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Published: Thursday, 5/10/2012

Movie reviews: 5-10

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 Artist. A black-and-white silent film made by a French filmmaker may scream "pretentious," but The Artist isn't. Winner of five 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) (FT)

The Avengers not only matches the hype, it exceeds it. Written and directed by longtime comic-book fan Josh Whedon, The Avengers soars with a clever script that offers plenty of big-budget action as Earth's Mightiest Heroes team up to save the world from an evil demigod and an alien warrior race out to conquer Earth. Every superhero has more than a few spotlight moments on screen, and Whedon's zippy one-liners maintain the film's energy and fun during breaks between the CGI mayhem. The Avengers is Marvel's new flagship comic-book movie franchise, and the gold standard for popcorn entertainment this summer. Starring Robert Downey, Jr., Samuel L. Jackson, Chris Hemsworth, Chris Evans, Scarlett Johansson, Jeremy Renner, Mark Ruffalo, and Tom Hiddleston. In 3-D at select locations. PG-13 142 min. (Baird) (FP, LC, FT, SDI)

The Cabin in the Woods. Horror films undergo a major metamorphosis once a decade when a new movie reconstitutes genre conventions. The self-conscious and clever The Cabin in the Woods is just such a film, as what seems a routine premise -- five college coeds find horror in a secluded cabin -- proves wrong. See the film before its twisty, surprising plot is ruined, and feast on the fun Josh Whedon along with co-writer and first-time director Drew Goddard have in store. R **** 95 min. (Baird) (FT)

Chimpanzee. The world is a playground for little Oscar and his fellow young chimps, who'd rather make mayhem than join their parents for an afternoon nap. But when Oscar's family is confronted by a rival band of chimps, he is left to fend for himself until a surprising ally steps in and changes his life forever. G *** 1/2 78 min. (Wire review) (FP, FT)

The Five Year Engagement. Beginning where most romantic comedies end, a look at what happens when an engaged couple, Violet and Tom, keeps getting tripped up on the long walk down the aisle and the strain it puts on their relationship. R ** 124 min. (Wire review) (FP, LC, FT)

The Hunger Games. Set in a future where the Capitol selects a boy and girl from the twelve districts to fight to the death on live television, 16-year-old Katniss Everdeen volunteers to take her younger sister's place for the latest match. If she's ever to return home, Katniss must make impossible choices in the arena that weigh survival against humanity and life against love. PG-13 **** 142 min. (Wire review) (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) (MIT)

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) (SDI)

The Lucky One. A U.S. Marine Sergeant returns from his third tour of duty in Iraq, with the one thing he credits with keeping him alive -- a photograph he found of a woman he doesn't even know. Learning her name and where she lives, he shows up at her door, and ends up taking a job at her family-run local kennel. Despite her initial mistrust and the complications in her life, a romance develops between them, giving Logan hope that she could be much more than his good luck charm. PG-13 ** 101 min. (Wire review) (FP, LC, FT, SDI)

The Pirates: Band of Misfits. Filmmakers Peter Lord and Jeff Newitt never met a pirate pun they didn't like. And if they have, they certainly didn't bother to include it in their new animated film, The Pirates! Band of Misfits. Based on a series of humorous books by Gideon Defoe, who also wrote the screenplay, The Pirates! Band of Misfits is the tale of the Pirate Captain who desperately wants to win the coveted Pirate of the Year award. The film has jokes for kids and adults, and offers a spectacular blend of claymation and CGI. Featuring the voices of Hugh Grant as Pirate Captain and Martin Freeman as his first mate, with cameos by Jeremy Piven and Salma Hayek as rival pirate captains. PG *** 88 min. (Baird) (FP, LC, FT)

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) (MIT)

The Raven. When a madman begins committing horrific murders inspired by Edgar Allan Poe's darkest works, a young Baltimore detective joins forces with Poe in a quest to get inside the killer's mind in order to stop him from making every one of Poe's brutal stories a blood chilling reality. A deadly game of cat and mouse ensues, which escalates when Poe's love becomes the next target. R ** 1/2 103 min. (Wire review) (FP, LC, FT)

Safe. A second-rate cage fighter on the mixed martial arts circuit, Luke Wright lives a numbing life of routine beatings and chump change...until the day he blows a rigged fight. Wanting to make an example of him, the Russian Mafia murders his family and banishes him from his life forever. But when he witnesses a frightened twelve-year-old Chinese girl, Mei, being pursued by the same gangsters who killed his wife, Luke impulsively jumps to action...and straight into the heart of a deadly high-stakes war. R *** 95 min. (Wire review) (FP, FT)

Think Like a Man follows four interconnected and diverse men whose love lives are shaken up after the ladies they are pursuing buy a book and start taking the advice it offers to heart. When the band of brothers realize they have been betrayed by one of their own, they conspire using the book's insider information to turn the tables and teach the women a lesson of their own. PG-13 *** 1/2 122 min. (Wire review) (FP, LC, FT)

The Three Stooges Left on a nun's doorstep, Larry, Curly, and Moe grow up finger-poking, nyuk-nyuking, and woo-woo-wooing their way to uncharted levels of knuckleheaded misadventure. Out to save their childhood home, only the Three Stooges could become embroiled in an oddball murder plot ...while also stumbling into starring in a phenomenally successful TV reality show. PG *** 92 min. (Wire release) (LC)



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