Movie Capsules: Now showing

OPENING TODAY

The Ghost Writer (PG-13, 129 min.) See review.

Ridgeway Four.

Green Zone (R, 115 min.) Matt Damon stars in an Iraq War movie inspired by "Imperial Life in the Emerald City," the nonfiction best-seller about post-invasion Baghdad.

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

Our Family Wedding (PG-13, 103 min.) See review.

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

Remember Me (PG-13, 112 min.) Can moody Robert Pattinson find romance with life-loving Emilie de Ravin?

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

She's Out of My League (R, 105 min.) .

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

SPECIAL MOVIES

The Alps: The latest IMAX film follows climber John Harlin III in his attempt to climb the Eiger in the Swiss Alps. Runs through Nov. 12. Tickets $8, $7.25 senior citizens, $6.25 children ages 3-12; children under 3 are free. Call for show times. alpsfilm.com

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

Lewis & Clark: Great Journey West: IMAX film follows Captains Meriwether Lewis and William Clark as they lead the Corps of Discovery on the first overland expedition into the newly expanded territory of the United States. Their mission -- to discover the fabled Northwest Passage. Jeff Bridges narrates. Through Nov. 12. Tickets: $8, $7.25 senior citizens, $6.25 children ages 3-12; children under 3, free. Call for show times.

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

The White Stripes: Under Great White Northern Lights (Not rated, 93 min.) This concert documentary follows garage/rock/blues/glam rockers Jack and Meg White on their 2007 tour of small venues in Canada.

7:30 p.m. Tuesday, Studio on the Square. Admission: $5, or free for Indie Memphis members and people dressed in White Stripes garb. Visit indiememphis.com.

NOW SHOWING

'Alice in Wonderland': The Mad Hatter (Johnny Depp, from left),  Alice (Mia Wasikowska) and  the White Queen (Anne Hathaway).

Disney Enterprises

"Alice in Wonderland": The Mad Hatter (Johnny Depp, from left), Alice (Mia Wasikowska) and the White Queen (Anne Hathaway).

Alice in Wonderland (PG, 109 min.) The new 3D film for Disney from one-time Mouse House exile Tim Burton received a Parental Guidance rating for fantasy action/violence and "for a smoking caterpillar," according to the MPAA. The Jefferson Airplane would be proud; Lewis Carroll devotees, however, may be less enthusiastic about this somewhat tiresome catalog of amazements, which at this point in Burton's career seems — like the director's recent "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory" — more a marriage made in branding heaven than an artistic necessity. Mia Wasikowska is 19-year-old Alice, whose return to Wonderland — here called "Underland" — initiates an adventure that isn't really a Carroll adaptation but more a Marvel Comics-style spin-off that manipulates the source material to get Alice into battle armor and transform her into the prophesied wielder of the Jabberwocky-slaying "Vorpal sword." The CG environments and supporting characters are so busily "imaginative" that the film's brief highlight is its calmest moment: a recitation of Carroll verse ("Mimy were the borogroves...") by Johnny Depp's garish Mad Hatter.

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

Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squeakquel (PG, 89 min.) Richard Widmark is dead, but his spirit improbably lives on in Alvin, Simon and Theodore, who send an old lady in a wheelchair down a steep flight of stairs, as if in homage to the film-noir classic "Kiss of Death." The harmonizing rodents also smash their human sponsor, Dave Seville (Jason Lee), with a piece of stage scenery, putting him in traction for most of the film; maybe what this "squeakquel" needs isn't a reviewer but an exterminator.

Stage Cinema, Majestic.

Armored (PG-13, 88 min.) A group of armored-car security guards — Matt Dillon, Laurence Fishburne, Jean Reno, and others — plans to steal $42 million, but this isn't really a heist film but a claustrophobic, ticking-clock suspenser, set almost entirely in an abandoned industrial complex where the bad guys work against time to crack open a truck being guarded by heroic rookie guard Columbus Short. Director Nimód Antal's stripped-down genre exercise — there's not even a hint of a romantic subplot — is unremarkable but efficient.

Bartlett 10, Majestic.

Avatar (PG-13, 162 min.) Twelve years after "Titanic," writer-director James Cameron returns with the most expensive movie ever (reported budget: $240 million), a science-fiction eco-spectacle that could be described as "Dances with Wolves" or "The New World" in outer space, as a paraplegic Marine (Sam Worthington) on the distant planet Pandora in the year 2154 rejects his imperialistic, exploitative and genocidal mission after spending time in a genetically manufactured "avatar" body among the indigenous Na'vi: blue-skinned humanoids who hunt with bows and arrows, ride pterodactyl-like "banshees" and live in harmony with the planet's bioluminescent flora and fauna (including several amazing monsters). A paean to nature created almost entirely through state-of-the-art digital technology (most of the actors are themselves represented onscreen by "avatars," including Zoë Saldaña, transformed through the "motion capture" process into a Na'vi princess), "Avatar" works as both a socially conscious Western update and a true SF film, revealing the influences of such fine genre writers as Philip José Farmer, Larry Niven and especially Edgar Rice Burroughs, whose "John Carter of Mars" novels inspired the story's premise and the design of the multilimbed creatures.

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), Palace Cinema, Hollywood 20 Cinema, CinePlanet 16 (in 3-D).

The Blind Side (PG-13, 126 min.) Sarah Palin isn't the only gun-toting, ex-cheerleader, conservative Christian sports mom back in the news. We've also got Sandra Bullock as Leigh Anne Tuohy, the no-nonsense, git-'r-done Memphian whose rescue of inner-city gentle giant and future football star Michael Oher provides the real-life inspiration for director John Lee Hancock's tearless tearjerker (steel magnolia Leigh Anne leaves the room whenever she's about to cry). Played with quiet, hulking dignity by Quinton Aaron, Michael is presented as a passive, almost infantile figure(his only apparent friend is his adoptive brother, the Tuohys' wisecracking young son), as well as an attractive ideal for white audiences: a kid from the 'hood who is not only not a threat to the suburbs but actually a protector of white culture, roused to anger only in defense of Leigh Anne's honor while his real mother (native Memphian Adriane Lenox) languishes in Hurt Village with her crack pipe. On the positive tip, the movie — which functions primarily as a star vehicle for Bullock — presents a welcome sympathetic portrait of the type of "traditional values" family rarely seen onscreen. With Tim McGraw as Leigh Anne's husband, Grizzlies broadcast analyst Sean Tuohy, and Atlanta as Memphis.

Stage Cinema, Collierville Towne 16, CinePlanet 16.

The Book of Eli (R, 118 min.) With a knife that would scare a samurai and the world's last remaining Bible as his prized possessions, butt-kicking prophet of God Denzel Washington wanders an ashy wasteland in this Mad-to-the-Max post-apocalyptic Western from director brothers Albert and Allen Hughes ("Menace II Society")..

Majestic, Paradiso, Hollywood 20 Cinema, Summer Quartet Drive-In.

Brooklyn's Finest (R, 133 min.) When the moral certainty of right and wrong is replaced by the situational fuzziness of "righter and wronger," corruption thrives, according to this violent, profane, ambitious, pretentious, overcooked and entertaining cops-and-criminals ensemble drama from director Antoine Fuqua ("Training Day"). As an apathetic patrolman nearing retirement, Richard Gere is the standout in a cast that includes Don Cheadle as an undercover officer, Ellen Barkin as a tough FBI agent, Wesley Snipes as a drug dealer and Ethan Hawke as a desperate-for-money narcotics detective. Fans of James Ellroy, Joseph Wambaugh and gritty 1970s police dramas should be pleased.

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

Cop Out (R, 107 min.) Bruce Willis and Tracy Morgan, in a buddy picture from director Kevin "I Can't Fit in the Plane" Smith.

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, Summer Quartet Drive-In.

The Crazies (R, 101 min.) A car wash ambush, a truckstop assault and one or two other lively set pieces are all that distinguish director Breck Eisner's unilluminating remake of George Romero's brilliant and angry 1973 thriller about a military biological weapon accident that transforms a small town into a loony bin of ravening killers. The insinuating political paranoia of the first film is merely window dressing here, as a sheriff (Timothy Olyphant) and his doctor wife (Radha Mitchell) try to elude both the infected townies and the soldiers trying to cover up the mess.

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

Crazy Heart (R, 112 min.) As "Bad Blake," a broke, alcoholic country singer-songwriter nicknamed "the Wrangler of Love," Best Actor nominee Jeff Bridges brings all his four decades of deceptively casual charm and unpretentious smarts to what is proving to be his signature role. Adapted by debuting director Scott Cooper from a novel by Thomas Cobb, the film is something of an anomaly on the current movie landscape: a relaxed, 1970s-style character study more interested in observing behavior than in surprising viewers with the "twists" of a story, as Blake seeks romantic refuge with a single mother (Maggie Gyllenhaal) who knows better. The film's original songs, performed by Bridges, mostly were written by T Bone Burnett and the late Stephen Bruton, but viewers may prefer Blake's explanation for the compositions. When asked, "Where did all those songs come from?" he responds: "Life, unfortunately."

Ridgeway Four, Cordova Cinema, Hollywood 20 Cinema, CinePlanet 16.

Daybreakers (R, 98 min.)

Bartlett 10.

Dear John (PG-13, 108 min.) A soldier (Channing Tatum) falls for a college student (Amanda Seyfried) in this adaptation of Nicholas Sparks' best-seller.

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

Edge of Darkness (R, 117 min.)

Wolfchase Galleria Cinema 8.

An Education (PG-13, 95 min.) Adapted by popular British novelist Nick Hornby from Lynn Barber's coming-of-age memoir, the movie chronicles the initially flattering and exciting but inevitably troubling courtship/seduction of Jenny (Carey Mulligan), a pretty and extremely bright but naive 16-year-old virgin, by David (Peter Sarsgaard), a seemingly sophisticated charmer almost twice her age.

Ridgeway Four.

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.

Palace Cinema.

It's Complicated (R, 118 min.)

Bartlett 10.

The Last Station (R, 112 min.) Shot in Germany and Russia, director Michael Hoffman's handsome adaptation of Jay Parini's novel falls well short of its lofty ambition to be, all at once, a love story, a coming-of-age yarn, a debate about the "ownership" of an author's legacy, a satire of do-gooder sanctimony and a wry domestic comedy about a pair of bickering old folks, Count and Countess Tolstoy, played by Christopher Plummer and Helen Mirren (both Oscar-nominated for these performances). A chronicle of Leo Tolstoy's final days in 1910, by which time the author of "War and Peace" was regarded as a "living saint" because of his Jesus-inspired ideals, the movie mostly reveals its events through the eyes of an earnest young celibate "Tolstoyan" (James McAvoy), who is torn between his filial affection for the countess and his loyalty to her adversary, an oily Tolstoy movement leader (Paul Giamatti) who wants Tolstoy's writings to be disseminated freely, as "the birthright of the Russian people." The playful gravitas Plummer brings to his portrayal deserves a more interesting showcase than this conventional production, aimed at those who value "culture" over art.

Ridgeway Four.

The Lovely Bones (PG-13, 135 min.)

Bartlett 10.

Old Dogs (PG, 88 min.)

Bartlett 10.

Percy Jackson & the Olympians: The Lightning Thief (PG, 120 min.) Director Chris Columbus first brought Harry Potter to the screen; here, he moves on to the Young Adult novels of Rick Riordan, which tell the similar story of teenaged Percy Jackson (Logan Lerman), who discovers he's the son of the Greek god Poseidon (Kevin McKidd) and the heir to magical powers; he enrolls in a sort of Hellenic Hogswart, and soon learns that centaurs, minotaurs and Mt. Olympus aren't myths.

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

Planet 51 (PG, 97 min.)

Bartlett 10.

Preacher's Kid (PG-13, 101 min.)

Majestic.

The Princess and the Frog (G, 97 min.)

Bartlett 10.

Sherlock Holmes (PG-13, 130 min.)

Wolfchase Galleria Cinema 8.

Shutter Island (R, 138 min.) In his fourth collaboration with director Martin Scorsese, Leonardo DiCaprio is an ex-G.I. federal marshal in 1954 whose investigation of an impossible disappearance from an asylum for the "criminally insane" drives him — like "a rat in a maze" — into the dark corners of his overtaxed brain, as well as into the natural caves and equally dank manmade warrens of this particular island of lost souls. "Pull yourself together," are the marshal's first words, to his distraught mirror image, and no wonder: He's burdened by visions of his dead wife (Michelle Williams), memories of the liberation of Dachau, and his alcoholic past. Scorsese employs all his expert resources, but this adaptation of Dennis Lehane's things-are-not-what-they-seem novel proves more pedantic than scary, even when the low camera angles, the dark skies, the menacing character actors (you know a place is bad when the wardens are played by serial killers Ted "Silence of the Lambs" Levine and John "Zodiac" Carroll Lynch) and the jarring piano notes of Krzysztof Penderecki work overtime to strap you into a strait-jacket of foreboding. Unfortunately, narrative rug-pulling is now so commonplace that the revelations here are more old-hat than snap-brim, as if master filmmaker Scorsese, the dedicated champion of America's movie heritage, is so enamored of the past that he doesn't realize his homage to such slippery 1940s mind-tease noirs as "Whirpool" and "The Chase" is unlikely to startle the contemporary moviegoer.

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

Tooth Fairy (PG, 102 min.) Hockey player Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson must atone for a bad deed by spending one week as the magical tooth fairy.

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

2012 (PG-13, 158 min.)

Bartlett 10.

The Twilight Saga: New Moon (PG-13, 130 min.)

Bartlett 10.

Up in the Air (R, 109 min.)

Wolfchase Galleria Cinema 8.

Valentine's Day (PG-13, 125 min.) Incapable of staging even a single interesting shot, nice guy-but-hopeless hack director Garry Marshall has assembled a glittery all-ages ensemble that includes Julia Roberts, Jessica Biel, Shirley MacLaine, Bradley Cooper, two Taylors (Lautner and Swift), Emma Roberts (a virgin who decides not to go all the way before college) and Kathy Bates and Queen Latifah. (The latter two are the only names unrewarded with a romantic subplot — what, plus-sized ladies don't deserve no love??) For the most part, the stars know they're in a piece of junk. You can see it in their eyes, except for Jessica Alba's — you can't see anything in there.

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

When in Rome (PG-13, 91 min.) A better fit for one of the Eternal City's apocryphal vomitoriums than for a movie theater, this embarrassment casts Kristen Bell as a stubbornly single Guggenheim curator (!) pursued by a series of wacky suitors (illusionist Jon Heder, sausage mogul Danny DeVito, etc.) after she liberates their wishing coins from a magic fountain of love in Rome. Bell's conundrum: Is hunky sportswriter Josh Duhamel sincere in his sudden courtship, or also bewitched? Charmless and unbelievable, from a director who specializes in the stupefying, Mark Steven Johnson ("Daredevil," "Ghost Rider").

Hollywood 20 Cinema.

The White Ribbon (R, 144 min.) An Oscar nominee for Best Foreign-Language Film, this tale of "strange events" in a small German village on the eve of the First World War is a typically engrossing mystery — or should that be anti-mystery? — from perverse Austrian writer-director Michael Haneke, who enjoys frustrating viewers by withholding the solutions to the puzzles his plots painstakingly establish (see "Caché"). Shot in color but altered to black-and-white in post-production, to acknowledge the influence of the great moral filmmakers, Dreyer and Bergman, the movie methodically reveals the class and family tensions that follow a series of accidents and crimes, fostering a fearmongering climate of "malice, envy, apathy and brutality" that Haneke suggests contributed to the rise of the Nazis.

Ridgeway Four.

The Wolfman (R, 91 min.) Arriving late to a troubled production, journeyman director Joe Johnston ("The Rocketeer," "Jurassic Park III") has crafted a generally effective if inconsequential monster movie, highlighted by Rick Baker's beautifully rendered makeup effects and designs.

Raleigh Springs Cinema, Cordova Cinema, Paradiso, Palace Cinema, Hollywood 20 Cinema, Summer Quartet Drive-In.

The Young Victoria (PG, 100 min.)

Forest Hill 8.

Youth in Revolt (R, 90 min.) Michael Cera, schizo.

Bartlett 10.

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