Film Capsules

In theaters this week

The Forgiveness of Blood (NR) — Welcome to modern-day Albania, where a man still delivers fresh bread by horse-drawn cart every day but uses his cell phone to text his customers to let them know he's coming, and where a murder brings the police — but also brings a blood feud between families. And the response is codified in Albanian traditional law, which calls for deadly retaliation. Sixteen-year-old Nik is coming of age in this land of contemporary tech and old grudges. Director Joshua Marston proves adept at opening a window into a little-known world of real-life trouble and making it feel true. (Lee Gardner)

Friends With Kids (R) — Jason (Adam Scott) and platonic BFF Julie (Jennifer Westfeldt) skip the whole marriage and commitment thing and decide to have a baby. Of course, this being a romantic comedy, you know it isn't going to be as easy as that. But Friends With Kids also offers some clear-eyed intrigue derived from the effects of their friends' stress — the kind of stress that comes from being married with children — and from Jason and Julie's attempt to ultimately not wind up like them. Still, the movie can't escape its formulaic essence, despite several valiant attempts. (Gardner)

The Hunger Games (PG-13) — The Hunger Games falls somewhere between the last couple of terrific Harry Potter movies and all of the terrible Twilights. The first story in Suzanne Collins' saga doubles as the series' setup: In a post-apocalyptic America, the government mandates that two kids from each of 12 districts fight to the death in a televised showdown. Jennifer Lawrence plays Katniss Everdeen, a resourceful coal miner's daughter who takes her younger sister's place in the brutal battle. But first there's training, backstories, and personal issues to get out of the way. By the time the movie brings on the games, you're ready for blood. The Hunger Games drags a bit in the second half, but there's more life here than in any of those bloodless vampire movies. (Michael Gallucci)

John Carter (PG-13) — With characters and a story based on a 95-year-old Edgar Rice Burroughs novel and inspiration borrowed from Star Wars, Gladiator, and Avatar, among others, John Carter is a big, loud, and overlong sci-fi epic that aims for genre mythos but settles for super-caffeinated 3D spectacle. The title character (played by Friday Night Lights' Taylor Kitsch) is a 19th-century cavalry captain who, thanks to a celestial medallion, ends up on Mars, where he gets caught up in a war between towering, four-armed CGI aliens and a race of people who look like they raided Flash Gordon's wardrobe. John Carter is a visual delight. But it's ultimately an empty experience. (Gallucci)

The Lorax (G) — Dr. Seuss traditionalists might have a few problems with this new adaptation — not least of which its romantic subplot — but there's plenty to like in this tale of the Once-ler (Ed Helms), an enterprising dude who markets a multi-purpose yet purpose-free product made from the leaves of a special tree. Soon, the Once-ler's greed drives him to cut down every tree in sight with his mass-production machines. The Lorax (Danny DeVito), the little furry guardian of the forest, is none too pleased. Not a bad way to learn how to protect the environment and distrust corporations. (Vince Grzegorek)

Superthief: Inside America's Biggest Bank Score (NR) — In 1972, a group of guys from Cleveland and Youngstown blew a hole in the roof of a California bank and emptied safe-deposit boxes worth $30 million. The man in charge of the crew, Phil Christopher, was nicknamed "Superthief" by The Plain Dealer. In this new documentary, the guy who directed Danny Greene: The Rise and Fall of the Irishman looks back on the biggest heist in U.S. history. He tells Christopher's story with archival footage, newspaper clips, and interviews with people like former Cleveland Police chief Ed Kovacic, who points out that if they ever build a hall of fame for burglars, Christopher should be part of the inaugural induction class. (Gallucci)

Thin Ice (R) — When insurance salesman Mickey Prohaska (Greg Kinnear) schemes to bilk a dotty old man (Alan Arkin) to cover his own bad investments — and his schemes go badly awry in every way possible, including entangling him in a capital crime with a weedy loose-cannon ex-con (Billy Crudup) — the resemblance to Fargo is impossible to ignore. But Thin Ice isn't just a cynical knockoff; the story unfolds like a flow chart of every possible noir-plot disaster and twist in the book. But there's no Marge Gunderson to root for and a lot fewer laughs. (Gardner)

Salmon Fishing in the Yemen (PG-13) — Alfred Jones (Ewan McGregor) is Britain's leading fisheries expert and is working on finding a suitably shocking cover for a fishing journal when his boss gives him an impossible task: bring wild salmon from British waters to the deserts of the Middle East. It's essentially a PR move to improve British-Arab relations after a bloody war incident. So Alfred begins working with a sheikh's representative, Harriet (Emily Blunt), but you know where the relationship is heading long before they do. The actors do their best to bring this sweet but predictable love story to life, but ultimately this movie about restoring faith doesn't give you much to believe in. (Laura Dattaro)

21 Jump Street (R) — Based on the late-'80s TV show that launched Johnny Depp's career, this reload centers around newbie cops Jonah Hill and Channing Tatum, police academy pals assigned to go undercover to find out who's supplying kids with a synthetic drug. The movie clicks not so much because of its two leads, but thanks to its great supporting talent, including Ice Cube and Rob Riggle. The finale unravels on prom night, picking up speed after a cameo that almost justifies the price of admission. (Kyle Swenson)

We Need to Talk About Kevin (R) — It's every parent's worst nightmare and something Eva Khatchadourian (Tilda Swinton) knows from the start: There's something wrong with her son. And early on we know it too, because a teenage Kevin went on a shooting spree at his school, killing several classmates. Eva is trying to pick up the pieces of her shattered life from the outset, distancing herself from the tragedy of her past and barely disguising how fragile she's become. Swinton doesn't say much — she doesn't have to. Her tear-stained eyes and anguished face carry all her emotions. In a career filled with terrific, subtle performances, this is one of her best. (Gallucci)

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