Movie Capsules: Now showing

Jennifer Lawrence stars as Katniss Everdeen in the movie adaptation of Suzanne Collins' 'The Hunger Games.'

Murray Close/Lionsgate

Jennifer Lawrence stars as Katniss Everdeen in the movie adaptation of Suzanne Collins' "The Hunger Games."

Capsule descriptions and mini-reviews by John Beifuss.

OPENING FRIDAY

Battleship (PG-13, 131 min.) See review on Page 12.

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.

Damsels in Distress (PG-13, 99 min.) See review on Page 13.

Ridgeway Four.

The Kid With a Bike (PG-13, 87 min.) A 12-year-old boy is abandoned by his father in the latest film from Belgium's Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne, two-time winners of the Palme d'Or at the Cannes Film Festival.

Ridgeway Four.

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

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.

SPECIAL MOVIES

Ballet in Cinema: La Fille Mal Gardée (The Wayward Daughter) (Not rated, 118 min.) Filmed live onstage in London, this is a Royal Ballet revival of one of the key works of modern ballet, a comedy about love, courtship and clogging among the French farm set.

2 p.m. Sunday, Memphis Brooks Museum of Art. Tickets: $15, or $12 for museum members. Visit brooksmuseum.org.

Bikesploitaton II: Some Bike It Hot! See story on Page 16.

6:30-10 p.m. Saturday, Sears Crosstown Building, 495 North Watkins. Admission: Free. Visit livefromemphis.com/bikesploitation.

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: Götterdämmerung (Not rated, 290 min.) An encore presentation of the recent filmed-live-onstage- in-New York production of the concluding chapter of Wagner's masterpiece, inspired by Norse mythology.

11:55 a.m. Saturday, Paradiso. Tickets: $15. Visit malco.com.

Pina (PG, 103 min.) You don't have to be an aficionado of modern dance to appreciate the athleticism, dedication and theatrical intensity of the performances in director Wim Wenders' 2011 masterpiece of a documentary about the late German choreographer Philippina "Pina" Bausch.

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

The Salt of Life (Not rated, 90 min.) Gianni Di Gregorio is the writer, director and star of this 2011 Italian comedy about a retired man who seek romance as a cure for his feeling of irrelevancy.

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

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.

NOW SHOWING

Alvin and the Chipmunks: Chipwrecked (G, 90 min.) If you can't get enough of aggressively cute digitally animated rodents shaking their fuzzy tails while singing helium-voiced covers of mostly recent funk/hip-hop dance hits and spouting clichéd "urban" catchphrases ("Oh no she di'int!"), then this "squeakquel" -- the second follow-up to 2007's "Alvin and the Chipmunks" -- is for you.

Bartlett 10.

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." Whedon (the creator of "Buffy the Vampire Slayer") is a master synthesizer and a great gag writer, which is just what this potential interstate pileup of a movie needs: When Hulk smash Loki, the moment owes as much to Chuck Jones as to Jack Kirby and Stan Lee. Yes, with its space invaders and Asgardian villains and high-tech gadgetry, "The Avengers" registers in the red on the Nerdgasmatron; but when a movie earns $200 million on its opening weekend in the U.S., it's time to stop suggesting that "nerds" and "fanboys" are responsible for the supremacy of the superhero at the multiplex. Clearly, these thrilling yet comforting modern myths of peril and rescue and gods and champions appeal to all types of moviegoers, most of whom won't lose sleep wondering about the arguable immaturity of a culture that dreams of salvation via guardian angels.

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), Paradiso (in 3-D), Stage Cinema (in 3-D), Studio on the Square, Summer Quartet Drive-In.

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, which follows a purposefully clichéd group of typical victims -- the bimbo (Anna Hutchison), the jock (Chris Hemsworth), the virgin (Kristen Connolly), and so on -- as they are terrorized by some traditional horror-movie ghouls and some mysterious behind-the-scenes white guys in ties (Richard Jenkins and Bradley Whitford). The film is never very scary, and some fans may not cotton to its gleeful over-the-top celebration of genre history; but I found it exhilarating, like one of those special-issue comic-book splash panels in which the artist tries to squeeze in as many superheroes as possible. And it's as much a story of selfish/resentful adult exploitation of youth as "The Hunger Games."

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

Chimpanzee (G, 78 min.) A Disney documentary.

CinePlanet 16, Collierville Towne 16, Wolfchase Galleria Cinema 8.

Chronicle (PG-13, 84 min.) Three teenage buddies gain mysterious telekinetic powers in yet another "found footage" thriller, an ingenious "Carrie"-meets-"Spider-Man"- meets-"The Blair Witch Project" construction that suggests -- contrary to Marvel Comics lore -- that fate is as likely to bestow a superpower on an abused, resentful, psychologically damaged high-school loser as on an inherently decent Peter Parker type. Presented, for the most part, as home-video footage shot by the lead character (Dane DeHaan), the movie is utterly gripping, although it flags a bit during its final act, which favors (beautifully shot and edited) action spectacle over intense character interaction.

Bartlett 10.

Contraband (R, 110 min.) Ex-smuggler turned family man Mark Wahlberg is pulled back into crime to repay a debt owed by his loser brother-in-law in this serviceable but unremarkable remake of the 2008 Icelandic thriller, "Reykjavík-Rotterdam." With its dim lighting and handheld camerawork, the "realistic" visual approach of director Baltasar Kormákur (an actor in the earlier film) is arguably bogus, but it pays dividends as the narrative becomes increasingly grim. With Kate Beckinsale, cashing a paycheck as Wahlberg's wife, and Giovanni Ribisi, chewing the scenery through a Castro beard as a scuzzball drug dealer.

Bartlett 10.

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 1966-71 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 latter dances languidly to Donovan's "Season of the Witch" during the movie's wonderful first act, which has something of the trippy vibe of "Performance" (1972) and other vintage films in which odd characters inhabit dreamlike reveries. Barnabas describes Collinwood as "the perfect marriage of European elegance and American enterprise," and it's easy to imagine that Burton and Depp embraced this line as a mission statement: The film joins New World irreverence, fish-out-of-water comedy and Hollywood state-of-the-art effects to the Old World tradition of the vampire, as found in legend, literature and the films of Britain's Hammer studios. Unfortunately, the mechanics of the plot are uninteresting (dueling canneries, anyone?), and the "action-packed" finale is tedious. The script is credited to Seth Grahame-Smith, the novelist known for such monster mashups as "Pride and Prejudice and Zombies" and "Abraham Lincoln, Vampire Hunter."

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

The Deep Blue Sea (R, 98 min.) Adapted from a play by Terence Rattigan, the sixth film in 25 years from director Terence Davies, "master chronicler of postwar England" (according to the publicists at Music Box Films), examines the consequences of choosing sexual passion and emotional turmoil over "guarded enthusiasm" and physical and economic comfort. Rachel Weisz stars as Hester (who shares a name as well as a sin with fiction's most famous adulterer, Hester Prynne), who leaves her loving and rich but dull graybeard of a husband (Simon Russell Beale) for a physically intact but emotionally incomplete former Royal Air Force pilot (Tom Hiddleston) who longs for the dangers of the Battle of Britain, when he was distracted by the "excitement and fear" of combat, and not "tangled up in other people's emotions." Weisz offers a master class in the discipline of acting: In one lengthy shot, the tears well in her eyes, slowly, almost imperceptibly; they glisten but never fall. Meanwhile, Davies' compositions are luminous and painterly, and their design is not just stunning but cunning, as when a breath of cigarette smoke comes to brilliant, cumulous life when Weisz blows it into an otherwise invisible but purposefully placed shaft of light.

Ridgeway Four.

The Dictator (R, 83 min.) Sacha Baron Cohen: comical despot.

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.

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

Majestic, Palace Cinema.

The Five-Year Engagement (R, 124 min.) The stars are Jason Segel and Emily Blunt, and the writers are Segel and director Nicholas Stoller ("Forgetting Sarah Marshall"), who previously collaborated on "The Muppets."

Collierville Towne 16, Cordova Cinema.

Good Deeds (PG-13, 111 min.) Tyler Perry doffs the drag to portray Wesley Deeds, a complacent businessman jolted by his feelings for a working-class single mother (Thandie Newton).

Bartlett 10, Hollywood 20 Cinema, Majestic.

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. Sturdy Jennifer Lawrence is Katniss, a resident of the Appalachian-like District 12 who volunteers to participate in the annual Hunger Games, a competition organized by the decadent one-percenters who rule futuristic Panem (as in "panem et circenses," Latin for "bread and circuses"); the contest requires a boy and girl, ages 12 to 18, from each of the nation's 12 districts to take part in a televised fight to the death.

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.

Journey 2: The Mysterious Island (PG, 94 min.) Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson.

Bartlett 10, Palace Cinema.

Lockout (PG-13, 95 min.) "Escape from New York" in orbit, as convict Guy Pearce infiltrates a high-tech outer-space prison to rescue the president's daughter.

Bartlett 10.

The Lucky One (PG-13, 101 min.) A Nicholas Sparks adaptation of a Nicholas Sparks novel asks: Can a Marine (Zac Efron) find love working at a kennel run by a young North Carolina woman (Taylor Schilling)? Does a bear do his business in the woods?

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

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. Snow, as she's called, inevitably is retooled as a swashbuckler who is the rescuer rather than the rescuee of the sparkle-smiled prince (Armie Hammer, ideally cast), yet her girl-power prowess doesn't prevent her from cooking and keeping house for the now ethnically diverse seven dwarves, presented as highwaymen who rob the rich on telescopic stilts that hide their nonthreatening height.

Forest Hill 8, Majestic, Wolfchase Galleria Cinema 8.

The Pirates! Band of Misfits (PG, 88 min.) 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, and will probably appeal more to fans of Monty Python and "The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy" than to young kids, who won't understand the Charles Darwin references or appreciate the dense compositions, as filled with gags as a page in a classic-era Mad magazine. Hugh Grand lends his voice to the incompetent yet somehow lovable lead character identified only as "the Pirate Captain," who's on a quest to win the "Pirate of the Year" award from such favorites as Cutlass Liz (Salma Hayek) and Black Bellamy (Jeremy Piven); the finale pits the Captain against Queen Victoria (Imelda Staunton). Directed by Peter Lord and Jeff Newitt.

Paradiso, Wolfchase Galleria Cinema 8.

The Raven (R, 111 min.) John Cusack is miscast as an apparently well-fed Edgar Allan Poe, recruited by the Baltimore police for his "unwholesome expertise" when a killer begins re-creating murder scenes from the author's horror stories. The concept (which nods to 1935's "The Raven," with Bela Lugosi) holds gruesome promise, but this highly fictionalized (duh) version of the last few days of Poe's life in 1849 is directed (by James McTeigue, of "V for Vendetta") with no mystery or imagination, and with so much digital "correction" that even the simplest scenes look phony. It's tempting but pointless to wonder what Dario Argento or Brian De Palma might have done in their primes with this implausible, lurid whodunit.

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

Safe (R, 95 min.) A cage fighter (Jason Statham) becomes the protector of a genius little girl.

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

The Secret World of Arrietty (G, 95 min.) The latest exquisitely hand-drawn animated film from Japan's Studio Ghibli ("Spirited Away") is another wonder, as heartbreaking for its devotion to craft, artistry and intelligent storytelling (for viewers of all ages) as for its themes of inevitable exile and impossible love. Based on Mary Norton's classic 1952 children's novel, "The Borrowers," the film depicts the struggles of a family of miniature people who live under the floorboards of a "normal"-sized human house; when an adolescent girl Borrower, Arriety (voiced by Bridgit Mendler in this English-language version), strikes up a wary friendship with a human teenage boy (David Henrie), their relationship threatens the Borrowers' existence.

Bartlett 10.

Think Like a Man (PG-13, 122 min.) Inspired by Steve Harvey with Taraji P. Henson, Kevin Hart and Gabrielle Union.

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

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

Bartlett 10.

The Three Stooges (PG, 92 min.) Knucklehead impersonators Sean Hayes (Larry), Will Sasso (Curly) and Chris Diamantopoulos (Moe) are impressive, but this episodic, years-in-development, supposed labor of love from the Farrelly Brothers is a blandly shot disappointment that sentimentalizes the trio for kids (at one point, the Stooges are referred to as "BFF's forever") but lacks the knowing references that might have amused diehard adult fans. Unlike Moe's slaps and eye pokes, the attempts to update the slapstick miss as often as they hit: Sparks fly humorously when Moe scrapes a buzzing chainsaw rather than the traditional handsaw across Curly's scalp, but there's more yuck than nyuk-nyuk-nyuk in a nursery scene in which the Stooges use urine-spraying infants as human water pistols. A subplot that lands Moe on "Jersey Shore" will date faster than the Tojo references in "The Yoke's on Me" (1944), and the use of Talking Heads and Allman Brothers music to score several bits of Stoogery is distracting and inexplicable.

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

Titanic 3D (PG-13, 197 min.)

Wolfchase Galleria Cinema 8.

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

Stage Cinema, Wolfchase Galleria Cinema 8.

Undefeated (PG-13, 115 min.) A fly-on-the-wall chronicle of almost a year in the life of the playoff-bound Manassas High School football team, this year's Oscar-winner for Best Documentary Feature finds the warmth, vulnerability and, yes, love that is sometimes hard for outsiders to see beneath the rough, prickly and damaged exterior of the impoverished North Memphis neighborhood where much of the action takes place.

Bartlett 10.

The Vow (PG-13, 104 min.) Cut yet huggable meathead Leo (Channing Tatum, implausibly cast as an indie recording studio owner and Sun Records aficionado) must win back the "once in a lifetime love" of his James Patterson fan-turned-bohemian sculptor wife, Paige (dewy Rachel McAdams), after she emerges from a car-crash coma with no recollection of the couple's life together in director Michael Sucsy's absurd albeit fact-inspired romance. Beautifully lensed by Rogier Stoffers, the film is almost awe-inspiring in its determination to ensure that every element in each attractively composed frame has some sort of significance or informational value (Look, this cool guy is wearing a funny top hat with a purple tie to Leo and Paige's wedding! So they must be cool, too!), and in its unabashed embrace of a love so all-encompassing that Paige even treasures Leo's flatulence (seriously -- she rolls up the car window so the smell won't escape). Laughable yet effective, the film is lifted by the novelty of its lead character's decency: The solid Tatum plays a genuinely honorable man.

Bartlett 10.

Wrath of the Titans (PG-13, 99 min.) Sam Worthingon.

Bartlett 10, Palace Cinema (3-D).

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