Capsule descriptions and starred mini-reviews by John Beifuss.
The Dark Knight Rises (PG-13, 165 min.) See review.
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.
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 901-636-2362 for show times, tickets and reservations.
The Finger (El Dedo) (Not rated, 93 min.) The "Global Lens" international film series continues with this loose, funny 2011 satire from Argentina about a severed finger in a jar that becomes a small village's most popular icon, prophet and even mayoral candidate.
2 p.m. Friday, Memphis Brooks Museum of Art. Tickets: $8, or $6 for museum members; free for Indie Memphis members. Visit brooksmuseum.org.
Gerhard Richter Painting (Not rated, 97 min.) True to its title, director Corinna Belz's new documentary observes the famed 80-year-old painter at work in his studio in Cologne, Germany, where he creates large, colorful, mostly abstract canvases that sometimes sell for millions of dollars.
7 p.m. Thursday, Memphis Brooks Museum of Art. Tickets: $8, or $6 for museum members; free for Indie Memphis members. Visit brooksmuseum.org.
Metropolitan Opera: Der Rosenkavalier (Not rated, 290 min.) An encore presentation of a live-via-satellite New York production of Strauss' comic masterpiece of love and intrigue in 18th-century Vienna.
6:30 p.m. Wednesday, Paradiso. Tickets: $12.50. Visit malco.com.
Mr. Dial Has Something to Say (Not rated, 60 min.) The "Soul on Film" series continues with a documentary that challenges art-world notions about "primitive" and "visionary" art even as it examines the life and work of Alabama painter Thornton Dial, whose improvisatory style connects his canvases to the jazz tradition and other "African" forms of expression.
2 p.m. Sunday, Memphis Brooks Museum of Art. Tickets: $8, or $6 for museum members. Visit brooksmuseum.org.
Mulan (G, 88 min.) A Chinese maiden becomes a warrior-hero in this 1988 animated feature from Walt Disney Pictures.
12:15 p.m. and 2:45 p.m. Saturday, Belz Museum of Asian & Judaic Art, 119 S. Main. Free with $6 museum admission. Visit belzmuseum.org.
The Princess Bride (PG, 98 min.) Director Rob Reiner's 1987 fairy-tale spoof has become a modern cult classic.
7:15 p.m. Friday, the Orpheum, 203 S. Main. Admission: $7 for double feature, or $5 for children 12 and younger. Visit orpheum-memphis.com.
Star Trek: The Next Generation — 25th Anniversary Event (Not rated, 150 min.) To promote the upcoming Blu-ray release of the program's first season, two digitally restored fan-favorite episodes — "Where No One Has Gone Before" and "Datalore" — make their big-screen debuts, augmented by behind-the-scenes featurettes.
7 p.m. Monday, Paradiso. Tickets: $12.50. Visit malco.com.
Stop Making Sense (Not rated, 88 min.) The second Indie Memphis "Concert Film Series" begins with director Jonathan Demme's classic 1984 showcase for David Byrne and Talking Heads, regarded by many as perhaps the greatest concert movie of all time.
Show starts at dusk Saturday, the Levitt Shell, Overton Park. Admission: free. Visit indiememphis.com.
To the Arctic: Narrated by Meryl Streep, this journey to the top of the world is the ultimate tale of survival. Become part of the lives of a polar bear family learning to adapt to their changing Arctic home. Runs through March 8, 2013. Tickets $8.25; $7.50 senior citizens, and $6.50 for ages 3-12.
IMAX Theater at Memphis Pink Palace Museum, 3050 Central. Call 901-636-2362 for show times, tickets and reservations.
Tornado Alley: Narrated by Bill Paxton, this IMAX film follows storm-chasing scientists who travel in rugged high-tech vehicles as they hunt raging tornadoes. Runs through Nov. 16. Tickets: $8.25 ($7.50 for senior citizens), $6.50 for children ages 3-12; combo/group tickets available.
IMAX Theater at Memphis Pink Palace Museum, 3050 Central. Call 901-636-2362 for show times, tickets and reservations.
Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter (R, 105 min.) HH½ The Great Emancipator becomes a pretty great decapitator in this ridiculous and entertaining but ultimately exhausting mashup of 19th century American history and 21st century pop trendiness. Adapted by scripter Seth Grahame-Smith from his own novel, and directed by Timur Bekmambetov, the Russian auteur responsible for the similarly hyperactive "Night Watch" shockers, the movie imagines that Honest Abe (Benjamin Walker) used a silver-tipped ax to split bloodsuckers as well as rails as he cut a bloody path to the White House, to prevent the secret vampire overseers of the Confederacy from maintaining a legal supply of freshly imported victims through the institution of slavery. Is there a statute of limitations on offensiveness? Lincoln buffs may not appreciate the idea that the president's 11-year-old son died not from typhoid but from vampire bites. The visuals are more "Matrix" than Mathew Brady; as usual, Bekmambetov's initially exhilarating action-effects sequences go beyond over-the-top to overkill. With guest appearances by Stephen Douglas, Harriet Tubman and Jefferson Davis.
CinePlanet 16, Cordova Cinema, DeSoto Cinema 16, Hollywood 20 Cinema (in 3-D), Majestic.
The Amazing Spider-Man (PG-13, 136 min.) HH Andrew Garfield is high-school science nerd turned web-slinging superhero Peter Parker in this too-soon Marvel Comics reboot that contains little of the comic-book snap and Pop Art pop that made director Sam Raimi's "Spider-Man" (2002) and "Spider-Man 2" (2004) such, um, marvels. Director Marc Webb was selected not because of the homonymic association of his surname but on the strength of his only previous feature film, the eccentric romantic-comedy "(500) Days of Summer," but he allows the relationship between Peter and classmate Gwen Stacy (Stone) to be lost beneath the rote genre mechanics of Spidey's battle with Dr. Curt Connors (an excellent Rhys Ifans), the "cross-species genetics" genius who accidentally transforms himself into the Lizard. The movie is glossy, handsome and utterly conventional.
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), Studio on the Square, Summer Quartet Drive-In.
The Avengers (PG-13, 143 min.) HHHH The culmination of a Hollywood/Marvel Comics master plan that began in earnest four years ago with "Iron Man," writer-director Joss Whedon's all-star assembly — which gathers a cast of heavy hitters that includes Thor (Chris Hemsworth), the Hulk (Mark Ruffalo), Captain America (Chris Evans) and Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.), plus the more vulnerable Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner) and Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson) — is a witty, action-packed triumph.
Majestic, Paradiso, Wolfchase Galleria Cinema 8.
Battleship (PG-13, 131 min.) HH Taylor Kitsch, Brooklyn Decker. A $200 million military-hardware science-fiction action epic inspired by a board game played with tiny plastic pegs and miniature toy boats, Hasbro's follow-up to the similarly wacko (if not Wham-O) "Transformers" and "G.I. Joe" movies is torpedoed by cliché, illogic and idiocy. Taylor Kitsch (no more inspiring here than in "John Carter") stars as a former longhaired ne'er-do-well turned buzz-scalped Navy junior officer who helps save the Earth from an outer-space attack that begins in earnest, appropriately enough, near Pearl Harbor; the 21st century messiness of the visuals and the storytelling contradicts the script's championing of tradition, as exemplified when the World War II-vintage USS Missouri is reactivated to give the ET's an old-school beatdown (cue the jock jams by AC/DC).
Bernie (PG-13, 104 min.) HHH Jack Black is a dapper and beloved and possibly "light in the loafers" small-town assistant funeral director in this wry true-crime story from director Richard Linklater, looking again to his home state for inspiration, as in his early triumphs ("Slacker," "Dazed and Confused"). Adapted from a Texas Monthly magazine article about the 1996 murder of a feisty old millionaire widow, the movie mixes interviews with actual Carthage, Texas, townsfolk with black comedy and droll drama, with Shirley MacLaine as the ill-fated, unlikable dowager. Like "The Informant!" with Matt Damon and "I Love You Phillip Morris" with Jim Carrey, the movie is evidence of a postnoir trend in fact-based crime drama that suggests that those most eager to embrace the so-called American dream — to be both materially successful and admired — may be more remarkable for their psychoses than their achievements.
Studio on the Square.
The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel (PG-13, 124 min.) HH Lured by exaggerated promises of leisure and luxury, a group of Kipling-quoting British retirees relocate to a ramshackle "palace" in Jaipur, India, where the earnest and clean-cut young manager (Dev Patel, the "Slumdog Millionaire") wants to "outsource old age"; predictably, the stuffy Brits are transformed for the better by their forced immersion into the subcontinent's "riot of color and noise."
Brave (PG, 101 min.) HHH Marketed as a saga of you-go-girl empowerment intended to update the tradition of the so-called "Disney princess" for the Katniss Everdeen generation, the latest Pixar release actually is a sometimes scary affirmation of mother-daughter love: Feisty Princess Merida (voiced by Kelly Macdonald) is introduced shooting arrows and riding horses through the ancient Scottish countryside, but she spends most of the film trying to make up for a selfish wish by reversing the magic spell that changed her mother, the queen (Emma Thompson), into a bear. As the queen grows increasingly ursine, she becomes dangerous, and forgetful of her human identity: Brief scenes in which this Mama Bear seems ready to maim and even kill her daughter may frighten young children who never before have considered the possibility of their parents turning on them. The animation is stunning (Merida's tangled shock of flowing red hair is a marvel), but this may be the first Pixar film that doesn't convince us the story couldn't be told just as well with live action. Directed by Mark Andrews and Brenda Chapman.
CinePlanet, Collierville Towne 16, Cordova Cinema, DeSoto Cinema, Forest Hill 8, Hollywood 20 Cinema, Majestic, Palace Cinema, Paradiso, Stage Cinema (in 3-D), Summer Quartet Drive-In.
The Cabin in the Woods (R, 95 min.) HHH½ Chris Hemsworth, Kristen Connolly. Wow. "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" creator Joss Whedon and "Lost"/"Cloverfield" writer Drew Goddard (who also directed) co-wrote this meta-clever "Scream"-meets- "Truman Show" evisceration-and-reanimation of the traditional teenage slasher film, which follows a purposefully clichéd group of typical victims.
Chimpanzee (G, 78 min.) A Disney documentary.
Dark Shadows (PG-13, 113 min.) HHH Johnny Depp, Eva Green. Unlike Angelique the witch (Eva Green), who proves to be as cold and hollow as a porcelain doll despite her robust Barbie dimensions, the new film from director Tim Burton has real heart, in addition to the director's trademark macabre wit and obsessive creepy/funny design. Burton has transformed "Dark Shadows," the weekday Gothic soap opera that aired from 1966 to 1971 on ABC-TV, into an affectionate spoof and another of his "eccentric outsider" collaborations with Johnny Depp., who dons Nosferatu nails and comically ghoulish greasepaint to portray Barnabas Collins, the romantic vampire whose lovesick bloodlust provided the template for "True Blood" and "Twilight." Released after 200 years in his coffin, Barnabas emerges in 1972 ("Superfly" functions briefly as his theme song) to restore his family's pride as well as his ancestral Maine mansion, Collinwood, occupied by — among others — a frustrated matriarch (Michelle Pfeiffer), an alcoholic psychiatrist (Helena Bonham Carter) and a surly teenager (Chloë Grace Moretz).;
The Hunger Games (PG-13, 142 min.) HHH Like her young heroine, Katniss Everdeen, author Suzanne Collins is a sure shot: Her "Hunger Games" trilogy launched an arrow deep into the pulsing heart of a teenage audience eager for its affirmation of youth empowerment and its confirmation of adult conspiracy. The movie may not be as powerful as the novel, but it treats its target audience and source material with respect.
Wolfchase Galleria Cinema 8.
Ice Age: Continental Drift (PG, 94 min.) See review on Page 14.
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 Intouchables (R, 86 min.) HH A sometimes irresponsible but irrepressible Senegalese immigrant and ex-con nicknamed Driss (Omar Sy, winner of the César Award for Best Actor) becomes the live-in employee and life coach of a paralyzed multimillionaire, Philippe (Franois Cluzet), in this theoretically uplifting buddy picture, which has become a cultural and box-office phenomenon in its native France. Written and directed by the previously unsung Olivier Nakache and Éric Toledano, the film -- call it "Pushing Mr. Philippe," in honor of "Driving Miss Daisy" -- is constructed with impeccable craft that doesn't quite obscure the clichéd "Magic Negro" aspect of a story that presents the energetic and libidinous Driss as the solution to what ails you, as long as part of what ails you is that you're white and uptight: When Philippe tries to expose Driss to Chopin and Schubert, the African plugs in his iPod and gets the party started with Earth, Wind & Fire and Kool & The Gang. Inspired by a true story, the real-life Driss was actually one Abdel Sellou, a non-black Algerian. The filmmakers must have decided that the mainstream international audience wasn't eager for a would-be crowd-pleaser about a lovable Arab-Berger. Apparently, one man's uplift is another's exclusion.
Journey 2: The Mysterious Island (PG, 94 min.) HH½ Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson, Josh Hutcherson.
Katy Perry: Part of Me (PG, 95 min.) HHH With blue bangs and pinwheel peppermints on her breasts, Pentecostal Christian turned superstar pop idol Katy Perry resembles a Candyland version of Bettie Page, or a pinup from the land of Oz: "In some ways, I live in a fairy tale," says this polychrome Snow White, who doesn't just charm the birds out of the trees but sings of being "a phoenix," of having a "hummingbird heart," of longing for a bold display of "peacock." Propelled by insidiously catchy dance-pop beats, her sometimes naughty lyrics preach the gospel of self-actualization and positive transformation, and inspire fierce loyalty among her "Katy Kats": the starry-eyed young girls and sympathetic boys who project their dreams and hopes onto the welcoming screens of her cream complexion and blue-gray eyes, and who long to be — as one testifies — "shot with an arrow of Katy Perry-ness."
CinePlanet 16, Collierville Towne 16, Cordova Cinema, DeSoto Cinema 16, Hollywood 20 Cinema, Majestic (non 3-D), Palace Cinema, Paradiso, Wolfchase Galleria Cinema 8.
Madagascar 3: Europe's Most Wanted (PG, 93 min.) The computer-animated zoo crew joins a traveling circus.
CinePlanet 16, Collierville Towne 16, Cordova Cinema, DeSoto Cinema 16, Majestic, Paradiso, Stage Cinema.
Madea's Witness Protection (PG-13, 114 min.) When a mob-connected banker (Eugene Levy) moves in with Madea (Tyler Perry), will hilarity ensue?
CinePlanet 16, Collierville Towne 16, Cordova Cinema, DeSoto Cinema 16, Hollywood 20 Cinema, Majestic, Palace Cinema, Paradiso, Stage Cinema, Summer Quartet Drive-In.
Magic Mike (R, 110 min.) HHHH Dropping dollar bills on a bank loan officer's desk is more humiliating than tucking them into a dancer's G-string in this wily crowd-pleaser from director Steven Soderbergh, who uses a Tampa male strip club as a launchpad for not just funny, irresistible bump-and-grind choreography and offstage debauchery but a pointed commentary on an economic system built on illusion and exploitation. Channing Tatum — whose real-life adventures inspired the story — stars as a buff but sensitive stripper with a passion for furniture-making who agrees to mentor a young would-be dancer (Alex Pettyfer) with a skeptical sister (Cody Horn).; . Matthew McConaughey is hilarious as the club's self-styled cowboy owner.
CinePlanet 16, Collierville Towne 16, Cordova Cinema, DeSoto Cinema 16, Hollywood 20 Cinema, Majestic, Palace Cinema, Paradiso, Wolfchase Galleria Cinema 8.
Men in Black 3 (PG-13, 106 min.) HH½ Perhaps reflecting a national yearning for the type of unifying heroism and epic achievement represented by the space program, this is the second film in as many years to incorporate the Apollo 11 moon landing into its science-fiction rewrite of history (the first was "Transformers: Dark of the Moon"). The result is one small step for cinema, one giant leap for creative accounting: "MIB3" reportedly cost a staggering $375 million to make and market. If the budget is bloated, the storytelling is economical, as is typical for this series — credit director Barry Sonnenfeld, whose penchant for witty, cartoonish visuals is more Mad magazine than Michael Bay. Nimble and lively, the movie spends most of its time in 1969, where Agent J (Will Smith), the focus of the story, travels back in time to prevent the assassination of his future mentor and partner, Agent K (Tommy Lee Jones), played as a young man by Josh Brolin.
Collierville Towne 16, Palace Cinema, Paradiso, Wolfchase Galleria Cinema 8.
Moonrise Kingdom (PG-13, 94 min.) HHHH An "emotionally disturbed" pipsqueak orphan in a coonskin cap (Jared Gilman) and a "very troubled" girl (Kara Hayward), both 12, make themselves fugitives on a New England island in 1965 in this heartbreaking yet rapturous film from writer-director Wes Anderson, who delivers what may be his emotionally richest film yet: a visit to the kingdom of youth. As the runaways head into the eye of a literal storm, they are pursued by authority figures, including parents (Bill Murray and Frances McDormand), a scoutmaster (Edward Norton) and a "sad" cop (Bruce Willis), who all share a secret sorrow: They envy the children.
Collierville Towne 16, Ridgeway Four, Wolfchase Galleria Cinema 8.
The Pirates! Band of Misfits (PG, 88 min.) HHH Adapted from a book series by Gideon Defoe, the latest stop-motion feature from Aardman Animations (the producers of "Wallace & Gromit") is typically droll and charming.
Prometheus (R, 124 min.) HHH Can slime be sublime? Unlike its predecessor, director Ridley Scott's long-anticipated prequel to "Alien" (1979) isn't content to shout "Boo!" at the audience. Inspired in part by the once trendy pseudoscience of Erich von Däniken's "ancient astronauts" best-seller, "Chariots of the Gods?," the new movie elicits screams, but also asks "Where do we come from? What is our purpose? What happens when we die?"
Majestic, Palace Cinema, Wolfchase Galleria Cinema 8.
Rock of Ages (PG-13, 125 min.) HH If the heart of rock and roll is still beating, as Huey Lewis suggested, it's a Jarvik-like mechanical contraption in director Adam Shankman's adaptation of a 2006 stage musica. Heavy with Poison, Def Leppard, Twisted Sister and other "hair metal" bands, the soundtrack suggests an appeal to nostalgia; the ideal viewer, however, is probably a 12-year-old girl who was raised on "Glee" and "American Idol" and can identify with the musical aspirations of the starry-eyed young heroine played by Julianne Hough, cast as an Okie transplant to the Sunset Strip in 1987. Catherine Zeta-Jones is the Michele Bachmann-meets-Tipper Gore crusader who wants to stamp out "satanic" i heavy metal; you'll sympathize with her prudish cause when the pro-rock forces fight back with a chorus of Starship's "We Built This City."
Savages (R, 131 min.) A violent drug drama from director Oliver Stone, with an all-star cast that includes Taylor Kitsch, Blake Lively, Salma Hayek, Benicio del Toro and John Travolta.
CinePlanet 16, Collierville Towne 16, Cordova Cinema, DeSoto Cinema 16, Forest Hill 8, Hollywood 20 Cinema, Majestic, Paradiso, Stage Cinema, Summer Quartet Drive-In.
Snow White and the Huntsman (PG-13, 127 min.) HHH Overlong but brilliantly realized, this debut from director Rupert Sanders treats its fairy-tale material with "Game of Thrones" seriousness, making it a powerful showcase for Charlize Theron's evil queen, who steals every scene from Snow White (Kristen Stewart) even as she steals the princess' father and freedom.
Majestic, Wolfchase Galleria Cinema 8.
Ted (R, 106 min.) HH½ "Family Guy" creator Seth MacFarlane wrote and directed this live-action fantasy about a Boston underachiever named John (Mark Wahlberg) whose lifelong companion is his foul-mouthed, pot-smoking, hooker-hiring teddy bear (voiced by MacFarlane), a sort of less-lethal Chucky, magically brought to life by a childhood wish (and some impressive digital animation); Mila Kunis is John's long-suffering girlfriend. MacFarlane's feature-film directorial debut is an ugly-looking film, with the expected ugly jokes (a Chinese neighbor is played for racist laughs) and extended pop-culture riffs (a scene from "Airplane!" is lovingly recreated), but, like the similarly scattershot "Family Guy," its holds your interest even as it annoys. Norah Jones makes an appearance, but MacFarlane obviously is more interested in Sam Jones, star of the 1980 "Flash Gordon," who functions as not just a guest star but the movie's good luck charm.
CinePlanet 16, Collierville Towne 16, Cordova Cinema, DeSoto Cinema 16, DeSoto Cinema 16, Forest Hill 8, Hollywood 20 Cinema, Majestic, Paradiso, Stage Cinema, Studio on the Square, Summer Quartet Drive-In.
Think Like a Man (PG-13, 122 min.) Inspired by Steve Harvey's best-seller.
The Three Stooges (PG, 92 min.) HH Sean Hayes, Will Sasso, Chris Diamantopoulos.
To Rome With Love (R, 102 min.) HH If writer-director Woody Allen had remained in Paris, site of his previous film and the biggest box-office hit of his almost five-decade career ("Midnight in Paris"), we might call this erratic new ensemble piece a divertissement, albeit one crowded with characters and ideas. Essentially, this is an anthology hat hops about among four rushed and recycled stories. One is a variation on Allen's "Play It Again, Sam," with Alec Baldwin, Jesse Eisenberg (the best "imitation Allen" the director has yet found) and Ellen Page (miscast as a "hot" girl with an irresistible "sexual vibe"); the second casts Roberto Begnini as an unremarkable man who wakes up, inexplicably, as a celebrity; the third is a "Three's Company"-esque farce with Penélope Cruz — packed like a toothsome sausage into the casing of a red minidress — as a prostitute who disrupts the life of a young newlywed (Alessandro Tiberi); the fourth is a minor absurdist gem, both silly and hilarious, with Allen as a retired opera director who makes one last splash, so to speak. The characters and plotlines never connect, and some dramas unfold over several days while others wrap up in a few hours, in apparent contradiction of the to-and-fro editing
What to Expect When You're Expecting (PG-13, 110 min.) The nonfiction best-seller inspires an all-star ensemble comedy.