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Published: Wednesday, 12/8/2010

Movie Reviews: 12-09

Summaries are condensed from Blade reviews and reflect the theater schedule starting tomorrow. Films are rated on a scale of 5 stars (best) to Bomb (worst). The reviewer's name, movie running time, and abbreviations of the theaters where the movie is playing are at the end of each summary.

Burlesque. In her first starring role in more than a decade, Cher returns as the owner and headliner of a failing cabaret who hires an ingenue (Christina Aguilera) as a cocktail waitress. Writer/director Steve Antin lays on the cliches with a trowel. PG -13 ** 1/2 100 min. (Wire review) (FP, FT, LC)

Despicable Me. The world's most nefarious villain (voiced by Steve Carell) is planning the greatest crime in history -- stealing the moon. But the arrival of three orphaned girls throws a wrench into his plans. Julie Andrews, Will Arnett, and Russell Brand round out the voice cast of this computer-animated comedy. PG *** 1/2 95 minutes. (Wire review) (MIT)

Due Date. Robert Downey, Jr., plays an uptight businessman whose race home for his child's birth sets him on a bumpy road trip with an aspiring actor (Zach Galifianakis). Often shocking and wildly inappropriate, it's still hilarious, thanks to a lot of riffing by a very funny cast. R *** 1/2 95 minutes. (Wire review) (FP, FT)

Fair Game. Valerie Plame (Naomi Watts) and her husband (Sean Penn) face the fallout when her real-life cover is blown as a covert CIA agent. R *** 1/2 108 minutes. (Wire review) (LC)

Faster. In this charmless and slow action film, Dwayne Johnson plays an ex-con out to avenge the murder of his brother. Billy Bob Thornton co-stars as the cop keeping a close eye on him. R * 1/2 100 minutes. (FP, FT, LC)

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1 marks the beginning of end for the beloved series. And what a finale it turns out to be as Harry (Daniel Radcliffe) and his faithful friends, Ron (Rupert Grint) and Hermione (Emma Watson), embark on a desperate quest to stop the evil Lord Voldemart (Ralph Fiennes) once and for all. Even without a true ending -- that will come next summer with Part 2 -- the dark, gloomy, and exciting Deathly Hallows doesn't disappoint, casting a spell that is impossible to resist. PG-13 **** 150 min. (Baird) (Fox, FP, FT, LC)

Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga'hoole. An animated film about a kidnapped owlet that is trained to become a warrior. Based on the novels of Kathryn Lasky, the film is gorgeously animated, occasionally exciting, and not at all dumbed down into the pap that generally passes for family fare. PG *** 100 min. 90 minutes. (Wire review) (MIT)

Love and Other Drugs. Jamie Randall (Jake Gyllenhaal) is a successful pharmaceuticals salesman and ladies man who prefers one-night stands over long-term commitments. Maggie Murdock (Anne Hathaway) is a sassy, independent spirit Jamie cannot seem to resist or tame. Their relationship is only part of the story, as the film explores bigger topics including our need for cure-all pills, and a system designed to exploit that. R *** 112 min. (Baird) (FP, FT, LC)

Megamind. Brad Pitt, Will Ferrell, and Tina Fey provide voices for an animated comedy about a supervillain whose life is empty after defeating his superhero nemesis. The plot is uninspired and predictable, and there's not nearly enough humor to cover for it. PG ** 96 minutes. (Wire review) (Fox, FP, FT, LC)

The Next Three Days. When his wife is convicted of murder, a college professor (Russell Crowe) is determined to break her out of prison. Director Paul Haggis (Crash) does a good job of ratcheting up the mystery and suspense, and the heavyweight talent of Crowe makes the weaker spots of the script credible. PG-13 *** 1/2 122 minutes (Wire review) (FP, FT)

Tangled. The magic at the Mouse House continues with this twisted take on the classic Rapunzel tale. The film offers wondrous 3D animation, laughs, an enjoyable song or two, and loads of fun. PG ***100 min. (Baird) (Fox, FP, FT, LC)

Unstoppable. Tony Scott directs a poorly executed thriller about a runaway train heading for certain disaster. Denzel Washington and Chris Pine play the veteran engineer and the rookie who devise a plan to stop it. Even by Hollywood standards, the film is too illogical and far-fetched to truly enjoy. PG-13 * 1/2 98 min. (Baird) (FP, FT, LC)

The Warrior's Way. Korean star Dong-gun Jang stars in this martial arts western about an Asian assassin who bails on a job and seeks refuge in a small town in the badlands of the United States. The plot's awful but the star has a simmering charisma and great hair stylist, which almost (but not quite) makes the film fun. R ** 100 min. (Wire review) (FP, FT, LC)



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