Film Capsules

The Adjustment Bureau (PG-13) — This muddled story about a popular politician (played by a coasting Matt Damon) whose fate is in the hands of some mysterious agency loses itself between worlds. There's a love story, with Emily Blunt as a dancer who stumbles into his life the night he loses a big election. Then there's the story of the shady committee of hat-wearing men who monitor all aspects of Damon's life. And they don't like it when it steers off course, thanks to the impulsive Blunt. So they spend the entire movie trying to keep them apart. The "people who make sure things go as planned" can read Damon's mind, stop time, and wipe out memories. But The Adjustment Bureau isn't a mind-fuck like Inception. And it certainly isn't as thrilling. (Michael Gallucci)

Battle: Los Angeles (PG-13) — Why are hostile aliens so attracted to Los Angeles? They blew the fuck out of California in last year's Skyline, and in Battle: Los Angeles we really don't even get a reason for their invasion. When the movie starts, the city is already in flames. We eventually get some background, but does it matter? Nope. Neither do stars Aaron Eckhart, Michelle Rodriguez, or R&B singer Ne-Yo as screaming soldiers. This is mostly about the slimy, armor-protected, weapon-wielding creatures. The military fighting them consists of an interchangeable group of grunts basically used for target practice. (Gallucci)

Beastly (PG-13) — A teen take on the Beauty and the Beast story.

Gnomeo and Juliet (G) — Shakespeare's classic told with garden gnomes, in 3D.

Kill the Irishman (R) — This biopic about Cleveland mobster Danny Greene starts with a bang: Greene is driving down the street when suddenly his car blows up. Get used to it. Dozens of other vehicles (plus their unfortunate occupants) explode here, including the one that killed Greene in 1977. Ray Stevenson plays the Irishman as a hard-ass, a womanizer, a rabble-rouser, a loyal friend — even a progressive. In some ways, Kill the Irishman wants to be a straight-up gangster pic. But in so many other ways, it's a standard biopic that happens to be about a gangster. (Gallucci)

Limitless (PG-13) — Director Neil Burger turns Alan Glynn's modern Faustian tale The Dark Fields into a techno-thriller about the folly of ambition. Bradley Cooper plays Eddie Morra, a slovenly and creatively blocked novelist who is dumped by his exasperated girlfriend. A chance meeting with his Mephistophelean ex-brother-in-law introduces Eddie to a mysterious designer smart drug that gives him superhuman learning abilities. He rapidly becomes a multimillionaire day trader whose prophecies are sought by a powerful oil baron (Robert De Niro). Personality transformed, Eddie flies high while descending into addiction and dodging dangerous fellow addicts. Smartly written first-person narration draws us into Eddie's story, and imaginative editing conveys the thrill ride of his astonishing mental adventures. (Pamela Zoslov)

The Lincoln Lawyer (R) — After a leisurely intro, The Lincoln Lawyer develops into a taut legal thriller starring Matthew McConaughey as Mick Haller, a quick-witted and fast-talking defense attorney with a chauffeur and a sexy Lincoln sedan. Mick is willing to take risks for money, and he's good at it. So when real-estate heir Louis Roulet (an intense Ryan Phillippe) is brought up on rape and attempted murder charges, Mick jumps at the case, which seems pretty cut-and-dry. But once Mick starts questioning Louis, he realizes things aren't as clear as they seem, and Mick finds himself in a predicament. (Ben Gifford)

Mars Needs Moms (PG) — Nine-year-old Milo (voiced by Seth Green) ends up with the adventure of a lifetime when he tries to rescue his mom (Joan Cusack) from a group of evil martians in this CGI movie directed by H.G. Wells' grandson. Milo hides on the spaceship that whisks away his mother and enlists the help of whiz-kid Gribble, who also once hitched a ride on a Mars-bound ship and ended up living there. The movie's message about family bonds is conventional, but the performance-capture animation is stunning. And there's enough going on to keep little ones from getting too restless. (Jeff Niesel)

Nora's Will

(NR) — A woman commits suicide, leaving her ex to deal with her funeral.

Paul (R) — Two British nerds (Shaun of the Dead's Simon Pegg and Nick Frost, who also wrote the script) traveling across the U.S. in a rented RV to check out UFO landmarks find a pot-smoking, foul-mouthed alien (voiced by Seth Rogen) on the run from mysterious men in black. This geekfest crams in tons of sci-fi references and quotes many classics. That's Pegg and Frost's contribution. Director Greg Mottola (Superbad) brings Apatowian gags about boobs, balls, and anal probes, as well as the movie's central bromance. Paul isn't as funny or original as the filmmakers' other movies, but there are still plenty of laughs. The story itself is standard stuff about a stranded alien who just wants to go home. Y'know, E.T. with dick jokes. (Gallucci)

Rango (PG) — Rango, a lost pet chameleon voiced by Johnny Depp, stumbles on a beat-up old western town whose residents (various birds, bugs, and rodents) are worried about their dwindling water supply, which is lorded over by an old mayor and protected by a group of mean critters. So he proclaims himself a hero gunfighter and becomes sheriff. The animated movie is loaded with references sure to sail over the heads of kids. But the animation looks great, focusing on details that are usually steamrolled over in CGI. (Gallucci)

Red Riding Hood (PG-13) — In 1984, Neil Jordan's The Company of Wolves explored the Freudian psychosexual themes of the Red Riding Hood fairy tale. In 2011, Catherine Hardwicke's Red Riding Hood explores that story's capacity for cheesy CGI effects, fake exteriors, bad acting, and oafish dialogue. Hardwicke's debut feature, Thirteen, showed promising talent, which she has since squandered on the Twilight series, from which this movie borrows its supernatural teen-angst theme — only this time, it's set in a medieval village plagued by a werewolf. Period authenticity be damned: Characters talk like modern high-schoolers; you half expect them to start texting. (Zoslov)

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