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Published: Thursday, 7/12/2012

Movie reviews: 7-12

Summaries are condensed from Blade or wire 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 Amazing Spider-Man. The biggest obstacle facing The Amazing Spider-Man is that we are still living with the memories of the first Spider-Man movie from only a decade ago. Yet we sit through Spider-Man's origin story again, this time played by a brooding Andrew Garfield, as the nerdy Peter Parker who is bullied in high school, becomes Spider-Man, falls in love (Emma Stone as Gwen Stacy), and battles a mad scientist-turned monster (Rhys Ifans). This new Spider-Man, directed by Marc Webb, may be improved as far as effects, but it's hardly new, and there really isn't anything amazing about it either. In 3-D at select locations. PG-13 ** 1/2 136 min. (Baird) (FP, LC, FT, SDI)

American Reunion. All the American Pie characters return for their high school reunion. In one long-overdue weekend, they will discover what has changed, who hasn't, and that time and distance can't break the bonds of friendship. R ** 113 min. (Wire review) (MIT)

The Avengers. Earth's mightiest heroes team up to save the world from an evil demigod and an alien warrior race out to conquer Earth. In 3-D at select locations. PG-13 ***** 142 min. (Baird) (FP, FT)

Battleship. Inspired by Hasbro's classic naval combat game, Battleship, a fleet of ships is forced to do battle with an armada of unknown origins in order to discover and thwart their destructive goals. PG-13 * 131 min. (Wire review) (MIT)

The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel. A group of British retirees decide to "outsource" their retirement to less expensive and seemingly exotic India. Enticed by advertisements for the newly restored Marigold Hotel and bolstered with visions of a life of leisure, they arrive to find the palace a shell of its former self. Though the new environment is less luxurious than imagined, they are forever transformed by their shared experiences, discovering that life and love can begin again when you let go of the past. PG-13 *** 118 min. (Wire review) (LC)

Brave. Girl power finally makes it to Pixar with Brave, a charming and entertaining CG fable featuring a teenage princess in 10th-Century Scotland. Stubborn Merida (Kelly Macdonald) yearns for independence from her royal duties, while her Queen Mother (Emma Thomson) prefers she stick to tradition. A poor decision by Merida affects her mother and family in a horrifying way, forcing the teen to accept responsibility for her mistakes and to work with her mother to correct them. In 3-D at select theaters. R **** 100 min. (Baird) (FP, LC, FT, SDI)

Katy Perry: All of Me. A backstage pass, front row seat, and intimate look at the fun, glamorous, heartbreaking, inspiring, crazy, magical, passionate, and honest mad diary of Katy. In 3-D at select locations. PG *** 95 min. (Wire review) (FP, LC, FT)

Madagascar 3. Alex the Lion, Marty the Zebra, Gloria the Hippo, and Melman the Giraffe are still fighting to get home to their beloved Big Apple and, of course, King Julien, Maurice, and the Penguins are all along for the comedic adventure. Their journey takes them through Europe where they find the perfect cover: a traveling circus, which they reinvent -- Madagascar style. In 3-D at select theaters. PG ** 1/2 93 min. (Wire review) (FP, LC, FT)

Madea's Witness Protection. A Wall Street investment banker who has been set up as the linchpin of his company's mob-backed Ponzi scheme is relocated with his family to Aunt Madea's southern home. PG-13 * 1/2 114 min. Wire review) (FP, LC, FT)

Magic Mike. If nothing else, the make stripper comedy-drama Magic Mike proves that Channing Tatum can act. Of course, the chiseled 32-year-old actor was a stripper before his movie career, so he's essentially playing himself as a veteran male dancer who takes on a young protege (Alex Pettyfer), with the help of the club's owner (Matthew McConaughey). Steven Soderbergh directed Magic Mike, and it has the usual Soderbergh hallmark: a low-budget and intimate indie vibe. It's also funny, dark, and surprisingly fun as a backstage peak at the world of male strip clubs. R *** 110 min. (Baird) (FP, LC, FT, SDI)

Moonrise Kingdom. Set on an island off the coast of New England in the summer of 1965, two 12-year-olds fall in love, make a secret pact, and run away together into the wilderness. As various authorities try to hunt them down, a violent storm is brewing off-shore -- and the peaceful island community is turned upside down in more ways than anyone can handle. PG-13 ***** 93 min. (Wire review) (LC)

People Like Us. A man is tasked with delivering $150,000 of his deceased father's fortune to the sister he has never met. PG-13 *** 115 min. (Wire review) (FP, FT)

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) (MIT)

Savages. Oliver Stone's new film about American ingenuity, Mexican drug cartels, corrupt officials, ex-military assassins, and a three-way relationship shows the director to be in top form again. Taylor Kitsch and Aaron Johnson star as best friends-turned successful Southern California pot dealers, and Blake Lively is their shared girlfriend who is kidnapped by the leader of Mexico's top drug cartel (Salma Hayek) who has problems of her own: a disapproving daughter and a rebellious enforcer (Benicio Del Toro). Savages is violent, twisty, engaging, and, given its director, surprisingly free of distracting political commentary. R *** 1/2 130 min. (Baird) (FP, LC, FT)

Ted. John Bennett (Mark Wahlberg) is a grown man who must deal with the cherished teddy bear who came to life as the result of a childhood wish ... and has refused to leave his side ever since. Ted is Seth MacFarlane's movie directoral debut. R *** 106 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) (MIT)



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