Movie Stars

Movie capsules: Short reviews of what’s in theaters

Olga Kurylenko and Tom Cruise in “Oblivion.”
Universal Pictures via AP
Olga Kurylenko and Tom Cruise in “Oblivion.”

New releases

½ Blancanieves Spanish director Pablo Berger applies the silent treatment of “The Artist” to the trend of modernized fairy tales such as “Mirror, Mirror” in this adaptation of “Snow White.” Here she’s an amnesiac bullfighter in a troupe of dwarf toreadors in 1920s Spain. Though it features a photogenic Macarena Garcia, in the title role, and a wicked Maribel Verdú, as the stepmother, Berger’s silent doesn’t have much to say. (104 min., PG-13) (Peter Keough)

½ A Fierce Green Fire Oscar-nominated filmmaker Mark Kitchell (“Berkeley in the Sixties”) offers an overview of more than five decades of environmental activism. Inspired by Philip Shabecoff’s book of the same name, the documentary keeps things loose and lively. It focuses on the birth of the environmental movement, toxic dumping at Love Canal, the emergence of “accidental” activists, the quest for alternative energy, and climate change. (101 min., unrated) (Loren King)

Girl Rising This documentary offers nine real-life vignettes and many statistics about the ill treatment of girls in the developing world. It’s so well-intentioned you want to give it a hug. The price of good intentions is that it looks and feels like an extended public-service announcement. The vocal talent is rather astounding: Meryl Streep, Anne Hathaway, Alicia Keys, Cate Blanchett, Salma Hayek, Liam Neeson (the one male voice). (104 min., PG-13) (Mark Feeney)


The Lords of Salem Rob Zombie injects his brand of trippy horror with some dark local color in a portrait of vengeful occult torment. Salem radio DJ Sheri Moon Zombie, the director’s wife, falls under the satanic influence of modern-day witches. There are echoes of “Rosemary’s Baby, ” and the movie grows visually and tonally crazier. There comes a point where inaccessibility breaks even the most potent genre spell. (101 min., R) (Tom Russo)

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½ Oblivion It’s 2077, and Earth’s in tough shape. Tom Cruise patrols the devastation, fighting off Scavs, short for Scavengers, led by Morgan Freeman. Andrea Riseborough is his communications officer/lover. When Olga Kurylenko’s NASA space ship crash lands, things get complicated. Like its star, the movie is clean, cold, efficient, increasingly overblown, and not a little inexplicable. (126 min., PG-13) (Mark Feeney)

½ Room 237 Rodney Ascher’s deadpan documentary is a consideration of Stanley Kubrick’s “The Shining” and what it means to a handful of people who have watched it a lot. A lecture on the Holocaust? A confession that Kubrick faked the moon landings? The film laughs at other people’s nonsense while marveling at the certainty of their faith. (102 min., unrated) (Ty Burr)

Previously released

½ 42 Writer-director Brian Helgeland’s ambitious biopic about Jackie Robinson is well-acted, handsomely made, and as shallow as a kid’s True Heroes picture book. As Robinson, newcomer Chadwick Boseman hits the script’s slow floaters and Harrison Ford is an enjoyable cartoon as Brooklyn Dodgers general manager Branch Rickey. It’s slick Hollywood pageantry, crowd-pleasing but hollow. (128 min., PG-13) (Ty Burr)

½ Admission A blandly pleasant comedy about the scramble to get into college. Tina Fey dials down the sitcom wackiness to play a Princeton admissions officer wooed by high school director Paul Rudd. Director Paul Wietz juggles plotlines and tries to keep us from noticing he’s made a movie that’s primarily about disappointment. (107 min., PG-13) (Ty Burr)

The Call Halle Berry stars as a 911 operator trying to save kidnapped teen Abigail Breslin (“Little Miss Sunshine”), who’s stuck in a psycho’s trunk with a dying cellphone. Grueling, effective suspense, and the scenes in the call center are novel, but the movie gets increasingly stupid as it caves into thriller clichés. (90 min., R) (Ty Burr)


½ The Company You Keep An improvement over director-star Robert Redford’s recent movies: A dramatic thriller about aging ’60s radicals that goes relatively easy on the moral lectures and gets back to storytelling. The deep cast includes Shia LaBeouf (as a callow reporter), Julie Christie, Susan Sarandon, Nick Nolte, and Richard Jenkins. (125 min., R) (Ty Burr)

½ The Croods Our notion of the modern Stone Age family gets tweaked in the latest bit of 3-D rock candy from DreamWorks Animation. It’s a prehistoric world that’s emotionally a lot like ours, with a cutely brutish cavegirl (Emma Stone) butting heads with her overprotective, monobrowed dad (Nicolas Cage). The movie entertainingly conveys what a struggle survival is at the dawn of man, but the finale misses its chance at something more resonant. (98 min., PG) (Tom Russo)

½ Disconnect Think of it as “Crash”.com — a multi-character drama warning audiences of the perils and alienations of the modern wired world. It’s provocative and solidly made, but director/co-writer Henry Alex Rubin (”Murderball”) opts for melodrama over drama and lets the message overwhelm the characters. The large cast includes Jason Bateman, Paula Patton, and Alexander Skarsgard. (115 min., R) (Ty Burr)

Evil Dead The thinking behind remaking Sam Raimi’s cult horror fave is to see what all those funky, low-budget chills play like when they’re reworked with a sleek, contemporary look and tone. The problem is that new director Fede Alvarez’s take, while proficient, can drain that old, kooky distinctiveness. You’ve got to get through an overlong stretch of demonic possessions played straight for a finale that’s more freewheelingly, twistedly grisly. (91 min., R) (Tom Russo)

½ From Up on Poppy Hill The new animated drama from Japan’s Studio Ghibli is a lesser project, not surprising since the legendary Hayao Miyazaki only co-wrote the script while his son Goro directed. It’s a gentle fable about a girl’s coming of age in 1962 Tokyo, perfectly fine but not a patch on “Spirited Away.” Sarah Bolger and Anton Yelchin lead the English-language voice cast. (91 min., PG) (Ty Burr)


½ G.I. Joe: Retaliation Falsely accused Dwayne Johnson and his fellow Joes have to clear their names and save the world from nefarious Cobra terrorists. This one’s pedigree doesn’t make us expect “Zero Dark Thirty-One,” but at least we can count on some 3-D fireworks. Or not, as director Jon M. Chu (“Step Up 3D”) makes dull work of all the pop combat. One of the few sparks, ironically, is the fun being had by a slumming Jonathan Pryce as the president’s evil-doppelganger replacement. (110 min., PG-13) (Tom Russo)

½ The Host Stephenie Meyer’s follow-up novel to her “Twilight” saga is a sci-fi romance with many of the same concerns; Saoirse Ronan plays a human girl whose mind is taken over by an alien (a nice alien), then they both fall in love with different cute guys. Andrew Niccol directs, surprisingly ably. Max Irons and William Hurt costar. (121 min., PG-13) (Ty Burr)

½ No A sly true-life drama about the 1988 vote that threw out Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet, focusing on an ad-man (Gael Garcia Bernal) who sold democracy like it was Coca-Cola. The movie has a cool intelligence that ripples up the years to where we live. A 2013 best foreign language Oscar nominee. In Spanish, with subtitles. (118 min., R) (Ty Burr)

Olympus Has Fallen Gerard Butler does “Die Hard” as a Secret Service agent left to single-handedly rescue the president (Aaron Eckhart) from North Korean terrorists who’ve taken the White House. But this is no Bruce Willis smirkfest. We’re halfway through before director Antoine Fuqua starts giving Butler the occasional dark quip, and by that time it’s an insufficient weapon. Pop jingoism isn’t easy to stir once you’ve established an echoes-of-9/11 vibe that’s so deflating. (119 min., R) (Tom Russo)

The Place Beyond the Pines Director Derek Cianfrance’s follow-up to 2010’s “Blue Valentine” is an ambitious triptych about men and sin and forgiveness, but it gradually caves in to over-plotting and pretensions. Ryan Gosling makes the first third into something very special and Bradley Cooper does what he can with the midsection. With Eva Mendes. (140 min., R) (Ty Burr)

½ Quartet From first-time director Dustin Hoffman, a sweet-tempered, rather fuddly drama about retired British opera singers, less slick than the vaguely similar “Best Exotic Marigold Hotel” and better for it. Maggie Smith gets to go glam as a famous soprano who has lost her gift; Tom Courtenay, Billy Connolly, and Pauline Collins provide support. A minor treat. (98 min., PG-13) (Ty Burr)

½ The Sapphires A formulaic but extra-likable Australian charmer about an Aborigine sister act singing soul music to US troops in 1968 Vietnam. Chris O’Dowd (“Bridesmaids”) is the marquee name (sort of), but Deborah Mailman is the movie’s star and life force as oldest sister Gail. The plot elements are familiar, but the film feels the funk. (103 min., PG-13) (Ty Burr)

½ Spring Breakers Director Harmony Korine comes of age with this mesmerizing vision of teenage apocalypse. Former TV innocents Vanessa Hudgens, Ashley Benson, and Selena Gomez play college girls who rob a diner and head to St. Pete, where they hook up with a sleazy gangbanger (James Franco). The film’s an outrageous provocation, shocking and exhilarating and tender in equal measure. (94 min., R) (Ty Burr)

To the Wonder The first Terrence Malick movie that’s a thoroughgoing misfire — a meditation on love and lost paradise that starts with breathtaking assurance and slowly crumbles into self-parody. Ben Affleck and Olga Kurylenko play lovers who flit back and forth from Europe to America, from rapture to disenchantment, and from interest to tedium. With Javier Bardem and Rachel McAdams. (112 min., R) (Ty Burr)

Trance Glittering nonsense. James McAvoy gets conked on the head during an auction-house robbery and wakes up with no memory of where he put the stolen painting, so the sadistic gang leader (Vincent Cassell) hires a professional hypnotherapist (Rosario Dawson). Over-directed by Danny Boyle, it’s what you might get if a post-doctoral student put a heist movie in a Cuisinart. (101 min., R) (Ty Burr)

½ Upstream Color In his second feature Shane Carruth outdoes the mind-boggling, exquisitely constructed puzzles of his first, “Primer.” This cryptic thriller involves subcutaneous worms, decaying pig-carcasses, cult-like behavior and extensive quotations from Thoreau. The effect is exhilarating and seductive, as it evokes a mood in which solutions to its mysteries seem imminent, but remain elusive. (96 min., unrated) (Peter Keough)

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