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Movie Stars

Movie Stars

Suraj Sharma stars in the title role in Ang Lee’s “Life of Pi.”

20th Century Fox

Suraj Sharma stars in the title role in Ang Lee’s “Life of Pi.”

New releases

Life of Pi Ang Lee’s adaptation of Yann Martel’s best-selling novel is a marvel of contradictions: a movie about the magnificence of nature that’s largely computer-made, a two-character epic, a 3-D extravaganza that takes place inside a 20-foot lifeboat. The movie shouldn’t work at all, but it does. Keep kids under 10 at home, though. With Suraj Sharma and Irrfan Khan. (127 min., PG) (Ty Burr)

Red Dawn The teen Commie-anxiety flick from 1984 gets a remake, dated title and all. The new version drops Chris Hemsworth, Josh Peck, and Josh Hutcherson into the roles, shifts their guerrilla fight from Colorado to more urban Spokane, and promotes North Korea to Evil Empire status. Semi-forced, but hey, it satisfies the brand. Mostly solid viewing as a combat action spectacle, but politically, unable to decide whether to play it retro-jingoistic or contempo-liberal. (93 min., PG-13) (Tom Russo)

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½ Rise of the Guardians Happily, this 3-D animated dream-teaming of “Guardians of Childhood” Santa (Alec Baldwin), the Easter Bunny (Hugh Jackman), and the Tooth Fairy (Isla Fisher) doesn’t just coast on familiar lore. Jack Frost (Chris Pine) is placed at the center of the adventure, joining them against bogeyman Pitch (Jude Law) in an adaptation of kid-lit author William Joyce’s books. Distinctive, but could push its crossover gimmick more aggressively. (97 min., PG) (Tom Russo)

A Royal Affair This Danish historical drama about a mad 18th-century king, his wife, and her lover is one of the stodgier entries in the Oscar-season costume parade but also one of the more straightforwardly enjoyable: a crowned-heads soap opera that balances effectively between pomp and melodramatic circumstance. With Alicia Vikander and Mads Mikkelsen. In Danish, with subtitles. (137 min., R) (Ty Burr)

Previously released

½ Anna Karenina Joe Wright’s adaptation of the Tolstoy classic staggers under the weight of a dazzling, hermetically sealed visual style that fails to connect with our emotions; the entire movie seems to take place in a snow globe. The cast, led by Keira Knightley, is good, although Aaron Taylor-Johnson’s Vronsky may be too much the boy-toy. With Jude Law. (130 min., R) (Ty Burr)

Brooklyn Castle The chess team at Intermediate School 318, a public junior high school in Brooklyn, dominates national competitions the way UCLA used to dominate college basketball. The story is a great documentary subject, told well by director Katie Dellamaggiore. The kids and their teachers who populate it are even greater. (102 min., unrated) (Mark Feeney)

Chasing Ice A calmly furious documentary about the disappearance of the great northern glaciers and the photographer, James Balog, who captures this silent apocalypse in time-lapse images that balance between beauty and horror. Director Jeff Orlowski gives us more about Balog than we need to know; it’s the work that matters. (76 min., PG-13) (Ty Burr)

½ Cloud Atlas A dazzling cinematic folly from writer-directors Andy and Lana Wachowski (“The Matrix”) and Tom Tykwer (“Run Lola Run”) that tries to explain human interconnectedness through six narrative strands spread over centuries. It’s profound on the surface — and absurdly watchable — but banal beneath. Tom Hanks, Halle Berry, and others play multiple characters in sometimes convincing make-up. (172 min., R) (Ty Burr)

Flight A so-so movie with Denzel Washington as a commercial-airline pilot in hot water after he crash-lands a plane while drunk, high, hungover, and horny. The movie doesn’t do much that you couldn’t anticipate just by seeing the trailer. But you know what’s still worth $15 plus the cost of a babysitter, popcorn, and parking? Two hours with Washington at the height of his everything. Directed by Robert Zemeckis. (138 min., R) (Wesley Morris)

½ A Late Quartet A smartly cast, discreetly contrived melodrama about classical musicians, with retiring cellist Christopher Walken upsetting the delicate balance of his string quartet. Philip Seymour Hoffman, Catherine Keener, and Mark Ivanir are the other players; the music’s sublime but the situations feel pat. Fans of the actors (and of Beethoven) should check it out, though. (105 min., R) (Ty Burr)

½ Lincoln In the weeks following his reelection, Abraham Lincoln (a remarkable Daniel Day-Lewis) fights to get the 13th Amendment abolishing slavery passed. A terrifically entertaining film that, against all odds, makes politics exciting again. Steven Spielberg is in top form, Tony Kushner’s script is full of crackling talk (and lots of it), and there are scene-stealing turns from Tommy Lee Jones, Sally Field, and James Spader. (149 min., PG-13) (Ty Burr)

½ The Man with the Iron Fists Wu-Tang Clan majordomo RZA has gathered his friends — co-writer Eli Roth, presenter Quentin Tarantino, costars Russell Crowe and Lucy Liu — and directed a martial arts movie. A pretty terrible martial arts movie. Still, it’s more goofily entertaining than it has a right to be. With Rick Yune and Jamie Chung. (96 min., R) (Ty Burr)

½ The Sessions It sounds like a bad joke: A man in an iron lung hires a sex surrogate to help him lose his virginity. But the achievement of this simple, intensely moving drama (based on a true story) is the clarity with which it portrays a good soul in an inert body. John Hawkes and Helen Hunt give rich, unshowy performances as the leads; William H. Macy plays the hero’s priest. (95 min., R) (Ty Burr)

½ Silver Linings Playbook Bradley Cooper finally gets a role that gives his oily charm some vulnerability. He plays a mental patient living in Philadelphia with his parents, hung up on his estranged wife and spending time with an equally unstable woman (Jennifer Lawrence). The movie whizzes and stings. Its director is David O. Russell, who’s become Hollywood’s most instinctive maker of ensemble dramatic comedies. With a never-haler Robert De Niro as Cooper’s gambler dad. (122 min., R) (Wesley Morris)

Skyfall The James Bond movie franchise turns 50 this year and continues with Daniel Craig in the title role. But to hear everybody in this tedious new movie debate whether, after 23 movies, James is now too long in the tooth for glamorous spycraft, you would think the star of this movie is Methuselah. With Judi Dench, Ralph Fiennes, and, as the hilariously blond villain, Javier Bardem. (145 min., PG-13) (Wesley Morris)

The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn — Part 2 Boy, there’s a lot of standing around in this movie. In this series there’s always a lot of standing and waiting and sitting and hoping – for Edward the vampire (Robert Pattinson) to kiss human Bella (Kristen Stewart), for him to make transformative love to her. But this fifth and mercifully final installment features so much idle anticipation that it’s unclear whether we’re watching a movie or an Apple product launch. (116 min., PG-13) (Wesley Morris)

Wreck-It Ralph A video arcade villain (voiced by John C. Reilly) has an existential crisis and busts out into other games in an attempt to become a hero. Bright, fast, reasonably funny, and depressingly formulaic, it’s more fodder to keep your kids tethered to their home entertainment centers. Cranky old critic says: Send them out to play instead. (93 min., PG) (Ty Burr)

Find an archive of reviews at www.boston.com/movies.
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