Movie Capsules: Now Showing

Benjamin Walker is the title character in the 'Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter.'

Photo by Stephen Vaughn, 20th Century Fox

Benjamin Walker is the title character in the "Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter."

Tom Cruise stars as rock superstar Stacee Jaxx in the throwback comedy 'Rock of Ages.'

AP Photo/Warner Bros. Pictures, David James

Tom Cruise stars as rock superstar Stacee Jaxx in the throwback comedy "Rock of Ages."

Capsule descriptions and starred mini-reviews by John Beifuss.

OPENING FRIDAY

Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter (R, 105 min.) What more do you need to know?

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), Summer Quartet Drive-In, Wolfchase Galleria Cinema 8 (in 3-D).

Brave (PG, 101 min.) See review on Page 12.

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.

Lola Versus (R, 87 min.) See review.

Ridgeway Four.

Seeking a Friend for the End of the World (R, 94 min.) See review.

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

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) 636-2362 for show times, tickets and reservations.

The Metropolitan Opera: Don Giovanni (Not rated, 240 min.) An encore presentation of a recent staging of Mozart's masterpiece.

6:30 p.m. Wednesday, Paradiso. Tickets: $12.50. Visit malco.com.

O Brother, Where Art Thou? (PG-13, 106 min.) The Coen Brothers' cornpone chain-gang comedy.

7:15 tonight, the Orpheum, 203 S. Main. Admission: $7, or $5 for children 12 and younger. Visit orpheum-memphis.com.

Pulp Fiction (R, 154 min.) Quentin Tarantino's modern (and postmodern) classic. Preceded at 6:30 p.m. by the "Indie Memphis Social Club" lobby party.

7:30 p.m. Thursday, the Orpheum, 203 S. Main. Admission: $7, or $5 for children 12 and younger. Visit orpheum-memphis.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 showtimes, tickets and reservations.

NOW SHOWING

The Avengers (PG-13, 143 min.) The culmination if not the end 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 literal 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 Johanssen) -- is a witty, spectacular, action-packed triumph. The film is entertaining and coherent for newcomers yet true to the spirit of its comic-book source material: It's rich with the superhero angst and personality clashes that were a Marvel innovation, but does not neglect the no-holds-barred hero-vs.-hero throwdowns that were a speciality of the so-called "Marvel Age of Comics."

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

Battleship (PG-13, 131 min.) 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).

Collierville Towne 16, Cordova Cinema, DeSoto Cinema 16, Majestic, Paradiso, Stage Cinema, Wolfchase Galleria Cinema 8.

Bernie (PG-13, 104 min.) Jack Black is a dapper and beloved and possibly "light in the loafers" smalltown 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.

Ridgeway Four.

The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel (PG-13, 124 min.) 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 cleancut 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." As the manager states, early in the film: "In India we have a saying: Everything will be all right." No doubt many moviegoers are reassured by this promise of a happy ending; others may feel they've been invited to an Indian restaurant where the buffet consists of white bread and boiled potatoes. A huge hit with mature moviegoers, the film coasts on the charms of its English all-star ensemble, headed by dignified Judi Dench, feisty Maggie Smith and melancholy Tom Wilkinson. The director is the reliably dull John Madden ("Shakespeare in Love"); the screenwriter is Ol Parker, working from a 2004 novel by Deborah Moggach.

Ridgeway Four.

The Cabin in the Woods (R, 95 min.) 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.

Bartlett 10, Majestic.

Chernobyl Diaries (R, 86 min.) "My friends are morons," asserts a young American, early in the film. However unintentionally, that line sums up the plot of this dull, poorly motivated and dreadfully constructed horror movie about a group of tourists pursued by barely seen cannibal mutants after they unwisely visit the ghost town of Prypiat, abandoned since the catastrophic 1986 accident at the nearby Chernobyl nuclear power plant.

Majestic.

Dark Shadows (PG-13, 113 min.) 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. Uninterested in carving a straight horror-romance from the "soapernatural" source material, 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."

CinePlanet 16, Majestic, Paradiso, Wolfchase Galleria Cinema 8.

The Dictator (R, 83 min.) Inspired by current events and Charlie Chaplin (whose 1940 "The Great Dictator" also involved a despot and his peon look-alike), Sacha Baron Cohen retains director Larry Charles but abandons the real-life ambushes of the team's previous films, "Borat" and "Bruno," to create a new character in a scripted comedy: He stars as Admiral General Aladeen, pampered anti-Semitic and anti-American tyrant ruler of the North African republic of Wadiya, who escapes an assassination attempt to find himself beardless and friendless on the streets of New York, replaced by a dupe of a double controlled by his treacherous uncle (Ben Kingsley).

Wolfchase Galleria Cinema 8.

Dr. Seuss' The Lorax (PG, 94 min.) He's grumpy and orange.

Bartlett 10.

For Greater Glory (R, 143 min.) Andy Garcia is a rebel general in this epic inspired by the Cristero War of the 1920s.

Wolfchase Galleria Cinema 8.

The Hunger Games (PG-13, 142 min.) 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. Already a box-office sensation, the movie -- inspired as much by reality television as by dystopian science fiction -- may not be as powerful as the novel, but it treats its target audience and source material with respect.

Collierville Towne 16, Majestic, Stage Cinema.

Hysteria (R, 100 min.) Described by celebrity movie reviewer Rex Reed as "Jane Austen with a vibrator," this fact-inspired romp about the Victorian-era invention of "electromechanical" devices intended to assist women in the "external stimulation" necessary to achieve therapeutic "paroxysm" is clever and self-consciously naughty, presenting risqué material within the incongruously stuffy context of proper English society. Hugh Dancy is the young middle-class physician who joins a wealthy colleague (Jonathan Pryce) in the treatment of "female hysteria"; potential love interests include Felicity Jones as "the epitome of English virtue" and Maggie Gyllenhaal as a "volatile" champion of "social revolution." Gyllenhaal is full of energy, but her character is a drag on the comedy: The movie all but short-circuits during its tiresome final act, when it encourages moviegoers to applaud themselves for agreeing that women should have the right to vote and "rights over their own bodies." Even so, a comedy about sex in the Age of Apatow that eschews profanity and explicit material is a welcome novelty, even if the result isn't nearly as memorable as "Knocked Up" or "Bridesmaids."

Ridgeway Four.

John Carter (PG-13, 132 min.) Taylor Kitsch.

Bartlett 10.

Journey 2: The Mysterious Island (PG, 94 min.) Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson replaces Brendan Fraser in this silly, colorful, harmless and fun sequel to the similarly family-friendly surprise hit of 2008, "Journey to the Center of the Earth."

Bartlett 10.

The Lucky One (PG-13, 101 min.) Can a Marine (Zac Efron) find love working at a kennel run by a young North Carolina woman (Taylor Schilling)?

Bartlett 10.

Madagascar 3: Europe's Most Wanted (PG, 93 min.) The computer-animated zoo crew joins a traveling circus.

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, Majestic, Paradiso (in 3-D), Stage Cinema (in 3-D)

Men in Black 3 (PG-13, 106 min.) 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 true 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, whose deadpan impersonation of Jones' signature stoicism is one of the film's pleasures. (The chief pleasure, as usual, is the creative design and slapstick energy of the story's many aliens, created in large part by seven-time Oscar-winner Rick Baker.) Marred by a contrived "ironic" ending that seems motivated more by Smith's desire for the spotlight than by the emotional needs of the franchise.

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

Mirror Mirror (PG, 106 min.) Julia Roberts is the vain, evil queen in this playful, occasionally plodding reimagining of the Grimm fairy tale of "Snow White," with Lily Collins as the fairest -- and, sadly, dullest -- of them all.

Bartlett 10.

Peace, Love & Misunderstanding (R, 96 min.) We are stardust, we are olden: Jane Fonda, the once divisive "Hanoi Jane," is now a harmless hippie dispensing homegrown marijuana and homilies about love and "transformation" to her uptight daughter (Catherine Keener) and teenaged grandchildren (Elizabeth Olsen, Nat Wolff) in this corny, clichéd and predictable yet somehow agreeable Lifetime-ready feature from director Bruce Beresford ("Driving Miss Daisy"). Fonda is Grace, a woman who never left Woodstock behind, literally: She lives in upstate New York, where a rugged dreamboat of a guitar-strumming furniture-maker (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) has apparently spent his entire life waiting for just such a woman as Keener's "patriotic" conservative to save him from bachelorhood. The movie is silly, but like Grace's farmhouse -- with a derelict psychedelic school bus in the yard that says "Partridge Family" more than "Electric Kool-Aid" -- it's not a bad place to while away some time.

Studio on the Square.

Prometheus (R, 124 min.) Can slime be sublime? Inspired in part by the once trendy pseudoscience of Erich von Däniken's "ancient astronauts" best-seller, "Chariots of the Gods?," director Ridley Scott's long-anticipated prequel to "Alien" (1979) elicits screams but also asks questions -- and not just any questions but "the most meaningful questions ever asked by mankind," including, and I quote: "Where do we come from? What is our purpose? What happens when we die?" (Maybe in space, no one can hear you scream, but everyone can hear echoes of Sean Penn in "The Tree of Life.") Buried beneath prosthetic old-age makeup, Guy Pearce is cast as a billionaire who sponsors an expedition to a deep-space moon to unlock the secrets of mankind's origin; what actually is exhumed, of course, is tentacled horror. The crew includes Charlize Theron as an icy executive, Michael Fassbender as a Peter O'Toole-emulating android and Noomi Rapace as a Christian archeologist who -- in the movie's most hair-raising sequence -- programs a robotic C-section for herself, to deliver a monstrous bundle of nonjoy. Gorgeous and pretentious, ridiculous and awesome, the movie is elevated by its impeccable craft: the creature effects are convincing and the production design is stunning.

CinePlanet 16 (in 3-D), Collierville Towne 16 (in 3-D), Cordova Cinema (in 3-D), DeSoto Cinema 16 (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.

Rock of Ages (PG-13, 125 min.) 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 musical that, judging from this film, functioned as little more than a 1980s classic rock jukebox. 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 (albeit smokin' hot) young heroine played by Julianne Hough, cast as an Okie transplant to the Sunset Strip in 1987. Catherine Zeta-Jones is the Tipper Gore-inspired crusader who wants to stamp out the "satanic" influence of 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." The movie offers yet more evidence that Journey's "Don't Stop Believin'" has become, for all intents and purposes, our new national anthem; it also offers preening superstar Tom Cruise as preening superstar Stacee Jaxx, a rock idol in chaps, a demon-shaped codpiece and an Axl Rose headband. The inevitable happy ending celebrates the liberating power of rock and roll over the naysaying hypocrisy of the censors, but what we have here is a Pyrrhic victory, at best: The boy band-friendly style of dance-pop amusingly parodied here now rules the charts, while spandexed "hair band" music is regarded with the bemused affection once reserved for barbershop quartets.

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.

Safe (R, 95 min.) Jason Statham.

Bartlett 10.

Snow White and the Huntsman (PG-13, 127 min.) Overlong but brilliantly realized, this debut feature from director Rupert Sanders treats its fairy-tale material with "Game of Thrones"-style seriousness, making it a powerful showcase for Charlize Theron's vain, evil and even tragic queen, who steals every scene from Snow White (Kristen Stewart), along with the princess' father and freedom.

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

Something from Nothing: The Art of Rap (R, 106 min.) Ice-T is the genial host and co-director (with Andy Baybutt) of this Sundance documentary about the history and craft of rap, which travels from New York to Detroit to California for brief visits with such hip-hop masters, past and present, as Melle Mel, Rakim, Chuck D., Eminem, Kanye West, Dr. Dre and some 40 others. Hardly definitive (where's Houston and Memphis, and why are MC Lyte and Salt the only females represented?), the movie is nonetheless fascinating for fans, as rappers break down their writing techniques and demonstrate their freestyle flow for Ice-T's camera. "It's just like a language," says DJ Premier of Gang Starr, explaining why some people don't "get" rap. "You have to know how to listen to it."

Majestic.

That's My Boy (R, 116 min.) A young businessman named Han Solo Berger (Andy Samberg) is reunited with his long-absent dimwit daddy (Adam Sandler).

CinePlanet 16, Collierville Towne 16, Cordova Cinema, 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.) A romantic comedy inspired by Steve Harvey's relationship best-seller.

DeSoto Cinema 16, Majestic, Paradiso, Wolfchase Galleria Cinema 8.

A Thousand Words (PG-13, 91 min.) Eddie Murphy.

Bartlett 10.

21 Jump Street (R, 110 min.) Jonah Hill, Channing Tatum.

Bartlett 10.

What to Expect When You're Expecting (PG-13, 110 min.) The nonfiction best-seller inspires an all-star ensemble comedy.

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

© 2012 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.