Film Capsules

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Darling CompanionWriter-director Lawrence Kasdan had a hand in two parts of Star Wars' holy trinity, Raiders of the Lost Ark, The Big Chill, and Body Heat, but this is his third horrific film in a row. Diane Keaton stars as a (what else?) shrill and manic menopausal housewife who can't stand her doctor husband (Kevin Kline). She and her daughter (Mad Men's Elisabeth Moss) find an abandoned dog by the freeway and name it (what else?) Freeway. On a walk one day, Freeway bolts into the mountains in pursuit of a deer. Relish this moment: It will be the only action that doesn't involve fly fishing, kidney stones, displaced shoulders, and bad cellphone service. Kasdan mistakenly thinks anyone besides your elderly grandparents would want to watch aging boomers look for a dog while treacly, surface-level observations about life are dispensed. (Justin Strout) Rated PG-13

The Avengers (PG-13) — There's a really good chance that the summer's most anticipated movie will also be one of its best. Part of that has to do with the all-star team assembled here: Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.), Captain America (Chris Evans), the Hulk (Mark Ruffalo), and Thor (Chris Hemsworth), all imported from their own (mostly) hit movies. But part of it also has to do with director, co-writer, and geek god Joss Whedon. Armed with a great story (Thor's evil brother Loki plans to wipe out the planet), a game cast, and total reverence for the source material, Whedon stages nearly every scene like it's a Big Moment. (Michael Gallucci)

The Cabin in the Woods (R) — If its geek pedigree isn't enough to tip you off that this isn't your typical slasher movie, it should become clear within the first few minutes that co-writers Drew Goddard (who also directs) and Joss Whedon have something else in mind for their pre-apocalyptic twist on The Evil Dead. The setup is familiar: Five college kids spend a weekend at an old summer house tucked deep in redneck country, doing everything you'd expect them to. They find a diary with an old Latin inscription in the creepy basement, and you know what happens next — or do you? (Gallucci)

Dark Shadows (PG-13) — Based on the 1970s soap opera about vampires — think Twilight, but with tortured adults instead of pouty teens — Tim Burton's campy update dresses up Johnny Depp with fangs, makes the whole thing a fish-out-of-water story, and turns out another movie with great set direction and a grade-A cast but not much of a story. Dark Shadows is mostly an excuse for Depp to try on another accent and more period clothing. (Gallucci)

The Pirates! Band of Misfits (PG) — The latest movie by Aardman — the British animation studio responsible for Wallace & Gromit and Chicken Run — is another stop-motion bit of whimsy that puts more effort into its finicky craft than its mediocre story. A group of 19th-century pirates support their inept captain (voiced by Hugh Grant), who calls himself the Pirate Captain and covets the Pirate of the Year Award, despite stiff competition from far more qualified buccaneers. Like in most Aardman productions, the jokes and sight gags come quick, but few last longer than the time they're onscreen. (Gallucci)

The Raid: Redemption (R) — Young police officer Rama is a badass, a good man, and husband to a pregnant wife. He and his fellow SWAT officers have been tasked with taking down malignant crime lord Tama, who has turned a rundown apartment tower into his fortress. Once the raid goes down and the building is alerted to the cops' presence, director Gareth Evans goes nuts. When two dudes beating the crap out of each other atop a table covered with cocaine residue is a grace note in your symphony of ass-kicking, you have arrived at a new level of over-the-top. (Lee Gardner)

The Raven (R) — There are moments in director James McTeigue's The Raven — his attempt to enlist Edgar Allan Poe as a detective in 19th-century Baltimore to help police solve a string of murders in which the crime scenes pay homage to Poe's stories — where the whole production comes undone. The movie takes advantage of the mysterious circumstances of Poe's final days by bizarrely cobbling together a narrative that places him right in the public's eye. The broke, alcoholic, and newly engaged Poe (John Cusack with zero regard for believability or style) offers almost no insight. (Strout)

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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