Now Playing: Movie Capsules

Capsule descriptions and starred mini-reviews by John Beifuss.

OPENING Friday

The Host (PG-13, 125 min.) Alien invaders possess human minds. Based on the bestseller by “Twilight” author Stephenie Meyer.

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.

On the Road (R, 124 min.) See review on Page 16.

Ridgeway Four.

Tyler Perry’s Temptation: Confessions of a Marriage Counselor (PG-13, 111 min.) Now, that’s a movie title. Kim Kardashian and Brandy are among those caught up in the drama.

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

SPECIAL MOVIES

Caesar Must Die (Not rated, 76 min.) The acclaimed new film from Italian directors (and brothers) Paolo and Vittorio Taviani employs a cast of maximum-security inmates and mixes documentary and drama to depict a prison production of Shakespeare’s “Julius Caesar.”

7 p.m. Tuesday, University Center Theatre, University of Memphis. Admission: free. Visit memphis.edu.

King: A Filmed Record... Montgomery to Memphis (Not rated, 185 min.) Unseen in its full length for almost 40 years, this Oscar-nominated 1970 documentary tells the story of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. through vintage newsreel footage and audio files, interspersed with segments featuring such stars as Charlton Heston, Harry Belafonte and Burt Lancaster. Representatives of Common Ground, a grass roots initiative that works to build racial understanding, will lead a discussion after the film.

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

The Metropolitan Opera: Francesca da Rimini (Not rated, 240 min.) Filmed live onstage in New York, an encore presentation of a recent production of Riccardo Zandonai’s early 20th-century musical melodrama of political and romantic intrigue.

6:30 p.m. Wednesday, Paradiso. Tickets: $20. Visit malco.com.

The Story of Film: An Odyssey, Part 5 (Not rated, 180 min.) Irish critic-filmmaker-narrator Mark Cousins concludes his epic chronological documentary history of cinema with a look at the past two decades of international film (and its digital replacement), from the art-auteurs of Thailand and Romania to the blockbusters of “Pulp Fiction” and “Inception.”

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

Titans of the Ice Age: Narrated by Christopher Plummer, this IMAX feature film transports you to the otherworldly frozen landscapes of the northern hemisphere 10,000 years before modern civilization. Runs through June 21. 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.

WaterWalk (Not rated, 121 min.) Based on a true story, this is an inspiring film about a laid-off newspaper reporter (Robert Cicchini, who also directed) who bonds with his combative 18-year-old adopted son (Chase Maser) during a thousand-mile Mississippi River canoe trip that recreates the 1673 journey of Father Jacques Marquette and explorer Louis Joliet. Roger Rapoport, the film’s Michigan-based producer, Outdoors Inc. president Joe Royer and Lise Van Stolk, president of l’Alliance Franaise de Memphis, will appear between shows, at 7:15 p.m. to discuss the film, its themes and Marquette’s original journey.

5 and 8 p.m. Thursday, Paradiso. Tickets: $7.25 (early show) or $10.50. Visit malco.com.

NOW SHOWING

Admission (PG-13, 107 min.) HH Career women, you will find happiness by embracing your maternal instincts. Parents and high-school students, you are right to obsess over college. Tina Fey, continue your domestication process. These are among the depressing affirmations of this wan romantic comedy that picks up where “30 Rock” left off by surrounding the comic actress and comedy role model with a diverse demographic of kids, including at least one nonhuman: The movie milks the motherhood theme with such vigor it even requires Fey’s character to help a distressed cow deliver her calf. (From “Bossypants” to bossy’s midwife.) Fey plays an unmarried, childless “superstar” admissions counselor at Princeto who is a surrogate mother of sorts to a world of hopeful would-be Ivy Leaguers; Paul Rudd is a comically progressive local schoolteacher with an adopted son. He’s as free-spirited, nomadic and earnest as the admissions counselor is buttoned-down, stable and wary; think they’ll meet in the middle? Directed by Paul Weitz, from the novel by Jean Hanff Korelitz.

CinePlanet 16, Collierville Towne 16, Cordova Cinema, DeSoto Cinema 16, Hollywood 20 Cinema, Ridgeway Four, Stage Cinema.

Argo (R, 120 min.) HHH Winner of the Academy Award for Best Picture.

Bartlett 10.

Beautiful Creatures (PG-13, 123 min.) Memphis’ Molly Mickler Smith is among the producers of this Southern supernatural hot teen/old witch saga, adapted from the popular young adult novel.

Bartlett 10.

The Call (R, 94 min.) HH½ The world didn’t know it needed a movie in which a heroic 911 operator played by Halle Berry rescues the “Little Miss Sunshine” girl from a serial killer until the arrival of this instant camp classic from reformed art-horror director Brad Anderson (“The Machinist”), who stylizes the violence with disorienting extreme close-ups, brief slo-mo and quick freeze frames. “We’re Capricorns, and we’re fighters!” the operator reassures her caller, a kidnap victim played by 16-year-old Abigail Breslin, who has grown up a bit since “Sunshine,” as “The Call” insists on reminding us with a multiplicity of Breslin bra shots; but can even an upbeat horoscope reading provide much comfort when you’re the captive of a psycho who washes your hair to the music of Boy George, and who plays Taco’s version of “Puttin’ on the Ritz” while he has you locked in his car trunk? The film is so improbable, ridiculous and earnest that you may watch it with a sense of impatience, disbelief and, finally, elation.

CinePlanet 16, Collierville Towne 16, Cordova Cinema, DeSoto Cinema 16, Forest Hill 8, Majestic, Paradiso, Stage Cinema, Studio on the Square.

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. Eep (voiced by Emma Stone) is the story’s heroine and the audience’s focus for identification, a brave — as in “Brave” — young rebel frustrated with her loving but overprotective dad, Grug (Nicolas Cage), and the Neolithic status quo that keeps her confined to the dark, dull security of a cave. Eep is inspired to “go for the light” after she meets a more highly evolved (literally) young guy named Guy (Ryan Reynolds), who introduces Eep and her cavekin to the concepts of shoes, pets (Guy travels with a lovable scene-stealing sloth) and extinction: He insists everybody head for safer ground before the earthquakes and volcanoes catch up with them. The fanciful prehistoric creature and landscape designs are as imaginative as the sitcom affirmations — which bludgeon the viewer with all the restraint of Alley Oop selecting a mate — are conventional; Guy discovers fire, sure, but it’s Grug who invents the hug.

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.

Dark Skies (PG-13, 95 min.) Suburbanites face an extraterrestrial menace.

Majestic.

Dead Man Down (R, 118 min.) Colin Farrell, Noomi Rapace and Terrence Howard star in a New York crime drama.

Hollywood 20 Cinema.

Django Unchained (R, 165 min.) HHH Jamie Foxx, Christoph Waltz. .

Bartlett 10.

Emperor (PG-13, 106 min.) Tommy Lee Jones is Gen. Douglas MacArthur in this drama set in Japan after the end of World War II.

Ridgeway Four.

Escape from Planet Earth (PG, 95 min.) From the producers of “Hoodwinked!”

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

G.I. Joe: Retaliation (PG-13, 110 min.) See review on Page 12.

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.

A Good Day to Die Hard (R, 97 min.) HH “Do you know what I hate about the Americans? Everything.” The fifth “Die Hard” movie offers no evidence to dispute this Russian villain’s opinion, as arrogant, reckless New York police detective John McClane (Bruce Willis) does more damage to the former Soviet republic than a hailstorm of meteorites.

Summer Quartet Drive-In.

Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters (R, 88 min.) HH½ Played by Jeremy Renner and Gemma Arterton, the title kid trespassers turned almost witch snacks turned adult avengers-for-hire kick much hag butt in this bloody and frenetic fairy-tale/comic book/video game blend, which marks the English-language directorial debut of Norway’s Tommy Wirkola (“Dead Snow”).

Wolfchase Galleria Cinema 8 (in 3-D).

A Haunted House (R, 86 min.) A “Paranormal Activity” spoof.

Bartlett 10.

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey (PG-13, 170 min.) HHH More J.R.R. Tolkien.Bartlett 10.

Identity Thief (R, 111 min.) HH Melissa McCarthy is a professional pilferer.

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

The Incredible Burt Wonderstone (PG-13, 101 min.) Steve Carell and Jim Carrey are rival magicians.

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

Jack the Giant Slayer (PG-13, 115 min.) HHH Ignore the unconscionable $200 million budget and you may enjoy this comic book/fairy tale adventure about a plucky farm boy (Nicholas Hoult) and a pretty princess (Eleanor Tomlinson) carried by a fast-growing, tendrilous beanstalk to a land of man-eating giants in the clouds.

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

The Last Exorcism Part II (PG-13, 93 min.) Young Nell (Ashley Bell) is subjected to more devilish high jinks.

DeSoto Cinema 16, Hollywood 20 Cinema.

Les Misérables (PG-13, 157 min.) HH Hugh Jackman, Anne Hathaway.

Wolfchase Galleria Cinema 8.

Life of Pi (PG, 127 min.) HHH Winner of four Academy Awards, including Best Director.

Wolfchase Galleria Cinema 8.

Lincoln (R, 150 min.) HHHH Daniel Day-Lewis, Sally Field.

Bartlett 10.

Mama (PG-13, 100 min.) HHH Jessica Chastain is the punk-rock girlfriend who becomes reluctant guardian to her injured boyfriend’s disturbed and essentially feral nieces (rescued after five years in the woods) in this dark modern fairy tale.

Hollywood 20 Cinema.

Olympus Has Fallen (R, 117 min.) Terrorists attack the White House! Can Gerard Butler, Aaron Eckhart and Morgan Freeman stop them?

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.

Oz the Great and Powerful (PG, 131 min.) HH½ Derived from the novels of L. Frank Baum but motivated by the popularity of MGM’s “The Wizard of Oz,” Disney’s would-be franchise-igniter — presented as an unofficial prequel to the 1939 movie — contains exciting witch battles, the memorably emotional introduction of a literally fragile character (a living china doll, voiced by Joey King) and the fun pop touches one expects from director Sam Raimi, including monster flowers that might have sprouted from “The Evil Dead” and a friendly flying monkey (voiced by Zach Braff) whose bellhop uniform is an homage to the nattily garbed scene-stealing capuchins of Three Stooges and Our Gang shorts.

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.

Parker (R, 118 min.) Jason Statham stars as the professional thief introduced in the 1960s in a series of novels by Donald E. Westlake (writing as Richard Stark).

Bartlett 10.

Parental Guidance (PG, 104 min.) HH Borscht Belt humor combines with serious schmaltz to produce this gummy formulaic family comedy about the hijinks and hugs that transpire when a curmudgeonly and suddenly jobless minor league baseball announcer (Billy Crystal) and his “tornado with lipstick” wife (Bette Midler) are enlisted as emergency weekend baby sitters for the coddled young children of their type-A daughter (Marisa Tomei) and her tech-innovator husband (Tom Everett Scott). Directed by Andy Fickman, the film is surprise-free and visually bland (the setting is Atlanta — where else?) but also mildly amusing, as long as the focus is on the “old school” Crystal’s clashes with a generation of helicopter parents that serves “soysauges” for breakfast and eggless egg salad for lunch; the movie, too, is a type of mushy, easily digestible comfort food, best reserved for multigenerational get-togethers.

Bartlett 10.

Rise of the Guardians (PG, 97 min.) HH½ Inspired by the “Guardians of Childhood” chapter books by William Joyce.

Bartlett 10.

Safe Haven (PG-13, 115 min.) A mystery woman (Julianne Hough) and a young widower (Josh Duhamel) find romance in the latest Nicholas Sparks adaptation.

CinePlanet 16, Collierville Towne 16, Forest Hill 8, Paradiso, Wolfchase Galleria Cinema 8.

Silver Linings Playbook (R, 122 min.) HHH½ “Screwball” is a slang term for “crazy,” and perhaps this is what inspired David O. Russell to literalize as well as update the screwball comedy genre in this charming and surprisingly affecting film.

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

Snitch (PG-13, 112 min.) HHH Presented as an actor first, impressive physical specimen second, Dwayne Johnson — who has banished his more famous professional-wrestling alias, “The Rock,” from his movie credits — stars as a distraught construction-company owner who deceives his employees, endangers his wife and makes a Faustian bargain with self-interested politicians in order to save his 18-year-old son from a prison sentence.

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.

Spring Breakers (R, 94 min.) HHHH The new movie from Nashville-reared radical grunge auteur Harmony Korine already is famous — infamous, perhaps? — for placing former Disney tween princesses Selena Gomez and Vanessa Hudgens within (a) bright bikinis and (b) a deservedly R-rated rampage of drugs, sex, machine guns, beer bongs and beachside booty bouncing. Party-hearty moviegoers lured by the lurid promise of this lurid premise may find the laughter choking in their throats like a death rattle and the blood curdling rather than rushing through their veins: This is MTV’s Spring Break as a prophecy of the end times, the American dream as a nightmare of self-involvement, self-objectification, anomie and racial alienation. If there’s a precedent, it may be “The Devil in Miss Jones” (1973), the pornographic film that imagines hell as a place of eternal sex and no pleasure. A truly Southern story (its preoccupations are religion and race), the film takes its four attractive coeds (the others are Ashley Benson and Rachel Korine, the director’s wife) from an empty campus to a teeming beach resort, where they are embraced by the personification of their idea of black culture, a white “gangsta” rapper and devil figure named Alien (James Franco). ”The water looks real pretty, but the sharks are waitin’,” he tells the girls; you might offer the same warning to the teenagers standing in line to see “Spring Breakers.” The film ends with a vision of a world literally turned upside-down: “This lasts forever, y’all,” says the infernal Alien, as if to confirm we’re not in Florida but in a place where the burn never stops.

CinePlanet 16, Cordova Cinema, Hollywood 20 Cinema, Paradiso.

Stoker (R, 99 min.) HHHH A study in psychological terror and the struggle for identity that can trace its bloody, muddy footprints to the spadework of Alfred Hitchcock and David Lynch, the first English-language film from South Korean director Park Chan-wook is a subjective coming-of-age story about just-turned-18 India Stoker (Mia Wasikowska), a girl with a spider inside her. That’s a metaphor to suggest India is at once a victim and predator within the sinister web of her dissolute family history, but Park literalizes the idea with shots of a spindly arachnid creeping up the girl’s sock, toward the sanctuary beneath her skirt. Shot in Nashville but set in a fantasy Southern Gothic parcel of Connecticut, the plot is motivated by the arrival of India’s seductive Uncle Charlie (Matthew Goode), who doesn’t realize until too late that his porcelain-pale niece is as opaque as her namesake ink; Nicole Kidman is India’s mother, who self-medicates with a mix of red wine and Lee Hazlewood. The editing emphasizes the film’s unreality; it creates mystical connections between shots and events where none exist in the narrative, linking Park and India as collaborative artists, in a way — conjurers of scenes that are marvelous, ghastly and mysterious.

Ridgeway Four.

Wreck-It Ralph (PG) HHH½ Avatars inside video games come to life.

Bartlett 10.

Zero Dark Thirty (R, 157 min.) HHH½ Director Kathryn Bigelow and writer Mark Boal follow their war-on-terror Best Picture winner “The Hurt Locker” with a scrupulously researched chronicle of the decadelong hunt for Osama bin Laden.

Bartlett 10.

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