Wednesday, Apr 25, 2018
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Movie reviews: 9-13

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.

2016 Obama's America. Best-selling author Dinesh D'Souza races against time to find answers to Obama's past and reveal where America will be in 2016. During this journey he discovers how Hope and Change became radically misunderstood, and identifies new flashpoints for hot wars in mankind's greatest struggle. PG ** 89 min. (Wire review) (FP, FT)

The Amazing Spider-Man. Peter Parker who is bullied in high school, becomes Spider-Man, falls in love, 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) (MIT)

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. In 3-D at select locations. PG-13 ***** 142 min. (Baird) (MIT)

Beasts of the Southern Wild. For once, believe the hype. Since taking Sundance and Cannes by storm, Beasts of the Southern Wild had been a cause celèbre in film circles, one of those films lionized by filmmakers and critics but next to no one has actually seen. PG-13 ***** 93 min. (Wire review) (LC)

The Bourne Legacy looks to continue the trilogy's popular run without Jason Bourne (Matt Damon) or two-time director Paul Greengrass. Jeremy Renner is effective but lacks Damon's charisma as Aaron Cross, another genetically modified super agent gone rouge who is pursed by the same U.S. government officials who created him and are now trying to kill him. Rachel Weisz plays the government scientist with the key to his amplified abilities. Tony Gilroy, who cowrote the three Bourne films, directs this fourth Bourne installment, a decent action film that sorely misses Greengrass' expertise in crafting superb action sequences. PG-13 ** 135 min. (Baird) (FP, FT, LC)

The Campaign. The Campaign's timing couldn't be better -- though the comedy could. It's not that this Will Ferrell-Zach Galifianakis vehicle as rival Congressional candidates from North Carolina isn't funny; it packs a lot of humor in its 90 minutes, with the occasional edgy non-partisan zinger. But as an insightful piece of political commentary, which is what most of us are ready for as we near Nov. 6, The Campaign comes up short given our current political system and the ripe-for-parody candidates it supplies us. R *** 97 min. (Baird) (FP, FT, LC)

The Cold Light of Day. Will Shaw goes to Spain for a weeklong sailing vacation with his family but his whole world turns upside down when the family is kidnapped by intelligence agents hell-bent on recovering a mysterious briefcase and Will suddenly finds himself on the run. PG-13 ** 93 min. (Wire review) (FT, LC)

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.In 3-D at select locations. PG-13 **** 165 min. (Baird) (FP, FT, LC)

Expendables 2. The gang is reunited and, along with newcomers, they are enlisted to take on a seemingly simple job. The task looks like an easy paycheck for Barney and his band of old-school mercenaries. But when things go wrong and one of their own is viciously killed, the Expendables are compelled to seek revenge in hostile territory where the odds are stacked against them. PG * 104 min. (Wire review) (FP, FT, SDI)

Hope Springs. After thirty years of marriage, a middle-aged couple attends an intense, week-long counseling session to work on their relationship. PG-13 *** 1/2 100 min. (Wire review) (FP, FT, LC)

Lawless. The true story of the infamous Bondurant Brothers: bootlegging siblings who made a run for the American Dream in Prohibition-era Virginia. In this epic gangster tale, inspired by true-life tales of author Matt Bondurant's family in his novel The Wettest County in the World, the loyalty of three brothers is put to the test against the backdrop of the nation's most notorious crime wave. R ** 115 min. (Wire review) (FP, FT, LC, SDI)

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. 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 locations. PG ** 1/2 93 min. (Wire review) (MIT)

The Odd Life of Timothy Green. An inspiring, magical story about a happily married couple, Cindy and Jim Green, who can't wait to start a family, but can only dream about what their child would be like. When young Timothy shows up on their doorstep one stormy night, Cindy and Jim -- and their small town of Stanleyville -- learn that sometimes the unexpected can bring some of life's greatest gifts. PG *** 1/2 100 min. (Wire review) (FP, FT, LC)

ParaNorman. When a small town comes under siege by zombies, who can it call? Only misunderstood local boy Norman, who is able to speak with the dead. In addition to the zombies, he'll have to take on ghosts, witches and, worst of all, moronic grown-ups, to save his town from a centuries-old curse. In 3-D at select locations. PG *** 1/2 93 min. (Wire review) (FP, FT, LC)

The Possession. Clyde and Stephanie Brenek see little cause for alarm when their youngest daughter Em becomes oddly obsessed with an antique wooden box she purchased at a yard sale, only to discover that the box was built to contain a dibbuk, a dislocated spirit that inhabits and ultimately devours its human host. PG-13 ** 91 min. (Wire review) (FP, FT, LC).

Premium Rush. Joseph Gordon-Levitt plays a likable NYC bike messenger given a precious package to deliver across town, with Michael Shannon as the crooked cop determined to stop him. PG-13 *** 91 min. (Baird) (SDI)

Sparkle. Musical prodigy Sparkle struggles to become a star while overcoming issues that are tearing her family apart. From an affluent Detroit area and daughter to a single mother (Whitney Houston), she tries to balance a new romance with music manager Stix while dealing with the unexpected challenges her new life will bring as she and her two sisters strive to become a dynamic singing group during the Motown-era. PG-13 ** 1/2 120 min. (Wire review) (FP)

The Words is a drama about a struggling writer who makes a poor decision to take credit for someone else's work. It stars Bradley Cooper as the author, a good writer who lacks the ability to be great, Zoe Saldana as his encouraging wife, and Jeremy Irons as "The Old Man" who wrote the original lost and unpublished manuscript and then confronts the celebrated plagiarist. Theirs has the makings of a good story, and unfortunately that's just what it is: the creation of another writer played by Dennis Quaid. The Words spends time ripping us in and out of the fictional story and the author's. But his story is far less interesting than his novel, and so is the film, for that matter. PG-13 ** 96 min. (Baird) (FP, LC, FT)

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