You can now read 10 articles in a month for free on BostonGlobe.com. Read as much as you want anywhere and anytime for just 99¢.

The Boston Globe

Arts

Movie stars: capsule reviews

Larry D. Horricks/Weinstein Company

Ralph Fiennes and Jessica Chastain star in “Coriolanus.’’

New Releases

★★★ ½Coriolanus Making his directorial debut, star Ralph Fiennes brings Shakespeare’s Roman tragedy roaring into a 21st century of military strongmen and civil unrest, asking what society should do with the attack dogs we ask to protect us. Vanessa Redgrave scalds the screen as one mean mother. With Gerard Butler and Jessica Chastain. (122 min., R) (Ty Burr)

★★Declaration of War As ponderous and overwrought as a movie hogged by hipsters named Roméo and Juliette can be. Their son has a brain tumor, and the movie seems to be about everyone’s struggle to hope for the best while physicians strategize to prevent the worst. But really it’s about the stars - Valérie Donzelli, who directed, and Jérémie Elkaïm. They’ve based the movie on their own lives. In French, with English subtitles. (100 min., unrated) (Wesley Morris)

Continue reading below

★★Rampart Woody Harrelson gives a ferocious performance as a bad LA cop, but director Oren Moverman thinks that if he keeps introducing characters and camera moves, he’ll end up with a movie. The reverse occurs: The more things happen, the less we care. With Robin Wright, Cynthia Nixon, Ice Cube, and Sigourney Weaver. (108 min., R) (Ty Burr)

★★ ½The Secret World of Arrietty A curious and mostly congenial case of fusion cuisine that filters the classic children’s book “The Borrowers’’ through the quietly inventive worldview of Japan’s Studio Ghibli. Since legendary director Hayao Miyazaki (“Spirited Away’’) only wrote the script, the movie is lesser Ghibli, but not by very much. (94 min., G) (Ty Burr)

This Means War You can imagine how the ball got rolling on this mess. What if a woman was dating two guys? What if the two guys were CIA spies? What if the case the spies had been working on, then fired from, then put back on blasted its way into the romance plot? What if people paid to see this! With Chris Pine and Tom Hardy, and Reese Witherspoon in another thankless role. (98 min., PG-13) (Wesley Morris)

Previously released

★★★ Albert Nobbs As the title character, a woman passing as a male butler at an upper-crust hotel, Glenn Close skulks through Edwardian-era Dublin like a eunuch on a stealth mission. Rodrigo Garcia’s drama is cautious to the point of stodginess. Close (who co-wrote the script) gives a fascinating performance, even if Janet McTeer steals the film. (113 min., R) (Ty Burr)

★★★★The Artist Michael Hazanavicius’s silent, black-and-white love letter to classic movies isn’t perfect, but it’s close enough to make just about anyone who sees it ridiculously happy - and that includes children and grown-ups who’ve never come across a silent film. Jean Dujardin plays the charming Hollywood ham whose career goes south with the arrival of the talkies; Bérénice Bejo is his love interest. A crowd-pleaser and a joy. (100 min., PG-13) (Ty Burr)

Continue reading below

★★★Big Miracle If this movie is to be believed, the most riveting and important story of the late 1980s was three migrating California gray whales stranded beneath miles of ice far above the Arctic Circle. Luckily the film needs only to entertain, and that it does thoroughly, with minimal preaching. Praise be. Drew Barrymore and John Krasinski star - along with those animatronic whales, of course. (103 min., PG) (Janice Page)

★★★ ½Carnage Yasmina Reza’s “God of Carnage’’ isn’t a great play and this is hardly Roman Polanski’s finest hour, but the schematic tale of two upscale couples descending into savagery as they discuss a fight between their young sons is good, stinging fun, and the performances are wonderful. John C. Reilly, Kate Winslet, Christoph Waltz, and the peerless Jodie Foster star. (79 min., R) (Ty Burr)

★★ ½Chronicle A found-footage superhero movie about three high schoolers who videotape the aftermath of their encounter with a glowing space-rock. Pieces of this are downright brilliant, but the filmmakers can’t decide whether they’re making fun of the genre or just going overboard with it. Paging John Hughes or Gus Van Sant. (84 min., PG-13) (Ty Burr)

★★ ½Contraband Mark Wahlberg, money, guns, grime, shipping containers, violence, and several plot holes: It’s a better time than you’d think. With Giovanni Ribisi, Ben Foster, J.K. Simmons, and Kate Beckinsale. (109 min., R) (Wesley Morris)

★★★ Crazy Horse The 39th film from the legendary documentarian Frederick Wiseman prowls the Paris nude-revue nightclub of the title, watching the ways human beings manufacture the art of desire. His fly-on-the-wall approach yields insights into process from everybody but the dancers themselves. In French, with subtitles. (134 min., unrated) (Ty Burr)

★★★ ½The Descendants With his wife in a coma, a prosperous Hawaii lawyer (George Clooney) has to cope with all the parts of his life he didn’t know. A somewhat minor work from director Alexander Payne (“Sideways,’’ “About Schmidt’’) that’s also a movingly rich pleasure about compromise and connection. With Shailene Woodley and Amara Miller as the hero’s daughters. (115 min., R) (Ty Burr)

★★★ Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close The 11-year-old protagonist (Thomas Horn) of Stephen Daldry’s movie is a handful. Mostly for an audience tasked with watching him whirl across New York’s five boroughs. The film’s whimsy and cuteness should exasperate, but there’s great, poignant urgency at its center, much of it courtesy of Horn and Max von Sydow, who plays his elderly sidekick. With Tom Hanks, Sandra Bullock, and Viola Davis. Based on Jonathan Safran Foer’s novel. (129 min., PG-13) (Wesley Morris)

★★ The Grey It’s cheap the way this movie wants to be both a Liam Neeson “Quit Taking My Stuff’’ movie and an existential thriller about survival. We’ve come to see Neeson danse-macabre with wolves. Instead, we get a lot of scenes of men being sad because they have no idea where they are and there are no women to have sex with. Those moments aren’t bad, but they’re not enough, either. (117 min., R) (Wesley Morris)

★★★ Haywire The new Steven Soderbergh film puts at its center the martial-arts star Gina Carano as a covert operative. The movie is playful, but its naturalness is also cold and no-frills. Soderbergh wants to get close to how these chases and fistfights might happen in everyday life. So it’s less a thriller than a kind of documentary. With Ewan McGregor, Antonio Banderas, Michael Fassbender, and others. (106 min., R) (Wesley Morris)

★★The Iron Lady The best way to appreciate the high-ludicrousness of Meryl Streep’s Margaret Thatcher might be to watch this thin movie with the sound down. It’s good acting. It’s great kabuki. The movie, meanwhile, lacks the gumption to damn Thatcher solely on the terms of her prime ministership. Unfairly, too much of it gawks at her while she’s doddering and deluded in old age. (105 min., PG-13) (Wesley Morris)★ ½Journey 2: The Mysterious Island There isn’t much here to like: an enormous electric eel that powers a sunken ship, Dwayne Johnson sitting on a log next to Michael Caine and breaking into song, closing credits. Even by the unambitious standards of some children’s movies and many that star Michael Caine, this one has a difficult time making a case for itself as anything other than an adventure in baby-sitting. With Vanessa Hudgens, Josh Hutcherson, and an embarrassing Luis Guzmán. (94 min., PG) (Wesley Morris)

★ ½Man on a Ledge People cheer the plot twists in this lousy movie about a fugitive (Sam Worthington) threatening to jump off a building. None of the actors have anything to do. You could cast this movie with potato chips and still get cheers when one of the bad guys is cuffed. With potato chips, you understand. With Elizabeth Banks, Jamie Bell, and Ed Harris. (102 min., PG-13) (Wesley Morris)

★★★ Pina Wim Wenders’s ode to the work of the late German modern-dance choreographer Pina Bausch is a parting gift from one creative force to another. Soberly ecstatic, it’s also the latest proof (with Martin Scorsese’s “Hugo’’ and Werner Herzog’s “Cave of Forgotten Dreams’’) that 3-D can serve as midwife to art and exhilaration. In lots of languages, with subtitles. (100 min., PG) (Ty Burr)

★★ Red Tails George Lucas produced this action movie about Tuskegee Airmen stationed in Italy during World War II. This is a story people have been waiting decades to see, so it’s no fun feeling responsible to run out and go to a movie that isn’t very good. It means well, but it’s too basic to be rousing or even heartening. Directed by Anthony Hemingway. With Nate Parker, David Oyelowo, Tristan Wilds, Cuba Gooding Jr., and Terrence Howard. (125 min., PG-13) (Wesley Morris)

★★ Safe House Denzel Washington plays one of those misunderstood CIA operatives who’s “gone rogue.’’ But even before he’s tortured for information, Washington’s pulse never rises. His calm is absurd. Yet it’s exactly what’s needed in a by-the-numbers chase-’em-down and shoot-’em-up movie with lots of intentionally sea-sickening camerawork: confidence. With Ryan Reynolds as the young agent responsible for bringing him in. (115 min., R) (Wesley Morris)

★★★★A Separation A superb work of realism by Asghar Farhadi about a middle-class Iranian woman (Leila Hatami) who leaves her husband (Peyman Moaadi), putting his sick father and their studious 11-year-old daughter (Sarina Farhadi) in the uncertain middle. The request for a divorce sets in motion a chain of domestic events whose dismaying implications accrue. In Farsi, with English subtitles. (123 min., PG-13) (Wesley Morris)

★★Underworld Awakening Vampires and werewolves are back at each other’s throats in a sequel overly eager to assert that monster mashes aren’t about “Twilight” melodrama. Kate Beckinsale wriggles back into her catsuit as Selene, thawed after a human purge of vampires and Lycans that left her in cryo-freeze. India Eisley is the young girl who now shares a psychic link with her, and special abilities. (88 min., R) (Tom Russo)

★★ ½The Vow Young marrieds Channing Tatum and Rachel McAdams hit a rough patch when she wakes from a coma with amnesia. It’s the rare chick flick that’s about brain trauma in addition to causing it, and it’s quite watchable date-night cheese. With Sam Neill and Jessica Lange. (104 min., PG-13) (Ty Burr)

★★W.E. Madonna’s second film as director is a double drama. One story is about Wallis Simpson (a very good Andrea Riseborough) and the romance that led to the 1936 abdication of Edward VIII (James D’Arcy). The other is about the modern-day sufferings of a Park Avenue housewife (Abbie Cornish). The period scenes are good, the rest is not. As a moviemaker, Madonna is best when she’s not trying so hard. (119 min., R) (Ty Burr)

★★The Woman in Black How frustrating to be Daniel Radcliffe. One movie after Harry Potter vanquished Voldemort, and it’s like he’s anticipating having to do it all over again. Here he is in this blah ghost story searching a big, dreary house for the source of off-screen sound effects. Radcliffe has an exuberant side, and some of us are getting desperate to see it. (95 min., PG-13) (Wesley Morris)

You have reached the limit of 10 free articles in a month

Stay informed with unlimited access to Boston’s trusted news source.

  • High-quality journalism from the region’s largest newsroom
  • Convenient access across all of your devices
  • Today’s Headlines daily newsletter
  • Subscriber-only access to exclusive offers, events, contests, eBooks, and more
  • Less than 25¢ a week