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Published: Thursday, 6/16/2011

Movie reviews: 6-16

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.

Bridesmaids. Judd Apatow produced this comedy strictly to his formula of the outsider with a good heart who faces big obstacles on her way to happiness. In this case, the outsider is Kristen Wiig, who plays one of five bridesmaids trying to plan the perfect wedding for their friend (Maya Rudolph). Unfortunately, the film is only sporadically funny. R ** 1/2 125 min. (Baird) (FP, FT, LC)

The Hangover II. Once again, four friends (Bradley Cooper, Zach Galifianakis, Ed Helms, and Justin Bartha) prepare to celebrate the nuptials of one of the gang, this time in Thailand. But the morning after the bachelor party, they can't remember a thing about what happened the night before. Sound familiar? It should. The only real surprise in the movie is how warmed over everything feels, including a plot without an ounce of originality in it. R * 101 min. (Baird) (Fox, FP, FT, SDI)

Judy Moody and the Not Bummer Summer. Jordana Beatty plays a young girl who sets out to have the best summer of her life with the help of her little brother Stink (Parris Mosteller) and their crazy aunt (Heather Graham). About the best that can be said is that the mild-mannered kids' comedy makes for a pleasant-enough time-killer. PG ** 91 min. (Wire review) (FP, FT, LC)

Kung Fu Panda 2. The martial-arts bear voiced by Jack Black gets a second installment, pitting Panda and his allies against a villain armed with a weapon capable of destroying kung-fu. This entry aims to expand the series in storytelling terms and visually. It introduces emotionally complex issues and adds new scope via 3-D. In each case, the payoff is impressive. PG **** 91 min. (Wire review) (Fox, FP, FT, LC)

Midnight in Paris. Woody Allen's romantic comedy is a tale of Americans who travel to Paris for business and have their lives transformed by the magical city. With an appealing cast, it is Allen's warmest, mellowest, and funniest venture in far too long. PG-13 **** 94 min. (Wire review) (FP, LC)

Pirates Of The Caribbean: On Stranger Tides. The fourth voyage of the successful franchise ditches the cumbersome subplots and overwrought CGI in favor of a more streamlined story and lighter tone. Johnny Depp returns as Capt. Jack Sparrow, this time leading a search for the fabled Fountain of Youth. Among the searchers are the pirate Blackbeard (Ian McShane) and his daughter Angelica (Penelope Cruz). . PG-13 *** 1/2 137 min. (Baird) (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 min. (Wire review) (MIT)

Soul Surfer. AnnaSophia Robb stars in this fact-based drama about a teenaged girl who musters up the courage to climb back on her surfboard after losing an arm in a shark attack. A barrage of clumsy pro-Christian messages, an unnecessary fictitious rival, and a distinct lack of subtlety make this biopic a frustrating venture. PG ** 105 min. (Wire review) (MIT)

Super 8. This monster movie masquerading as an early Steven Spielberg work is set in 1979, when a massive train wreck lets something mysterious loose on the fictional town of Lillian, Ohio. First the military shows up to investigate the accident, then residents begin to vanish, leaving a group of teens who filmed the wreck scrambling to uncover the truth. Writer-director J.J. Abrams is a gifted storyteller, but he's no Spielberg (who produced), and Super 8 lacks the magic of classics such as Jaws, Close Encounters of the Third Kind, and E.T.: The Extra- Terrestrial. It's a good movie, but never a great movie. PG-13 *** 112 min. (Baird) (FP, FT, LC, SDI)

Water for Elephants. During the Great Depression, an unemployed veterinary student (Robert Pattinson) lands a job treating animals in a traveling circus, then falls in love with the wife (Reese Witherspoon) of the circus' owner (Christoph Walz). This handsome adaptation of Sara Gruen's 2006 best seller balances the colorful glitz of a three-ring spectacle with the atmospheric realism that a rich drama demands. The sideline characters are hokey stereotypes, but the main trio is well-developed. PG-13 *** 1/2 122 min. (Wire review) (MIT)

X-Men: First Class successfully reboots the franchise with an origins story set in the early 1960s of friends-turned-rivals Professor X and Magneto when they were still known as Charles Xavier (James McAvoy) and Eric Lehnsherr (Michael Fassbender). The pair lead a young team of mutants against a villainous band led by the powerful mutant Sebastian Shaw (Kevin Bacon). Director Matthew Vaughn (Kick-Ass) assembles a strong cast and a pretty good script, with Brian Singer welcomed back as the franchise's guiding force. PG-13 *** 1/2 132 min. (Baird) (FP, FT, LC, SDI)



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