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“nerds” and “fan­boys” are re­spon­si­ble for the supremacy of the su­per­hero at the mul­ti­plex. Clearly, these thrilling yet com­fort­ing mod­ern myths of peril and res­cue and gods and cham­pi­ons ap­peal to all types of movie­go­ers, most of whom won’t lose sleep won­der­ing about the ar­guable im­ma­tu­rity of a cul­ture that dreams of sal­va­tion via guardian an­gels. Con­nolly), and so on — as they are ter­ror­ized by some tra­di­tional hor­ror-movie ghouls and some mys­te­ri­ous be­hind-the-scenes white guys in ties (Richard Jenk­ins and Bradley Whit­ford). The film is never very scary, and some fans may not cot­ton to its glee­ful over-the-top cel­e­bra­tion of genre his­tory; but I found it ex­hil­a­rat­ing, like one of those special-is­sue comic-book splash pan­els in which the artist tries to squeeze in as many su­per­heroes as pos­si­ble. And it’s as much a story of self­ish/re­sent­ful adult ex­ploita­tion of youth as “The Hunger Games.” re­sent­ful, psy­cho­log­i­cally dam­aged high-school loser as on an in­her­ently de­cent Peter Parker type. Pre­sented, for the most part, as home-video footage shot by the lead char­ac­ter (Dane De­haan), the movie is ut­terly grip­ping, although it flags a bit dur­ing its fi­nal act, which fa­vors (beau­ti­fully shot and edited) ac­tion spec­ta­cle over in­tense char­ac­ter in­ter­ac­tion. Con­tra­band (R, 110 min.) ★★✩★✩ ❚ Ex-smug­gler turned fam­ily man Mark Wahlberg is pulled back into crime to re­pay a debt owed by his loser brother-in-law in this ser­vice­able but un­re­mark­able re­make of the 2008 Ice­landic thriller, “Reyk­javík-rot­ter­dam.” With its dim light­ing and hand­held cam­er­a­work, the “re­al­is­tic” vis­ual ap­proach of direc­tor Bal­tasar Kor­mákur (an ac­tor in the ear­lier film) is ar­guably bo­gus, but it pays dividends as the nar­ra­tive be­comes in­creas­ingly grim. With Kate Beck­in­sale, cash­ing a pay­check as Wahlberg’s wife, and Gio­vanni Ribisi, chew­ing the scenery through a Cas­tro beard as a scuzzball drug dealer. Dark Shad­ows (PG-13, 113 min.) ★★★✩ Un­like An­gelique the witch (Eva Green), who proves to be as cold and hol­low as a porce­lain doll de­spite her ro­bust Bar­bie di­men­sions, the new film from direc­tor Tim Bur­ton has real heart, in ad­di­tion to the direc­tor’s trade­mark macabre wit and ob­ses­sive creepy/funny de­sign. Un­in­ter­ested in carv­ing a straight hor­ror-ro­mance from the “soaper­nat­u­ral” source ma­te­rial, Bur­ton has trans­formed “Dark Shad­ows,” the week­day Gothic soap opera that aired from 1966-71 on ABC-TV, into an af­fec­tion­ate spoof and an­other of his “ec­cen­tric out­sider” col­lab­o­ra­tions with Johnny Depp, who dons Nos­fer­atu nails and com­i­cally ghoul­ish grease­paint to por­tray Barn­abas Collins, the ro­man­tic vam­pire whose lovesick blood­lust pro­vided the tem­plate for “True Blood” and “Twi­light.” Re­leased af­ter 200 years in his cof­fin, Barn­abas emerges in 1972 (“Su­per­fly” func­tions briefly as his theme song) to re­store his fam­ily’s pride as well as his an­ces­tral Maine man­sion, Collinwood, oc­cu­pied by — among oth­ers — a frus­trated ma­tri­arch (Michelle Pfeiffer), an al­co­holic psy­chi­a­trist (He­lena Bon­ham Carter) and a surly teenager (Chloë Grace Moretz); the lat­ter dances lan­guidly to Dono­van’s “Sea­son of the Witch” dur­ing the movie’s won­der­ful first act, which has some­thing of the trippy vibe of “Per­for­mance” (1972) and other vin­tage films in which odd char­ac­ters in­habit dream­like rever­ies. Barn­abas de­scribes Collinwood as “the per­fect mar­riage of Euro­pean el­e­gance and Amer­i­can en­ter­prise,” and it’s easy to imagine that Bur­ton and Depp em­braced this line as a mis­sion state­ment: The film joins New World ir­rev­er­ence, fish-out-of-wa­ter com­edy and Hol­ly­wood state-of-the-art ef­fects to the Old World tradition of the vam­pire, as found in le­gend, lit­er­a­ture and the films of Bri­tain’s Ham­mer stu­dios. Un­for­tu­nately, the me­chan­ics of the plot are un­in­ter­est­ing (du­el­ing can­ner­ies, any­one?), and the “ac­tion-packed” fi­nale is te­dious. The script is cred­ited to Seth Gra­hame-smith, the nov­el­ist known for such mon­ster mashups as “Pride and Prej­u­dice and Zom­bies” and “Abra­ham Lin­coln, Vam­pire Hunter.” The Deep Blue Sea (R, 98 min.) ★★★✩ Adapted from a play by Ter­ence Rat­ti­gan, the sixth film in 25 years from direc­tor Ter­ence Davies, “master chron­i­cler of postwar Eng­land” (ac­cord­ing to the pub­li­cists at Mu­sic Box Films), ex­am­ines the con­se­quences of choos­ing sex­ual pas­sion and emo­tional tur­moil over “guarded en­thu­si­asm” and phys­i­cal and eco­nomic com­fort. Rachel Weisz stars as Hester (who shares a name as well as a sin with fic­tion’s most fa­mous adul­terer, Hester Prynne), who leaves her lov­ing and rich but dull gray­beard of a hus­band (Si­mon Rus­sell Beale) for a phys­i­cally in­tact but emo­tion­ally

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The Dic­ta­tor (R, 83 min.) Sacha Baron Cohen: com­i­cal despot. in­com­plete for­mer Royal Air Force pi­lot (Tom Hid­dle­ston) who longs for the dan­gers of the Bat­tle of Bri­tain, when he was dis­tracted by the “ex­cite­ment and fear” of com­bat, and not “tan­gled up in other peo­ple’s emo­tions.” Weisz of­fers a master class in the dis­ci­pline of act­ing: In one lengthy shot, the tears well in her eyes, slowly, almost im­per­cep­ti­bly; they glis­ten but never fall. Mean­while, Davies’ com­po­si­tions are lu­mi­nous and painterly, and their de­sign is not just stunning but cun­ning, as when a breath of cig­a­rette smoke comes to bril­liant, cu­mu­lous life when Weisz blows it into an oth­er­wise in­vis­i­ble but pur­pose­fully placed shaft of light. Segel and Emily Blunt, and the writ­ers are Segel and direc­tor Nicholas Stoller (“For­get­ting Sarah Mar­shall”), who pre­vi­ously col­lab­o­rated on “The Mup­pets.” Good Deeds (PG-13, 111 min.) Tyler Perry doffs the drag to por­tray Wes­ley Deeds, a com­pla­cent busi­ness­man jolted by his feel­ings for a work­ing-class sin­gle mother (Thandie New­ton). The Hunger Games (PG-13, 142 min.) ★★★✩ Like her young hero­ine, Kat­niss Everdeen, author Suzanne Collins is a sure shot: Her “Hunger Games” tril­ogy launched an ar­row deep into the puls­ing heart of a teenage au­di­ence ea­ger for its af­fir­ma­tion of youth em­pow­er­ment and its con­fir­ma­tion of adult con­spir­acy. Al­ready a box-of­fice sen­sa­tion, the movie — in­spired as much by re­al­ity tele­vi­sion as by dystopian sci­ence fic­tion — may not be as pow­er­ful as the novel, but it treats its tar­get au­di­ence and source ma­te­rial with re­spect. Sturdy Jen­nifer Lawrence is Kat­niss, a res­i­dent of the Ap­palachian-like District 12 who vol­un­teers to par­tic­i­pate in the an­nual Hunger Games, a com­pe­ti­tion or­ga­nized by the deca­dent one-per­centers who rule fu­tur­is­tic Panem (as in “panem et circenses,” Latin for “bread and cir­cuses”); the con­test re­quires a boy and girl, ages 12 to 18, from each of the na­tion’s 12 dis­tricts to take part in a tele­vised fight to the death. Jour­ney 2: The Mys­te­ri­ous Is­land (PG, 94 min.) ★★★✩✩ ❚ Dwayne “The Rock” John­son. Lock­out (PG-13, 95 min.) “Es­cape from New York” in or­bit, as con­vict Guy Pearce in­fil­trates a high-tech outer-space pri­son to res­cue the pres­i­dent’s daugh­ter. The Lucky One (PG-13, 101 min.) A Nicholas Sparks adap­ta­tion of a Nicholas Sparks novel asks: Can a Marine (Zac Efron) find love work­ing at a ken­nel run by a young North Carolina woman (Tay­lor Schilling)? Does a bear do his busi­ness in the woods? as high­way­men who rob the rich on tele­scopic stilts that hide their non­threat­en­ing height. The Pi­rates! Band of Mis­fits (PG, 88 min.) ★★★✩ Adapted from a book se­ries by Gideon De­foe, the lat­est stop-mo­tion fea­ture from Aard­man An­i­ma­tions (the pro­duc­ers of “Wal­lace & Gromit”) is typ­i­cally droll and charm­ing, and will prob­a­bly ap­peal more to fans of Monty Python and “The Hitch­hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy” than to young kids, who won’t un­der­stand the Charles Dar­win ref­er­ences or ap­pre­ci­ate the dense com­po­si­tions, as filled with gags as a page in a clas­sic-era Mad mag­a­zine. Hugh Grand lends his voice to the in­com­pe­tent yet some­how lov­able lead char­ac­ter iden­ti­fied only as “the Pi­rate Cap­tain,” who’s on a quest to win the “Pi­rate of the Year” award from such fa­vorites as Cut­lass Liz (Salma Hayek) and Black Bel­lamy (Jeremy Piven); the fi­nale pits the Cap­tain against Queen Vic­to­ria (Imelda Staunton). Di­rected by Peter Lord and Jeff Ne­witt. The Raven (R, 111 min.) ★★✩✩ John Cu­sack is mis­cast as an ap­par­ently well-fed Edgar Al­lan Poe, re­cruited by the Bal­ti­more po­lice for his “un­whole­some ex­per­tise” when a killer be­gins re-cre­at­ing mur­der scenes from the author’s hor­ror sto­ries. The con­cept (which nods to 1935’s “The Raven,” with Bela Lu­gosi) holds grue­some prom­ise, but this highly fic­tion­al­ized (duh) ver­sion of the last few days of Poe’s life in 1849 is di­rected (by James Mcteigue, of “V for Vendetta”) with no mys­tery or imagination, and with so much dig­i­tal “cor­rec­tion” that even the sim­plest scenes look phony. It’s tempt­ing but point­less to won­der what Dario Ar­gento or Brian De Palma might have done in their primes with this im­plau­si­ble, lurid who­dunit. Safe (R, 95 min.) A cage fighter (Ja­son Statham) be­comes the pro­tec­tor of a ge­nius lit­tle girl. The Se­cret World of Ar­ri­etty (G, 95 min.) ★★★✩★ ❚ The lat­est exquisitely hand-drawn an­i­mated film from Ja­pan’s Stu­dio Ghi­bli (“Spirited Away”) is an­other won­der, as heart­break­ing for its de­vo­tion to craft, artistry and in­tel­li­gent sto­ry­telling (for view­ers of all ages) as for its themes of in­evitable ex­ile and im­pos­si­ble love. Based on Mary Nor­ton’s clas­sic 1952 chil­dren’s novel, “The Bor­row­ers,” the film de­picts the strug­gles of a fam­ily of minia­ture peo­ple who live un­der the floor­boards of a “nor­mal”-sized hu­man house; when an ado­les­cent girl Bor­rower, Ar­ri­ety (voiced by Bridgit Mendler in this English-lan­guage ver­sion), strikes up a wary friend­ship with a hu­man teenage boy (David Hen­rie), their re­la­tion­ship threat­ens the Bor­row­ers’ ex­is­tence. Think Like a Man (PG-13, 122 min.) In­spired by Steve Har­vey with Taraji P. Henson, Kevin Hart and Gabrielle Union. A Thou­sand Words (PG-13, 91 min.) Ed­die Mur­phy. The Three Stooges (PG, 92 min.) ★★✩✩ Knuck­le­head im­per­son­ators Sean Hayes (Larry), Will Sasso (Curly) and Chris Dia­man­topou­los (Moe) are im­pres­sive, but this episodic, years-in-de­vel­op­ment, sup­posed la­bor of love from the Far­relly Broth­ers is a blandly shot dis­ap­point­ment that sen­ti­men­tal­izes the trio for kids (at one point, the Stooges are re­ferred to as “BFF’S for­ever”) but lacks the know­ing ref­er­ences that might have amused diehard adult fans. Un­like Moe’s slaps and eye pokes, the at­tempts to up­date the slap­stick miss as of­ten as they hit: Sparks fly hu­mor­ously when Moe scrapes a buzzing chain­saw rather than the tra­di­tional hand­saw across Curly’s scalp, but there’s more yuck than nyuk-nyuk-nyuk in a nurs­ery scene in which the Stooges use urine-spray­ing in­fants as hu­man wa­ter pis­tols. A sub­plot that lands Moe on “Jer­sey Shore” will date faster than the Tojo ref­er­ences in “The Yoke’s on Me” (1944), and the use of Talk­ing Heads and All­man Broth­ers mu­sic to score sev­eral bits of Stoogery is dis­tract­ing and in­ex­pli­ca­ble.

Ti­tanic 3D

(PG-13, 197 min.) 21 Jump Street (R, 110 min.) ★★★✩✩ ❚ Jonah Hill, Chan­ning Ta­tum. Un­de­feated (PG-13, 115 min.) ★★★★✩ ❚ A fly-on-the-wall chron­i­cle of almost a year in the life of the play­off-bound Manas­sas High School football team, this year’s Os­car-win­ner for Best Doc­u­men­tary Fea­ture finds the warmth, vul­ner­a­bil­ity and, yes, love that is some­times hard for out­siders to see be­neath the rough, prickly and dam­aged ex­te­rior of the im­pov­er­ished North Mem­phis neigh­bor­hood where much of the ac­tion takes place. The Vow (PG-13, 104 min.) ★★★✩✩ ❚ Cut yet hug­gable meat­head Leo (Chan­ning Ta­tum, im­plau­si­bly cast as an in­die record­ing stu­dio owner and Sun Records afi­cionado) must win back the “once in a life­time love” of his James Pat­ter­son fan-turned-bo­hemian sculp­tor wife, Paige (dewy Rachel Mcadams), af­ter she emerges from a car-crash coma with no rec­ol­lec­tion of the cou­ple’s life to­gether in direc­tor Michael Sucsy’s ab­surd al­beit fact-in­spired ro­mance. Beau­ti­fully lensed by Ro­gier Stof­fers, the film is almost awe-in­spir­ing in its de­ter­mi­na­tion to en­sure that ev­ery el­e­ment in each at­trac­tively com­posed frame has some sort of sig­nif­i­cance or in­for­ma­tional value (Look, this cool guy is wear­ing a funny top hat with a pur­ple tie to Leo and Paige’s wed­ding! So they must be cool, too!), and in its un­abashed em­brace of a love so all-en­com­pass­ing that Paige even trea­sures Leo’s flat­u­lence (se­ri­ously — she rolls up the car win­dow so the smell won’t es­cape). Laugh­able yet ef­fec­tive, the film is lifted by the nov­elty of its lead char­ac­ter’s de­cency: The solid Ta­tum plays a gen­uinely hon­or­able man. Wrath of the Ti­tans (PG-13, 99 min.) ★★✩✩ Sam Wor­thin­gon.

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