Sunday, May 20, 2018
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Movie reviews: 3-10

Summaries are condensed from Blade reviews and reflect the theater schedule starting Friday. 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.

The Adjustment Bureau. Making a good, detail-oriented science-fiction film is tough enough, let alone cramming a love story into the mix. But The Adjustment Bureau successfully pulls it off, thanks to writer and first-time director George Nolfi, working from a 1954 short story by Philip K. Dick about godly destiny vs. human freewill. Matt Damon and Emily Blunt are well cast as new lovers kept apart by enforcers of a supreme plan that dictates they are not meant to be together. But the pair will not give up so easily. PG-13 ** 1/2 99 minutes. (Baird) (FP, FT, LC)

Beastly. This modern retelling of Beauty and the Beast has Alex Pettyfer (I Am Number Four) as the handsome but cruel young man who is transformed into a hideous monster so he can understand the true meaning of love. Witty, warm, well-cast, and often wickedly funny, it lets Vanessa Hudgens shine and Pettyfer give a hint of what all the fuss over him is about. PG-13 *** 95 minutes. (Wire review) (FP, FT, LC)

Big Mommas: Like Father, Like Son. This humorless mash-up of White Chicks and Glee again traps Martin Lawrence in the fat suit that has become his career. As an FBI agent, he goes undercover at an all-girls school, taking along his stepson (Brandon T. Jackson), also in drag, to investigate a murder. The characters aren't funny, and the movie is a mother of a mess. PG-13 * 107 min. (Wire review) (FP)

Black Swan. The drama starts out as a character study of a talented but troubled ballet dancer but goes off in strange directions. Natalie Portman wastes an impressive performance as Nina, a ballerina who wins a lead role in Swan Lake, then goes off the deep end. R ** 110 minutes. (Neman) (MIT)

Gnomeo & Juliet. Shakespeare's best-known tragedy gets a kid-friendly reimagining as an animated tale of two warring clans of garden gnomes. Despite a few inspired moments, Gnomeo & Juliet, like its bland animation and soundtrack by Elton John, is a mostly ordinary and dull affair. G ** 1/2 84 minutes. (Baird) (FP, FT, LC)

Hall Pass. Another strikeout from Bobby and Peter Farrelly, the writing-directing brothers who have stalled out their careers after Something About Mary and Kingpin. They take a promising premise -- two husbands with roving eyes who are given week-long reprieves from their marriages by their wives -- and waste it on stale gross-out gags and moderately amusing comedy scenes. R ** 1/2 98 minutes. (Baird) (FP, FT, LC)

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1 marks the beginning of the 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 Voldemort 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 minutes. (Baird) (MIT)

I Am Number Four. Nine gifted aliens, hidden on Earth as children, are now teens, and they're being picked off, one by one, by the same baddies who overran their planet. Alex Pettyfer plays one who takes refuge and makes a stand in a small Ohio town. As action films aimed at young teens go, this is edgier than Percy Jackson and the Olympians and mockingly self-aware but without the white-hot sexual tension of the Twilight movies. PG-13 *** 104 minutes. (Wire review) (FP, FT)

Just Go With It. In order to convince the girl of his dreams that he's a family-oriented guy, a man (Adam Sandler) enlists the help of a single mother (Jennifer Aniston) and her kids. It's a rarely amusing movie overwhelmed by grating kids, unfunny sidekicks, half-hearted Sandler funny voices, and Aniston's growing fear of smiling. PG-13 * 110 minutes. (Wire review) (FP, FT, LC)

Justin Bieber: Never Say Never. Filmed during the worldwide teen idol's 2010 concert tour, this documentary looks at the meteoric rise of the former YouTube celebrity. The film consists of most of Bieber's hits, snippets of home movies, and limited screen time from his mom. But as for getting to see the "real" Bieber, that's not going to happen until Bieber fever fades. In other words, not any time soon. G ** 105 minutes. (Wire review) (FP, FT, LC)

The King's Speech. Colin Firth plays the man who becomes King George VI after his brother abdicates. Plagued with a dreadful stutter, he hires an unorthodox speech therapist (Geoffrey Rush) to help him. The meeting of the unstoppable force that is Rush's speech therapist and the immovable object that is Firth's future English king is as good as one-on-one acting gets. R ***** 118 minutes. (Wire review) (FP, FT, LC)

Rango. Johnny Depp provides the lead voice in this animated tale of an adventurous chameleon that must protect a small Western town from bandits. Timothy Olyphant, Abigail Breslin, Alfred Molina, and Ned Beatty round out the cast of this exuberant, audacious love letter to spaghetti Westerns. PG * ** * 107 minutes. (Wire review) (Fox, FP, FT, LC)

Take Me Home Tonight. Topher Grace stars in this would-be comedy about an MIT grad who rebels against the prevailing materialism of the gaudy, cocaine-fueled 1980s -- and tries to bag the girl of his dreams. Unfortunately, he and most of the rest of the cast are too old to be playing these characters, and most of the comedy bits are straight from Hot Tub Time Machine, but without the humor. R * 1/2 114 minutes. (Baird) (FP, FT, LC)

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 minutes (Baird) (MIT)

Unknown. Liam Neeson plays an American in Berlin, who awakens from a coma to find his identity has been hijacked, and his wife and friends no longer recognize him. Neeson delivers a great performance, but this taut thriller directed by Jaume Collet-Serra comes undone in the third act with a plot twist we've seen before. PG-13 *** 109 minutes. (Baird) (FP, FT, LC)

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