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Published: Thursday, 8/2/2012

Movie reviews: 8-02

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)

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)

The Dark Knight Rises. Batman (Christian Bale) has been absent nearly a decade while years of crime fighting have taken a physical toll on billionaire Bruce Wayne. But when a terrifying new villain Bane (Tom Hardy) paralyzes Gotham City with threats to blow it up, only the Dark Knight can stop him. Filmmaker Christopher Nolan empties himself of everything for the conclusion to his Dark Knight trilogy. It's an overly long and grim affair, that also happens to be the most ambitious superhero film ever put to screen. If Nolan's film is a misfire, then it's a spectacular one. In 3-D at select locations. PG-13 **** 165 min. (Baird) (FP, LC, FT, SDI)

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) (MIT)

Ice Age: Continental Drift. Manny, Diego, and Sid embark upon their greatest adventure after cataclysm sets an entire continent adrift. Separated from the rest of the herd, they use an iceberg as a makeshift ship, which launches them on an epic seafaring quest. The gang is challenged like never before as they encounter exotic sea creatures, explore a brave new world, and battle ruthless pirates. Scrat's reunion with his beloved but cursed acorn catapults him to places no prehistoric squirrel has gone before. In 3-D at select locations. PG *** 94 min. (Wire review) (FP, LC, FT, SDI)

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)

Men in Black III is the proper sequel to the 1997 original, and not the 2002 laugh-free abomination. That praise aside, most of the clever moments and fun of the MiB concept was exhausted in the first film anyway. Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones return as Agents J and K, with J going back in time to 1969 to prevent the assassination of his partner by a vengeful alien. Part III culminates in what can best be described as the only heart-warming moment in the series, a conclusion that could, and should, serve as a satisfactory finale to the franchise. PG-13 ** 1/2 106 min. (Baird) (MIT)

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) (MIT)

Safety Not Guaranteed. From the producers of Little Miss Sunshine -- When an unusual classified ad inspires three cynical Seattle magazine employees to look for the story behind it, they discover a mysterious eccentric named Kenneth, a likable but paranoid supermarket clerk, who believes he's solved the riddle of time travel and intends to depart again soon. Together, they embark on a hilarious, smart, and unexpectedly heartfelt journey that reveals how far believing can take you. R 85 min. (LC through Tuesday)

Step Up Revolution. Emily (Kathryn McCormick), the daughter of a wealthy businessman, arrives in Miami hoping to become a professional dancer. She falls in love with Sean (Ryan Guzman), a young man who leads a dance crew in elaborate, cutting-edge flash mobs. The crew, called the MOB, strives to win a contest for a major sponsorship opportunity, but Emily's father threatens to develop the MOB's historic neighborhood and displace thousands of people. In 3-D at select locations. PG-13 97 min. (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 Watch. Four everyday suburban guys come together as an excuse to escape their humdrum lives one night a week. But when they accidentally discover that their town has become overrun with aliens posing as ordinary suburbanites, they have no choice but to save their neighborhood -- and the world -- from total extermination. R 100 min. (FP, LC, FT)



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