Friday August 10, 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. This damply poetic debut film explores the fertile and terrifying world of a child's imagination which knows no sealed barrier cleaving reality from fantasy. The film is its own beast, and it's a rare one. HHHH (Biancolli, Houston Chronicle -- 8/4). 1:33.

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. The series' best so far. HHH (Biancolli, Hiuston Chjrinicxle -- 8/4). 1:34.

HOPE SPRINGS (PG-13). Meryl Streep and Tommy Lee Jones are a long-married couple trying to renew the spark with a counselor (Steve Carell). You've never seen Streep and Jones like this -- by turns silly, befuddled, awkward and confused -- and this comedy is all the richer for it.


Advertisement

HHH (Moore, McClatchy Newspapers -- 8/8). 1:50.

HYSTERIA (R). This stylistic romantic comedy stars Maggie Gyllen haal as the late 19th century so cial reformer daughter of a Lon don doctor whose successful treatment of society ladies diagnosed with various forms of hysteria has led to a thriving practice and extremely strong word-of-mouth. With Hugh Dancy, Jonathan Pryce.

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.

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.

TAKE THIS WALTZ (R). A twentysomething woman finds her happy marriage to a good-natured cookbook writer thrown into doubt after meeting a handsome artist who lives across the street. Michelle Williams is a wonder to watch in this story about the death of a marriage and the emotional dance it took to get there. Put this on your dance card. With Seth Rogen, Luke Kirby, Sarah Silverman. (Sharkey, Los Angeles Times -- 7/28). 1:56

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 BOURNE LEGACY (PG-13). The spirit of lethal operative Jason Bourne lives on, minus Matt Damon, with Jeremy Renner at the center of fallout from the first three action hits.

THE CAMPAIGN (R). This comedy pits Will Ferrell against Zach Galifianakis as two political rivals for whom no trick is too dirty as they compete for a North Carolina Congressional seat.

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 moments -- 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 Fran cisco Chronicle -- 7/20). 2:45.

THE WATCH (R). Ben Stiller, Vince Vaughn and Jonah Hill learn their town is teaming with space invad ers 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. H (Coyle, Associated Press -- 7/28). 1:38.

TOTAL RECALL (PG-13). Colin Farrell steps into Arnold Schwar zenegger's sci-fi role as an average guy on the run who uncovers a secret identity even he didn't know about. For all its dazzlingly rendered cityscapes and nonstop action, this revamped "Total Recall" is a bland thing -- bloodless, airless, humorless, featureless. With Kate Beckinsale, Bryan Cranston. HH (Biancolli, Houston Chronicle -- 8/4). 1:58.