Friday November 2, 2012

ALEX CROSS (PG-13). A homicide investigator (Tyler Perry) squares off against a serial killer (Matthew Fox). This overwrought, oppressively violent police thriller has not got an original bone in its empty little head. 1/2H (Covert, Minneapolis Star Tribune -- 10/20). 1:41.

ARGO (R). Ben Affleck directs and stars in a rescue thriller set against the 1979 Iranian hostage crisis. A glorious surprise. Directing his third feature, Affleck has come up with a seamless blend of detailed international drama -- based on the true story about the rescue of six American embassy employees hiding out in the Canadian ambassador's house in Tehran -- and breathtaking suspense, with just the right amount of dry humor to provide context and levity. With John Goodman, Alan Arkin, Bryan Cranston, Victor Garber. HHHH (Lemire, Associated Press -- 10/12). 2:00.

CHASING MAVERICKS (PG). Gerard Butler and Jonny Weston star in the true-life story of surfer Jay Moriarity.

CLOUD ATLAS (R). Perhaps this bloated, pseudo-intellectual, self-indulgent slog through some notions that are really rather facile worked better on the page. "Cloud Atlas" comes from the best-selling novel of the same name by David Mitchell, encompassing six stories over a span of 500 years. Sibling directors Lana and Andy Wachowski, working with "Run Lola Run" director Tom Tykwer, have chopped up the various narratives and intercut between them out of order. The A-list actors who make up the cast (among them Tom Hanks, Halle Berry, Susan Sarandon, Hugh Grant, Jim Broadbent) play multiple parts across the various stories and in elaborate makeup that's often laughable. But rather than serving as a satisfying, cohesive device, this strategy feels like a distracting gimmick. H1/2 (Lemire, Associated Press -- 10/26). 2:52.

FUN SIZE (PG-13). A girl and her little brother get a lesson in school popularity on Halloween. Pity this film isn't as much fun as its title implies. "Fun Size" waddles along at half-speed, never building momentum. Even the good gags are robbed of their punch by the way this film was shot and cut. HH (Moore, McClatchy-Tribune News Service -- 10/26). 1:27.

FLIGHT (R). Director Robert Zemeckis' first live-action movie since 2000's "Cast Away" stars Denzel Washington as an airline pilot whose alcoholism is revealed after he becomes a hero for saving the lives of his passengers during a disastrous flight.

HERE COMES THE BOOM (PG). A teacher and ex-wrestler (Kevin James) moonlights as a mixed martial-arts fighter to save his school's music program. The film begins not well, with overstated and very broadly played comedy. But once it gets going and commits to its time-worn inspirational formula, it's not bad. HH (Phillips, Chicago Tribune -- 10/17). 1:45.

HOTEL TRANSYLVANIA (PG). Adam Sandler provides the voice of Dracula in an animated monster mash that finds the venerable count operating a luxurious resort for monsters on vacation. He also is eager to prevent his 118-year-old daughter from hooking up with a backpacking human cutie who accidentally stumbles into Dracula's resort just in time for his daughter's birthday party. Most of the laughs arise from director Genndy Tartakovsky's cheeky take on famous monsters of filmland, funneled through the ordinariness of vacationing. Sandler's voice-only turn outshines many of his front-of-camera appearances. HH (Persall, Tampa Bay Times -- 10/1). 1.31.

PARANORMAL ACTIVITY 4 (R). The supernatural franchise makes its annual return for Halloween.

SEVEN PSYCHOPATHS (R). A hard-drinking screenwriter in Los Angeles with a severe bout of writer's block falls into the messy hi-jinks of his friend -- a man who kidnaps dogs and then returns them for money. Irish playwright-director Martin McDonagh has mangled together a revenge flick that's half Guy Ritchie, half Charlie Kaufman. With Colin Farrell, Sam Rockwell, Christopher Walken, Woody Harrelson. HH1/2 (Coyle, Associated Press -- 10/15). 1:49.

SILENT HILL: REVELATION 3D (R). Round two as the daughter, now 18, who surivived the first film returns to Silent Hill to rescue her father who, like her mother in the first film, has been spirited away by this town-dreamscape of shifting environments in this videogame-turned-horror-film which reduces uts human players to plastic action figures in tired genre settings. (Webster, New York Times -- 10/30). 1:34.

SINISTER (R). A collection of home movies unleashes horror on a crime novelist (Ethan Hawke) and his family who have moved into a house that's possessed. Everything here is something we've seen before. (Persall, Tampa Bay Times -- 10/15). 1:40.

TAKEN 2 (PG-13). Liam Neeson reprises his role as retired CIA operative Bryan Mills faci8ng fuerce retirbution from the Albanian gang he all but decimatede in "Taken."A textbook on how to make beautful, successful and highly satIsfying junk-food cinema. With Maggie Grace, Famke Janssen. HHH (LaSalle, San Francisco Chronicle -- 10/5). 1:30.

THE OTHER SON (PG-13). Two infants switched at birth each grow up as someone else in families living on opposite sides of the Israeli-Palestinian divide. In French, Hebrew, Arabic and English, with English subtitles.

THE PERKS OF BEING A WALLFLOWER (PG-13). Emma Watson, Logan Lerman, and Ezra Miller star in a teen coming-of-age tale. Based on the best-selling young adult novel of the same name, the film sounds like a total formula, right down to the rebellious thrill of experimenting with drugs and alcohol and the liberation of experiencing "The Rocky Horror Picture Show." But there's also a darkness that follows its main character, even at his happiest, which keeps the film from turning completely safe and self-satisfied. "The Perks of Being a Wallflower" may not do anything groundbreaking, but it tells a familiar story in small, thoughtful ways. HHH (Lemire, Associated Press -- 10/29). 1:43.

THE QUEEN OF VERSAILLES (PG). This startlingly candid documentary follows a billionaire family -- Jackie Siegel, the 40-something wife of 70-something real estate tycoon David Siegel -- on a quest to build the largest house in America when the economy takes a nosedive.The cracks that emerge are obvious and many, which isn't shocking; the true surprise is the way the Siegels bare all for the camera. It's all there in mundanely, strangely and painfully familiar ways for anyone who has slipped a rung on the economic ladder. Watching them suffer cuts a bit too close for comfort -- or for sport. HHH1/2 (Biancolli, Houston Chronicle -- 10/19). 1:40.

WRECK-IT RALPH (PG). The villain (voiced by John C. Reilly) of an old-school 1980s arcade video game tires of always being the bad guy and starts to sneak into other video games to play the hero. Review, D4

WUTHERING HEIGHTS (NR). Emily Bronte's novel about the doomed love between the wild and rugged Heathcliff and the mannered Cathy is given minimalist, extremely naturalistic treatment in this new film version. Review, D4