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Published: Thursday, 2/28/2013

Movie reviews: 2-28

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.

Argo chronicles the life-or-death covert operation to rescue six Americans, which unfolded behind the scenes of the Iran hostage crisis — the truth of which was unknown by the public for decades. On November 4, 1979, as the Iranian revolution reaches its boiling point, militants storm the U.S. embassy in Tehran, taking 52 Americans hostage. But, in the midst of the chaos, six Americans manage to slip away and fi nd refuge in the home of the Canadian ambassador. Knowing it is only a matter of time before the six are found out and likely killed, a CIA “exfi ltration” specialist comes up with a risky plan to get them safely out of the country. R; 4 stars; 120 min. (Baird) (FP, FT)

A Good Day to Die Hard. After four Die Hard films have exhausted almost every premise for famed terrorist killer-world saver and still humble everyman John McClane (Bruce Willis), any pretense of seriousness is wisely abandoned by A Good Day to Die Hard. This is a 97-minute movie that takes itself only as earnest as required by action film standards; to wit McClane is once again in a life-or-death battle with a criminal mastermind and his henchmen, this time in Russia. The movie tasks audiences with implicit acceptance of the illogical and preposterous, and rewards them with things going boom, crash, and thud. It’s a brain drain of a film, but its go-for-broke zeal is contagious and fun, mindless or otherwise. R; 3 stars; 97 min. (Baird) (FP, FT, LC)

Beautiful Creatures. A supernatural love story set in the South which tells the tale of two star-crossed lovers: Ethan, a young man longing to escape his small town, and Lena, a mysterious new girl. Together, they uncover dark secrets about their respective families, their history, and their town. PG-13; 3 stars; 124 min. (Wire review) (FP, FT)

Dark Skies. As husband and wife Daniel and Lacey Barret witness an escalating series of disturbing events involving their family, their safe and peaceful home quickly unravels. When it becomes clear that the Barret family is being targeted by an unimaginably terrifying and deadly force, Daniel and Lacey take matters into their own hands to solve the mystery of what is after their family. PG-13; 2 stars; 95 min. (Wire review) (FP, FT, LC)

Django Unchained. With the help of his mentor, a slave-turned-bounty hunter sets out to rescue his wife from a brutal Mississippi plantation owner. R; 2 1/2 stars; 165 min. (Wire review) (FP, FT, LC)

Escape from Planet Earth. Astronaut Scorch Supernova finds himself caught in a trap when he responds to an SOS from a notoriously dangerous alien planet. In 3-D at select theaters. PG; 2 1/2 stars; 89 min. (Wire review) (FP, FT, LC, BG)

Identity Thief. Jason Bateman plays an accountant with a Denver financial firm whose life is disrupted after his identity is stolen by a Miami-area con artist played by Melissa McCarthy. He flies to Florida to bring her back to Denver, and a road trip comedy ensues with cops, mob enforcers, and a bounty hunter chasing them. There's a smart comedy lurking inside Identity Thief. But this R-rated mess of put downs and outbursts, gun violence and car stunts, with a few jokes and gags wedged in between isn’t it. R; 2 stars; 112 min. (Baird) (FP, FT, LC, BG)

Jack Reacher. Tom Cruise isn’t the only one who comes up short as the 6-foot-5-inch, 250-pound Jack Reacher, a former U.S. Army Military Police Major who kicks butt while solving crimes. Writer-director Christopher McQuarrie’s film, the first in a series based on Lee Child’s books, is merely an average action film, competently made but little more as Reacher fights to clear the name of an ex-military sniper accused of gunning down five men and women in Pittsburgh. PG-13; 2 1/2 stars; 100 min. (Baird) (MIT)

Les Miserables. The adaptation of the Broadway musical based on Victor Hugo’s beloved French historical novel, is Anne Hathaway’s film. Even with a cast that includes Hugh Jackman and Russell Crowe, Hathaway’s heart-wrenching turn as the tragic Fantine is the dominant force onscreen. Without her emotional presence, this majestic, ambitious, and overly long epic from Oscar-winning director Tom Hooper loses much of its spark. PG-13; 2 1/2 stars; 157 min. (Baird) (FP)

Life of Pi. A 16-year-old Indian boy’s passage to a new life in America aboard a freighter ends in a shipwreck in the Pacific. He is left to fend for himself on a life raft with an orangutan, a hyena, and a Bengal tiger. In 3-D at select theaters. PG; 4 stars; 127 min. (Baird) (LC)

Quartet. In Dustin Hoffman’s directorial debut, at a home for retired musicians, the annual concert to celebrate Verdi’s birthday is disrupted by the arrival of Jean, an eternal diva and the former wife of one of the residents. PG; 3 1/2 stars; 104 min. (Wire review) (LC)

Rise of the Guardians. 97 min. (Wire review) PG; 2 stars,. When an evil spirit lays down the gauntlet to take over the world, the immortal Guardians must join forces for the first time to protect the hopes, beliefs and imagination of children all over the world. In 3-D at select theaters. Rise of the Guardians

Safe Haven. (FP, FT, LC) 115 min. (Wire review) PG-13; 2 1/2 stars;A young woman with a mysterious past lands in Southport, N.C., where her bond with a widower forces her to confront the dark secret that haunts her.

Side Effects. A provocative thriller about Emily and Martin, a successful New York couple whose world unravels when a new drug prescribed by Emily’s psychiatrist — intended to treat anxiety — has unexpected side effects. R; 3 stars; 106 min. (Wire review) (FT)

Silver Linings Playbook. Bradley Cooper stars as a husband broken by his wife’s affair. Jennifer Lawrence plays the woman who offers to help him pick up the pieces by reconnecting him with his estranged wife. Cooper, Lawrence, and the supporting cast are outstanding in writer-director David O. Russell’s comedy-drama, based on Matthew Quick’s novel. More than a funny and touching story of damaged people and love’s healing power, Silver Linings Playbook is the dramatic culmination of the romantic comedy. R; 5 stars; 122 min. (Baird) (FP, FT, LC)

Snitch. Dwayne Johnson stars as a father whose teenage son is wrongly accused of a drug distribution crime and is looking at a mandatory minimum prison sentence of 10 years. Desperate and determined to rescue his son at all costs, he makes a deal with the U.S. attorney to work as an undercover informant and infiltrate a drug cartel on a dangerous mission — risking everything, including his family and his own life. PG-13; 2 1/2 stars; 112 min. (Wire reivew) (FP, FT, LC, BG)

Warm Bodies is a funny twist on a classic love story. After a zombie epidemic, R (a highly unusual zombie) encounters Julie (a human survivor), and rescues her from a zombie attack. Julie sees that R is different from the other zombies, and as the two form a special relationship in their struggle for survival. PG-13; 4 stars; 97 min. (Wire review) (FP, FT)

Wreck-it Ralph. Ralph is tired of being overshadowed by Fix-It Felix, the “good guy” star of their game who always gets to save the day. He takes matters into his own massive hands and sets off on a gamehopping journey across the arcade through every generation of video games to prove he’s got what it takes to be a hero. In 3-D at select locations. PG; 4 stars; 108 min. (Wire review) (MIT)



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