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Movie Stars

Short reviews of what’s in theaters

New release

Thor: The Dark World Pure superhero boilerplate — a holding maneuver until the next “Avengers” movie shows up. Chris Hemsworth returns as the Norse god Thor and Natalie Portman as his perky scientist love interest, but the storyline is both incomprehensible and dull and the special effects work feels labored. For Marvel fan-boys only; others may question whether this is even a movie. (120 min., PG-13) (Ty Burr)

Previously released

12 Years a Slave It isn’t the story of an American tragedy. It’s the story of the American tragedy — this country’s original sin. The true saga of Solomon Northup (Chiwetel Ejiofor), a free-born black man kidnapped from New York state in 1841 and sold into slavery in Louisiana, the movie’s to slavery what “Schindler’s List” was to the Holocaust: a mass-appeal reckoning. Directed by Steve McQueen (“Shame”). (133 min., R) (Ty Burr)

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About Time Director Richard Curtis (“Love Actually”) spins the tale of a frequently tongue-tied everyguy (Domhnall Gleeson) whose ability to revisit moments in his own life is about getting things right, especially with his new crush (Rachel McAdams), not inadvertently throwing things off. Oh, the possibilities the story imagines – and oh, the heartache that inevitably arises just the same. With Bill Nighy. (124 min., R) (Tom Russo)

All Is Lost Two hours of Robert Redford on a boat in the Indian Ocean, and the boat’s sinking — what sounds like a recipe for boredom is, in the hands of its star and writer-director J.C. Chandor, a nearly perfect thing: An economic, elegant Worst-Case Scenario Survival Handbook that ever so subtly backs into Zen. See it on a big screen, please. (106 min., PG-13) (Ty Burr)

Blue Is the Warmest Color This year’s Cannes winner, Abdellatif Kechiche’s epic coming of age drama has remarkable performances (by Adèle Exarchopoulos and Léa Seydoux), “scandalous” lesbian sex scenes, rapturous cinematography, and a partial blindness to its own voyeuristic tendencies. In French, with subtitles. (179 min., NC-17) (Ty Burr)

½ Captain Phillips An extraordinarily gripping movie based on events that took place on the container ship Maersk Alabama in April 2009. Director Paul Greengrass creates an aura of urgency so powerful that we temporarily forget what we know and hold our breaths for two-plus hours of tightening suspense. Tom Hanks and the magnetic Barkhad Abdi star. In English and Somali, with subtitles. (134 min., PG-13) (Ty Burr)

½ Carrie What a disappointment. Director Kimberley Peirce (“Boys Don’t Cry”) and star Chloë Grace Moretz (“Kick-Ass,” “Let Me In”) fail to bring any new energy, resonances, or point to their remake of the classic 1976 Brian De Palma shriekfest. It’s a dispiriting retread that could have been directed by any proficient Hollywood hack. With Julianne Moore. (100 min., R) (Ty Burr)

The Counselor Ridley Scott’s drug-trade drama has a nerve-jangling vibe and Cormac McCarthy script. Michael Fassbender plays the eponymous protagonist, who buys into a drug-dealing operation despite a parade of red flags — notably Cameron Diaz, who’s got a sports car sex scene that’s beyond anything you’d ever guess. With Penelope Cruz, Javier Bardem, and Brad Pitt. (117 min., R) (Tom Russo)

½ Diana A gooey true-romance comic book trying to pass itself off as a historical drama. Naomi Watts plays Princess Diana in the last two years of her life, rapturously in love with an elegant London heart surgeon (Naveen Andrews of “Lost”). Between the purple dialogue and gossip-magazine sentimentality, the movie has no relationship to reality — as if anyone cared. (113 min., PG-13) (Ty Burr)

Diego Star (Peter Keough) This impressive debut follows the fortunes of an Ivory Coast crewman on the vessel of the title who finds himself stranded in a Canadian port when the ship breaks down. There he fights loneliness and the system with mixed results. The minimal style and nuanced performances turn this simple scenario into a moving drama and compelling plea for justice. (Peter Keough) (91 min., unrated)

Ender’s Game Orson Scott Card has been called out for his anti-gay views, but they are irrelevant in his novel about alienation, empathy, and loss of innocence. Unfortunately, those themes aren’t relevant to Gavin Hood in his adaptation of this story about a child recruited to combat an alien invasion. He turns a tragedy into a big video game. (114 min., PG-13) (Peter Keough)

Enough Said A lovely, melancholy comedy of mid-life errors and eros that, among other things, showcases the late James Gandolfini in a performance of immense tenderness and charm. Julia Louis-Dreyfus, appealingly vulnerable, plays a single mom who doesn’t trust her good luck, and writer-director Nicole Holofcener (“Friends With Money”) delivers her most confident character comedy to date. (93 min., PG-13) (Ty Burr)

The Fifth Estate A slick, Hollywoodized retelling of the WikiLeaks scandal, with Benedict Cumberbatch mesmerizing as a Julian Assange by way of Dr. Evil, and Daniel Brühl (”Rush”) as his more reasonable associate Daniel Domscheit-Berg. Well-made and watchable, it’s itself the response of an entrenched information system toward something it barely comprehends. (128 min., R) (Ty Burr)

Free Birds Owen Wilson and Woody Harrelson are cartoon turkeys who go time traveling back to the first Thanksgiving to get their species off the menu. Sounds fun, right? Of course, if the movie could have given us a little story development beyond just the premise, that would have been nice, too. With Amy Poehler. (91 min., PG) (Tom Russo)

Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa The “Jackass” folks add a semblance of a road movie narrative to their usual routine of gross-out gags performed before unwitting bystanders caught on a hidden camera. More important, they add terrific child actor Jackson Nicoll as the title octogenarian’s grandson. Nicoll’s combination of innocence, puerility, and canny timing injects a soulfulness that elevates the asinine practical jokes into genuine comedy. (92 min., R) (Peter Keough)

Kill Your Darlings An engrossing portrait of the Beat writers in their youth that centers on poet Allen Ginsberg, played in a smart, sympathetic performance by Daniel Radcliffe. With Jack Huston as Jack Kerouac, a devilish Dane DeHaan as Lucien Carr and Michael C. Hall as the doomed David Kammerer, whose murder landed them all on the front page. (104 min., R) (Ty Burr)

Last Vegas Five aging stars – Michael Douglas, Robert De Niro, Morgan Freeman, Kevin Kline and Mary Steenburgen – tarnish their résumés with this boorish buddy movie about pals who go to Las Vegas to celebrate when one of them announces his upcoming nuptials. The mawkishness and phony platitudes don’t make the flat jokes about flagging faculties, prostate problems, and saggy physiques any funnier. (104 min., PG-13) (Peter Keough)

½ Wadjda The first woman to direct a feature film in Saudi Arabia, Haifaa Al Mansour has created an unforgettable character, played irresistibly by Waad Mohammed. A precocious, funny, and indomitable 10-year-old, she breaks many of her society’s rules, especially in her determination to buy a bicycle. More than a critique of prejudice and iniquity, the film celebrates the independent spirit. In Arabic, with subtitles. (97 min., PG) (Peter Keough)

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