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OPENING FRIDAY

Savages (***1/2) Oliver Stone’s latest is a lurid, pulpy film noir with a sexy, sometimes dreamlike California beach vibe. Taylor Kitsch and Aaron Johnson co-star as best friends and business partners Chon and Ben, who got rich quick growing a particularly strong strain of pot. Everything’s going great until the leader of a Mexican cartel (Salma Hayek) tries to expand her territory by taking over their business. Much brutal bloodshed ensues. With Blake Lively, John Travolta, Benicio Del Toro and Emile Hirsch. Based on the novel by Don Winslow. Rated R, 129 minutes. — The Associated Press

To Rome With Love (***) The now peripatetic writer-director Woody Allen travels to Rome for this enjoyable but lightweight farce that weaves together several story lines. He includes a young American woman (Alison Pill) engaged to an Italian man over the objections of her parents (Allen and Judy Davis). An architect (Jesse Eisenberg) lives with his girlfriend (Greta Gerwig) but is tempted by her visiting friend (Ellen Page) while an otherworldly spirit (Alec Baldwin) counsels him on love. Beautifully photographed and also starring Roberto Benigni and Penelope Cruz. Rated R, 102 minutes. — Boo Allen

 

NOW PLAYING

Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter After watching a vampire dispatch his mother, Abe Lincoln grows up and commits to ridding the New World of the fanged vermin who are fighting for control of the colonies. Much butt-kicking, biting and blood spattering ensues. Benjamin Walker (Kinsey) plays the put-upon president who has to sling an ax against vampires while trying to preserve the Union. Mary Elizabeth Winstead (Scott Pilgrim vs. the World) is Mary Todd, and Rufus Sewell finally lands a role that can fully employ his creep factor. Rated R, 120 minutes. — Lucinda Breeding

The Amazing Spider-Man A briefcase containing clues sets the young Peter Parker (Andrew Garfield) on the trail of his parents — or at least the answers about their disappearance. Peter also grapples with the trials of romance. His high school crush, Gwen Stacy (Emma Stone), seems receptive to Peter’s affections — but Peter’s secret identity piques the dogged interest of Gwen’s law enforcement pop. Marc Webb directs this feast for the eyes. Buildings collapse, a bridge and all the cars on it are swept up in a fire, and Spider-Man bobs and weaves his way through the metropolis on the sticky filigrees of his magic webs. Rated PG-13, 90 minutes. — L.B.

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. — L.B.

Madagascar 3: Europe’s Most Wanted (**) Halfway into the third animated tale about New York City zoo animals on their overseas adventures, Alex the lion (voiced by Ben Stiller) tells some new circus friends that their act was not too entertaining for families “because you were just going through the motions out there.” So, too, for Madagascar 3, which goes through a lot of motions. The result: A cute story about zoo animals running off to join the circus becomes overwhelmed by a blur of color and animated acrobatics. Rated PG, 92 minutes. — AP

Madea’s Witness Protection After being set up as the fall guy for a mob-backed Ponzi scheme, a mild-mannered investment banker enters the federal witness protection program with his family and heads to the South. With Eugene Levy, Doris Roberts, Tom Arnold and Tyler Perry. Written and directed by Perry. Rated PG-13, 114 minutes. — Los Angeles Times

Magic Mike (***1/2) Steven Soderbergh (Contagion, Ocean’s 11) makes movies about sexy subjects, then strips away the sexiness about them. Now he’s directed Magic Mike, about the cheesy world of male stripping in the cheesy setting of Tampa, Fla. It all seems glamorous and thrilling at first, though, for Alex Pettyfer’s character, Adam, who serves as our guide once the more established Mike (Channing Tatum) recruits him to be a dancer at the Club Xquisite male revue. With Matthew McConaughey and Joe Manganiello. Rated R, 110 minutes. — AP

Men in Black 3 (***) Josh Brolin impersonating the young Tommy Lee Jones is worth the price of admission to Men in Black 3. Dry, drawling, deadpan — he nails the flinty Texan in this sentimental sequel to the sci-fi comedies about secret agents in black suits who save the world from aliens. An alien serial killer (Jemaine Clement) has traveled back in time to save the arm that Agent K shot off in 1969, and Agent J (Will Smith) must go back and save his future partner. That leaves an awful lot of this movie in Smith’s usually capable hands. But if director Barry Sonnenfeld has lost his fastball, Smith has lost a step or two running the bases. Rated PG-13, 105 minutes. — McClatchy-Tribune News Service

Moonrise Kingdom (**) In the latest piece of whimsy from director Wes Anderson, two children become lost on an isolated island in 1965. The scout master (Edward Norton) and sheriff (Bruce Willis) join parents (Francis McDormand and Bill Murray) in the search. Children talk like adults, and adults talk in arch passages. Overly contrived characters and situations wear thin. Rated PG-13, 94 minutes. — B.A.

People Like Us (***) Sam (Chris Pine) discovers he has a half-sister Frankie (Elizabeth Banks) only after his father dies, with his will requesting that Sam deliver some money to her. Instead of quickly fulfilling the task, Sam gets to know Frankie and her son. Rambling and often unfocused narrative is mostly overcome by abundant humor and likable characters. Rated R, 101 minutes. — B.A.

Prometheus (****) Director Ridley Scott delivers a suspenseful prequel to his 1979 classic Alien. The similar plot sees a spaceship venturing into outer space only to find trouble. Scott combines technical improvements with good storytelling while also adding several jolts of terror. With Noomi Rapace, Charlize Theron and Michael Fassbender. Rated R, 124 minutes. — B.A.

Ted (***1/2) A teddy bear who smokes pot, parties with hookers, beds pop stars and spews profanity in a New England accent as thick as chowdah? Such a creature could only come from the blissfully twisted mind of Family Guy creator Seth MacFarlane. Mark Wahlberg stars as John, whose wish as a lonely kid in the ’80s turned his teddy bear into a walking, talking friend for life. Decades later, John and Ted are still best buddies; despite the adolescent attachment, John has managed to carve out a relationship with the beautiful and exceedingly patient Lori (Mila Kunis). But by this point, something’s gotta give. Rated R, 105 minutes. — AP


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