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Published: Thursday, 3/15/2012

Movie reviews: 3-15

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.

A Thousand Words. Fast-talking agent Jack's insincere patter is his chief weapon, but it irritates his assistant Aaron, threatens his marriage to Caroline and gets him into trouble repping guru/author Dr. Sinja. Jack suffers karmic repercussions from Sinja's magical Bodhi tree, which sheds one leaf for each word Jack speaks. After one thousand words, Jack will die. PG-13 91 min. (FP, FT)

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. Winner of 5 Oscars including best picture, actor in a leading rool, and director, The Artist 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)

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)

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)

The Grey. An unruly group of oil-rig roughnecks' plane crashes into the remote Alaskan wilderness. Battling mortal injuries and merciless weather, the survivors have only a few days to escape the icy elements -- and a vicious pack of rogue wolves on the hunt -- before their time runs out. R ** 1/2 117 min. (Wire review) (MIT)

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 Meliès (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 near perfection. PG **** 127 min. (Baird) (FT)

John Carter. War-weary, former military captain John Carter is inexplicably transported to Mars where he becomes reluctantly embroiled in a conflict of epic proportions amongst the inhabitants of the planet. In a world on the brink of collapse, Carter rediscovers his humanity when he realizes that the survival of the people rests in his hands. In 3-D at select theaters. PG-13 139 min. (FP, LC, 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)

The Lorax. This is an adaptation of Dr. Seuss' classic tale of a forest creature who shares the enduring power of hope. The animated adventure follows the journey of a boy as he searches for the one thing that will enable him to win the affection of the girl of his dreams. To find it he must discover the story of the Lorax, the grumpy yet charming creature who fights to protect his world. In 3-D at select locations. PG *** 95 min. (Wire review) (FP, LC, FT)

Mission: Impossible -- Ghost Protocol. Director Brad Bird (Ratatouille, The Incredibles) applies everything he learned making Pixar movies to the fourth installment in the popular action franchise. Tom Cruise returns as IMF super-agent Ethan Hunt. Jeremy Renner and Paula Patton are two of the new spies trying to help him clear his agency's name. PG-13 *** 1/2 133 min. (Wire review) (MIT)

Project X. Three high school seniors attempt to make a name for themselves by throwing one unforgettable house party. As word spreads, the party takes on a life of its own and before the night is over, dreams are ruined, records are blemished, and legends are born. R **** 88 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)

Silent House. A young woman (Elizabeth Olsen) finds herself sealed inside her family's secluded lake house. With no contact with the outside world, and no way out, panic turns to terror as events become increasingly ominous in and around the house. R 88 min. (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. (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. (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 is downsized out of 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) (FT)

War Horse. Set against a sweeping canvas of rural England and Europe during the First World War, War Horse begins with the remarkable friendship between a horse named Joey and a young man called Albert, who tames and trains him. When they are forcefully parted, the film follows the extraordinary journey of the horse as he moves through the war, changing and inspiring the lives of all those he meets -- British cavalry, German soldiers, and a French farmer and his granddaughter -- before the story reaches its emotional climax in the heart of No Man's Land. PG-13 *** 146 min. (Wire review) (MIT)



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