Friday August 3, 2012

BEASTS OF THE SOUTHERN WILD (PG-13). The fictional tale of a 6-year-old girl named Hushpuppy and her struggle for survival in the southern Delta with her ailing father as a storm approaches.

BRAVE (PG). A Scottish lass (voiced by Kelly Macdonald) must undo the chaos her defiance has unleashed on her kingdom in the latest from the animation maestros at Pixar. Although "Brave" is satisfying and spirited and laced with humor, it doesn't quite mark a return to form for Pixar following the digital house's disappointing 12th featyre, "Cars 2." HHH (Rea, Philadelphia Inquirer -- 6/23). 1:40.

DIARY OF A WIMPY KID: DOG DAYS (PG). The hapless hero (Zachary Gordon) of the best-selling books stumbles through trouble over summer vacation.

ICE AGE: CONTINENTAL DRIFT (PG). When the Earth's tectonic plates start shifting, the breaking land separates Manny, Diego and Sid from the rest of the clan, sending them out to sea on an iceberg. There, they encounter -- what else? -- a villainous pirate orangutan. The dialogueless peanuts-and-pratfall antics of the squirrel-rat Scat prove the charm in a film that is otherwise overstuffed with loud action scenes and the yammer of celebrity voices. HH (Coyle, Associated Press -- 7/14). 1:27.

MOONRISE KINGDOM (PG-13). Set on the fictional island of New Penzance, off the coast of New England, "Moonrise Kingdom" follows Sam (Jared Gilman) and Suzy (Kara Heyward), a pair of teenagers hiding their romance from their parents. Director Wes Anderson has created an autumnal, briskly paced film that is as much an elegaic postcard to youth as it is a showcase for his exacting, quirky sensibilities. HHH (Jones, McClatchy Newspapers -- 7/4). 1:34.

STEP UP: REVOLUTION (PG-13). The next round in the dance franchise has a crew of Miami hoofers fighting a neighborhood developer. The sunniest and most entertaining of these kids-gotta-dance movies. HH (Moore, McClatchy Newspapers -- 7/31). 1:37.

TED (R). A teddy bear come to life is every boy's dream -- until the thing sticks around into the kid's adult years. Mark Wahlberg stars in this comedy from Seth MacFarlane ("Family Guy"). Deeply juvenile and profoundly surreal. HH1/2 (Biancolli, Houston Chronicle -- 7/4). 1:46.THE AMAZING SPIDER-MAN (PG-13). Andrew Garfield is quite good as the rebel with a cause superhero in this better than you might have expected origins reboot that more-or-less successfully pulls off the illusion that this is the first time we've seen this story. HHH (Phillips, Chicago Tribune -- 7/3/12). 2:18.

TED (R). A teddy bear come to life is every boy's dream -- until the thing sticks around into the kid's adult years. Mark Wahlberg stars in this comedy from Seth MacFarlane ("Family Guy"). Deeply juvenile and profoundly surreal. HH1/2 (Biancolli, Houston Chronicle -- 7/4). 1:46.THE AMAZING SPIDER-MAN (PG-13). Andrew Garfield is quite good as the rebel with a cause superhero in this better than you might have expected origins reboot that more-or-less successfully pulls off the illusion that this is the first time we've seen this story. HHH (Phillips, Chicago Tribune -- 7/3/12). 2:18.

THE DARK KNIGHT RISES (PG-13). The masked vigilante Batman must save Gotham City from dangerous new threats, including the mysterious villain Bane. For about half its running time, it's reasonably entertaining, but the other half -- inevitably the second half -- is something of a slog. The movie is self-important but with little ultimate importance, and sentimental without much in the way of human feeling. But it has its mioments -- at 165 minutes it had better -- plus Anne Hathaway, enjoyable throughout as the movie's nicely reimagined Catwoman. With Christian Bale, Tom Hardy, Gary Oldman, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Marion Cotillard. HH (LaSalle, San Francisco Chronicle -- 7/20). 2:45.

THE WATCH (R). Ben Stiller, Vince Vaughn and Jonah Hill learn their town is teaming with space invaders disguised as average suburban dwellers. That's the disappointing premise about this film, which unfolds not in a way that might have anything funny or enlightening to say about picket-fence fearfulness, but simply with conventional summer movie bombast. Hhy n(Copyle, Associated Press -- 7/28). 1:38.

TO ROME WITH LOVE (R). Weaving four stories of Italians and American visitors, writer-director Woody Allen creates a lot of clever moments with his ensemble comedy. In between the good times, the story and characters just drift about awkwardly, stuck on a walking tour of Rome that continually bumps up against dead ends, or worse, circles back so we wind up seeing the same things a few times too many. Allen's co-stars include past collaborators Penelope Cruz, Judy Davis and Alison Pill, plus Alec Baldwin, Ellen Page, Roberto Benigni, Jesse Eisenberg and Greta Gerwig. Most of the performances are tentative and jittery, and the four scenarios are generally uninvolving. Throughout the film, it's not Nero who's fiddling, but Allen. HH (Germain, Associated Press -- 7/6). 1:52.

TOTAL RECALL (PG-13). Colin Farrell steps into Arnold Schwarzenegger's sci-fi role as an average guy on the run who uncovers a secret identity even he didn't know about. With Kate Beckinsale, Bryan Cranston.

YOUR SISTER'S SISTER (R). Comedy-drama about the intricate relationship among a young man still grieving over the death of his brother one year earlier; his best friend, a young woman who suggests he retreat to the solitude of her family's vacation home on a nearby island; and the woman he unexpectedly finds there -- his best friend's sister who's just ended a long-term romantic relationship and is seeking a little solitude of her own. With Mark Duplass, Emily Blunt, Rosemarie DeWitt.