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Movie Stars

Andy Serkis as the computer-enhanced Gollum in “The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey.”

Warner Bros.Pictures

Andy Serkis as the computer-enhanced Gollum in “The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey.”

New releases

½ The Central Park Five A scrupulous, singeing documentary by Ken Burns, his daughter Sarah, and her husband David McMahon, that reconstructs the notorious series of events that occurred in the spring of 1989 after a young white investment banker was beaten and raped while running in Central Park. The film focuses on the five teenagers — four black, one Hispanic — who were rounded up, sentenced, and convicted after falsely confessing to the crime. (119 min., unrated) (Wesley Morris)

Cheerful Weather for the Wedding If you simply can’t wait for the third season of “Downton Abbey” to begin, and you need to experience English people all clenched up on the day of two people’s nuptials, try Julia Strachey’s novel about a bride-to-be (Felicity Jones) and her cold feet. This movie adaptation has a lot of nattering but little tension, wit, or heat. With the usually wonderful Elizabeth McGovern, so-so as the brides’s mother. (92 min., unrated) (Wesley Morris)

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½ The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey Title notwithstanding, almost exactly as expected. More Middle-earth — the first third of Tolkien’s prequel story to “The Lord of the Rings” — Peter Jackson’s film has lots of sound and fury and not enough narrative momentum. Ian McKellan’s Gandalf and (joy) Andy Serkis’s Gollum return. The 48 fps digital version in theaters looks like high-end video. With Martin Freeman. In 3-D. (169 min., PG-13) (Ty Burr)

½ Hyde Park on Hudson A work of historical embroidery about Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s possible affair with his sixth cousin, Margaret Suckley, this paints the 32d president as both a creepy sexual predator and a heck of a guy. It’s as tone-deaf as movies get. Bill Murray is actually quite good as FDR, but Laura Linney gives a defeated performance in an impossible role. (94 min., R) (Ty Burr)

Wagner & Me Beloved British personality and major Richard Wagner fanboy Stephen Fry goes to Bayreuth to marvel at the composer’s musical legacy and — much too gingerly — come to terms with its anti-Semitic dark side. Fry hears Wagner, but he doesn’t really see him. Opera fans will enjoy the backstage access. (89 min., unrated) (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)

The Collection This horror sequel to 2009’s “The Collector” doesn’t make five seconds of sense and most of what’s here is borrowed — from movies, music videos, and art installations. The resident boogeyman is made up of so many other maniacs and boogeymen that, even by the loose standards of horror-movie sloppiness, he’s a mess. To that end, “The Collection” is an honest title. This is just a lot of other people’s greatest hits. (88 min., R) (Wesley Morris)

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, hung over, 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 baby sitter, popcorn, and parking? Two hours with Washington at the height of his everything. Directed by Robert Zemeckis. (138 min., R) (Wesley Morris)

½ Killing Them Softly A bleakly comic, brutally Darwinian gangland saga that at times comes close to being this year’s “Drive.” Writer-director Andrew Dominik jettisons novelist George V. Higgins’s Boston settings for a generic urban wasteland during the 2008 economic collapse. Brad Pitt, Scoot McNairy, and James Gandolfini stand out in a cast full of mean, mouthy, small-time thugs. (97 min., R) (Ty Burr)

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)

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 Mahler on the Couch Using the real 1910 meeting between composer Gustav Mahler and psychoanalyst Sigmund Freud as a springboard, this intentionally overripe melodrama examines the tormented marriage of Mahler (Johannes Silberschneider) and his hotsy younger wife Alma (Barbara Romaner). Taken in the right spirit, it’s enjoyably ridiculous, with Mahler’s music smeared over everything. In German, with subtitles. (98 min., unrated) (Ty Burr)

½ Pitch Perfect Anna Kendrick stars in this college singing-group comedy in which the throwaway lines are so many and so expertly deployed that you basically spend the movie digging through the trash. But the scenes of crassness, broadness, and projectile vomit point to the exasperating possibility that the moviemakers have learned the wrong lesson from “Bridesmaids.” With Brittany Snow and Rebel Wilson. (88 min., PG-13) (Wesley Morris)

½ Playing for Keeps A lousy, mis-prioritized romantic comedy with Gerard Butler as a washed-up Scottish sports star who drives mothers crazy when he begins coaching his son’s soccer team. All he wants is another shot at his ex (Jessica Biel), who’s not nearly as lively as Judy Greer, Uma Thurman, or Catherine Zeta-Jones, who play the lusty moms. (95 min., PG-13) (Wesley Morris)

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)

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 boogeyman 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)

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)

Taken 2 This is the sort of sequel that seems to make perfect sense to the people who made it but none to us. The Albanian relatives of the men killed in the first movie by the former CIA operative Bryan Mills (Liam Neeson) seek revenge. The first movie was the divorced dad’s revenge fantasy done up as action-movie brutality. This one is action-movie camp. (97 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)

An archive of reviews is at www.boston.com/movies.
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