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    Movie stars: capsule reviews

    Merrick Morton/Columbia Pictures
    Rooney Mara and Daniel Craig in “The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo,’’ directed by David Fincher.

    The Darkest Hour Four young Americans meet up at a bar in Moscow just in time for an alien invasion. Sean and Ben, played by Emile Hirsch and Max Minghella, have just been ripped off in an Internet business deal when they meet Natalie and Ann, played by Olivia Thirlby and Rachael Taylor. When all hell breaks loose, they hide out in a storage room, emerging days later into a post-apocalyptic wasteland. They find themselves fighting for survival in a yawn-inducing genre exercise. (89 min., PG-13) (Joel Brown)

    Previously released

    ★★ ½The Adventures of Tintin Director Steven Spielberg and producer Peter Jackson bring the intrepid boy reporter of Hergé’s classic comics into the digital new millennium with mixed results. The film’s a visual marvel that’s cold to the touch, with a chase-rinse-repeat story line that grows tiresome and motion-captured characters that lack warmth. (107 min., PG) (Ty Burr)

    ★★★★ The Artist Michael Hazanavicius’s silent, black-and-white love letter to classic movies isn’t perfect, but it’s close enough to make just about anyone who sees it ridiculously happy - and that includes children and grown-ups who’ve never come across a silent film. Jean Dujardin plays the charming Hollywood ham whose career goes south with the arrival of the talkies; Bérénice Bejo is his love interest. A crowd-pleaser and a joy. (100 min., PG-13) (Ty Burr)


    ★★★ ½A Dangerous Method The insinuation in David Cronenberg’s sex drama is strong, the acting stronger. Adapted by Christopher Hampton from his play, the film focuses on the professional and emotional bond between the Swiss psychoanalyst Carl Jung (Michael Fassbender), his mistress and assistant Sabina Spielrein (Keira Knightley), and Sigmund Freud (Viggo Mortensen). With Cronenberg, devilishly, the sex proves more curative than the talking. (94 min., R) (Wesley Morris)

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    ★★★ The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo David Fincher disinfects the luridness of the first of Stieg Larsson’s fun-to-read Swedish bestsellers until overheated trash assumes the chilly precision of a Fincher production, which is to say that the violence is both terrible and extremely alluring. Fincher also clearly adores his brutal cyberpunk played by Rooney Mara, whose dead seriousness is a grim hoot. With Daniel Craig, Robin Wright, and Christopher Plummer. (152 min., R) (Wesley Morris)

    ★★★Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol This is the fourth and most navigable installment in 15 years, and Tom Cruise’s decision to keep making these ridiculous movies doesn’t feel desperate. It feels like exercise. For him. For us. For whoever on the set was responsible for saying, “Tom, that’s a union job.’’ The mission this time? Stop nuclear apocalypse. With Jeremy Renner, Paula Patton, and Simon Pegg. The elegant direction is by Brad Bird. (133 min., PG-13) (Wesley Morris)

    ★★ ½Three Stars In international restaurant circles where the Guide Michelin series has long been a tastemaker, careers and fortunes can rise and fall on the guidebooks’ annual ratings. The men and women (but mostly men) behind the food are the focus of this documentary by German filmmaker Lutz Hachmeister, which unfortunately delivers more talking than cooking, and too much of it spent on the guides themselves. Featuring René Redzepi, Nadia Santini, Yannick Alléno, and other chefs. (94 min., unrated) (Janice Page)

    ★★★ War Horse A boy (Jeremy Irvine) and his horse, separated and rejoined by World War I. Steven Spielberg’s “serious’’ movie of 2011 is a work of Hollywood classicism that looks back to the craftsmanship and sentimentality of John Ford and other legends of the studio era. It’s as impressive as coasting gets, but it’s coasting all the same. (146 min., PG-13) (Ty Burr)


    ★★ We Bought a Zoo Matt Damon plays a grieving single dad who takes over a ratty Southern California wild animal park. It’s a sweet-natured, terribly unthreatening drama about redemption and renewal, and it may matter more to the man who made it (director Cameron Crowe, stuck in a career slump) than the audiences who see it. With Scarlett Johansson. (124 min., PG) (Ty Burr)