocationmemphis.org.

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.

Crew Training International IMAX Theater at Memphis Pink Palace Museum, 3050 Central. Call 320-6362 for reservations and tickets.

Two Million Minutes: The 21st Century Solution (Not rated, 54 min.) Memphis millionaire Bob Compton produced this documentary intended to demonstrate how America can improve its public education system. Compton and director Dan Treharne will answer questions after the film.

7 p.m. Thursday, Paradiso. Tickets: $7. Call 888-705-5324 or visit 2mminutes.com.

Under the Sea: This new IMAX adventure transports you to some of the most exotic and isolated undersea locations on Earth, including South Australia, the Great Barrier Reef, and the Coral Triangle islands of Papua, New Guinea, and Indonesia. Runs through March 5, 2010. Tickets: $8, $7.25 senior citizens, $6.25 children ages 3-12; children under 3 are free. Call for show times.

Crew Training International IMAX Theater at Memphis Pink Palace Museum, 3050 Central. Call 320-6362 for reservations and tickets.

The Wizard of Oz (G, 101 min.) The 1939 classic returns for a one-night-only re-release, in remastered high-defintion.

7 p.m. Wednesday, Paradiso. Tickets: $10. Visit malco.com.

NOW SHOWING

Adam (PG-13, 99 min.) The premise -- winsome New York schoolteacher falls for socially inept but cute guy with a developmental disorder known as Asperger's syndrome -- inspires shudders, because even movies with honorable intentions have a tendency to treat "challenged" individuals with condescension. But writer-director Max Mayer has produced a fairly charming romance (with an unpredictable ending) that pretty much avoids the pitfalls of tastelessness and sentimentalization that could have resulted in "Forrest Gump Falls in Love." Give credit to leads Hugh Dancy and Rose Byrne, who portray the remarkably nice and likable young lovers without the tics and self-consciousness that more pretentious or perhaps less secure performers might have brought to the roles.

Ridgeway Four.

Aliens in the Attic (PG, 86 min.) Kids protect their home from funny-looking outer-space invaders.

Majestic, Palace Cinema, CinePlanet 16.

All About Steve (PG-13, 99 min.) Sandra Bullock plays an eccentric crossword-puzzler (really) who stalks a CNN cameraman (Bradley Cooper).

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

District 9 (R, 113 min.) This gory, galvanizing science-fiction thriller from producer Peter Jackson ("The Lord of the Rings") and South African novice feature director Neil Blomkamp delivers an unfortunate mixed message through the "alien apartheid" metaphor of its clever but confused premise, as human-sized outer-space crustaceans (disparaged as "prawns") are segregated into crime-ridden slums after their spaceship breaks down over Johannesburg. Presented "documentary" style, like some sort of monster mash-up of "The Office" and "Alien Nation," the movie is technically impressive; also admirable is newcomer Sharlto Copley's tour-de-force performance as a bureaucrat who comes to sympathize with the aliens. But it's troubling that almost all the black African characters in this parable of racism are thugs, gangsters and even cannibals, with none of the dignity of the "prawns"; a young white suburbanite might emerge from a screening thinking that aliens are cool, but, y'know, black folks are really scary.

Wolfchase Galleria Cinema 8, Majestic, Hollywood 20 Cinema, Summer Quartet Drive-In.

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.

Majestic.

Extract (R, 90 min.) Amusing supporting turns by Ben Affleck as a philosophical bartender, Dustin Milligan as a braindead gigolo, David Koechner as an intrusive neighbor and Gene Simmons of KISS as a slimeball lawyer fail to elevate this curiously flat comedy from writer-director Mike Judge (the creator of "Beavis & Butt-head" and "King of the Hill"), who -- perhaps because of the increased responsibility and influence that comes with greater celebrity -- now seems to sympathize with management instead of labor, a shift in perspective that may prevent this movie from achieving the cult classic status of his 1999 live-action feature debut, "Office Space." Jason Bateman plays a harried manufacturing plant owner frustrated by his sexually withholding wife (Kristen Wiig) and by his desire for the new factory-floor hottie (Mila Kunis), a scam artist whose undeveloped story is emblematic of the movie's unfinished feel.

Studio on the Square.

The Final Destination (R, 81 min.) Forget such fusty sources as Poe, Stoker and Shelley: this fourth "Final Destination" film demonstrates that the only inspiration needed for a hit horror franchise is one of those cornball "Today Is the First Day of the Rest of Your Life" posters, as yet another clique of attractive teenagers learns that life is just a short circuit, a spilled hair gel or a cracked swimming pool drain cover away from extinguishment. James Cameron and the folks at Pixar may disagree, but this is what 3D was made for: To make audiences scream and duck as Death hurls lethal objects from the screen.

Stage Cinema, Majestic, Collierville Towne 16, DeSoto Cinema 16, Raleigh Springs Cinema, Cordova Cinema, Paradiso, Palace Cinema, CinePlanet 16, Summer Quartet Drive-In.

(500) Days of Summer (PG-13, 95 min.) Hopping about as if at random through the improvised calendar of its title, director Marc Webb's film frequently rings true as it depicts the nice-while-it-lasted relationship between a romantic greeting-card copywriter (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) and a free spirit named Summer (Zooey Deschanel) who says she doesn't believe in love. As in many recent youth-oriented, self-consciously "indie"movie romances, the non-stop hipper-than-thou pop-culture references become annoying (are there really karaoke bars where you can sing to the Pixies and Lee Hazlewood?); but in this Age of Apatow, a shy and even gentlemanly lead male character is not just a novelty but a relief.

Forest Hill 8.

G-Force (PG, 88 min.) Have you ever wondered what a Jerry Bruckheimer-produced talking-animal movie would be like? Me, neither. But here's the answer: The Disney/Bruckheimer collaboration "G-Force," in which the car chases, explosions, transforming robot battles and "Mission: Impossible" suspense sequences are as intense as in an "adult" movie, except instead of Tom Cruise and Will Smith, the heroes are members of an elite squad of commando guinea pigs and insects, plus one star-nosed mole (nerdily voiced by Nicolas Cage). I would have been happier if the "black" guinea pig (Tracy Morgan) didn't get all the stereotypical comic-relief lines ("Pimp my ride," "That was off the huh-zook"), and if the female guinea pig (Penélope Cruz) wasn't obsessed with romantic mind games.; even so, longtime special effects supervisor-turned-debuting director Hoyt Yeatman has delivered a fairly amusing spoof of James Bond/comic-book superteam conventions. With Memphis' Chris Ellis as "the director of the FBI."

Stage Cinema (in 3-D), Majestic, DeSoto Cinema 16 (in 3-D), Palace Cinema, Hollywood 20 Cinema, Summer Quartet Drive-In.

G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra (PG-13, 120 min.) The cartoon inspired by the Hasbro "action figures" inspired this chuckleheaded but coherently staged action movie that overcomes the burden of its reported $170-million budget to be surprisingly fun. With its massive sets, lack of "Transformers"-style bathroom humor, comic-book heroes ("Heavy Duty" and "Snake-Eyes," to name two), male and female eye candy (when Rachel Nichols suits up for action, you notice that large breasts have been pre-molded onto her body armor), ninja duels and scenery-chewing villains (the juiciest is a mad doctor with a horribly burned face), the film harks back to the pulpy spirit of "Doc Savage" adventures and Roger Moore-era James Bond movies. The result is director Stephen Sommers' first likable film since "The Mummy" in 1999.

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

Gamer (R, 95 min.) The latest example of grand mal seizure cinema (thanks, New York Times) from directors Mark Neveldine and Brian Taylor mashes "Rollerball," "Death Race" and "The Condemned" into a "futuristic vomitorium" (no thanks, New York Times) of a neo-exploitation film in which humans control other humans in mass-scale, multi-player online gaming environments, with real weapons, real blood and real killing. As in "Crank" and "Crank: High Voltage," the previous Neveldine/Taylor spazz-outs, "Gamer" is an absurdly exaggerated, outlandishly crass and alternately inventive and appalling depiction of a man (Eric Bana) violently fighting to liberate himself from those who seek to control him; the theme is intriguing, but the filmmakers -- who began "Crank" with a tape labeled "(Forget) You" and ended the sequel by having Jason Statham give the audience the finger -- again show weird contempt for their fan base, equating it with the leering masturbators and smart-aleck adolescents who are the new film's game players.

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

The Goods: Live Hard, Sell Hard (R, 89 min.) Jeremy Piven as a used-car dealer.

Wolfchase Galleria Cinema 8.

Halloween II (R, 101 min.) Brutal and redundant but not without a certain ugly integrity, this gruesome sequel allows director Rob Zombie to continue to explore his idea that murderous maniac Michael Myers is not the near-supernatural bogeyman of the original John Carpenter film but a pathetic and tragically irredeemable product of childhood abuse who suffers from multiple personality disorder: In the film's only interesting twist, Myers is accompanied on his rampages by his childhood self and his dead mother, an angel in white played by Sheri Moon Zombie.

Majestic, DeSoto Cinema 16, Palace Cinema, Hollywood 20 Cinema, CinePlanet 16.

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (PG, 153 min.) As the apparently physically mature "boy wizard" (Daniel Radcliffe) begins his sixth year at the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, there's not a house elf nor comical ghost in sight, and the most impressive magical creature onscreen, a giant spider, is dead. Voldemort's at the gates, so the palette is grim and the mood is somber; but Harry and his best friends, Hermione (Emma Watson) and Ron (Rupert Grint), remain stalwart and true -- to each other, to the vision of author J.K. Rowling, and to fans' expectations for what has been a truly remarkable movie series. Director David Yates (returning from "The Order of the Phoenix") fumbles what should be the emotionally devastating death of a major character, but he does wonderful work with the cast, including the teenagers (now as interested in "snogging" as Quidditch); Jim Broadbent, as the new potions professor, Horace Slughorn; and the many other British character actors, who intone their lines with the sincere and intense glee of cats sucking a songbird's bones.

Hollywood 20 Cinema.

The Hurt Locker (R, 131 min.) Wired like a ticking time bomb, director Kathryn Bigelow's stunner focuses on three soldiers in an Army bomb-disposal unit as they try to survive the final 38 days of their field rotation in the forbidding, alien environment of Iraq. A thoughtful nail-biter, the film inspires us to appreciate the precariousness and relative brevity of existence, as the soldiers' encounters with IEDs and wired-to-explode Iraqis become extreme representations of the tug between life and death that challenges each of us every day, however mundane and seemingly safe our environment. The movie is not without political content (a soldier's apology to a doomed Iraqi seems addressed to the entire country), but mostly it expresses genuine admiration for the professionalism -- the heroism, if you will -- of the soldiers. "Good job," one says to another, after a particularly intense situation has been resolved; as in a Howard Hawks movie, that is the highest praise possible.

Ridgeway Four.

I Can Do Bad All By Myself (PG-13, 113 min. ) Taraji P. Henson ("Hustle & Flow") meets Madea in the fifth film with Tyler Perry as his drag alter ego in four years.

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

Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs (PG, 94 min.) Sid the Sloth (slurringly voiced by John Leguizamo) and the fanged rat-squirrel known as Scrat (the unluckiest cartoon character since Wile E. Coyote) are as amusing as ever, but this third computer-generated "Ice Age" forsakes action for ancient sitcom-style platitudes about the importance of "the herd" (family) until the characters finally break into a lost world of prehistoric reptiles.

Bartlett 10.

Inglourious Basterds (R, 151 min.) The cameo by Rod Taylor and the references to Yvette Mimieux (the stars of 1960's "The Time Machine") are the tip-offs: This is Quentin Tarantino's celebration of cinema as time machine -- a device that not only can erase the years (where can you see the young and beautiful Marilyn Monroe walk and talk but in a movie?) but, on an imaginative level, can change the past, as in this World War II fantasy in which the tragic flammability of old nitrate film stock provides the spark for what is presented as a righteous, Nazi- exterminating holocaust. (Says supreme cinephile Tarantino: If our film heritage must perish in flames, as has happened so often through the decades, at least yet the fires serve a purpose -- let the movies mean as much to the world as they have meant to me.) Talky and gory, outrageous and exhilarating, and awash in movie references, this "kosher porn" revenge film (to use co-star Eli Roth's term) stars Brad Pitt as the leader of the bloodthirsty title commandos, who adopt "Apache" tactics to not just kill but terrorize Nazis: They use monstrous violence against a Reich that rules with monstrous violence. Is this approach -- by Tarantino and by the "Basterds" -- defensible or merely grotesque? Perhaps anticipating the reaction of some critics, Tarantino has himself (or at least a dummy cast in his likeness) scalped in an early scene; among those with more memorable roles are Diane Kruger as a glamorous German actress; Christoph Waltz as an urbane SS officer and Mélanie Laurent as a cinema owner with a secret.

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

Julie & Julia (PG-13, 124 min.) An old-fashioned star vehicle of the highest order, director Nora Ephron's fact-based saga about the drama of (a) cooking and (b) blogging would be flat as a soufflé without egg whites if not for the charm of its lead actresses, Meryl Streep and Amy Adams, who are in almost every scene, although never together. Streep is the warbly, big-boned Julia Child in the 1950s, before she became TV's "French Chef"; Adams is Julie Powell in 2002, who earned an online following by chronicling her attempt to cook all 524 recipes in Child's famous cookbook in 365 days. Jumping back and forth in time to follow the progress of its culinary heroines as they "reinvent" themselves through food, the movie lacks conventional drama and conflict -- and is none the worse for those absences. In fact, Ephron stumbles only when she tries to make her recipe nutritious as well as delicious; story elements involving McCarthyism and marital stress are as unnecessary as the promise of vitamins on a box of Frosted Flakes.

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

My Sister's Keeper (PG-13, 109 min.) Abigail Breslin stars as a young girl who sues her parents (Cameron Diaz and Jason Patric) for "medical emancipation" so they will stop using her blood, marrow and other body parts as donor material for her older sister (beautifully played by Oscar-worthy Sofia Vassilieva), an angelic, even wise teenager whose life has been a constant struggle with leukemia.

Bartlett 10, Wolfchase Galleria Cinema 8.

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 .

Bartlett 10.

9 (PG-13, 79 min.) Yet another nightmare post- apocalyptic world is imagined with a wealth of technical brilliance and a dearth of thematic originality in this dark, computer-animated man-vs.-machine fable, which will seem redundant to fans of "Matrix" and "Terminator" movies and uninspired to those familiar with director Shane Acker's chief influences, the surreal stop-motion shorts of the Czech Republic's Jan Svankmajer and England's the Quay Brothers. The story follows several "stitchpunks"-- weirdly stylized sentient rag dolls (voiced by Elijah Wood, John C. Reilly and others) -- as they struggle to preserve the last vestiges of humanity: pieces of their inventor's soul, preserved within their cloth-and-copper bodies.

Stage Cinema, Majestic, Collierville Towne 16, DeSoto Cinema 16, Studio on the Square, Cordova Cinema, Hollywood 20 Cinema, CinePlanet 16.

Orphan (R, 116 min.) Didn't Vera Farmiga learn her lesson in her previous kid-from-hell horror flick, "Joshua"? This time, the woman who may be the world's finest actress plays a melancholic classical pianist who introduces a 9-year-old adopted Russian orphan into her privileged household; the results are alternately predictable and outrageous, as the preternaturally possessed but spooky Esther (Isabelle Fuhrman, in a tour-de-force performance) demonstrates a need for a straitjacket as well as for eyebrow tweezers. Stylishly directed by Jaume Collet-Serra (the weird 2005 "House of Wax"), the film is distinguished by a loony plot twist and by its sympathetic treatment of characters, especially children.

Bartlett 10, Wolfchase Galleria Cinema 8.

A Perfect Getaway (R, 97 min.) A couple (Steve Zahn and Milla Jovovich) on a remote jungle trek in Hawaii learn there's trouble in paradise: a maniac who murders honeymooners is on the loose. David Twohy's modest but twisty B-thriller is elevated by nice character touches, witty writing and its tropical setting. (It's refreshing to see people menaced in the sunshine, for a change.)

Wolfchase Galleria Cinema 8, Summer Quartet Drive-In.

Ponyo (G, 103 min.) The 10th feature film from Japanese animaster Hayao Miyazaki (and the third to be distributed in the U.S. by Disney) is as eco-conscious as "Princess Mononoke" and the Oscar-winning "Spirited Away," but its simpler, gentler narrative marks a return to such earlier child-friendly masterpieces as "My Neighbor Totoro" and "Kiki's Delivery Service" (my favorite Miyazaki). The title character is, essentially, a goldfish princess who longs to be human after she meets a five-year-old boy in a seaside town; the sight of the giddy and newly bipedal Ponyo racing atop the waves of a magically roiling flood may be the happiest and most memorable image of the movie year.

Hollywood 20 Cinema.

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

Stage Cinema, Collierville Towne 16.

Public Enemies (R, 143 min.) More a reverie of romantic banditry and paean to movie love than rat-a-tat-tat gangster yarn, director Michael Mann's dreamlike crime film -- condensed from Bryan Burrough's definitive nonfiction history -- imagines the Depression-era "Golden Age of Bank Robbers" as the final, sputtering flame of American lone-wolf integrity and contrariness, extinguished by a lethal squall of FBI bullets and the windstorm profit margins of modern organized crime. Shot in crisp but sometimes jarring hi-def (images seem captured rather than composed), the violence is intermittent and -- to Mann's credit -- far from cathartic.

Bartlett 10.

Shorts (PG, 89 min.) Director Robert Rodriguez abandons the gore of "Grindhouse" and "Sin City" for a return to the kid-friendly fantasy-adventure of his "Spy Kids" movies.

Forest Hill 8, Palace Cinema, Hollywood 20 Cinema.

Sorority Row (R, 101 min.) Coed cut-ups get cut up in this bloody party-hearty slasher throwback (marred by pretentious faux artsy photography), in which a prank gone wrong summons a vengeful killer in a hooded graduation gown who dispatches the hot but insufferable "crazy bitches" of Theta Pi with a "pimped-out" tire iron. The cast list tells the story: It includes such characters as "Bra-Clad Sister," "Slutty Sister" "Stoned Dude," "Wasted Guy" and (for fans of "The Man Show"?) "Trampoline Sister."

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

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 , 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."

Bartlett 10.

The Time Traveler's Wife (PG-13, 108 min.) Rachel McAdams learns it's hard to be married to a guy (Eric Bana) who involuntarily hops around in time.

Stage Cinema, CinePlanet 16.

Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen (PG-13, 151 min.) Director Michael Bay's instant megahit sequel to 2007's "Transformers" is tinnitus with pictures. It's like sticking your face inside an electric can opener and your finger in a wall socket -- and those are the good parts. The state-of-the-art rock-'em, sock-'em giant robot mayhem is, as expected, impressive; what's not impressive is the racial stereotyping ("Skids" and "Mudflap" are illiterate Autobots with gold teeth who speak in African-American slang) and the warmongering (with its desert climax, this apologia for the Iraq War -- one evil Decepticon shouts "Jihad!" -- suggests Barack Obama is an appeaser and a coward). The disconnect between the scary hyper-realism of the in-your-face effects and the juvenile, even infantile and cartoonish content of the story and gags (a robot farts out a parachute) is unnerving.

Bartlett 10.

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.

Bartlett 10.

Whiteout (R, 101 min.) The misleading trailer suggsts "Nancy Drew vs. the Thing," but this graphic-novel adaptation is more "CSI: Antractica" -- a straight if occasionally gruesome murder mystery, boosted by the novelty of its sub-zero South Pole setting. At least director Dominic Sena has sense enough to include an early scene of Kate Beckinsale in her underwear before smothering his star -- cast as a tough U.S. marshal! -- in parkas and snow pants.

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

X-Men Origins: Wolverine (PG-13, 109 min.) Reprising his scene-stealing (scene-slashing?) role from three previous films, Hugh Jackman is the title mutton-chopped mutant.

Bartlett 10.

© 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.