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Movie capsules: Short reviews of what’s in theaters

Hugh Jackman stars in the title role in “The Wolverine.”

Ben Rothstein/20th Century Fox via AP

Hugh Jackman stars in the title role in “The Wolverine.”

New releases

The To Do List A smutty, sloppy, revolutionary teen sex comedy where the girls get to play nasty and the boys stand around looking terrified. Aubrey Plaza plays a high school valedictorian who makes a neatly-printed list of every sexual activity she’s never tried and vows to cross them off before college. Writer-director Maggie Carey laughs our culture’s virgin/whore complex to pieces.
(104 min., R) (Ty Burr)

The Wolverine Hugh Jackman and director James Mangold (“Walk the Line”) dispatch Wolverine to Japan to grapple with a sinister criminal element and his own virtual immortality. The loose adaptation of an essential 1980s comics story line is an effective way of dramatizing and accentuating the hero’s dual nature as a berserker given to timely displays of honor and loyalty. The final act is muddled, but Jackman spends enough time compellingly playing stranger in a strange land that you’ll put up with it. A fight sequence aboard a bullet train is a stunner. (126 min., PG-13)
(Tom Russo)

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20 Feet From Stardom Possibly the happiest time you’ll have at the movies this year. Morgan Neville’s lovely documentary “20 Feet From Stardom” celebrates the backup singers, those women whose voices are all over classic rock and ’60s pop but whose names never made it to the liner notes. The vocal performances alone can make you weep with joy.
(90 min., PG-13) (Ty Burr)

½ The Conjuring A trim, effective haunted-house spookshow that’s both a throwback to ’70s real estate shriekers like “The Amityville Horror” and a big-studio response to the “Paranormal Activity” found-footage genre. Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga play married paranormal investigators, and Lili Taylor and Ron Livingston are a couple whose dream home has a bad case of the Beelzebubs.
(112 min., R) (Ty Burr)

Despicable Me 2 The animators might have done well to call their movie something else, given the lack of despicability Steve Carell’s reformed baddie displays. The scope of the ’toon espionage-adventure goings-on is surprisingly limited, mostly confining Gru and his secret agent soulmate (Kristen Wiig) to a mall, of all places. But the filmmakers so clearly love working on these characters — Gru’s yellow, mutant-elf Minions in particular — their creative joy is infectious. The sequel might not be all that warped, but it’s plenty funny nevertheless. (98 min., PG) (Tom Russo)

½ Girl Most Likely A dinky comic misfire with a heavyweight cast. Kristen Wiig stars as a failed Manhattanite forced to move back in with her floozy of a mom (Annette Bening!). It means well, but a limp script, slack editing, and a general inability to pass the believability smell test keep this in the small-potatoes bin. (103 min., PG-13) (Ty Burr)

½ Grown Ups 2 Fans of the original will probably enjoy this sequel in which Adam Sandler plays a Hollywood agent who moves back to his hometown; everyone else will shake their heads in disbelief. Don’t bother to keep track of jokes involving bodily fluids, flatulence, or blows to the crotch, and as for the touches of sentimental sludge, they won’t make you feel good, either. (101 min., PG-13) (Peter Keough)

The Heat If you’re going to make a dopey, foul-mouthed, predictable lady-buddy-cop movie, you might as well make it funny. And until it overstays its welcome in the final half hour, “The Heat” is shamefully funny. Prissy Sandra Bullock and slobby Melissa McCarthy have genuine chemistry, and director Paul Feig (“Bridesmaids”) makes nice use of Boston locations and action-comedy clichés. (117 min., R) (Ty Burr)

½ A Hijacking A coolly assured nail-biter from Denmark that takes a story familiar from the news — Somali pirates storming commercial vessels and holding their crews for ransom — and turns it into high-stakes human drama. The second feature from writer-director Tobias Lindholm showcases his gift for tightly focused stories told without an ounce of fat. In English, Danish, and Somali, with subtitles. (116 min., R) (Ty Burr)

½ The Hunt Danish director Thomas Vinterberg’s tale of a man falsely accused of pedophilia in a small town has its harrowing moments and provokes reflection on its controversial subject. Despite insights into the primitive, mob mentality underlying the surface of a seemingly normal community, and an affecting, if passive performance by Mads Mikkelsen, it strains credibility and verges on misogyny. (111 min., R) (Peter Keough)

½ I’m So Excited! Pedro Almodovar’s latest plays like “Airplane!” staged by a maniacal gay cabaret troupe. No, it’s not one of the master’s more enduring works, but if you’re in the mood for a giddy, oversexed trifle, this may be your bag of slightly stale peanuts. With Javier Cámara and Cecilia Roth. In Spanish, with subtitles. (90 min., R) (Ty Burr)

½ The Lone Ranger Ugh. Gore Verbinski’s bloated, overlong, boring western comedy casts Armie Hammer as a bumbling tenderfoot of a Lone Ranger. As Tonto, Johnny Depp shoots off whimsical one-liners in Injun-speak; He’s Jack Sparrow on downers in red-face. The movie features the usual bigger-than-big action “ride” scenes, but save your money for Six Flags. (149 min., PG-13) (Ty Burr)

½ Man of Steel Director Zack Snyder (”300”) has made a superhero blockbuster that carries the weight of its fraught times, but where’s the pop joy? As Superman, Henry Cavill is very good without quite convincing us he’s a star. With Amy Adams as Lois Lane, Russell Crowe as Jor-El, and crazy-eyed Michael Shannon as General Zod. (143 min., PG-13) (Ty Burr)

½ Much Ado About Nothing Just about the sloppiest Shakespeare ever put on the screen, Joss Whedon’s black-and-white house party may also be the most exhilarating — a profound, crowd-pleasing trifle that reminds you how close Shakespeare’s comedies verge on darkness before pirouetting back into the light. Amy Acker and Alexis Denisof are wonderful as sparring lovers Beatrice and Benedick. (107 min., PG-13) (Ty Burr)

Museum Hours A guard at Vienna’s Kunsthistorisches art museum befriends a middle-aged Montrealer visiting a hospitalized cousin. Writer-director Jem Cohen’s film can seem at times more documentary or even art appreciation class than drama -- but in a good way. Its watery rhythms and matte, uninflected mood can be transfixing -- especially as the camera pans over the museum’s Bruegels. In English and German, with subtitles. (106 min., unrated) (Mark Feeney)

Only God Forgives Nicolas Winding Refn and Ryan Gosling — the director and star of “Drive” (2011) — reteam for a cryptic, bloody Bangkok revenge melodrama. It’s the kind of remarkable disaster only a talented director can make after he finds success and is then allowed to do whatever he wants. With Kristin Scott Thomas, unforgettable as a trash Lady Macbeth. (89 min., R) (Ty Burr)

½ Pacific Rim Hands down, the blockbuster event of the summer — a titanic sci-fi action fantasy that has been invested, against all expectations, with a heart, a brain, and something approximating a soul. Guillermo del Toro’s robots-vs.-monsters slugfest wants to be the biggest “Godzilla” movie ever and a rousing tale of human solidarity and a straight-up summer hoot. It achieves all three with spellbinding confidence. (131 min., PG-13) (Ty Burr)

½ R.I.P.D. Ryan Reynolds plays a Boston cop, killed by partner Kevin Bacon, ordered to do a century-long tour with the Rest in Peace Department, busting Judgment-evading baddies with Old West lawman Jeff Bridges.Reynolds and Bridges are stuck with a muddled script, and the effects are underwhelming. You’ll likely appreciate the ubiquitous Boston locations, though, including a peek inside the Green Monster. (96 min., PG-13) (Tom Russo)

RED 2 Retired assassins Bruce Willis, John Malkovich, and Helen Mirren get together (again), this time to sort out a decades-old nuke-smuggling plot. But you know how it is with reunions — after the initial charge, it all inevitably turns a little less cool. So it goes with this sequel, which offers some snappy interplay but mostly feels like a cast working to manufacture what came naturally the first time. (116 min., PG-13) (Tom Russo)

½ Turbo Ryan Reynolds voices a garden-trolling snail who dreams of Indianapolis 500 glory. That’s an order only slightly taller than trying to put a fresh spin on animated racing and micro-scale action after “Cars” and a host of adventure-in-the-grass ’toons. But “Turbo” makes an entertaining go of it by borrowing liberally from the “Fast & Furious” franchise, and sticking a slime trail onto “Rocky.” (96 min., PG) (Tom Russo)

Unfinished Song This might have been another trite tale of codgers acting cute if not for the performances of two great actors. Vanessa Redgrave brings vivacity and depth to the role of a cancer victim who wants to sing in the choir; Terence Stamp is cranky and majestic as her naysaying mate. When things get manipulative and formulaic, those two elevate the sentiment to genuine emotion. (96 min., PG-13) (Peter Keough)

World War Z The surprise of this absorbing, frightening apocalyptic drama is that what sounds ridiculous on paper — Brad Pitt as a globe-trotting UN employee fighting legions of the undead — turns out to be a gripper on the screen. It’s the rare zombie flick that’s mostly about the frail pleasures of being alive. (117 min., PG-13) (Ty Burr)

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