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Published: Thursday, 3/1/2012

Movie reviews: 3-01

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.

Act of Valor follows a Navy Seal squad on a covert mission to recover a kidnapped CIA agent, and in the process takes down a complex web of terrorist cells determined to strike America at all costs. The filmmakers had unprecedented Naval access resulting in high-octane combat sequences and never-before-seen military operation scenes which are composited from actual events in the lives of the men appearing in the film and their comrades. R ** 1/2 101 min. (Wire review) (FP, LC, FT)

Alvin & the Chipmunks: Chip-wrecked. Jason Lee and his chatty computer-animated pals return for more misadventures. After surviving the sinking of their cruise ship, Alvin, Simon, and Theodore must survive on a Polynesian island. G * 1/2 87 min. (Wire review) (MIT)

The Artist. A black-and-white silent film made by a French filmmaker may scream "pretentious," but The Artist is anything but. The Artist, which won five Oscars including best picture and director, is a wondrous celebration of a long-ago era of moviemaking, that happens to be the boldest and freshest film of the year. The loaded cast is led by Jean Dujardin as the handsome and egotistical George Valentin, one of silent film's biggest stars whose career plummets with the new era of talking movies, and Berenice Bejo as Peppy Miller, the young actress who never forgets Valentin, even as her star ascends. PG-13 100 min. ***** (Baird) (LC, FT)

Chronicle. Three high school students make an incredible discovery, leading to their developing uncanny powers beyond their understanding. As they learn to control their abilities and use them to their advantage, their lives start to spin out of control, and their darker sides begin to take over. PG-13 *** 1/2 83 min. (Wire review) (FP, LC, FT)

Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close, based on the Sept. 11-themed novel by Jonathan Safran Foer, is the story of a wife and son with Asperger's syndrome who lose their husband/father in the collapse of the World Trade Center, and the wrenching effect it has on them and their unorthodox method of healing. Tom Hanks and Sandra Bullock headline the cast, but newcomer Thomas Horn as the son and Max von Sydow as a mysterious and mute man who befriends him deliver the most memorable performances in this ambitious but never stirring film that, like its main character, is difficult to connect with. PG-13 129 min. *** (Baird) (MIT)

Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance. Johnny Blaze, still struggling with his curse as the devil's bounty hunter, is hiding out in a remote part of Eastern Europe when he is recruited by a secret sect of the church to save a young boy from the devil. At first, Johnny is reluctant to embrace the power of the Ghost Rider, but it is the only way to protect the boy and possibly rid himself of the curse forever. In 3-D at select locations. PG-13 *** 95 min. (FP)

Gone. Jill Parrish comes home from a night shift to discover her sister Molly has been abducted. Jill, who had escaped from a kidnapper a year before, is convinced that the same serial killer has come back for her sister. Afraid that Molly will be dead by sundown, Jill embarks on a heart-pounding chase to find the killer, expose his secrets and save her sister. PG-13 ** 85 min. (Wire review) (FP, LC, FT)

Good Deeds. Tyler Perry plays a successful businessman preparing to marry his fiance (Gabrielle Union) whose life is changed when he falls for a single mother (Thandie Newton). PG-13 ** 129 min. (Wire review) (FP, LC, FT)

Hugo. Not since Avatar has a 3-D movie felt so alive. But the stunning 3-D in Hugo is only part of the movie's charm. Martin Scorsese, directing his first family movie, winds audiences down a path of wondrous adventure and surprises. Hugo Cabret (Asa Butterfield) is a 12-year-old orphan in Paris who lives in a clock tower and fixes things. Then he meets Georges Mèliès (Ben Kingsley), a broken man in need of emotional repair, and his goddaughter Isabelle (Chloë Grace Moretz), whose help and friendship prove invaluable to Hugo. This film doesn't talk down to children, and if it weren't for Hugo's slow mid-section, it would be almost perfect. PG **** 127 min. (Baird) (FT)

Journey 2: Mysterious Island. The new journey begins when young adventurer Sean receives a coded distress signal from a mysterious island where no island should exist -- a place of strange life forms, mountains of gold, deadly volcanoes, and more than one astonishing secret. Unable to stop him from going, Sean's new stepfather joins the quest. Together with a helicopter pilot and his beautiful, strong-willed daughter, they set out to find the island, rescue its lone inhabitant, and escape before seismic shockwaves force the island under the sea and bury its treasures forever. In 3-D at select locations. PG ** 1/2 94 min. (Wire review) (FP, LC, FT)

Safe House. A young CIA agent is tasked with looking after a fugitive in a safe house. But when the safe house is attacked, he finds himself on the run with his charge. R ** 1/2 117 min. (Wire review) (FP, LC, FT)

The Secret World of Arrietty. Arrietty, a tiny but tenacious 14-year-old, lives with her parents in the recesses of a suburban home, unbeknownst to the homeowner. Like all little people, Arrietty remains hidden from view, except during occasional covert ventures beyond the floorboards to "borrow" scrap supplies like sugar cubes from her human hosts. But when 12-year-old Shawn, a human boy who comes to stay in the home, discovers his mysterious housemate one evening, a secret friendship blossoms. If discovered, their relationship could drive Arrietty's family from the home and straight into danger. G *** 94 min. (Wire review) (FP, LC, FT)

Star Wars: Episode 1 -- The Phantom Menace. Darth Vader is a hopeful 9-year-old boy named Anakin Skywalker and Obi-Wan Kenobi is a brash young Jedi Knight. The first chapter of the Star Wars saga follows Anakin's journey as he pursues his dreams and confronts his deepest fears in the midst of a galaxy in turmoil. In 3-D at select locations. PG ** 131 min. (FP, FT)

This Means War. Chris Pine and Thomas Hardy are two CIA agents who launch into spy-vs.-spy antics when they discover they are dating the same woman (Reese Witherspoon). PG-13 ** 98 min. (FP, LC, FT)

The Vow. Based on the true story of a newlywed couple recovering from an accident that puts the wife in a coma. She wakes up with severe memory loss and can't remember any of her life with her new husband -- so he has to fight to win her heart all over again. PG-13 *** 104 min. (Wire review) (FP, LC, FT)

Wanderlust. George and Linda are an overextended, stressed out Manhattan couple. After George loses his job, they find themselves with only one option: to move in with George's awful brother in Atlanta. On the way there, George and Linda stumble upon Elysium, an idyllic community populated by colorful characters who embrace a different way of looking at things. Money? It can't buy happiness. Careers? Who needs them? Clothes? Only if you want them. Is Elysium the fresh start George and Linda need? Or will the change of perspective cause more problems than it solves? R ** 98 min. (Wire review) (FP, LC, FT)

We Bought a Zoo. Based on a true story, a widowed father buys a dilapidated zoo in hopes of making a fresh start. Facing enormous odds, he and his children, along with a small but loyal staff, work to get the zoo re-opened. PG * 124 min. (Wire review) (MIT)

The Woman in Black. A widowed lawyer whose grief has put his career in jeopardy is sent to a remote village to sort out the affairs of a recently deceased eccentric. But upon his arrival, it becomes clear that everyone in the town is keeping a deadly secret. He soon discovers that the house belonging to his client is haunted by the ghost of a woman who is determined to find someone and something she lost -- and no one, not even the children, are safe from her vengeance. PG-13 ** 1/2 95 min. (Wire review) (FP)



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