Movies

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THEATERS

 

Cinemark Denton 2825 Wind River Lane off I-35E. 940-535-2654. www.cinemark.com .

Movie Tavern 916 W. University Drive. 940-566-FILM (3456). www.movietavern.com .

Rave Cinemas 8380 S. I-35E, Hickory Creek. 940-321-2788. www.ravemotionpictures.com .

Silver Cinemas Inside Golden Triangle Mall, 2201 S. I-35E. 940-387-1957. www.silvercinemasinc.com .

 

OPENING TODAY

 

Beautiful Creatures (**1/2) Writer-director Richard LaGravenese's film, based on the first novel in the young adult series by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl, oozes Southern Gothic eccentricity and some amusing if inconsistent touches of camp. But a strong cast of likable and, yes, beautiful actors can only do so much with the formula in which they're forced to work. Alden Ehrenreich plays a restless teen in small-town South Carolina who’s smitten by a mysterious new girl (Alice Englert). Turns out she's a witch — and she's probably doomed — but could true love with a mortal save her? Emma Thompson, Emmy Rossum and Viola Davis co-star. Rated PG-13, 123 minutes. — The Associated Press

Safe Haven Newly arrived in a small town in North Carolina, a guarded young woman begins opening up to a widowed store owner and father of two, but soon her dark past begins to catch up with her. Based on the book by Nicholas Sparks. With Josh Duhamel, Julianne Hough and David Lyons. Directed by Lasse Hallstrom. Rated PG-13, 115 minutes. — Los Angeles Times

 

OPENING FRIDAY

 

Escape From Planet Earth In this animated film, a nerdy blue alien endeavors to rescue his brother, a famous astronaut, from the notoriously dangerous planet Earth. With the voices of Brendan Fraser, Sarah Jessica Parker, Jessica Alba and George Lopez. Rated PG, 89 minutes. — LAT

 

NOW PLAYING

 

Argo (***1/2) Ben Affleck directed and takes the lead role in this true story of a CIA operative who goes to Iran in 1980 posing as the producer of a bogus science-fiction film in order to extract six Americans hiding in the home of the Canadian ambassador. Abundant dark humor smoothly combines with frightening sequences and ample action. With an excellent supporting cast, including John Goodman, Alan Arkin, Clea DuVall and Tate Donovan. Rated R, 120 minutes. — Boo Allen

Bullet to the Head Sylvester Stallone and director Walter Hill (48 Hrs., The Warriors) join forces for a hard-hitting exercise in beefy, brainless fun with this assassin-cop buddy movie set in New Orleans. Jimmy Bobo (Stallone), a tired and tattooed hit man, vows revenge when his partner (Jon Seda) gets sliced up. He teams with an out-of-town detective (Taylor Kwon) who’s been sent to investigate the murder of his former partner. Rated R, 91 minutes. — The Hollywood Reporter

Django Unchained (**1/2) In Quentin Tarantino’s new tale of wickedly savage retribution, a black man (Jamie Foxx) gets to rewrite Deep South history by becoming a bounty hunter on a killing spree of white slave owners and overseers just before the Civil War. It’s Tarantino at his most puerile and least inventive, with the premise offering little more than cold, nasty revenge and barrels of squishing, squirting blood. Performances by Foxx, Leonardo DiCaprio, Christoph Waltz and Samuel L. Jackson make the film intermittently entertaining. Rated R, 165 minutes. — AP

Gangster Squad (**) This pulpy, violent tale of cops and mobsters in 1949 Los Angeles rides an uncomfortable line between outlandishness and outright parody, and it’s difficult to tell which is director Ruben Fleischer’s intention. While the film wallows in period detail and has some sporadic moments of amusing banter, it’s mostly flashy, empty and cacophonous, and it woefully wastes a strong cast led by Josh Brolin, Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone in barely developed, one-note roles. With a cartoony Sean Penn as mob king Mickey Cohen and Brolin as a police sergeant tasked with putting together a secret team to take down Cohen’s empire. Rated R, 113 minutes. — AP

Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters The fairy-tale siblings (Jeremy Renner and Gemma Arterton) are all grown-up and bagging crones for a living. Rated R, 88 minutes. — AP

Identity Thief (**) Identity Thief strands ordinarily enjoyable comics Melissa McCarthy and Jason Bateman in the middle of nowhere with no help for miles. It’s not just that director Seth Gordon (Horrible Bosses) and screenwriter Craig Mazin (Hangover Part II) confuse meanness for hilarity. More fundamentally, the premise is just flawed. Bateman’s mild-mannered accounts processor, Sandy Patterson, discovers that a con artist (McCarthy) has stolen his identity and racked up thousands of dollars in charges. Sandy schleps to Florida to track down the perpetrator and drag her back to Denver to face charges. Rated R, 107 minutes. — AP

The Impossible Naomi Watts and Ewan McGregor star in director J.A. Bayona’s film about a family caught in the 2004 tsunami that devastated Southeast Asia. Rated PG-13, 107 minutes.

Mama Jessica Chastain plays a woman caring for two traumatized sisters who may be haunted by an evil force. Rated PG-13, 100 minutes. — AP

Side Effects (****) — If this is indeed Steven Soderbergh’s final film, as he’s said it will be after toying with the notion of retirement for a couple of years now, then intriguingly it feels like he’s coming full circle in some ways to the film that put him on the map: the trailblazing, 1989 indie Sex, Lies and Videotape. Both movies are about danger, secrets and manipulation, filled with characters who aren’t what they initially seem, all of which Soderbergh depicts with his typically cool detachment. Rooney Mara is chilling as a troubled Manhattan woman who starts taking a new drug at the urging of her psychiatrist (Jude Law). Bad things happen. Channing Tatum and Catherine Zeta-Jones co-star. Rated R, 106 minutes. — AP

Silver Linings Playbook (**) Writer-director David O. Russell takes Matthew Quick’s novel about a man (Bradley Cooper) with bipolar disorder who returns from a mental facility to live with his doting mother (Jacki Weaver) and his Philadelphia Eagles-obsessed father (Robert DeNiro). Add another unstable, seemingly unsuited love interest (Jennifer Lawrence) and the results are abrasive histrionics, much yelling and consistent inconsistency. Rated R, 122 minutes. — B.A.

Warm Bodies The latest permutation of the zombie screen phenomenon places heart over horror and romantic teen angst over sharp social commentary. The story’s dystopian versions of Romeo and Juliet are Nicholas Hoult’s R — he can’t remember his full name — and Teresa Palmer’s Julie, whose meet-cute involves a shoot-’em-up that ends badly for her boyfriend (Dave Franco). Writer-director Jonathan Levine (The Wackness, 50/50) works from Isaac Marion’s young-adult novel. For those open to the idea of a gently goofy mash-up, the film is strong on atmosphere and offers likably low-key, if somewhat bland, charms. Rated PG-13, 97 minutes. — HR

Wreck-It Ralph Disney’s new animated film mixes retro eye-candy for grown-ups and a thrilling, approachable storyline for the tykes. Short-tempered, sledgehammer-fisted bad guy Ralph (voiced by John C. Reilly) journeys to Game Central Station, the gateway to every game in an arcade, to prove he can be a hero. Director Rich Moore (The Simpsons) ably manipulates the action by tantalizingly shifting the characters between game worlds. With Jack McBrayer, Jane Lynch and Sarah Silverman. Rated PG, 93 minutes. — HR

Zero Dark Thirty (***) Kathryn Bigelow (The Hurt Locker) directed this movie concerned with the years-long process behind finding and then executing Osama bin Laden. Jessica Chastain stars as the dedicated CIA agent who doggedly continued on a long and tedious journey to piece together the clues that will lead to the film’s final, well-executed assassination sequence. With an excellent supporting cast. Rated R, 157 minutes. — B.A.


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