Movie capsule reviews

Capsule descriptions and starred mini-reviews by John Beifuss.


Black Rock (R, 83 min.) See review at

Wolfchase Galleria Cinema 8.

The Iceman (R, 106 min.) Michael Shannon continues his reign as the scariest man in movies. This time, he’s a contract killer.

Ridgeway Four.

Lore (Not rated, 109 min.) See review on Page 16.

Studio on the Square.

Midnight’s Children (Not rated, 146 min.) See review on Page 12.

Collierville Towne 16.

Star Trek Into Darkness (PG-13, 132 min.) The new Captain Kirk (Chris Pine) faces the wrath of a new Khan (Benedict Cumberbatch).

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.

Opening Thursday

The Hangover Part III (R, 100 min.) The Wolfpack returns to Vegas.

CinePlanet 16, Collierville Towne 16, Cordova Cinema, DeSoto Cinema 16, Hollywood 20 Cinema, Palace Cinema, Paradiso, Stage Cinema, Studio on the Square.


Beyond (Not rated, 99 min.) The original Girl with a Dragon Tattoo, Noomi Rapace, stars as a woman returning home after many years to visit her dying mother in this 2010 Swedish drama, presented in a 35-mm print by Indie Memphis as part of this year’s Memphis in May International Festival salute to Sweden.

7 and 9:15 p.m. Wednesday, Studio on the Square. Tickets: $8. Visit

Like Someone in Love (Not rated, 109 min.) A high-end Tokyo call girl (Rin Takanashi) bonds with an unlikely client, an 80-year-old professor (Tadashi Okuno), in the latest feature from master Iranian filmmaker Abbas Kiarostami.

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

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 showtimes, tickets and reservations.

To Fly! Documentary shows the history of flight, from 19th century balloons through 21st century space probes. 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.


The Big Wedding (R, 90 min.) A family reunion ensemble comedy with Robert De Niro, Diane Keaton, Katherine Heigl, Robin Williams and many more.

Cordova Cinema, Summer Quartet Drive-In.

The Call (PG-13, 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”).

Bartlett 10.

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.

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

Dead Man Down (R, 118 min.) Colin Farrell, Noomi Rapace and Terrence Howard star in a New York crime drama that is the first English-language from Niels Arden Oplev, director of the original Swedish version of “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.”

Bartlett 10.

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!”

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

Evil Dead (R, 91 min.) HH½ Shot in the backwoods of East Tennessee as barely more than a student project, neophyte director Sam Raimi’s “The Evil Dead” (1981) was a slapstick splatterfest made with enthusiasm and ingenuity as well as many gallons of Karo syrup blood formula; produced by the now-celebrated Raimi, this more elaborate yet unnecessary remake drops the “The” but increases the back story and the blood, which falls during the final act in a literal torrential downpour. Will the audience reject the red, or tilt back its head and drink it in to the point of drowning, like the proverbial turkey? Once again, a group of college friends are trapped in a haunted cabin in the woods; this time, the “final girl,” Mia (Jane Levy), is ready for a fight: She’s a junkie used to battling drug-spawned if not supernatural demons. As is the rule for modern horror movies, the violence and language are uglier than before, but the people are a lot prettier, at least until they begin mutilating themselves and each other with nail guns and electric carving blades; when a demon girl bifurcates her tongue with an X-ACTO knife, she gives vivid new meaning to the phrase “lickety-split.”Directed by Uruguay’s Fede Alvarez, making his feature debut.

Summer Quartet Drive-In.

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.

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

G.I. Joe: Retaliation (PG-13, 110 min.) HH Tea Party paranoia about Obama’s alien identity and fascist agenda apparently motivated this disappointing sequel, which pits the Joes against an impostor U.S. president (Jonathan Pryce) working for the evil forces of Cobra. Inspired by the Marvel-esque superhero-style 1980s additions to the traditional Hasbro toy line, the film has plenty of pulpy characters (Storm Shadow, a ninja; Firefly, an explosives expert), but it replaces the surprising fun of its 2009 predecessor with a distasteful firearms fetishism and high body count more suitable for an R-rated action film. It also introduces a pair of big names: Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson as a Joe commando called Roadblock and Bruce Willis as the original G.I. Joe, proud owner of Patton’s revolver and a “1776” access code to his well-stocked armory. The sci-fi gadgets are impressive, and the bravura ninja-vs.-ninja cliff battle deserves a spot in the Action Sequence Hall of Fame, but director Jon M. Chu otherwise delivers little of the gracefulness one expects from a graduate of the “Step Up” dance franchise.

Hollywood 20 Cinema (in 3-D), Palace Cinema, Wolfchase Galleria Cinema 8.

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. Coming to the aid of his estranged CIA spy son (Jai Courtney), McClane destroys property, punches out innocents, tosses out names like “Nijinsky” and “Solzhenitsyn” as if they were insults and otherwise demonstrates that the Second Amendment is the only constitutional principle he respects.

Bartlett 10.

The Great Gatsby (PG-13, 142 min.) Leonardo DiCaprio is F. Scott Fitzgerald’s mysterious Jazz Age millionaire in this elaborate adaptation from director Baz (“Moulin Rouge”) Luhrmann.

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), Ridgeway Four, Stage Cinema (in 3-D), Studio on the Square, Summer Quartet Drive-In.

The Host (PG-13, 125 min.) Alien invaders possess human minds. Based on the best-seller by Stephenie Meyer.

Bartlett 10.

Identity Thief (R, 111 min.) HH In supporting roles in “Bridesmaids” and other comedies, Melissa McCarthy has been a ruthless and unapologetic scene-stealer, so it’s appropriate that her first feature-film star vehicle casts her as is a professional pilferer, pursued by drug dealers, a skip tracer (Robert Patrick) and the insecure Everyman (Jason Bateman) she befriends during a zany cross-country road trip.

Bartlett 10.

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, directed and co-scripted by Shane Black, who previously guided star Robert Downey Jr. through the similarly clever private-eye pastiche, “Kiss Kiss Bang Bang.” This time, the world — and zillionaire inventor Tony Stark (Downey) — must contend with the Osama-esque face of terrorism, the Mandarin (Ben Kingsley), and a vengeful bio-inventor, Aldrich Killian (Guy Pearce); the good guys include a precocious 10-year-old Tennessee boy (Ty Simpkins) who helps Tony demonstrate he’s a man of steel even outside his armor. Marred only by the excess fireworks (complete with excess Iron Men) of its overextended action finale.

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

Jack the Giant Slayer (PG-13, 115 min.) HHH Ignore the unconscionable $200 million budget (how many thousands could have been saved by eliminating the CG giant booger scene?) 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.

Bartlett 10.

Jurassic Park 3D (PG-13, 127 min.) HHHH Sentiment is explained by science as the family impulse that motivates so many Steven Spielberg stories is revealed to be an evolutionary imperative in this thrilling, near-perfect 1993 action-adventure; the dinosaur special effects, which combined new digital technology with then state-of-the-art live-action techniques, were groundbreaking yet remain unsurpassed. Sam Neill is the child-averse paleontologist who develops an appreciation for kids (Ariana Richards, Joseph Mazzello) as well as fossils; Laura Dern is the doc’s (apparently eagerly fertile) collaborator/girlfriend; Jeff Goldblum is the witty scene-stealing “chaos” mathematician; and Richard Attenborough is the Disney/Frankenstein entrepreneur whose would-be island theme park of cloned dinosaurs becomes a nightmare. Based on a novel by Michael Crichton, the warning here is at least as old as the one W.W. Jacobs delivered in “The Monkey’s Paw” (1902): You will be punished if you bring life to that which fate has decided should be dead. Yet the ultimate message is hopeful: “Life will find a way,” even if it requires a Tyrannosaurus to become a pelican.

Wolfchase Galleria Cinema 8.

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. That actually happens to 14-year-old Ellis (Tye Sheridan), an emotionally vulnerable youth who 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. “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.

Collierville Towne 16, Cordova Cinema, Ridgeway Four.

Oblivion (PG-13, 126 min.) HHH It’s 2077, and Tom Cruise is apparently the last man on Earth: a pilot/technician stationed with last woman Andrea Riseborough in a spectacular “Jetsons”-esque aerie, from which the duo protects the post-disaster planet’s remaining resources from the dreaded “scavs,” alien invaders that forced the rest of humankind to evacuate to a colony near Saturn. Writer-director Joseph Kosinski’s derivative second feature (after “Tron: Legacy”) is elevated by its beautiful design, its impressive landscapes (New York is buried in mud up to the Empire State Building’s observation deck) and its somewhat mysterious, melancholy tone: The pilot’s Yankees baseball cap and Elvis bobblehead are signs of his longing for a vanished, populated world. The action sequences are well-constructed, but forced: They’re concessions to the marketplace, and they interfere with the movie’s true interest in the routine rather than the extremes of postapocalyptic survival. The slick lensing is by the master of screen saver cinematography, Claudio Miranda (Oscar-winner for “Life of Pi.”)

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

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. Basically “Die Hard in the White House,” the film is an attempt to exorcise the trauma of 9/11 through a symbolic re-enactment with a more pleasing outcome; director Antoine Fuqua (“Training Day”) delivers many inflammatory shots of a bullet-riddled flag, but we know Old Glory will rise again. Part 1970s disaster movie (check out the all-star cast) and part 1980s Cannon Group gung-ho action flick, it’s also the second film in less than four months (after “Red Dawn”) to imagine a North Korean invasion of the U.S., and camp “patriotic” highlights are many: Butler uses an Oval Office Lincoln bust to crush a Korean skull, and Secretary of Defense Melissa Leo yells out the Pledge of Allegiance as she’s dragged away for torture. With Aaron Eckhart as the President and Ashley Judd as the First Lady; the Speaker of the House is Morgan Freeman, apparently hired so we can hear that famous voice intone, at a moment of potential nuclear calamity: “You’ve just opened the gates of hell.”

Wolfchase Galleria Cinema 8.

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.

Cordova Cinema, DeSoto Cinema 16, Hollywood 20 Cinema, Majestic, Palace Cinema, Paradiso, Wolfchase Galleria Cinema 8.

Peeples (PG-13, 95 min.) HH½ The debut feature from writer-director Tina Gordon Chism is straight-up sitcom, with subtext — a sort of black-cast reworking of “Meet the Parents,” but with a modest budget, a less aggressive tone and a generosity of spirit — an embrace of diversity within the African-American community — that distinguishes it from the typically hectoring productions that emerge from Tyler Perry’s 34th Street Films company. Elevated from second banana status, bulky, deadpan Craig Robinson stars as Wade Walker, a struggling New York children’s performer who crashes a family reunion at the Sag Harbor summer home of his beautiful, successful girlfriend (Kerry Washington); the girl’s mother (S. Epatha Merkerson) embraces him, but he’s met with suspicion by pompous, formal Judge Peeples (David Alan Grier). With references to Herman Melville and Harriet Tubman, the script is loaded with history, and the New England setting is significant: Surely it would have been easier and cheaper to shoot in Perry’s home base of Atlanta, but the location places the Peeples clan (“the chocolate Kennedys,” in Wade’s words) at the geographical heart of America’s origin story, and thus affirms the fact that African-Americans, the ancestors of slaves, are as much true Americans and contributers to this country’s wealth as any citizens of European descent. (The original title, a pun inspired by the Preamble of the Constitution, was “We the Peeples.”) Co-produced by Stephanie Allain, a producer of “Hustle & Flow.”

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

The Place Beyond the Pines (R, 140 min.) Ryan Gosling is a motorcycle stunt-rider turned bank robber and Bradley Cooper a rookie cop in the latest from writer-director Derek Cianfrance (“Blue Valentine”).

Wolfchase Galleria Cinema 8.

Scary Movie 5 (PG-13, 85 min.) The now-Anna Faris-free horror-spoof franchise rises from the grave after a seven-year hibernation.

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

Side Effects (R, 106 min.) HH½ Director/editor/cinematographer Steven Soderbergh’s alleged final theatrical film is as smart and stylish as one would expect, but like his other recent artsy genre essays — “Haywire,” “Contagion” — its duller than its sources (in this case, “Bigger Than Life,” “Basic Instinct” and “Psycho”). Promoted as a pharma-thriller, the story (credited to Scott Z. Burns) proves more pulpy than topical as psychiatrist Jude Law is dragged into a murder case that involves an antidepressant-addled somnambulist (Rooney Mara), her regretful insider-trader husband (Channing Tatum) and an almost comically buttoned-down and bespectacled therapist (Catherine Zeta-Jones). Soderbergh’s love of cinema is evidenced through his sleek lensing (somehow, the New York surfaces seem as shiny as snakeskin) and his apparent glee in constructing sequences that distract the viewer from the increasing implausibility of the narrative; but the twists become tiresome, and increasingly predictable. Even so, we’ll miss Soderbergh’s honesty: He remains almost unique among American filmmakers for his refusal to ignore or reduce the importance of money as a key motivating force for people’s actions.

Bartlett 10.

Silver Linings Playbook (R, 122 min.) HHH½ Bradley Cooper, Jennifer Lawrence.

Bartlett 10.

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 to save his 18-year-old son from a prison sentence. This is the rare modern crime drama that takes place in a recognizable world, where violence, when it erupts, is a thing of consequence, not just spectacle.

Bartlett 10.

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

Hollywood 20 Cinema, Majestic, Summer Quartet Drive-In.

Wreck-It Ralph (PG) HHH½ Video game avatars come to life.

Bartlett 10.

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