Movie Capsules: Now showing

Asa Butterfield is Hugo Cabret in Martin Scorsese's children's adventure 'Hugo.'

Paramount Pictures

Asa Butterfield is Hugo Cabret in Martin Scorsese's children's adventure "Hugo."

Capsule descriptions by The Commercial Appeal movie writer John Beifuss.

OPENING TODAY

The Devil Inside (R, 87 min.) More exorcism antics.

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

Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy (R, 127 min.) See review on Page 12.

Paradiso.

SPECIAL MOVIES

Born To Be Wild: The latest IMAX film is "an inspiring story of love, dedication and the remarkable bond between humans and animals" that focuses on efforts to reintroduce rescued elephants and orangutans into the wild. Narrated by Morgan Freeman. Runs through Nov. 16.

IMAX Theater at Memphis Pink Palace Museum, 3050 Central. Call (901) 320-6362 for show times, tickets and reservations.

Down by Law (R, 107 min.) Tom Waits (playing a disc jockey), John Lurie (a pimp) and a pre-"Life Is Beautiful" Roberto Benigni (an Italian tourist) are New Orleans jail escapees in this wry 1986 comedy that was director Jim Jarmusch's third feature film.

2 p.m. Saturday, Memphis Brooks Museum of Art. Tickets: $8, or $6 for museum or Indie Memphis members. Visit brooksmuseum.org.

The Metropolitan Opera: Faust (Not rated, 265 min.) Filmed live onstage in New York, a repeat screening of a 2011 production of Charles Gounod's 1859 opera about an aging scholar who makes an ill-fated pact with the devil.

6:30 p.m. Wednesday, Paradiso. Tickets: $20. Visit malco.com.

Momo: The Sam Giancana Story (Not rated, 108 min.) Memphis premiere of a documentary about the Chicago mobster. See story on Page 17.

6 p.m. Tuesday, Paradiso. Visit justmy.com/momo.

The Other F Word (Not rated, 98 min.) Director Andrea Blaugrund Nevins' documentary asks what happens when punks become pops (the title refers to "fatherhood"). Featured rockers learning to balance onstage rage with offstage parental responsibility include members of Pennywise, Blink-182 and the Red Hot Chili Peppers.

2 p.m. Sunday, Memphis Brooks Museum of Art. Tickets: $8, or $6 for museum members. Visit brooksmuseum.org.

The Ultimate Wave Tahiti: Viewers will learn how waves influence and shape our planet while they ride alongside champion surfer Kelly Slater as he challenges Tahiti's toughest wave. Runs through March 2. Tickets $8.25, $7.50 senior citizens, $6.50 children ages 3-12 and children under 3 free.

IMAX Theater at Memphis Pink Palace Museum, 3050 Central. Call (901) 320-6362 for show times, tickets and reservations.

NOW SHOWING

Abduction (PG-13, 106 min.) Not quite as awful as alleged but utterly undistinguished, this on-the-run action-adventure from director-for-hire John Singleton gives "Twilight" graduate Taylor Lautner his first starring role, as a Harry Potter/Luke Skywalker for meatheads: Lautner is Nathan Harper, yet another restless unfulfilled teenager who discovers his real father was super-special (a CIA agent, in this case). Lautner is a distracting screen presence: With his squinty eyes, M'Ling nose and feral smile, he resembles a Mort Drucker caricature or a "motion capture" animated avatar of himself; even so, he deserves better than this. Notable only for the sign-of-the-times moment when a Serbian "black ops" terrorist (Michael Nyqvist) tries to secure the young hero's cooperation by threatening to track and kill all Nathan's Facebook friends.

Bartlett 10.

 Michelle Williams portrays blond bombshell Marilyn Monroe in 'My Week with Marilyn.'

The Weinstein Company

Michelle Williams portrays blond bombshell Marilyn Monroe in "My Week with Marilyn."

The Adventures of Tintin (PG, 107 min.) As frenetic if hardly as entertaining as "Raiders of the Lost Ark," this "performance capture" animated film from director Steven Spielberg and producer Peter Jackson ("the two greatest storytellers of our time," according to the immodest trailer) introduces us to its boyish newspaper reporter hero as he is being caricatured by a street artist. The resulting sketch is based on one of the signature drawings of Tintin by the young hero's creator, the late Belgian comic-book artist known as Hergé; unfortunately, the portrait calls our attention to the contrast between the wit, economy and charm of Hergé's original art and the expensive, labor-intensive kitsch of the performance-capture images. The action set pieces are spectacular, as Tintin (voiced/enacted by Jamie Bell), his fox terrier, Snowy, and new drunken ally, Captain Haddock (the performance-capture Man of a Thousand LED Faces, Andy Serkis), race against an evil adversary (Daniel Craig) to claim a sunken pirate treasure, but Tintin remains a dull if intrepid blank; we don't identify with him or fear for his safety, so his adventures leave us breathless with exhaustion, not excitement.

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

Alvin and the Chipmunks: Chipwrecked (G, 90 min.) Another "squeakquel."

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

Arthur Christmas (PG, 100 min.) This digitally animated holiday bandwagon-jumper lacks the visual charm of the stop-motion Plasticine animation that is the signature of England's Aardman studios; otherwise, it's funny and clever and even moving, as might be expected from the company responsible for "Wallace & Gromit."

Cordova Cinema, DeSoto Cinema 16, Hollywood 20 Cinema, Palace Cinema, Wolfchase Galleria Cinema 8.

Courageous (PG-13, 130 min.) Four Christian sheriff's deputies and their new Latin amigo (I'm resisting using the word "mascot") struggle with the responsibilities of work and family in this fourth feature film from Albany, Georgia's Sherwood Pictures, the startlingly successful "movie ministry" of Sherwood Baptist Church. Essentially a Bible-based pep rally for dads, the film advocates that every father sign a pledge to "serve and protect" at home -- to affirm his status as the wife-loving, bread-winning, God-fearing head of his household. Directed, co-written by and starring Sherwood's Orson Welles, Adam Kendrick, the film showcases wholesome buddy comedy, on-the-street police action and mawkish corn (the father played by Kendrick pantomimes a final dance with his buried dead daughter); it's nicely produced, but the converted are more likely to be impressed than the skeptical.

Bartlett 10.

The Darkest Hour (PG-13, 89 min.) The kills are super-cool, as invisible energy "ghosts" from outer space flash-fry humans (and dogs) in dust-devil swirls of ash and spark; unfortunately, everything else is utterly perfunctory in this alien invasion mini-epic that presents trapped-in-Moscow twentysomethings Emile Hirsch, Max Minghella and Olivia Thirlby as the potential saviors of Earth. Poor Earth. Directed by Chris Gorak.

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

The Descendants (R, 115 min.) A certain contender for most of the major Oscars, the first film in seven years from director Alexander Payne ("Sideways") casts George Clooney as Matt King, a haole (white person in Hawaii) lawyer with royal Hawaiian blood who is facing two terrible deadlines: As trustee, he must determine what to do with his family's "huge parcel of virgin land," worth millions; and as husband, he has to decide when to pull the plug on his comatose wife.

Cordova Cinema, Ridgeway Four.

Dolphin Tale (PG, 113 min.) Winter the dolphin, Harry Connick Jr.

Bartlett 10.

Don 2 (Not rated, 145 min.) A "Bollywood" gangster epic about an Indian crime kingpin (Shah Rukh Khan).

Hollywood 20 Cinema.

Footloose (PG-13, 113 min.) Kenny Wormald, Julianne Hough.

Bartlett 10.

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (R, 158 min.) Director David Fincher's adaptation of Stieg Larsson's phenomenally successful international best-seller is a movie of extreme length as well as unassailable technical polish and posh production values, but the gloss doesn't hide the gruesomeness: In its bid to be the first major-studio "mainstream" franchise worthy of its R rating, "Girl" is unflinching in its intermittent depiction of sexual exploitation and brutality. It's this injustice that motivates the series' indelible outsider avenger heroine, Lisbeth Salander, portrayed with a remarkable mix of confidence and vulnerability by Rooney Mara; Daniel Craig is the disgraced investigative journalist who recruits the punk-garbed genius computer hacker to help investigate a decades-old disappearance connected to a savage string of Bible-inspired murders. With its cold and spooky Scandinavian mise-en-scène, which merges hard-angled IKEA modernism with the misty irrationality of a Nordic fairy tale, the film is superior to the Swedish version of "Girl" that appeared in 2009, but it's not as gripping as Fincher's previous serial-killer masterpiece, "Zodiac." Even so, it reminds us why murder mysteries and investigative procedurals -- useful parables about the certainty of death that have pretty much migrated to television -- can be especially compelling in a darkened theater.

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

Happy Feet Two (PG, 103 min.) Director George Miller's sequel to his 2006 Best Animated Feature Oscar-winner is a pointless and plotless disappointment, but it gives a major role to Memphis kid rapper Lil P-Nut, who supplies the voice of a scene-stealing fat-and-fluffy kid penguin named Atticus, whose take on LL Cool J's "Mama Said Knock You Out" ("Don't call it a comeback!") was a major part of the ad campaign.

DeSoto Cinema 16, Majestic, Palace Cinema.

Hugo (PG, 127 min.) Advertised as a children's adventure, Martin Scorsese's first 3D feature might more accurately be described as a love letter to cinema, set in the city of storybook romance, Paris. Even the movie's clockwork automaton is motivated by a symbol of love: It is brought to life by a key shaped like a Valentine's heart. Asa Butterfield stars as Hugo, a young 1930s orphan who lives in hiding in a bustling train station, where he tends the great clocks; aided by a precocious, booksmart girl (Chloë Grace Moretz), he uncovers a mystery involving a toymaker (Ben Kingsley) and a real-life master of cinematic invention and special effects, Georges Méliès, a stage magician turned filmmaker who marvels that the movies represented "a new kind of magic" -- a statement that endorses Scorsese's decision to embrace the spirit of Méliès and explore the new magic of digital 3D.

Collierville Towne 16, DeSoto Cinema 16 (in 3-D), Cordova Cinema (in 3-D), Palace Cinema, Paradiso (in 3-D), Wolfchase Galleria Cinema 8.

The Ides of March (R, 101 min.) Ryan Gosling, George Clooney.

Bartlett 10.

Immortals (R, 110 min.) The most unpretentious -- or should that be ridiculous? -- film yet from style-drunk director Tarsem Singh ("The Cell," "The Fall") is also his most enjoyable, a Cuisinart-blended shot of Greek mythology and ultraviolent 3D digital effects that choke the viewer with unrelenting and impractical decor and design. (The gods of Olympus dress like extras from a silent Soviet science-fiction movie.) Mickey Rourke is evil King Hyperion; the next screen Superman, Henry Cavill, is heroic Theseus; Freida Pinto is a virgin oracle; and old-timer John Hurt and hunky Luke Evans are different aspects of Zeus.

Hollywood 20 Cinema, Wolfchase Galleria Cinema 8.

In Time (PG-13, 110 min.) Justin Timberlake, Amanda Seyfried.

Bartlett 10.

Jack and Jill (PG, 91 min.) Not since Max Baer donned ringlets and petticoats to portray Jethrine Bodine on "The Beverly Hillbillies" has a drag act been as ghastly as the one perpetrated by Adam Sandler in this alternately tasteless and schmaltzy comedy about a privileged Hollywood adman (Sandler) who ultimately learns to love his obnoxious, awkward sister (also Sandler, wearing a long black wig, so he resembles a Bronx Cher worthy of a Bronx cheer).

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

J. Edgar (R, 137 min.) Like the ultimately unknowable subject of this ambitious biopic, director Clint Eastwood has spent almost his entire adult life being regarded as an icon of law enforcement and often violent justice, and he understands the tension between private behavior and public image; it's this tension that apparently interested Eastwood in this difficult project about longtime FBI director J. Edgar Hoover.

CinePlanet 16, Palace Cinema, Wolfchase Galleria Cinema 8.

Mission: Impossible -- Ghost Protocol (PG-13, 133 min.) The first live-action film from director Brad Bird ("The Iron Giant," "Ratatouille") doesn't reach the giddy action heights of his incredible "The Incredibles," but it occasionally comes close, with a chase through a dust storm and an already famous sequence in which IMF agent Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise, increasingly cipher-like) attempts to scale the glassy exterior of the world's tallest manmade structure, the Burj Khalifa skyscraper in Dubai. Better still is the scene in which Hunt and his comic-relief associate (Simon Pegg) infiltrate the Kremlin with, essentially, a high-tech magic trick; the playfulness of the effect demonstrates the usefulness of Bird's background in the astonish-the-audience culture of animation. With Jeremy Renner and Paula Patton as the other members of Hunt's outcast team.

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

Moneyball (PG-13, 133 min.) Brad Pitt, Jonah Hill.

Bartlett 10.

The Muppets (PG, 109 min.) "As long as there are singing frogs and joking bears... the world can't be such a bad place after all." That's the hopeful philosophy of a pleasant felt-and-foam Muppet-sized individual named Walter (voiced and enacted by puppeteer Peter Linz) in this valiant and worthy Disney attempt to revive the late Jim Henson's distinctive creations for a generation of kids perhaps more familiar with Kim Kardashian and Snooki than with Kermit and Piggy.

CinePlanet 16, Collierville Towne 16, DeSoto Ciname 16, Paradiso, Raleigh Springs Cinema, Stage Cinema.

My Week with Marilyn (R, 101 min.) Sort of like "Me and Orson Welles" but with a more curvaceous title celebrity, this impeccably produced and thoroughly entertaining backstage showbiz yarn examines a few days in the presence of greatness through the eyes of a starstruck young man, Colin Clark (Eddie Redmayne), who parlays a job as gofer on the tense set of Laurence Olivier's 1957 production "The Prince and the Showgirl" into a short-term one-sided love affair with "the most famous woman in the world," Marilyn Monroe. Michelle Williams brings depth and compassion to her performance as Hollywood's tragic blond bombshell, and her sincerity invests the entire film with a sort of grandeur.

Majestic, Wolfchase Galleria Cinema 8.

New Year's Eve (PG-13, 119 min.) In the tradition of "Valentine's Day," an all-star romantic-comedy romp from director Garry Marshall.

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

Paranormal Activity 3 (R, 84 min.) A prequel to a prequel, this third and least persuasive film in the low-budget faux found-footage fright franchise confounds the continuity of previous entries and adds few new scares.

Bartlett 10.

Pregnant by the Pastor (Not rated, 90 min.) Little Rock-born debut filmmaker SaTonya L. Ford (author of the novel "A Player in the Pulpit") wrote and directed this provocatively titled, micro-budgeted, faith-inspired, made-in-Arkansas drama about marriage, religion, sin and salvation.

Majestic.

Puss in Boots (PG, 90 min.) The scene-stealing swashbuckling "Shrek" feline (voiced by Antonio Banderas) makes the most of this starring-role spin-off, teaming with rival/romantic interest Kitty Softpaws (Salma Hayek) and treacherous Humpty Dumpty (Zach Galifianakis) to steal the Goose That Lays the Golden Eggs. Unlike most digital cartoon features, this is an utterly unpretentious film devoted almost entirely to comedy and action, with little moralizing; as usual for a DreamWorks production, the animation is stunning. Directed by Chris Miller ("Shrek the Third").

Bartlett 10, Summer Quartet Drive-In.

Real Steel (PG-13, 127 min.) Hugh Jackman, Dakota Goyo.

Bartlett 10.

Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows (PG-13, 129 min.) You don't need a deerstalker and a magnifying glass to track the subtext in this fatiguing Arthur Conan Don't-Ask-Don't-Tell "bromance"-plus of a sequel, in which the master detective's pursuit of the evil Moriarty (Jared Harris) seems secondary to his badgering of his former longtime companion, the newlywed Dr. Watson (Jude Law). In one scene, Holmes (Robert Downey Jr.) dresses in drag, tosses his sidekick's wife from a train, and commands: "Like down with me, Watson"; in another, he asks Watson to dance. At least these moments add interest to returning director Guy Ritchie's otherwise overwrought action-adventure, with its no longer novel Holmes-deduces-the-future slow-motion fight scenes and whiplash stylistic diversity. Noomi Rapace (the original "Girl with the Dragon Tattoo") is wasted as a gypsy fortune-teller, but Stephen Fry steals every scene as Holmes' epicene diplomat brother, Mycroft.

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

The Sitter (R, 82 min.) Smart-aleck college student Jonah Hill is unprepared for the challenges of babysitting.

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

The Smurfs (PG, 103 min.) The highlight is Hank Azaria's committed performance as Gargamel, the Smurf-hating sorcerer; a low point is the scene in which Neal Patrick Harris, wearing a CBGB T-shirt, rocks out with Clumsy Smurf to a "Guitar Hero" rendition of the Aerosmith/Run-DMC hit, "Walk This Way." Historians may want to remember this sequence when they're trying to pinpoint the exact moment that rock and roll died.

Bartlett 10.

Tower Heist (PG-13, 104 min.) Ben Stiller, Eddie Murphy.

Majestic.

The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn -- Part 1 (PG-13, 118 min.) While certain political groups try to push through "Defense of Marriage" legislation and "personhood" amendments, moviegoers and readers vote by the millions in favor of a series that approves of marriage between human and nonhuman, and that suggests that a vampire or werewolf can be just as worthy of love as a conventional "person." Yet this first chapter of the conclusion of the "Twilight" series also conveys a paradoxical "pro-life" message, as virgin-no-more Bella Swan (Kristen Stewart) insists on carrying to term the bloodsucking half-vampire baby in her belly, the result of her bed-shredding honeymoon with hooded-eyed Edward Cullen (Robert Pattinson). The fourth film inspired by Stephenie Meyers' best-sellers and the first directed by Bill Condon ("Gods and Monsters," "Dreamgirls") is the dullest to date, spending much of its first hour on the wedding (with fetishistic attention to Bella's lace dress) before introducing a bit of conflict via the shape-shifting clan of shirt-challenged Jacob (Taylor Lautner), who -- unlike Meyers and the series' swooning fans -- seems to understand the contradiction inherent in the insistence that cold-blooded undeath is just another lifestyle choice.

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

War Horse (PG-13, 146 min.) Inspired and forced, cornball and true, Steven Spielberg's sweeping saga of the unbreakable bond between unworthy man and noble animal may not be a masterpiece, but it's a welcome rarity: a quality "family" film with appeal for audience members of all ages, and a movie that suggests that people of decency and integrity are not an endangered species. Adapted from the 1982 children's book by Michael Morpugo that also inspired the Tony Award-winning Broadway play, the movie ranges from the green shires of England to the blasted "no man's land" battlefields of World War I, as a "fancy horse" turned work horse turned cavalry steed named Joey copes with separation from his beloved Albert (Jeremy Irvine), a bright-eyed farmboy. The film owes as much to movie history as to historical reality, but the John Ford references pay off big time during the theoretically gladdening but in fact heartbreaking reunion finale, in which the "strong, decent and very fine" Joey is shown by the framing and editing to be as apart and alone as John Wayne at the end of "The Searchers" -- a veteran of terrible experiences no one else can understand.

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

We Bought a Zoo (PG, 124 min.) Matt Damon and Scarlett Johansson take over a failing California menagerie.

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

Young Adult (R, 94 min.) Charlize Theron's Mavis Gary is no serial killer, but she's another memorable Theron "Monster": an alcoholic and seriously depressed 37-year-old "psychotic prom queen bitch" and teen-novel ghost writer who returns to the smalltown Minnesota scene of her high-school triumphs to steal her now happily married ex-boyfriend (Patrick Wilson) from his special-needs teacher wife (Elizabeth Reaser) and infant daughter.

Ridgeway Four.

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