Film » Film Capsules

Film Capsules

For when you only need a summary


Super 8 (PG-13)

J.J. Abrams' nostalgic monster movie sticks close to producer Steven Spielberg's playbook: kids vs. skeptical adults, shady military personnel, a young protagonist raised by a single parent, and a deliberate build-up to the big reveal. In 1979, a group of kids from suburban Ohio are making a zombie movie when they witness a spectacular train accident. Soon, strange things are happening around town: missing dogs, stolen appliances, power outages, and a shadowy creature snatching up folks. Super 8 fondly recalls a time when Famous Monsters of Filmland still mattered to middle-school boys. These old-school shadings — as opposed to blood, guts, and severed limbs — are the movie's centerpiece. Super 8 promises more than it delivers, but Abrams gets in the spirit of the era with equal doses of heart, humor, and suspense. (Michael Gallucci)

Bridesmaids (R) — Though it tries too hard by piling on the vulgarity to prove it's not your grandma's chick flick, this Judd Apatow-produced comedy still has more laughs than The Hangover. Much credit goes to co-writer and star Kristen Wiig, who plays bride-to-be Maya Rudolph's aggrieved BFF and maid of honor. After being usurped by rich bitch Rose Byrne during pre-wedding festivities, Wiig's unlucky-in-love-and-just-about-everything-else Annie doesn't get mad — she gets even. (Milan Paurich)

The Hangover Part II (R) — Like in the first Hangover, the raunchier sequel starts with most of the damage already done. This time it's Stu (Ed Helms) who's getting married, and the "wolf pack" (Bradley Cooper, Zach Galifianakis, and Justin Bartha) heads to Thailand for the wedding. Then comes one crazy night in Bangkok that nobody can recall. This is pretty much the first movie with a new setting. (Gallucci)

Judy Moody and the Not Bummer Summer (PG) — Based on the children's book character, Judy Moody (Jordana Beatty) is a restless redheaded third-grader determined to have the best summer ever. But when her best friends go on vacation, she has to find new ways to keep busy. Enter Aunt Opal (Heather Graham), a self-described "guerrilla artist" who watches over Judy and her bratty brother Stink. Together, they set out to score "thrill points" in a game Judy makes up involving tightropes, roller coasters, and Bigfoot, who's reportedly running loose around town. It takes forever for a plot to develop, and when it finally does, it really doesn't go anywhere. Still, the colorful sets and occasional animated segments give it some life. So it's not a total bummer. (Jeff Niesel)

Kung Fu Panda 2 (PG) — There's not nearly as much quiet time here as there was in the first movie. Too bad, since the reflective scenes work way better than the ones with the evil peacock who plans to take over China. The movie avoids pop-culture references, guaranteeing a longer shelf life than the last Shrek. But there are plenty of boring scenes. (Gallucci)

Midnight in Paris (PG-13) — Woody Allen returns to the rain-soaked blue notes and nervous, bourgeois babble found in his best films. Owen Wilson plays Woody stand-in Gil, who's on a pre-wedding trip to Paris with his high-maintenance fiancée Inez (Rachel McAdams) and her parents. Gil falls in love with all the nostalgic charm of the city and, lost one night, ends up at a party with Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald, Ernest Hemingway, and Cole Porter. Soon he's fumbling his way into the artistic elite and falling for a flapper played by Marion Cotillard. Allen's reimagining of 1920s Paris is beautiful, laden with the soft light of warmth and age, and a love for things past. (Lydia Munnell)

The Tree of Life (PG-13) — Terrence Malick's flawed, pretentious, and totally mesmerizing movie tells the story of a God-fearing small-town family in the '50s and the three boys who come of age under oppressive and emotionally distant dad Brad Pitt. If you've ever wondered what audiences were thinking the first time they saw 2001: A Space Odyssey in 1968, this probably comes pretty close, with its open-ended splendor and wordless beauty. (Gallucci)

X-Men: First Class (PG-13) — The X-Men finally get their backstory in this terrific prequel/reboot. And it's just what the series needed: a smart, fun, and thrilling movie that gets to know the humans inside the mutants. James McAvoy and Michael Fassbender play Charles Xavier and Erik Lehnsherr before they become Professor X and Magneto. They battle arrogance, anger, their still-untested superpowers, and eventually each other. It all leads to First Class' best scenes, but the movie's soul is in its origin story — the start of something great. (Gallucci)

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