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Branded In a dystopian future ruled by mega-corporations, a man tries to unravel a global mind-control conspiracy based on subliminal advertising. With Ed Stoppard, Leelee Sobieski and Jeffrey Tambor. Written and directed by Jamie Bradshaw and Alexander Doulerain. Rated R, 106 minutes. — Los AnÅgeles Times

Chicken with Plums (**1/2) Oscar-nominated animator Marjane Satrapi (Persepolis) co-directed and co-wrote, with Vincent Paronnaud, this often mawkish yet treacly slice of French-language magical realism. In 1958 Tehran, a violinist (Mathieu Amalric) becomes so frustrated with his life and with his wife that he decides he will lie down and then die in eight days, but not before an animated sequence and a visit from the angel of death. This fragmented film never quite coalesces. Rated PG-13, 93 minutes. At the Angelika Dallas. — Boo Allen

The Cold Light of Day While on a sailing vacation in Spain, a man has his world turned upside down when his family is kidnapped by intelligence agents searching for a mysterious briefcase. With Henry Cavill, Sigourney Weaver, Veronica Echegui and Bruce Willis. Directed by Mabrouk El Mechri. Rated PG-13, 93 minutes. — LAT




The Avengers (***) Superheroes from Marvel Comics unite to face an otherworldly foe (Tom Hiddleston) in this assembling of franchise warriors: Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.), Thor (Chris Hemsworth), the Hulk (Mark Ruffalo), Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner), Captain America (Chris Evans) and the Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson). Joss Whedon wrote and directed, delivering a satisfying, if exhausting, rendition of good versus evil. Rated PG-13, 142 minutes. — B.A.

The Bourne Legacy (***) This fourth film in the Bourne franchise may seem heady and intentionally disorienting and hard to follow at first — until you realize it’s really about drug addiction. That may help as you compare it with the first three films in the series that starred Matt Damon. Jeremy Renner stars as Aaron Cross, who finds he’s the target of a legitimate threat when the supersecret government spy program he’s a part of hastily gets shut down. With Rachel Weisz. Rated PG-13, 135 minutes. — The Associated Press

Brave Disney and Pixar teamed up to create the Little Princess Who Wouldn’t — wouldn’t consider marriage her destiny, that is. Meet Princess Merida (voiced by Kelly Macdonald), an expert archer known for her defiance and her explosion of screaming red curls. Neither pleases her father, King Fergus (voiced by the incomparable Billy Connolly), or her mum, Queen Elinor (Emma Thompson). While the queen is looking to land a good young man for her daughter, Merida is looking for a spell that will change her destiny. Rated PG, 93 minutes. — Lucinda Breeding

The Campaign When a long-running congressman commits a public gaffe ahead of an election, two wealthy CEOs arrange for a puppet candidate to challenge him. With Will Ferrell, Zach Galifianakis, Jason Sudeikis and Katherine LaNasa. Directed by Jay Roach. Rated R, 85 minutes. — LAT

Celeste and Jesse Forever (***) Sporadically funny but ultimately slight romantic comedy built on the single premise of a married couple (Andy Samberg and co-writer Rashida Jones) who work better apart than together. Once apart, their relationship becomes close enough to annoy friends and family. But inevitably, feelings for other people begin to complicate matters. Lee Toland Krieger directs, letting his likable actors carry the load. Rated R, 91 minutes. — B.A.

The Dark Knight Rises (**1/2) Director Christopher Nolan directs the last of his three Batman films with Christian Bale again playing the dark knight. A villain (Tom Hardy) steals a nuclear weapon and threatens to blow up Gotham, while several other plot points play out in this overwritten opus. Anne Hathaway, as an undesignated Catwoman, and Marion Cottillard appear as eye-candy femme fatales. A mediocre movie, not bad — just not as good as earlier versions. Rated PG-13, 164 minutes. — B.A.

The Expendables 2 After a seemingly routine mission goes awry, a band of mercenaries seek revenge against an adversary and stumble onto a global threat. With Sylvester Stallone, Jason Statham, Jet Li and Dolph Lundgren. Directed by Simon West. Rated R, 103 minutes. — LAT

Hope Springs (****) The first produced script from television writer and producer Vanessa Taylor (Alias, Game of Thrones) explores the complicated dynamics that develop over a long-term relationship with great honesty and little judgment. Kay (Meryl Streep) and Arnold (Tommy Lee Jones) live a sexless life in a comfortable Nebraska suburb. When Kay finally decides she’s sick of their complacent routine, she insists Arnold join her for a week of intensive couples therapy with a renowned psychologist (Steve Carell). Rated PG-13, 99 minutes. — AP

Lawless (***) If you can accept the notion that Tom Hardy, Shia LaBeouf and Jason Clarke could be brothers, you might be able to immerse yourself in the artfully pulpy allure of Lawless. Director John Hillcoat’s ultra-violent drama plays like a hot, sweaty, delusional fever dream and is similarly fitful. Based on The Wettest County in the World, Matt Bondurant’s fictional tale of his grandfather and his brothers, moonshine masters who kept the Virginia hills good ’n’ liquored up during Prohibition. They find their tidy little operation threatened when a corrupt Chicago lawman (Guy Pearce) swoops in to shut them down. Rated — AP

The Odd Life of Timothy Green (**1/2) Adapting a short story by Ahmet Zappa (son of Frank), writer-director Peter Hedges (Pieces of April) tries for old-fashioned wholesomeness only to flounder amid a well-intended but sappy tale of a childless couple mystically granted a test run at parenthood. Hedges assembled an impressive cast, led by Jennifer Garner and Joel Edgerton as parents to a mystery boy (CJ Adams) who comes into their lives, and the actors buy into the story’s conceits wholeheartedly. But a movie’s in trouble when the characters are just as unbelievable as the premise. Rated PG, 104 minutes. — AP

ParaNorman (**1/2) No one wants to tell 60 puppet makers that their months of toil were ill spent. But the frequently wondrous and whimsical visuals far surpass the disappointingly slipshod story of an 11-year-old boy named Norman (voiced by Kodi Smit-McPhee) who can see and speak to the dead. His uncle (John Goodman) bequeaths to him the duty of pacifying a witch that has haunted their town for 300 years. After failing in the ritual, Norman and an improvised gang flee from zombies, and the running around town takes up much of the film. Rated PG, 92 minutes. — AP

The Possession The divorced parents of a 10-year-old girl are troubled by her increasingly erratic behavior, which seems to be linked to an antique wooden box she purchased at a yard sale. With Jeffrey Dean Morgan and Kyra Sedgwick. Directed by Ole Bornedal. Rated PG-13, 91 minutes. — LAT

Premium Rush (***1/2) Joseph Gordon-Levitt stars as a Manhattan bike messenger given the job of delivering an envelope through the city’s crowded streets during rush hour, all while being chased by a rogue cop (Michael Shannon) and several other parties. Director and co-writer David Koepp delivers a non-stop thriller, long on action and visuals but also with an involving plot. Rated PG-13, 91 minutes. — B.A.

2016: Obama’s America This documentary, directed by conservative author Dinesh D’Souza, looks at influences in President Barack Obama’s past and what the United States might be like in four years if he is re-elected. Rated PG, 89 minutes. — The Dallas Morning News