Reviews to help you choose for Oct. 11, 2012

Capsule reviews of films now playing in area theaters:RATINGS: * * * * : Excellent; * * * : Good; * * : Fair; * : Poor

October 10, 2012 

THE BOURNE LEGACY * * *  Jeremy Renner stars in the momentum-driven “Bourne” spinoff, a thriller that dispenses with the hero’s amnesia issues and that is less about star power than the power of an epically staged action sequence. (Lots of them!) With Rachel Weisz as a brilliant biochemist, and Edward Norton barking orders back at HQ. Smart, relentless, suspenseful, fun. 2 hrs. 05 PG-13 (profanity, violence, intense action, adult themes)

END OF WATCH * * *  1 / 2 Jake Gyllenhaal and Michael Pena are best friends and patrol car partners, cruising the meaner streets of South Central L.A. in David (“Training Day”) Ayer’s visceral and violent cop thriller. 1 hr. 49 R (violence, profanity, adult themes)

THE EXPENDABLES 2* * Sly, Jason, Arnold, and the rest of the big galoots are back for more action against really bad guys. 1 hr. 42 R (vulgar language, heavy violence, gore)

FRANKENWEENIE (Rating not available) Tim Burton returns to his roots with this 3D, black-and-white feature-length adaptation of a famed short he made early in his career, about a boy who manages to bring his beloved pet dog back from the dead, with a few unexpected consequences.

HOPE SPRINGS * *  1 / 2 Meryl Streep and Tommy Lee Jones as a long-wed couple in David Frankel’s self-help seriocomedy about marriage. The question is not, can this marriage be saved, but how. I cringed, I cried, I cracked up. 1 hr. 39 PG-13 (sexual candor)

HOTEL TRANSYLVANIA * * * Count Dracula opens a high-end hostelry for the monster crowd, safe from human intrusion, until a bratty backpacker finds his way to the inn, and makes eyes at the vampire’s teenaged (as in 118 years old) daughter. Horror and hilarity ensue in this merrily madcap computer-animated monster mash-up. 1 hr. 31 PG (mild scares, cartoon mayhem)

LAWLESS * * *  Based on the true story of the Bondurant brothers, who made moonshine, money and their own mythology in Prohibition-era Virginia. A beautifully crafted, grand yet intimate bootlegging saga, with Tom Hardy, Shia LaBeouf, Guy Pearce and Jessica Chastain. 1 hr. 50 R (violence, profanity, sex, adult themes)

LOOPER * * *  1 / 2 A slambang blast of a time-travel thriller, starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Bruce Willis as a guy named Joe — yes, they’re the same guy, separated by 30 years in the dystopian future, and brought together when Young Joe, a hit man, gets a job to kill Old Joe. Emily Blunt also stars, as the mother of a kid with weird and very significant powers. 1 hr. 58 R (violence, nudity, sex, profanity, drugs, adult themes)

PITCH PERFECT * *  1 / 2 Imagine the Sharks and the Jets as rival a cappella groups armed not with switchblades but musical mashups. That’s the gist of this “Glee”-inflected romp starring Anna Kendrick and Skylar Astin and stolen by Rebel Wilson. 1 hr. 52 PG-13 (sexual candor, indiscreet hand gestures, drug references)

THE POSSESSION * *  A young girl comes into possession of an antique box that contains an evil spirit. Not one of Danish director Ole Bornedal’s (“Deliver Us from Evil) better efforts. 1 hr. 32 PG-13 (mature themes, terror, violence, muliple moth swarms)

TAKEN 2 (Rating not available) Last time, they took Liam Neeson’s daughter hostage. This time, they’ve kidnapped Neeson himself. Are these bad guys trying to get themselves killed or what?

TROUBLE WITH THE CURVE * *  1 / 2 This daddy/daughter screwball comedy about an old-school baseball scout (Clint Eastwood) and his estranged child (Amy Adams) has its charms and some dark edges. Justin Timberlake’s sassy presence wafts through like fresh-cut grass amid the Astroturf. 1 hr. 51 PG-13 (profanity, sexual references, mature themes)

2016: OBAMA’S AMERICA * *  Dinesh D’Souza’s slickly-packaged political documentary asks the question ”If Obama wins a second term, where will we be in 2016?“ and then posits some disturbing, if dubious, answers. PG (adult themes)

WON’T BACK DOWN * *  1 / 2 Maggie Gyllenhaal stars as a struggling single mom who organizes a parent takeover of the failing school where her daughter goes, and where Viola Davis — a once great teacher who has lost her passion and purpose — works. The two team up, and the Pittsburgh school system (and teachers union) will never be the same again. ”Inspired by actual events.“ 2 hrs. 01 PG (adult themes)

THE WORDS * * *  Bradley Cooper is a struggling writer who need struggle no more after delivering a remarkable manuscript to his publisher. A story within a story within a story, a series of life-altering coincidences, the kind of sweeping melodrama that belongs on Turner Classic Movies — this should all be creaking and squeaking, laughable. But amazingly it works, and resonates with real emotion. Zoe Saldana, Jeremy Irons, Dennis Quaid, and Olivia Wilde round out the very fine cast. 1 hr. 36 PG-13 (adult themes)

Compiled by MCT

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