Friday June 15, 2012

BATTLESHIP (PG-13). Taylor Kitsch and Liam Neeson are in the Navy now as sailors take on inhuman invaders in an action tale inspired by the game. Big, dumb fun that knows it's big, dumb fun. HH1/2 (Lemire, Associated Press -- 5/18). 2:11.

BERNIE (PG-13). The true-life tale of a mannered, devout mortician, Bernie Tiede (Jack Black), who in 1997 was arrested for killing the elderly millionaire heiress Marjorie Nugent (Shirley MacLaine).

DARK SHADOWS (PG-13). Johnny Depp and director Tim Burton adapt the creepy TV soap opera featuring a 200-year-old vampire. Initially, Burton keeps "Dark Shadows" grounded and modest to the point that it seems to be heading toward a wonderfully sinister comedy of manners. And then the wheels come off and the film falls to pieces. Depp and Burton are two gifted like-minded artists. But they also enable each other's laziest, most indulgent habuts: Too often they seem to be making movies to entertain each other instead of the audience. HH (Rodriguez, McClatchy -- 5/17). 1:43.

ELENA (NR). Russian drama about a former nurse in late middle age and an unexpected crisis that has consequences for her and those closest to her.

MADAGASCAR 3: EUROPE'S MOST WANTED (PG). On the run from a cruel French animal control officer in Monaco, the zoo animals hide in plain sight in a traveling circus bound for London. One of the funniest, most carefully assembled cartoons ever put on the screen. With the voices of Ben Stiller, Chris Rock, David Schwimmer, Jada Pinkett Smith, Frances McDormand, Cedric the Entertainer. HHH (Covert, Minneapolis Star Tribune -- 6/11). 1:32.

MARVEL'S THE AVENGERS (PG-13). Iron Man, Captain America, The Hulk, Thor, the leather-clad assassin Black Widow, the lethal archer Hawkeye and the superheroes' one-eyed wrangler, Nick Fury, bunch together in the service of defeating Thor's malevolent brother, the god Loki, who hails from the interstellar world known as Asgard, and who yearns to conquer Earth with an all-powerful blue energy cube called the Tesseract. Essentially an extended action sequence interrupted by an extended soul search in the middle. Director Joss Whedon is both a wiseacre and a sincere devotee of Marvels' durable, malleable ensemble of lugs and indestructibles. "The Avengers' is both a culminator and a set-up for more, more, more. With Robert Downey Jr., Chris Evans, Mark Ruffalo, Chris Hemsworth, Scarlett Johansson, Jeremy Renner, Tom Hiddleston, Samuel L. Jackson, Stellan Skarsgard. HHH (Phillips, Chicago Tribune -- 5/4). 2:22.

MEN IN BLACK 3 (PG-13). Will Smith, Tommy Lee Jones return to fight aliens in a time-traveling action comedy that adds a terrific Josh Brolin as the young version of Jones' Agent K. A clever, well-played pleasure. HH1/2 (Kennedy, Denver Post -- 5/26). 1:46.

PROMETHEUS (R). "Alien" creator Ridley Scott returns to the sci-fi genre with a cousin to his 1979 space horror tale starring Charlize Theron, Noomi Rapace and Michael Fassbender. A ride that is often more thought-provoking than thrilling. HH1/2 (Kennedy, Denver Post -- 6/11). 2:05.

ROCK OF AGES (PG-13). Glam rock and heavy metal are the soundscape for this big-screen version of the long-running Broadway jukebox musical, set in 1987 Los Angeles. A wholesome blonde (Julianne Hough) fresh off the bus from Oklahoma who hopes to make it as a singer in Los Angeles ends up working as a waitress at the venerable (and fictional) Bourbon Room on Sunset Strip, where she quickly falls for aspiring rocker Drew (Diego Boneta). With Tom Cruise, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Alec Baldwin, Bryan Cranston, Paul Giamatti.

SNOW WHITE AND THE HUNTSMAN (PG-13). Kristen Stewart's the fiercest in the land as she teams with a tough guy (Chris Hemsworth) to battle an evil queen (Charlize Theron). Theron's queen turns out to be the fairest of them all in a fairy tale turned action movie that takes everything mythic about "Snow White" and pounds it out until it's flat and dead. H (LaSalle, San Francisco Chronicle -- 6/1). 2:07.

SOUND OF MY VOICE (R). Two filmmakers are determined to uncover the truth about an enigmatic cult leader who swears she's from the future. With Brit Marling. Review, D5

THAT'S MY BOY (R). Adam Sandler tries to grow up as a bad dad hoping to make things right with his estranged grown son (Andy Samberg).

THE BEST EXOTIC MARIGOLD HOTEL (PG-13). This clunky, groggy paced, old folks passage to India finds a group of UK retirees searching for inexpensive, exotic accommodations in India but winding up, instead, in a decrepit palace advertised by its owner as a bustling, lively guesthouse. With Judi Dench, Bill Nighy, Maggie Smith, Tom Wilkinson. H (Covert, Minneapolis Star Tribune -- 5/28). 2:02.

THE DICTATOR (R). In his least-focused film yet, Sacha Baron Cohen stars as Admiral Gen. Aladeen, who has ruled the oil-rich, fictitious North African nation of Wadiya cruelly and cluelessly since he was 7 years old. But when he travels to New York to make a speech before the United Nations, he finds he's been double-crossed by his right-hand man (Ben Kingsley) and forced to survive as a commoner. For a long time, it's hard to tell what Baron Cohen's point is in spoofing this type of despot. A speech Aladeen gives highlighting the benefits of a dictatorship hits close to home, but it's a long slog through hit-or-miss gross-out gags to get there. H1/2 (Lemire, Associated Press -- 5/16). 1:24.

UNDEFEATED (PG-13). Documentary about one man's determined effort to guide a high school football team that hasn't won a playoff game in 110 years to the brink of history.

WHAT TO EXPECT WHEN YOU'RE EXPECTING (PG-13). This ensemble comedy that intertwines five stories of expectant mothers feels like five mediocre romantic comedies uncomfortably squished together. Don't expect too much. With Cameron Diaz, Jennifer Lopez, Elizabeth Banks, Anna Kendrick, Brooklyn Decker, Chris Rock, Matthew Morrison, Dennis Quaid. HH (Macdonald, Seattle Times -- 5/18). 1:50.