Ice Age: Continental Drift The fourth movie in this decade-old series could have just settled into a prehistoric groove like its predecessor. But the striking visual effects and quirky humor of this animated CGI offering keep things moving. The plot is far from groundbreaking: Papa mammoth Manny (voiced by Ray Romano) battles a crazy monkey pirate while trying to reunite with his family. But it's Scrat, the saber-toothed squirrel staple of the Ice Age films, who once again delivers the biggest laughs. (The clever use of 3D lets his ever-sniffing snout rub up against audiences.) And Wanda Sykes, as a geriatric sloth, piles on cranky quips from her slobbering gums. A mediocre but mildly entertaining addition to the franchise. (PG) (Christina Sterbenz)
The Amazing Spider-Man (PG-13) — It's been only a decade since director Sam Raimi and star Tobey Maguire teamed up for one of the best superhero movies ever made, and only five years since they called it quits after the underwhelming third movie. So why are Marc Webb, who directed (500) Days of Summer, and Andrew Garfield, who was in The Social Network, scrapping everything and starting over? Good question, and one that you'll probably forget once The Amazing Spider-Man slips into gear. It doesn't have the same energy as the first two Raimi films, as Webb builds to the action, slowly stacking characters so that you have a pretty good idea what makes them tick by the time Peter puts on the Spidey suit for the first time. It certainly gives his Spider-Man more heart, but it's also less exciting in the action department. (Michael Gallucci)
Brave (PG) — Princess Merida (voiced by Kelly Macdonald) has a problem with authority, especially her nagging mom, who just wants her to settle down with a nice boy in their medieval Scottish village. But she's a super-strong heroine who can show the guys a thing or two about charting their own paths, even when another one has been laid out for you. Plus, she totally kicks ass with a bow and arrow. Pixar's latest 3D extravaganza is filled with the studio's usual knockout CGI and attention to detail, but the animation studio's genre-busting storytelling stalls a bit in its most Disneyesque movie. Brave is pretty much an old-fashioned fairy tale spiked with some modern girl-power themes and few surprises. But redheaded Merida is a great character, strong enough to carry the film, even if her story isn't exactly a new one. (Gallucci)
Savages (R) — In Savages, director and co-writer Oliver Stone shows us some of the ways in which a good idea turns bad. A Mexican drug cartel becomes interested in an extremely powerful brand of chronic distributed by a pair of California potheads. When they refuse to go into business with the mob, the head of the cartel (Salma Hayek) kidnaps the boys' shared girlfriend (Blake Lively), hoping to persuade them to change their minds. That's when things go bad. Savages as a whole isn't awful; it's the details that sink it. Plus, the movie takes forever to go anywhere and really only pops when a heartless thug played by Benicio Del Toro is onscreen. He's a welcome distraction from the poor writing and framing (Lively's character has rambling monologues that open and close the movie). Through it all, Savages tries hard to be something that it isn't. (Julia Eberle)
Ted (R) — Ted is just one bong hit removed from last year's Paul, the movie about a foul-mouthed, pot-smoking alien who makes life hell for a pair of hapless fanboys. This time it's a foul-mouthed, pot-smoking teddy bear who makes life hell for his lifelong pal John (played by Mark Wahlberg, who really isn't cut out for comedy). The first feature directed and co-written by Seth MacFarlane (who also voices Ted) has a lot in common with MacFarlane's TV show Family Guy, especially when it comes to stretching jokes to their breaking points. It's also often hilarious. Funny, offensive, stupid, and sentimental, Ted bears all of MacFarlane's hallmarks, complete with gay jokes, racist jokes, dick jokes, and fart jokes. You know what you're getting with this one. (Gallucci)
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