Movie Stars

Movie stars: capsule reviews

Chris Hemsworth as Thor and Chris Evans as Captain America in “Marvel’s The Avengers.”
Zade Rosenthal/Walt Disney Pictures
Chris Hemsworth as Thor and Chris Evans as Captain America in “Marvel’s The Avengers.”

New releases

Marvel’s The Avengers If you like Joss Whedon’s superhero extravaganza (really, there’s almost nothing to dislike; it’s as close as a movie can come to the fantastical reality of a good comic book), stick around for the closing credits. As fun as it is to watch the actors playing superheroes, the real stars are the hundreds of men and women who’ve closed the gap between what’s doable in comic books and the movies based on them. This is state-of-the-state stuff. With Robert Downey Jr., Chris Evans, Scarlett Johansson, Mark Ruffalo, and Samuel L. Jackson. (148 min., PG-13) (Wesley Morris)

Previously released

Anita This drama may be about a young woman with Down syndrome (the astounding Alejandra Manzo, in her film debut) but it isn’t naively uplifting in the way of a made-for-television movie. When a bomb rocks the Buenos Aires Jewish neighborhood where Anita lives with her doting mother (the great Norma Aleandro), Anita ends up wandering the city, relying on the kindness of strangers. It’s an unsentimental portrait of one lost soul among the city’s outcasts. In Spanish, with English subtitles. (104 min., unrated) (Loren King)

Chimpanzee DisneyNature’s new “animal drama” has been whittled down from a wealth of wildlife footage into a pleasant, occasionally scary picture-book narrative aimed at 6-year-olds. Tim Allen provides jokey narration and lite-jazz songs bop along to images of frolicking baby chimps. The movie’s astonishing and blandly condescending, often in the same shot. (78 min., PG) (Ty Burr)


½ Damsels in Distress A new joke on the bourgeoisie from Whit Stillman. This one isn’t as sharp as “Metropolitan,” “Barcelona,” or “The Last Days of Disco,” but, set on a leafy college campus, it has its moments. Three debutantes (Greta Gerwig, Megalyn Echikunwoke, Carrie MacLemore) take charge of a transfer student (Analeigh Tipton), whose skepticism about the trio’s social ideas flickers in and out. So much of this movie is acute and funny and true. So much of it is indifferent and indeterminate. (98 min., PG-13) (Wesley Morris)

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½ The Five-Year Engagement A pleasant but predictable and overlong romantic comedy about a couple (Jason Segel and Emily Blunt) whose relationship suffers when he follows her from San Francisco to Michigan for her career. One of the softer offerings from the Judd Apatow production factory, it gets its laughs while having virtually no dramatic tension. (124 min., R) (Ty Burr)

½ The Lucky One In this latest movie Xeroxed from a Nicholas Sparks novel, Zac Efron plays Logan Thibault, a Marine convinced that he owes his life to a photo of a pretty blonde. He travels to meet the woman in the picture (Taylor Schilling) and they fall in love. As sex education goes, it’s a terrible development. Seeing her and Efron fumble at each other is like watching a stick of butter and a bag of flour not turn into cake. (101 min., PG-13) (Wesley Morris)

Marley Bob Marley became a reggae music legend, but this film happily does not try to turn him into a saint. It’s a warts-and-all documentary that brings him alive through myriad interviews new and old, while presenting him as a very mortal creature. The archival segments, along with much newly minted footage, keep us intrigued as we follow Marley from ghetto youth to Third World superstar. (145 min., unrated) (Steve Morse)

Mirror Mirror An overstuffed, undercooked omelet of a fairy tale revamp, starring a charming Lily Collins as Snow White and an irritating, miscast Julia Roberts as the evil Queen, making snippy sarcastic comments about getting old. (She’s 44.) Directed with visual splendor and little storytelling flair by Tarsem Singh (”The Fall”). Armie Hammer (”The Social Network”) plays the prince. (106 min., PG) (Ty Burr)


½ Monsieur Lazhar In a Montreal middle school, an immigrant substitute (Mohamed Fellag) helps his students cope with the suicide of their former teacher. What appears to be a gentle entry in the “To Sir With Love” genre actually has its mind on larger matters and a heart full of sorrow and rage. In French, with English subtitles. (94 min., unrated) (Ty Burr)

The Pirates! Band of Misfits The animators at Aardman (“Wallace & Gromit”) have a knack for leaving us smiling almost as goofily as one of their claymation creations. They do it yet again with this genial, 3-D genre sendup, featuring Hugh Grant as a swashbuckler informed by Darwin (David Tennant) that his “parrot” is a dodo, and their ticket to glory. Maybe even, yes, Pirate of the Year honors. (88 min., PG) (Tom Russo)

Akhirwan Nurhaidir/Sony Pictures Classics via AP
Joe Taslim and Yayan Ruhian in “The Raid: Redemption.”

½ The Raid: Redemption An amazing Indonesian action-movie mash-up in which a group of cops have to conquer a crime lord’s apartment building one floor at a time. Choreographed with jaw-dropping style by the Welsh-born writer-director Gareth Evans, it’s poised at the midway point between an ultraviolent video game and a neo-classic dance musical. In Indonesian, with English subtitles. (100 min., R) (Ty Burr)

½ The Raven A serial-killer thriller set in 19th-century Baltimore, this riff on the final days of Edgar Allan Poe (John Cusack) might qualify as literary desecration if it weren’t so lugubriously silly. (111 min., R) (Ty Burr)

½ Safe Jason Statham plays a broken man given reason to live by a young math prodigy pursued by Chinese gangsters, their Russian rivals, and corrupt New York cops. Filmmaker Boaz Yakin manages his many chaotically moving parts mostly as intended, but fails to coax out the emotion he’s seeking from Statham and Catherine Chan. In English and subtitled Mandarin and Russian. (94 min., R) (Tom Russo)


½ Think Like a Man As an ensemble comedy, it’s just adequate — platitudes with romantic-comedy flavoring. Eight people — including Taraji P. Henson, Meagan Good, Gabrielle Union, Michael Ealy — pair off and act out scenarios from that Steve Harvey relationship guide, “Act Like a Lady, Think Like a Man.” But Henson makes a case for more movies to take a chance on her charisma. The woman’s a star. (122 min., PG-13) (Wesley Morris)

½ To the Arctic 3D The latest IMAX nature documentary stars Meryl Streep as a real live polar bear. OK, I made that up. But do any of us doubt that she could have played the mama bear if she’d wanted? Instead, Streep narrates — delivering pious lines aimed at Prius owners — and we wonder what she might have made of a script better matched to the unforced drama of the cinematography. (40 min., G) (Janice Page)