Movie Capsules: What's Showing

Capsule descriptions and starred mini-reviews by John Beifuss.

OPENING Friday

The Heat (R, 117 min.) See review on Page 16.

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.

White House Down (PG-13, 132 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.

opening wednesday

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), Studio on the Square, Summer Quartet Drive-In.

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 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, Studio on the Square, Summer Quartet Drive-In.

SPECIAL MOVIES

About 111 Girls (Not rated, 79 min.) The “Global Lens” international film series returns with this satirical 2012 road movie from Iran.

2 p.m. Sunday, Meeting Room C, Benjamin L. Hooks Central Library, 3030 Poplar. Call (901) 415-2846.

British National Theatre Live: The Audience (Not rated, 180 min.) Helen Mirren reprises her Oscar-wining role as Queen Elizabeth II in this new play, presented via satellite from the London West End.

1 p.m. Sunday and 7 p.m. Tuesday, Paradiso. Tickets: $20. Visit malco.com.

Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Rodrick Rules (PG, 99 min.) The “Malco Kids Summer Film Fest” continues with this second “Wimpy” movie, screened to benefit St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, Le Bonheur Children’s Hospital and other facilities.

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

Jumanji (PG, 104 min.) A magical board game introduces a pair of kids to crazy special-effects-filled adventures in this film from director Joe Johnston (“Captain America: The First Avenger”).

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

The Odd Life of Timothy Green (PG, 105 min.) A magical boy seemingly sprouts from a backyard garden in this 2012 fable with Jennifer Garner.

8:18 p.m. Friday, Central Park, The Avenue Carriage Crossing, Collierville. Admission: free. Visit shopcarriagecrossing.com.

The Parent Trap (Not rated, 129 min.) Hayley Mills plays twin teenagers scheming to reunite divorced parents in this 1961 Disney hit, the first of the Orpheum’s family “Summer Matinee” movies. Rockey the Rockin’ Redbird, mascot for the Memphis Redbirds, will be present to meet and greet fans.

1:30 p.m. Friday, the Orpheum, 203 S. Main. Admission: $7, or $5 for Indie Memphis members and kids 12 and under. Visit orpheum-memphis.com.

The Searchers (Not rated, 199 min.) The 1956 John Wayne-John Ford Western masterpiece. Local bluegrass band Blue Day performs before the movie at 6:30 p.m.

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

DeSoto Cinema 16, Hollywood 20 Cinema, Paradiso, 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 forty-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 Big Wedding (R, 90 min.) A family reunion ensemble comedy with Robert De Niro, Diane Keaton, Katherine Heigl, Robin Williams and many more.

Bartlett 10.

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.

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

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.

Summer Quartet Drive-In, Wolfchase Galleria Cinema 8.

Escape from Planet Earth (PG, 95 min.) Alien astronaut Scotch Supernova (voiced by Brendan Fraser) lands on a notoriously dangerous planet in this computer-animated film from the producers of “Hoodwinked!”

Bartlett 10.

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. Part 6 adds real-life martial artist Gina Carano to the already overcrowded ensemble of bodybuilders, rappers and supermodels but otherwise is a lesser effort than its Rio-based predecessor, primarily because its two gigantic and protracted set pieces — one involving a tank on a bridge, the other the pursuit of a cargo plane — become too ridiculous to be believed. You might call it a bridge (with tank) too far.

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

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 This disappointing sequel pits the Joes against an impostor U.S. president (Jonathan Pryce) working for the evil forces of Cobra. I

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. 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 Human pain and humiliation may be the essence of comedy, but animal cruelty — outside the context of a “Tom and Jerry” cartoon — is hardly funny. Director Todd Phillips’ third film about the so-called Wolfpack touts its giraffe decapitation in its trailer; the movie also includes the smothering of a chicken with a pillow and the poisoning of dogs. If you complain, you will be told to “lighten up” or that “it’s just a joke”; these are the fallback responses employed by the despicable to defend racist and sexist humor, too. The first “Hangover” was troubling yet funny and ingenious; the retread sequel was xenophobic; “Part III” is merely pointless.

Wolfchase Galleria Cinema 8.

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.

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

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. The battles between Superman and the evil Kryptonians led by General Zod (Michael Shannon) set a new standard for on-screen urban destruction, but they also give us pause: Aren’t hundreds, even thousands being killed in the riveting, spectacular smashing of skyscraper after skyscraper?

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, 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 characterizesthe 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.

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.) Joss Whedon leaves Stan Lee for Shakespeare in this contemporary staging of the Bard’s “merry war” of a romantic comedy.

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. Ellis (Tye Sheridan), an emotionally vulnerable 14-year-old, befriends a gun-toting fugitive who calls himself Mud (Matthew McConaughey) — a 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, “Muds” is nevertheless very welcome: It’s no Southern Gothic pastiche but a convincing portrait of a South rarely seen on-screen — the South of Walmarts and water moccasins, of mussel divers and motor bikes, of hick accents and punk rock.

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, Forest Hill 8, Hollywood 20 Cinema, Majestic, Palace Cinema, Paradiso.

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 to inject testosterone into the body politic and some knives into the bad guys’ necks.

Bartlett 10.

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

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

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, but the script is cratered with illogical motivations and plot holes large enough to swallow Classic Trek’s Doomsday Machine.

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.

CinePlanet 16, Collierville Towne 16, Cordova Cinema, DeSoto Cinema 16, Forest Hill 8, Hollywood 20 Cinema, Majestic, Palace Cinema, Paradiso, Studio on the Square, Wolfchase Galleria Cinema 8.

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 much better many times before by Romero, Danny Boyle, even AMC. More inspired by than adapted from the episodic survivors’-story novel by Max Brooks, the movie, directed by Marc Foster (“Quantum of Solace”), borrows the book’s globe-trotting structure to follow UN troubleshooter Brad Pitt on the quest for a cure for a zombie pandemic that has reduced noninfected humanity to a few precarious outposts; the disease is spread by bite, but the movie -- hungry for the mass all-ages audience admissable 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 for a soft drink commercial.

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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