Movie Capsules: What's Showing

“The Bling Ring,” starring Emma Watson, looks at the real-life teenage clique that burglarized Hollywood homes.

Photo by Merrick Morton

“The Bling Ring,” starring Emma Watson, looks at the real-life teenage clique that burglarized Hollywood homes.

Capsule descriptions and starred mini-reviews by John Beifuss.

SPECIAL MOVIES

Alvin & the Chipmunks: Chipwrecked (G, 87 min.) It’s like “Gilligan’s Island” with rodents as the Chipmunks and Chipettes are marooned in the tropics.

10 a.m. Tuesday and Wednesday, CinePlanet 16. Admission: free. Visit mycinematimes.com.

Breakfast at Tiffany’s (Not rated, 115 min.) Audrey Hepburn is Truman Capote’s stylish heroine Holly Golightly in this 1961 romantic drama.

7 p.m. Thursday, the Orpheum, 203 S. Main. Admission: $7, or $5 for Indie Memphis members and kids 12 and younger. Visit orpheum-memphis.com.

Great White Shark: Imax feature film takes a close look at this predator’s place in our imaginations and fears while exploring the shark’s reality and role at the top of the oceanic food chain. Runs through Nov. 22. 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 showtimes, tickets and reservations.

Intruder in the Dust (Not rated, 87 min.) See story on Page 16.

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

Space Chimps (G, 81 min.) It’s launchtime for Bonzo as a crew of digitally animated anthropoid astronauts find adventure in outer space. Part of the Malco “Kids Summer Film Fest” to benefit St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, Le Bonheur Children’s Hospital and other institutions.

10 a.m. Tuesday and Wednesday, Cordova Cinema, Collierville Towne 16, Stage Cinema, DeSoto Cinema 16. Admission: $2. Visit malco.com.

NOW SHOWING

After Earth (PG-13, 100 min.) HH Some parents post their children’s piano recitals, school plays and sports accomplishments on YouTube. If you’re Will and Jada Pinkett Smith, however, you have access to a more impressive media platform: You can produce a movie for your kid. Directed by humbled auteur-turned-hired hand M. Night Shyamalan, this science-fiction adventure is not another of Will Smith’s star vehicles but a showcase for 14-year-old son Jaden Smith, who treks across a monster-stalked, forest-primeval future Earth while his famous space ranger dad, immobilized by a broken leg, spends the movie in a wrecked spaceship, barking orders and keeping a watchful eye on his offspring via 31st-century Skype. The result is a survival story that’s more Dr. Laura or even L. Ron Hubbard than Jack London.

Bartlett 10, Hollywood 20 Cinema, Summer Quartet Drive-In.

Before Midnight (R, 108 min.) HHH½ Nine-year gaps between films would sink a studio franchise, but the unforgiving impact of time and the slipperiness of its mysterious mental record, memory, are the very subjects of this third chapter in the open-ended love story of the American Jesse (Ethan Hawke) and the French Celine (Julie Delpy), who spent a night in Vienna in “Before Sunrise” (1994), reunited in Paris in “Before Sunset” (2004), and apparently have been together ever since: Set in Greece, the new film reveals the couple to be the 40-something parents of twin girls. Like its predecessors, this collaboration between the stars and sympathetic director Richard Linklater unfolds casually, in more-or-less real time, as a series of conversations; but if the earlier films depicted the giddy, risky thrill of courtship, this latest entry, true to its title, allows the darkness to creep in: The final act is an extended argument in a blandly generic hotel room that may be the first depressing location in the trilogy. Will the relationship survive? Perhaps we’ll find out in 2022. As an old woman in the movie comments: “We appear and we disappear — and we are so important to some, but we are just passing through.”

Ridgeway Four.

The Bling Ring (R, 90 min.) HHH½ Sofia Coppola’s fifth feature is another of the director’s portraits of the affluent, young, privileged and attractive — in this case, a real-life Southern California teenage clique that for months burglarized the unprotected homes — and designer-stocked walk-in closets — of such Hollywood Hills celebrities as Paris Hilton and Lindsay Lohan. For ringleader Rebecca (Katie Chang), sidekick Marc (Israel Broussard), clueless Nicki (Emma Watson, trading her familiar Hermione Granger English accent for a Valley Girl whine) and friends, the burglaries are not just shopping sprees but immersive experiences — field trips to a lifestyle they envy and covet. We share their amazement if not their admiration at what they find, as Coppola’s camera transforms us into the young people’s voyeuristic accomplices, prowling absurdly luxe, mirror-paneled rooms and hallways that testify to the stars’ endless self-regard. Although the movie presents itself as a deadpan spoof of the so-called Bling Ring’s shallow aspirations, thoughtless materialism and clueless moral sense, Coppola is not unsympathetic to the kids’ desires, misapprehensions and bad choices; the movie’s flat gaze suggests sadness, not scorn.

Ridgeway Four.

The Croods (PG, 98 min.) HH½ The humor’s classic or prehistoric, depending on your tolerance for slapstick. The 3D animation is state of the art. And the life lessons are all too wearily contemporary in this energetic DreamWorks digital cartoon feature about some cave dwellers who are so Stone Age they make the Flintstones look like the Jetsons.

Bartlett 10.

Despicable Me 2 (PG, 98 min.) Gru (voiced by Steve Carell) and his minions return.

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 East (PG-13, 116 min.) HH Smart and statuesque Brit Marling — the more or less unchallenged blond glamour goddess of indie cinema — re-teams as writer-star with writer-director Zal Batmanglij, her collaborator on “Sound of My Voice” (2011), for another story about the undercover investigation of a possibly sinister cult. This time, Marling is an agent for an upscale private security firm; posing as a backpacking free spirit, she infiltrates the backwoods retreat that is home to “The East,” an “anarchist collective” that includes Juno (i.e., Ellen Page), a Manson-hairy Alexander Skarsgaard and at least one Dumpster-diving Jack White wannabe in a fedora; these perhaps misguided idealists carry out strikingly dramatic public actions against industrial polluters, pharmaceutical profiteers and other corporate exploiters. The film’s message is timely but its visuals are uninspired and its storytelling is unimaginative; in a condescending detail, the agent is presented as a Christian, to suggest she’s susceptible to the earnest promises of faith communities even before she joins this criminal commune.

Ridgeway Four.

Epic (PG, 103 min.) A teenage girl discovers a hidden world of tiny warriors and talking slugs when she is shrunk to bug-size.

Wolfchase Galleria Cinema 8.

Fast & Furious 6 (PG-13, 130 min.) HH Vin Diesel and Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson are so pumped up, so anatomically inflated and unlikely that when they have a confrontation in this fifth follow-up to “The Fast & the Furious” (2001), it’s like watching a pair of unmoored Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade balloons bump against each other. Giant vulcanized renditions of Underdog and Charlie Brown probably have more interesting conversations, however; lines spoken here include “I got this,” “Talk to me” and “You don’t turn your back on family.” The latter has become the trite theme of this unsafe-at-any-speed franchise, which has increased its international box-office appeal even as director Justin Lin (behind the wheel here for his fourth “Fast” film) has upped the vehicular mayhem. Part 6 adds real-life martial artist Gina Carano to the already overcrowded ensemble of bodybuilders, rappers and supermodels.

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

42 (PG-13, 128 min.) Chadwick Boseman is Jackie Robinson in this biopic about the Hall of Famer who broke the color barrier in Major League Baseball.

Bartlett 10.

G.I. Joe: Retaliation (PG-13, 110 min.) HH Dwayne Johnson, Bruce Willis.

Bartlett 10.

The Great Gatsby (PG-13, 142 min.) HH½ Attracted to the self-made glamour of both Jay-G (Jay Gatsby) and Jay-Z (the rapper), Baz Luhrmann imagines F. Scott Fitzgerald’s Jazz Age masterpiece as an homage to a culture’s envy, embrace and forgiveness of conspicuous consumption; the director has a vision, all right, but it’s a cheesy one, and it falters once it moves beyond costume and décor. In a nod to “The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari,” Everyman neighbor Nick Carraway (Tobey Maguire) narrates from a psychiatrist’s office, as if to justify the impossible, expressionistic set pieces that follow: hysterical parties — more Tony Scott than Busby Berkeley, more post-”Moulin Rouge” than pre-code Hollywood — where Gershwin bumps against Shawn Carter on the soundtrack; and crazed road races through Long Island and Manhattan, where the greenscreen landscapes are so digitally unreal even the eyes of T.J. Eckleburg need 3D glasses. Not until a tense hotel scene that emphasizes acting and Fitzgerald’s dialogue over Luhrmann’s spastic creativity do we begin to believe in the love story between the mysterious neo-millionaire Gatsby (a wonderful Leonardo DiCaprio) and the fey Daisy (Carey Mulligan, defeated by a hopeless role), which nevertheless lacks the tenderness of the relationship between Gatsby and Nick.

Wolfchase Galleria Cinema 8.

The Hangover Part III (R, 100 min.) H½ Zach Galifianakis, Bradley Cooper.

Bartlett 10.

The Heat (R, 117 min.) Slobby Melissa McCarthy and uptight Sandra Bullock are an “odd couple” of cops.

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.

Identity Thief (R, 111 min.) HH Melissa McCarthy.

Bartlett 10.

The Internship (PG-13, 119 min.) Relative old-timers Vince Vaughn and Owen Wilson seek jobs on the Google campus.

Wolfchase Galleria Cinema 8.

Iron Man 3 (PG-13, 130 min.) HHH Terrorist and anxiety attacks prove equally dismaying to Marvel’s superheroic “man in a can” in this witty, satisfying sequel.

Wolfchase Galleria Cinema 8.

Kevin Hart: Let Me Explain (R, 75 min.) A standup-comedy concert movie, filmed at Madison Square Garden.

Cordova Cinema, DeSoto Cinema 16, Hollywood 20 Cinema, Majestic, Paradiso.

The Kings of Summer (R, 95 min.)

Ridgeway Four.

The Lone Ranger (PG-13, 149 min.) Disney and director Gore (“Pirates of the Caribbean”) Verbinski resurrect the masked man, with Johnny Depp as Tonto and Armie Hammer as the title hero.

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

Man of Steel (PG-13, 143 min.) HHH As an epic movie “event” and attempt by director Zack Snyder (“Watchmen”) and producer Christopher Nolan (the “Dark Knight” trilogy) to galvanize DC Comics into a legitimate big-screen rival to Marvel, the first sobersided Superman movie is a smash success; as a coherent film, it’s problematic. To inject new life into an old, even Mosaic parable, the filmmakers chronologically fracture the familiar events of the infant Kal-El’s journey from doomed (and here overconceptualized) Krypton to Kansas (where Diane Lane as Ma Kent easily takes acting honors from Amy Adams as the underwritten if Pulitzer Prize-winning Lois Lane); this origin story has become so mythic and influential that the movie’s acknowledgment of the thematic connection between the first comic-book superhero and his otherworldy savior predecessor, Jesus, seems more inevitable than offensive. The film additionally presents its hero’s journey as the ultimate immigrant success story: “I’m about as American as you can get,” declares the superpowered undocumented alien, played by boyishly handsome and convincing (if not overly charismatic) Henry Cavill.

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

Monsters University (G, 118 min.) HHH½ A prequel to 2001’s “Monsters, Inc.,” the 14th Pixar feature film lacks the grandeur and ambition that characterize the company’s most impressive work but succeeds absolutely as a clever, beautifully rendered “Revenge of the Nerds” campus comedy and origin story for the friendship of high-energy walking eyeball Mike Wazowksi (voiced by Billy Crystal) and his shaggy bearlike friend, Sulley (John Goodman). Despite its state-of-the-art digital animation, the movie is old-fashioned in the best sense; unlike its competition from DreamWorks, Blue Sky and Sony, it generates humor through situation, characterization and relevant jokes, rather than with catch phrases, pop culture references, bathroom humor and winks at the parents in the audience. Directed by Dan Scanlon.

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.

Much Ado About Nothing (PG-13, 107 min.) HHH Joss Whedon leaves Stan Lee for Shakespeare in this black-and-white staging in contemporary dress of the Bard’s “merry war” of a romantic comedy, shot in the downtime between blockbusters in the director’s own California home. Whedon occasionally missteps, but overall the movie is a delightful celebration of Shakespeare’s rapier wit. The eloquent insults and jibes are delivered with aplomb by a no doubt grateful cast that includes Amy Acker, Alexis Denisof, Clark Gregg, Fran Kranz and Nathan FIlion.

Ridgeway Four.

Mud (PG-13, 130 min.) HHH With references to Mark Twain, “Robinson Crusoe” and even “The Andy Griffith Show,” the third and most elaborate feature to date from Arkansas writer-director Jeff Nichols has the feel of a classic, although it’s perhaps not enthralling enough to be one. The movie seems to have been adapted from a novel that doesn’t exist — something by James Lee Burke, perhaps, or Cormac McCarthy, or some other specialist in frequently violent tales about the challenges to masculinity and the forging of new identities that face rural people who belong to a sprawling modern world — who might be hanging out in a Piggly-Wiggly parking lot one moment and falling into a creekful of deadly cottonmouths the next. Both events happen to 14-year-old Ellis (Tye Sheridan), an emotionally vulnerable 14-year-old, who befriends a gun-toting fugitive who calls himself Mud (Matthew McConaughey); that’s a deceptively simple name for a wily surrogate father figure with cross-shaped nails in his boots (“to ward off evil spirits”) and a romantic back story about a lifelong true love (Reese Witherspoon). Somewhat overwritten and overmotivated, “Mud” is a convincing portrait of a South rarely seen on-screen — the South of Wal-Marts and water moccasins, of mussel divers and motor bikes, of hick accents and punk rock. “This way of life isn’t long for this world,” Ellis’ father (Ray McKinnon) tells his son. What way of life is? The soundtrack includes band and solo work by Nichols’ brother, Ben Nichols, frontman of the Memphis rock group Lucero.

Wolfchase Galleria Cinema 8.

Now You See Me (PG-13, 116 min.) HH½ Celebrity magicians Jesse Eisenberg, Isla Fisher, Woody Harrelson and Dave Franco pull off various “impossible” heists and capers while being dogged by detective Mark Ruffalo, Interpol agent Mélanie Laurent and magic debunker Morgan Freeman in this slick, sparkly thriller/puzzler from director Louis Leterrier (“The Transporter”). The movie initially dazzles but ultimately succumbs to the Houdiniesque straitjacket of its implausibility; like too many post-“Unusual Suspects” mysteries, it tries so hard to be clever it becomes silly.

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

Oblivion (PG-13, 126 min.) HHH It’s 2077, and Tom Cruise is apparently the last man on Earth.

Bartlett 10.

Olympus Has Fallen (R, 117 min.) HH½ America is emasculated when terrorists knock the tip off the Washington Monument during an attack on the nation’s capital; lucky for us, he-man Gerard Butler, cast as a Secret Service agent in need of redemption, is nearby.

Bartlett 10.

Oz the Great and Powerful (PG, 131 min.) HH½ James Franco is the wizard.

Bartlett 10.

Pain & Gain (R, 130 min.) Mark Wahlberg, Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson and Anthony Mackie are bodybuilders turned kidnappers in a relatively small ($26 million) movie from “Transformers”/ “Armageddon” Gargantua Michael Bay.

Bartlett 10.

Peeples (PG-13, 95 min.) HH½ Craig Robinson, Kerry Washington.

Bartlett 10.

The Purge (R, 85 min.) HHH A state-of-the-art home security system and an exclusive gated address provide insufficient protection when an all-American family (led by father Ethan Hawke) is besieged by psycho thugs in this effective horror-thriller, which contrary to the home-invasion emphasis of its trailer never loses touch with its ingenious premise: Set in the year 2022, the movie imagines a “reborn” United States that lets its citizens blow off steam during an annual 12-hour period known as “The Purge” (“an outlet for American rage”), in which any and all crime is legal. Unlike Shirley Jackson, whose classic short story “The Lottery” was an obvious inspiration, writer-director James DeMonaco overemphasizes his violent shocker’s political content (“Things like this are not supposed to happen in our neighborhood!” a character laments); even so, this grindhouse “Hunger Games” is admirable for its blunt ambition as well as its scares.

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

Star Trek Into Darkness (PG-13, 132 min.) HHH Director-fanboy J.J. Abrams’ follow-up to his franchise-reviving 2009 “Star Trek” is a super-glossy spectacle of bludgeoning action and emotion — moment to moment, it’s as entertaining, rousing and visually impressive as any recent science-fiction action epic, as reckless young Captain Kirk (Chris Pine), the Vulcan Mr. Spock (Zachary Quinto) and their colorful subordinates battle a genetic superman (mesmerizingly mannered Benedict Cumberbatch) who is pursuing a deadly vendetta against a warmongering Starfleet admiral (Peter Weller). Abrams’ war-on-terror analogies aren’t too distracting (Spock argues, essentially, that drone assassination is immoral), but the script is cratered with illogical motivations and plot holes large enough to swallow Classic Trek’s Doomsday Machine: What seems like the year’s most satisfying blockbuster while it’s unfolding becomes irksome in retrospect. Somebody let Spock critique the next script in advance, please.

Collierville Towne 16, Wolfchase Galleria Cinema 8.

This Is the End (R, 107 min.) HHH½ Juvenile in attitude but “adult” in language and visual content, this vulgar, violent ejaculation of the id earns its R rating and then some as it depicts the end of the world with such drug-addled, potty-mouthed, over-the-top (decapitation) and below-the-belt (castration) enthusiasm that it also might signal Armageddon for a certain type of boys’ club comedy. After all, once you’ve shown audiences an explicitly naked giant Satan striding the burning landscapes of the Hollywood Hills, what next? You might as well hit restart and inaugurate a series of P.G. Wodehouse adaptations. Directed and written by the longtime team of Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg, the movie embraces the ingenious shorthand self-indulgence of a Bob Hope/Bing Crosby “Road” picture by casting Rogen, Jay Baruchel, an ex-wielding Emma Watson and other mostly comic actors as cartoonish versions of themselves, trapped by the end of days in the absurd party mansion of James Franco, where the provisions are more or less limited to a Milky Way and a porno mag; jokey but inherently serious theological discussions occasionally interrupt the mayhem. When the actual apocalypse arrives, it will find this fire-and-brimstone rip-roarer a hard act to follow.

Collierville Towne 16, Cordova Cinema, DeSoto Cinema 16, Hollywood 20 Cinema, Paradiso, Studio on the Square, Wolfchase Galleria Cinema 8.

White House Down (PG-13, 132 min.) HH A tough but lovable would-be Secret Service agent (Channing Tatum) with a plucky young daughter (Joey King) helps an Obamaesque “academic” of a president (Jamie Foxx) become a reluctant action hero after rightwing traitor-terrorists take over the White House; too bad the kid isn’t played the 10-year-old Macaulay Culkin, or the home invaders wouldn’t stand a chance. The latest over-the-top, brink-of-nuclear-disaster, would-be crowd-rouser from director Roland Emmerich (“Independence Day”) eschews the blunt and sadistic retro Cannon Films hostility of this year’s earlier “Olympus Has Fallen” for glossy and clever post-Die Hardisms; the vibe is intended to be semi-comic and disaster lite, a somewhat unconvincing choice considering how often a gun is placed against the little gir’s head. Not helping matters is the movie’s original score, a trite compendium of martial-military themes that sounds like the music you imagine playing inside Glenn Beck’s head when he’s typing one of his political thrillers. The Tatum character is named John Cale; apparently that’s not a reference to the co-founder of the Velvet Underground, or surely the movie would have been titled “White Light/White Heat/White House.”

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.

World War Z (PG-13, 116 min.) HH½ The The spectacular set-piece highlights — the antlike swarms of zombies attacking the Jerusalem wall, the lethal traffic jam in Philadelphia, the airplane attack — were revealed in the trailers; what’s left is nothing that hasn’t been done much better many times before by Romero, Danny Boyle, even AMC. More inspired by than adapted from the episodic “oral history” novel by Max Brooks, the movie borrows the book’s globe-trotting structure to follow U.N. troubleshooter Brad Pitt on the quest for a cure for a zombie pandemic that has restricted noninfected humanity to a few precarious outposts; the disease is spread by bite, but the movie — hungry for the mass all-ages audience admissible with a PG-13 rating — is almost blood-free, for all its chaos. The production reportedly was plagued by difficulties; the much-publicized reworked ending is the weakest episode in the film, an unsuspenseful anticlimax that stops dead (so to speak) for a soft drink commercial. Directed by Marc Foster (“Quantum of Solace”).

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.

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