Movie Capsules: What's Showing

Capsule descriptions and starred mini-reviews by John Beifuss.

OPENING Friday

The Conjuring (R, 112 min.) “Saw” director James Wan invites Patrick Wilson, Vera Farmiga and you, dear moviegoer, into a haunted house.

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.

Copperhead (PG-13, 120 min.) Civil War specialist Ronald F. Maxwell (“Gettysburg,” “Gods and Generals”) delivers a story about a family in upstate New York torn apart by differences between abolitionists and “copperheads” (Northerners who sympathized with the South).

Wolfchase Galleria Cinema 8.

Girl Most Likely (PG-13, 103 min.) Uptight Kristen Wiig moves back home with her free -spirit mom, Annette Bening.

Ridgeway Four.

Only God Forgives (R, 90 min.) Bloody Bangkok crime thriller reunites the star (Ryan Gosling) and director (Nicolas Winding Refn) of “Drive.”

Studio on the Square.

Red 2 (PG-13, 116 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.

R.I.P.D. (PG-13, 96 min.) A supernatural “Men in Black,” as recently slain cop Ryan Reynolds is partnered with veteran undead detective Jeff Bridges to battle occult menaces.

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).

20 Feet from Stardom (PG-13, 91 min.) See review on Page 11.

Ridgeway Four.

The Way, Way Back (PG-13, 103 min.) See review on Page 14.

Ridgeway Four.

SPECIAL MOVIES

Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squeakquel (PG, 88 min.) The zany musical rodents return, in a “Kids Summer Film Fest” screening 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.

Dirty Dancing (PG-13 100 min.) Jennifer Grey and Patrick Swayze have the time of their lives in the romantic 1987 musical. Salsa Memphis dance instructors will offer free lessons in the lobby starting at 6 p.m.

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

A Face in the Crowd (Not rated, 126 min.) Wayne Dowdy of the Central Library introduces this special screening of director Elia Kazan’s partly made-in-Memphis 1957 masterpiece, with Andy Griffith in an uncharacteristically dark role as a greedy womanizing Southern demagogue.

5:45 p.m. Thursday, Memphis Room, Benjamin L. Hooks Central Library, 3030 Poplar. Admission: free. Call (901) 415-2742.

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.

Rio (PG, 96 min.) The CinePlanet 16 summer kids’ series concludes with this delightful 2011 animated film about a pampered pet macaw (voiced by Jesse Eisenberg) who experiences adventure in Brazil.

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

The Rocky Horror Picture Show (R, 100 min.) The ultimate audience participation sci-fi musical cult classic returns to Downtown’s historic theater. Writer Chris Davis of The Memphis Flyer will introduce the film at 7:30 p.m., discussing the movie’s status as a “sex-drenched morality play” and acting as a judge in a “Rocky” costume contest hosted by longtime devotee Drew Pairmore, who will perform on the Orpheum’s Mighty Wurlitzer.

8 p.m. Friday, the Orpheum, 203 S. Main. Tickets: $7, or $5 for Indie Memphis members and kids 12 and under. Visit orpheum-memphis.com.

Something in the Air (Not rated, 124 min.) French writer-director Olivier Assayas revisits the heady days of the 1968 student riots in Paris in this colorful ensemble drama with a vintage rock score.

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

Springsteen & I (Not rated, 124 min.) Edited from videos submitted by more than 2,000 Bruce Springsteen devotees from around the world, this unique documentary presents concert footage, backstage material and interviews and testimonials to create an intimate portrait of the relationship between “the Boss” and his fans.

7:30 p.m. Monday, Paradiso. Tickets: $15. Visit malco.com.

Titans of the Ice Age: Go back to the beautiful and foreign frozen landscapes of North America, Europe and Asia 10,000 years before civilization; to an era where humankind shared the frozen tundra with woolly beasts. Imax film 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.

NOW SHOWING

After Earth (PG-13, 100 min.) HH Will Smith.

Bartlett 10.

Big Star: Nothing Can Hurt Me (PG-13, 113 min.) HHH½ The subtitle of this definitive documentary about the once obscure Memphis pop-rock band that crafted three of the most influential albums of the 1970s is a borrowed lyric from “Big Black Car,” a melancholy composition by Big Star co-founder Alex Chilton. The line’s sad, false bravado — followed a moment later by the less reassuring lyric “Nothing can touch me” -- makes an ironic slogan for musicians whose creative formula was “pain transformed into beauty,” in the words of Memphis percussionist-raconteur Ross Johnson, just one of the numerous Big Star admirers, collaborators and literal and extended family members who reminisce, testify, mourn and praise in this sprawling, inspiring and moving feature. A years-in-the-making labor of love by Brooklyn filmmakers Danielle McCarthy, Drew DeNicola and Olivia Mori, the well-sourced doc meets the challenge of its diffuse scope to be a model of purposeful storytelling and coherent editorial construction.; it is especially valuable in bringing just due to sensitive Big Star co-founder Chris Bell, “a tragic figure in every way” (per producer Jim Dickinson), who left the band after the first album and was killed in a 1978 car wreck, unaware of the impact of his work on Mike Mills of R.E.M., Paul Westerberg of the Replacements and Robyn Hitchcock, to name just three of the many musicians who appear in the film to discuss their love of Big Star’s soulful merger of British Invasion-esque songcraft and Memphis intensity

Studio on the Square.

The Croods (PG, 98 min.) HH½ The 3D animation is state of the art.

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, Summer Quartet Drive-In.

Epic (PG, 103 min.) A teenage girl discovers a hidden world.

Bartlett 10.

Fast & Furious 6 (PG-13, 130 min.) HH Vin Diesel.

Wolfchase Galleria Cinema 8.

42 (PG-13, 128 min.) HH½ Written and directed by Brian Helgeland, this is a square, upbeat chronicle of No. 42, Jackie Robinson (Chadwick Boseman), when he broke the color barrier in 1947 as a rookie with the Brooklyn Dodgers, “discombobulating” racists with his stoicism and athleticism.

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 Leonado DiCaprio.

Bartlett 10.

Grown Ups 2 (PG-13, 101 min.) HH Jettisoning the earlier film’s egregious schmaltz for an overload of (literal) gags involving vomit, loaded diapers and a CG urinating deer, this Happy Madison remedial-school version of “This Is 40” is as insane and dumbfounding and worthy of WTF mock-cult status as “The Room” or “Manos, Hands of Fate,” even if it did earn $42 million on 3,491 screens its first weekend. Essentially (thankfully) plotless, the movie reunites Adam Sandler, Kevin James, Chris Rock and David Spade as old high-school buddies coping with hot yet demanding wives (Salma Hayek, Maria Bello), celebrity guest stars (Shaq, “Stone Cold” Steve Austin) and more than a dozen SNL alumni (only a very funny Tim Meadows retains his dignity); the smug, wealthy Sandler character’s pride in accomplishing a “burp snart” (a combination of three rude bodily functions) could be a career metaphor. The MVP, surprisingly, is an uncredited Taylor Lautner, more entertaining here as hyper lunkhead “Frat Boy Andy” than he was in the entire “Twilight” series; he participates in a climactic might-makes-right ’80s costume-party brawl that pits the middle-aged stars, dressed as Prince, Boy George, Bruce Springsteen, etc., against an army of college brats. The scornful kids might seem more truly elitist if the fight didn’t take place at Sandler’s mansion, apparently the Xanadu of his small hometown. Directed by Dennis Dugan, apparently yet to be paroled from his life sentence as a Sandler collaborator.

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.

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, Paradiso, Stage Cinema, Studio on the Square.

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 film, shot at Madison Square Garden.

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

The Lone Ranger (PG-13, 149 min.) HHH As off the rails as its out-of-control locomotives, this inventive, irreverent and eccentric epic spoof/critique of the manifest destiny of America and its movies ignores Clayton Moore while embracing the unholy Mad Magazine cinephilia of the animated “Rango,” the previous Western collaboration between star Johnny Depp and director Gore Verbinski, whose brazen robbery here of $225 million in production funds from Disney would give Butch and Sundance pause. A tall tale narrated — in a framing device lifted from “Little Big Man” — by an ancient, wizened Tonto (Depp), identified in a museum exhibit as “The Noble Savage,” the movie is stuffed to bursting with ideas (visual and otherwise), antiauthoritarian attitude and almost apocalyptic incident.

CinePlanet 16, Collierville Towne 16, Cordova Cinema, DeSoto Cinema 16, Majestic, 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).

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

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).

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

Now You See Me (PG-13, 116 min.) HH½ Jesse Eisenberg.

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

Olympus Has Fallen (R, 117 min.) HH½ Gerard Butler.

Bartlett 10.

Pacific Rim (PG-13, 131 min.) HH½ Dedicated to monster masters Ray Harryhausen (the late stop-motion animator) and Ishiro Honda (director of “Godzilla,” “Mothra” and “Rodan”), Guillermo del Toro’s sincere, elaborate tribute to the (mostly) Japanese colossal-creature features that enthralled him as a child proves to be the director’s squarest, least interesting film, as if the project’s sense of fun and wonder collapsed beneath the gargantuism of its $190 million budget, in an aesthetic equivalent of the square-cube law that makes the story’s monsters impossible in real life. The wonderful opening cleverly establishes a near future in which titanic robots known as Jaegers, operated by teams of telepathically linked pilots, have been created to battle the city-stomping kaiju (colossal beasts) that frequently emerge from a mysterious new inter-dimensional ocean rift; with their blade-shaped heads, the monsters are “realistic” representations of the absurd creatures developed for the “Gamera” films of the 1960s. The touches of humor and the amusing supporting cast (Charlie Day and Burn Gorman are comic kaiju-obsessed scientists) don’t quite compensate for the predictable unfolding of the central relationship connecting a rugged veteran pilot (Charlie Hunnam), a traumatized would-be Jaeger-meister (Rinko Kikuchi) and a no-nonsense commander (Idris Elba); the meticulously crafted battle sequences, meanwhile, become repetitious, thanks to del Toro’s insistence on presenting the action in intense close-up.

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.

Pain & Gain (R, 130 min.) Mark Wahlberg.

Bartlett 10.

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

Bartlett 10.

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

Wolfchase Galleria Cinema 8.

This Is the End (R, 107 min.) HHH½ Seth Rogen..

Wolfchase Galleria Cinema 8.

Turbo (PG, 96 min.) A snail dreams of winning the Indy 500.

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.

Unfinished Song (PG-13, 93 min.) Even the original General Zod (Terence Stamp) can act cute when you pay him to play a grumpy pensioner.

Ridgeway Four.

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.

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

World War Z (PG-13, 116 min.) HH½ 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 better many times before..

CinePlanet 16, Collierville Towne 16, Cordova Cinema, DeSoto Cinema 16, Hollywood 20 Cinema, Majestic, Palace Cinema (in 3-D), Paradiso, Wolfchase Galleria Cinema 8.

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