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Blancanieves (***1/2) Pablo Berger wrote and directed this odd yet captivating and charming black-and-white, mostly silent Spanish film based on the Snow White legend but transposed to 1920s Seville. Played extravagantly and to large effect, Maribel Verdu (Y Tu Mama Tambien) plays Encarna, a female bullfighter with the nickname Blancanieves (Snow-White). The beautiful photography creates an elegiac mood. With Daniel Cacho and Angela Molina. Rated PG-13, 104 minutes. At the Angelika Dallas. — Boo Allen

Despicable Me 2 Stealing the moon can be a tough act to follow. Despicable Me 2 finds reformed criminal mastermind Gru (voiced by the innately animated Steve Carell) more or less embracing his newly domesticated life after adopting Margo (Miranda Cosgrove), Edith (Dana Gaier) and little Agnes (Elsie Fisher), even swapping his more nefarious activities for a startup jelly-and-jam-making operation. But he soon finds himself in a stickier situation when he’s dispatched by the top-secret Anti-Villain League to track down the perpetrator of a fresh heist involving a ginormous electromagnet. Returning directors Pierre Coffin and Chris Renaud and the returning writing team of Ken Daurio and Cinco Paul again maintain the energy at a brisk, buoyant clip, while Carell and the rest of cast add an extra layer of dimension to those expressively drawn characters. Rated PG, 98 minutes. — The Hollywood Reporter

Just Like a Woman (**1/2) Contrivances and gross improbabilities mar this unexceptional melodrama from director Rachid Bouchareb about two young women who meet and bond in a Chicago belly-dance class. Marilyn (Sienna Miller) works at and then is fired from a dead-end job and has a worthless live-in husband. Mona (Golshifteh Farahani) takes abuse from her awful mother-in-law whose culture demands that she bear her son a child. Together, Mona and Marilyn hit the road, taking conveniently arranged belly-dancing jobs at various dives along the way to a dance competition in Santa Fe. Not much of self-realizing import comes from the formulaic journey. Rated R, 88 minutes. At the Angelika Dallas. — B.A.

The Lone Ranger (**) There’s a limit, it turns out, to how much Johnny Depp and a bucket of makeup can accomplish. In Gore Verbinski’s flamboyant reimagination of the hokey long-running radio show and ’50s cowboy TV series, Depp eagerly attempts to recreate the extravagant magic of his similarly farcical Jack Sparrow of Verbinski’s Pirates of the Caribbean. But The Lone Ranger, stretching hard to both reinvent an out-of-date brand and breathe new life in the Western with a desperate onslaught of bloated set pieces, is a poor locomotive for Depp’s eccentric theatrics. Flashback-heavy plot mechanics, occasionally grim violence and surrealistic comedy add up to a confused tone that seems uncertain exactly how to position Depp’s Tonto in the movie, to say nothing of Armie Hammer’s wayward Lone Ranger. Rated PG-13, 149 minutes. — The Associated Press

Kevin Hart: Let Me Explain A documentary following the stand-up comedian Kevin Hart on his 2012 tour. Directed by Leslie Small and Tim Story. Rated R, 75 minutes. — Los Angeles Times



The Heat (****) This familiar riff on the buddy-cop formula relies on the tart chemistry shared by Melissa McCarthy and Sandra Bullock. Bullock stars as a no-nonsense FBI special agent sent to track down and capture a brutal drug lord. It’s not long before she crosses paths with a rough-and-tumble Boston cop (McCarthy), and the inevitable personality clash ensues. Directed by Paul Feig (reuniting with McCarthy after Bridesmaids). — Fort Worth Star Telegram

Man of Steel (***) Director Zach Snyder (300) delivers a fresh interpretation on an old superhero, and the update proves worth it. This Superman (Henry Cavill) is a man searching for himself and his roots. But looking for him is General Zod (Michael Shannon), an old nemesis of his father (Russell Crowe) from Krypton. Snyder overloads the special effects in a succession of impressive action scenes that never seem to stop. Amy Adams plays Lois Lane. Rated PG-13, 143 minutes. — B.A.

Monsters University (***1/2) Pixar’s prequel to 2001’s Monsters, Inc. is neither a bold return to form nor another misfire following Brave and Cars 2, but a charming, colorful coming-of-age tale that would be a less qualified success for all but Pixar. But this is nevertheless pleasant, amiably animated family entertainment. Our expert “scarers”-to-be — the wisecracking pipsqueak Mike Wazowski (voiced by Billy Crystal) and the burly James B. Sullivan (John Goodman) — are college freshmen with high aspirations in Monster University’s prestigious Scare Program. Director Dan Scanlon, a veteran Pixar storyboard artist, populates the collegiate life with rich detail and sly but not forced references. Rated G, 103 minutes. — AP

Now You See Me (**1/2) The razzle dazzles but the smoke never quite hides the mirrors this super-slick new magicians’ heist picture. A quartet of street hustlers and rising stars who call themselves the Four Horsemen (Jesse Eisenberg, Isla Fisher, Woody Harrelson and Dave Franco) star in magic “events” where they catch the imagination of the world, and their super-rich promoter (Michael Caine). “Tonight,” they announce, “we’re going to rob a bank.” Mark Ruffalo is the comically hyper-ventilating FBI agent, and Morgan Freeman is the mysterious magic expert who may be helping the feds. Directed by Louis Leterrier (Clash of the Titans, The Transporter). Rated PG-13, 102 minutes. — McClatchy-Tribune

This Is the End (**1/2) A gaggle of mostly male stars appear in this scattershot yet ashamedly hilarious spoof. When Seth Rogen (who co-wrote), Jay Baruchel, Danny McBride, Craig Robinson, Jonah Hill and others attend a party at James Franco’s house, the Apocalypse arrives. Or maybe it’s the Rapture. Plenty of potty, sexist and homophobic humor to offend all. Rated R, 107 minutes. — B.A.

White House Down (**1/2) Staggeringly implausible, cartoonishly comical, Roland Emmerich’s White House Down is refreshingly dumb. There’s an inarguable, senseless pleasure in watching Jamie Foxx, as the president of the United States, kicking a terrorist and shouting: “Get your hands off my Jordans!” Hail to the chief, indeed. The film is at its most entertaining when it’s a simple, ludicrous buddy movie, with Foxx’s President James Sawyer and his rescuer, Channing Tatum’s wannabe Secret Service agent, fleeing across the White House grounds, dropping one-liners as they go, eluding a gang of assailants led by a bitter turncoat (James Woods) and his ferocious henchmen (including Jason Clarke). With Richard Jenkins and Maggie Gyllenhaal. Rated PG-13, 137 minutes. — AP

World War Z (***1/2) Might there be a real zombie apocalypse one day? The way zombies have invaded our pop culture the last several years, it’s maybe a bit less implausible than it once was. What is increasingly quite plausible, alas, is a global pandemic, and World War Z cleverly melds that real-life threat into the more fanciful zombie premise. Despite the much-discussed production delays and budget overruns, this movie, based on the 2006 novel by Max Brooks (son of Mel), is pretty much what you’d want in a summer blockbuster: scary but not-too-gross zombies, a journey to exotic locales, a few excellent action scenes, and did we mention Brad Pitt? As Gerry Lane, a former U.N. investigator called upon to save the planet, Pitt is a calm, intelligent presence amid the insanity. Rated PG-13, 116 minutes. — AP