Movie Capsules: Now showing

Capsule descriptions and starred mini-reviews by John Beifuss.

OPENING FRIDAY

Alex Cross (PG-13, 102 min.) See review on Page 12.

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.

Bachelorette (R, 87 min.) See review on Page 17.

Ridgeway Four.

Paranormal Activity 4 (R, 88 min.) The camera-shy ghosts are back.

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.

SPECIAL MOVIES

Ballet in Cinema: L'Altra Meta del Cielo (Not rated, 80 min.) Filmed live onstage at La Scala in Milan, Italy, this challenging modern ballet from choreographer Martha Clarke (winner of the MacArthur "Genius Grant") makes beautiful art out of the ugly life of real-life Italian rock star Vasco Rossi, known for his racism, sexism and drug abuse.

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

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.

Globe On Screen: Much Ado About Nothing (Not rated, 167 min.) A recent production of Shakespeare's comic romance about two pairs of lovers, filmed live at the famous Globe Theatre in London.

7 p.m. Tuesday, Paradiso. Tickets: $12.50. Visit malco.com.

Igor (PG, 87 min.) Before "Frankenweenie," "ParaNorman" and "Hotel Transylvania," MGM delivered this 2008 digitally animated horror spoof about a young hunchbacked assistant (voiced by John Cusack) who aspires to be a mad scientist. Presented as a free outdoor "Screen on the Green" presentation.

6:20 p.m. Friday, The Avenue Carriage Crossing, Collierville.

RiffTrax Live: "Birdemic: Shock and Terror" (Not rated, 90 min.) Via satellite from their comedy headquarters, the RiffTrax team of "Mystery Science Theater 3000" alumni Michael J. Nelson, Kevin Murphy and Bill Corbett provide live commentary to accompany a screening of the infamous so-bad-it's-still bad 2010 horror movie of avian invasion, "Birdemic."

7 p.m. Thursday, Paradiso. Tickets: $12.50. Visit malco.com.

To the Arctic Narrated by Meryl Streep, this journey to the top of the world follows a polar bear family as it adapts to its changing environment. 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 as they track raging tornadoes. 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.

We Juke Up in Here! (Not rated, 60 min.) A new documentary that surveys what remains of the Mississippi Delta's once-thriving juke-joint culture. Directors Jeff Konkel and Roger Stolle will introduce the film, and answer questions afterward.

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

NOW SHOWING

The Amazing Spider-Man (PG-13, 136 min.) Andrew Garfield, Emma Stone.

Bartlett 10.

Arbitrage (R, 100 min.) Richard Gere, Susan Sarandon and indie beauty Brit Marling star in a drama about a desperate hedge-fund manager.

Ridgeway Four.

Argo (R, 120 min.) Inspired by the unlikely true story of the secret rescue of six U.S. diplomats from Tehran in 1980 (while 52 of their less fortunate colleagues were held hostage by militants in the American embassy), this is an entertaining and intelligent suspense film, with a commitment to quality and what might be called self-consciously purposeful content that is typical of the producing team of George Clooney and Grant Heslov ("The Ides of March," "Good Night, and Good Luck"). Sporting a vintage Chuck Norris/porn star mustache and hairdo, director Ben Affleck stars as the film's ostensible hero, real-life CIA "exfiltration" specialist Tony Mendez, who concocts a rescue plan that requires the Americans to pose as science-fiction movie producers scouting locations in the Middle East; his collaborators include a smart-aleck veteran movie producer (Alan Arkin) and Oscar-winner John Chambers (John Goodman), the makeup artist for "Planet of the Apes." Abandoning the Boston crime milieu of his first two films, the increasingly confident Affleck unnecessarily pumps up the action and sentiment in the final act and its coda, but the chaotic opening in Iran is gripping, and the in-jokes and movie references of the Hollywood scenes are witty and amusing.

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.

Atlas Shrugged: Part II (PG-13, 112 min.) Paul Ryan, the wait is over: Here's the conclusion of producer and fitness-equipment magnate John Aglialoro's Ayn Rand adaptation.

Collierville Towne 16, Cordova Cinema, Hollywood 20 Cinema, Ridgeway Four, Wolfchase Galleria Cinema 8.

The Avengers (PG-13, 143 min.) Robert Downey Jr., Chris Evans.

Bartlett 10.

The Bourne Legacy (PG-13, 125 min.) Jeremy Renner, Rachel Wesiz.

Bartlett 10.

Brave (PG, 101 min.) The latest from Pixar.

Bartlett 10.

The Dark Knight Rises (PG-13, 165 min.) Christian Bale, Anne Hathaway.

Bartlett 10, Wolfchase Galleria Cinema 8.

End of Watch (R, 109 min.) A sort of pulp-cinema Joseph Wambaugh, writer-director David Ayer ("Training Day," "Harsh Times," "Street Kings") returns with another vivid and gritty inner-city slice-of-life police drama;.Wolfchase Galleria Cinema 8.

Finding Nemo (G, 100 min.) The fishy Pixar classic returns in 3D.

Palace Cinema (in 3-D).

Frankenweenie (PG, 88 min.) Director Tim Burton expands his comic, career-defining 1984 short horror-movie homage into a Disney feature film that retains the original's black-and-white palette but replaces its flesh-and-blood actors with the puppety figures of the painstaking stop-motion animation process. In theory, this technique — which, in essence, invests inanimate objects with apparent life — is ideal for a story about an earnest boy scientist (voiced by Charlie Tahan) who resurrects his beloved dead dog, Sparky; however, the "unreal" nature of stop-motion encourages Burton to indulge his more bizarre whims, so that almost everybody in the story's suburb of "New Holland" — the name justifies the presence of a windmill, for a finale borrowed from James Whale — is some sort of flat-headed Frankenstein or hunchbacked Igor, which makes the appearance of a repaired and reanimated pet less shocking than it ought to be.

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

Here Comes the Boom (PG, 105 min.) More pabulum for moviegoers who can't be bothered to chew even the softest food for thought, courtesy of Happy Madison Productions, the Gerber of motion picture companies. Likable Kevin James stars as slovenly Scott Voss, a Boston high-school biology teacher and ex-wrestler who moonlights as a mixed martial arts fighter in hopes of raising the $48,000 needed to save the job of a beloved music teacher played by Henry Winkler, who is as cuddly here as the Fonz once was cool. Directed by Frank Coraci, who previously guided James through the punishing "Zookeeper," this ostensibly pro-teacher film should reassure anti-public education ideologues eager to cut funding for schools. Budget woes a problem? Just hold a bake sale, or, as seen here, send a faculty member into the Ultimate Fighting Championship Octagon at the MGM Grand. Adding to the overbearing aura of prefab "inspiration" is the syrupy score by Rupert Gregson-Williams: Like a cattle chute funneling beef toward the executioner's bolt pistol, it leaves the viewer no wiggle room for an alternate interpretation of the material.

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

Hotel Transylvania (PG, 91 min.) Count Dracula (voiced by Adam Sandler) opens a "human-free" castle hostelry in a computer-animated tribute to old-school ghouls that more or less pretends the past 50 years of horror movies never happened, even though it's aimed at kids who may be more familiar with Freddy, Jason and Chucky than Boris, Bela and Vincent. .

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

House at the End of the Street (PG-13, 101 min.) Ignoring the concerns of mom Elisabeth Shue, teen Jennifer Lawrence befriends sensitive, soft-spoken Max Thierot, whose parents were murdered in the scary house next door.

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

Last Ounce of Courage (PG, 101 min.) A war hero returns home to battle those who would deny America is a "Christian" nation in this drama aimed at conservative moviegoers.

Wolfchase Galleria Cinema 8.

Lawless (R, 115 min.) Shia LaBeouf, Tom Hardy.

Summer Quartet Drive-In.

Looper (R, 119 min.) Making the leap from indieland ("Brick") to commercial Hollywood, writer-director Rian Johnson delivers a stunner from start to finish — a smart, exciting time-travel action film that respects its audience, its genre and even its characters. he story hook is ingenious, and the futuristic details are clever and convincing. Joseph Gordon-Levitt stars as a "Looper," an assassin in the future who kills targets delivered to him via illegal time machine from an even further future; when his latest victim proves to be his older self (Bruce Willis), a cat-and-mouse chase ensues that leads to an isolated farm, where a tough single mother (Emily Blunt) is raising a little boy (Pierce Gagnon) with telekinetic powers. Unlike too many young directors, Johnson never sacrifices the humanity of the people in his story for a shot of violence or a cheap laugh.

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

Madagascar 3: Europe's Most Wanted (PG, 93 min.) The computer-animated zoo crew — Alex the lion (voiced by Ben Stiller), Marty the zebra (Chris Rock), Gloria the hippo (Jada Pinkett Smith) and Melman the giraffe (David Schwimmer) — joins a struggling traveling circus to elude a monomaniacal animal control officer (Frances McDormand) in this typically frenetic but wearying series entry, which lacks the Looney Tunes efficiency of its predecessors. Noah Baumbach, bard of educated unhappy white people ("The Squid and the Whale"), is the surprising co-screenwriter, joining co-director Eric Darnell; the other credited directors are Tom McGrath and Conrad Vernon.

Bartlett 10.

Madea's Witness Protection (PG-13, 114 min.) Tyler Perry, Eugene Levy.

Bartlett 10.

The Odd Life of Timothy Green (PG, 104 min.) CJ Adams is the title elfin urchin, a 10-year-old boy who mysteriously — magically — appears one stormy night in the spacious farm home of the Greens (Jennifer Garner and Joel Edgerton), a sadly childless working-class couple who went to bed after burying a box filled with notes delineating the wonderful attributes they'd love their dream offspring to possess.

Wolfchase Galleria Cinema 8.

ParaNorman (PG, 92 min.) This second stop-motion 3D feature film from Laika, an Oregon-based animation studio, might be described as the little brother of its wonderful predecessor from 2009, "Coraline." Like most little brothers, it's ruder, rowdier, somewhat dumber and a good deal more gross and obvious than its sister; it's also funny, likable and smarter than the average movie, with a delightfully askew and Caligari-esque production and character design.

Palace Cinema, Summer Quartet Drive-In.

The Perks of Being a Wallflower (PG-13, 103 min.) Hogswart graduate Emma Watson plays the free-spirited crush of an emotionally troubled high-school freshman (Logan Lerman) in suburban Pittsburgh in this dewy, sympathetic early 1990s coming-of-age tale that is remarkable for its sensitivity and earnestness, even if its post-Salinger stations of the cross — first kiss, first drug experience, first gay friend (Ezra Miller), first cool English teacher (Paul Rudd), first exposure to The Smiths and "The Rocky Horror Picture Show" — are almost entirely familiar. Directed by Stephen Chbosky, from his own 1999 novel.

Ridgeway Four.

Pitch Perfect (PG-13, 112 min.) Can freshman Anna Kendrick and her female singing group beat the men's team in the campus vocal competition?

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

The Possession (PG-13, 92 min.) Inspired by a Los Angeles Times article about a supposedly haunted antique "dybbuk box," director Ole Bornedal's atmospheric, relatively low-key thriller benefits from a sympathetic lead performance by Jeffrey Dean Morgan as a basketball coach unsure how to respond when the youngest (Natasha Calis) of his two daughters becomes obsessed with an old box she bought at a yard sale.

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

Premium Rush (PG-13, 91 min.) Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Michael Shannon.

Bartlett 10.

Resident Evil: Retribution (R, 97 min.) "Regurgitation" might be a more appropriate subtitle for this redundant fifth go-round in director Paul W.S. Anderson's video game-inspired franchise, set in a post-apocalyptic future of corporate conspiracy and zombie plague. Deries regular Milla Jovovich kicks undead butt through a series of subterranean "simulation" environments (Tokyo, Moscow, etc.), accompanied by a deaf little girl (Aryana Engineer) who functions as Newt to her Ripley.

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

Seven Psychopaths (R, 109 min.) Christopher Walken and Tom Waits are two of them. Directed by Martin ("In Bruges") McDonagh.

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

Sinister (R, 98 min.) Ethan Hawke is a desperate true-crime writer who moves his unwitting family into a "murder house" that may be haunted by more than bad vibes, as he realizes when he discovers a cache of cutely titled ("Hanging Around") but gruesome home movies that appear to have been shot over several decades by a serial killer or some other evil auteur. The script by C. Robert Cargill and director Scott Derrickson is indebted to such welcome sources as Stephen King ("The Shining") and Michelangelo Antonioni ("Blowup"), as well as to the more recent Japanese-horror trend ("The Ring"), but the "shock" stutter-cuts, in-your-face "Boo!" moments and loud sound effects almost spoil the mood. Still, the movie is spooky, and the ending is not a cop-out.

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

Sparkle (PG-13, 116) Motown-inspired musical.

Bartlett 10.

Step Up: Revolution (PG-13, 99 min.) The third in the popular dance series.

Bartlett 10.

Taken 2 (PG-13, 91 min.) Auspiciously named director Olivier Megaton ("Colombiana") deliver a real dud: a sequel to the 2008 action-thriller that is so absurd and moronic we'd assume it was a spoof if not for its insistent score, which demands our earnest appreciation, whether returning CIA hero Bryan Mills (Liam Neeson) is giving his daughter, Kim (Maggie Grace), a driving lesson or watching his wife (Famke Janssen) have her throat punctured by Albanians. This time, Mills' loved ones are targeted by the vengeful gangster father (Rade erbedija) of the sex trafficker the retired superspy electrocuted in the earlier film; unintentional hilarity runs rampant as Kim tosses grenades off the rooftops of Istanbul, so her father can locate her by the sounds of the explosions, in what might be called the Luc Besson version of the game "Marco Polo." The lesson: If you lie with dogs, you get fleas; if you go to Europe with Liam Neeson, you get kidnapped.

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.

Trouble with the Curve (PG-13, 111 min.) In the first scene, Clint Eastwood talks to a table, a can of Spam and his penis. Who could have predicted we'd miss that chair? Cantankerous old Clint is cast as a cantankerous old baseball scout with failing eyesight and a failed relationship with his grown daughter (Amy Adams) in this anti-"Moneyball" for the Honus Wagner fan base: The film equates computerized statistical analysis with evil, or at least smarminess (in the smirky person of Matthew Lillard, as Eastwood's Atlanta Braves clubhouse rival). Nicely calibrated to take full advantage of its octogenarian star's signature scowls, growls, squints and slow burns, the film is enjoyable hooey until it becomes a self-parody in its late innings, when director Robert Lorenz and writer Randy Brown grow more corn than Kevin Costner found in "Field of Dreams." With Justin Timberlake as former pitching phenom Johnny "The Flame" Flannagan.

Collierville Towne 16, Stage Cinema.

Unconditional (PG-13, 97 min.) A made-in-Nashville Christian film, produced by Memphian Jason Atkins, with Michael Ealy and Lynn Collins.

Cordova Cinema.

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