March 16, 2010

Go See a Movie

— OPENING FRIDAY

''Brideshead Revisited''

(PG-13) (120 min.) Starring Matthew Goode, Ben Whishaw, Hayley Atwell, Emma Thompson, Michael Gambon. Directed by Julian Jarrold. ''Brideshead Revisited'' is an unimpeachable yet ultimately unmoving adaptation of Evelyn Waugh's classic novel about social ambition, religious conflict and doomed love. There's nothing wrong with it: The cast is fine, the production values solid. Everything is meticulously appointed in the traditional high style of a Merchant-Ivory period piece. As in ''Becoming Jane,'' Jarrold's Jane Austen tale from last year, it's all beautiful -- but bland. The whole endeavor just rings a bit hollow, especially condensed to two hours, compared to the epic 11-episode miniseries from 1981.

Opening Friday at: Nickelodeon (Portland)

''Swing Vote''

(PG-13) (1:50) Starring Kevin Costner, Madeline Carroll, Dennis Hopper, Kelsey Grammer. Directed by Joshua Michael Stern. ''Swing Vote'' is guilty of being the same thing that political candidates accuse each other of being: a flip-flopper. The story of a presidential election that hinges on the vote of one guy does have its moments of hilarity. It works best when the two contenders are one-upping each other, contradicting themselves and their parties in saying whatever it takes to win over this one average Joe. Mixed signals make the Republican proclaim his support for gay marriage; meanwhile, the Democrat finds himself opposing abortion in a truly twisted TV ad. But by the end, it turns painfully serious -- and takes itself too seriously -- with heavy-handed preaching to drive home some obvious points.

Opening Friday at: Nickelodeon (Portland), Cinemagic Grand (South Portland), Saco 12, Westbrook 16, Brunswick 10, Falmouth 10

''The Wackness''

(R) (1:41) Starring Ben Kingsley, Josh Peck, Jane Adams, Olivia Thirlby, Famke Janssen, Talia Balsam, David Wohl, Mary-Kate Olsen. Written and Directed by Jonathan Levine. Luke is a shy, young Upper East Side New Yorker, without many friends. In the summer of 1994, he is making pocket money selling marijuana from an ice cream cart. A regular client is Dr. Squires, Luke's psychiatrist, who trades therapy for grass. The doctor's advice for his patient to overcome his shyness is to find a girl and get laid. But it happens that Luke's secret crush is Squires' own step-daughter, the socially secure Stephanie. Winner of this year's Audience Awards at Sundance and Los Angeles.

Opening Friday at: The Movies on Exchange (Portland)

''When Did You Last See Your Father''

(PG-13 (92 min.) Starring: Jim Broadbent, Colin Firth and Juliet Stevenson. Directed by Anand Tucker. A writer tries to bury the hatchet with his terminally ill dad in this powerful drama. Past and present are skillfully entwined as the son visits his dad for what he knows is the final time and tries to come to terms with their history.

Opening Friday at: Evening Star Cinema (Brunswick). Playing at The Movies on Exchange through tonight.

NOW SHOWING

''The Dark Night''

(PG-13) (2:32) Christian Bale, Heath Ledger, Aaron Eckhart, Maggie Gyllenhaal. Ledger gives a shocking, indelible performance as Batman's arch-nemesis the Joker. This may be the most hopeless, despairing comic book movie in memory. Co-writer and director Christopher Nolan creates a world where being a superhero is at best a double-edged sword and no triumph is likely to be anything but short-lived.

Showing at: Cinemagic Grand (South Portland), Nickelodeon (Portland), Westbrook 16, Saco 12, Falmouth 10, Brunswick 10

''Get Smart''

(PG-13) (1:51) Stars Steve Carell and Anne Hathaway. Directed by Peter Segal. Secret Agent 86 attempts to outwit the evil criminal mastermind Siegfried and KAOS in this revisiting of the 1960s TV sitcom. Some rude humor, action violence and language.

Showing at: Falmouth 10, Westbrook 16

''Hancock''

(PG-13) (1:32) Stars Will Smith, Charlize Theron and Jason Bateman. Directed by Peter Berg. A conflicted superhero with a bad attitude leaves nothing but destruction in his wake, and the citizens of Los Angeles have had enough. Will he find redemption? Some intense sequences of sci-fi action and violence, and language.

Showing at: Falmouth 10, Brunswick 10, Saco 12, Westbrook 16

''Hellboy II: The Golden Army''

(PG-13) (2:10) Starring Ron Perlman, Selma Blair, Doug Jones and Jeffrey Tambor. Directed by Guillermo del Toro. Hellboy and his buddies battle supernatural forces as members of the Bureau for Paranormal Research and Defense. There's a daylight-challenged Prince (Luke Goss) and Princess (Anna Walton) at the center of a plot to use an ancient army to take over the world. This movie is full of imaginative creations that will be missed if you blink.

Showing at: Saco 12, Westbrook 16

''Journey to the Center of the Earth''

(PG) (1:29) Starring Brendan Fraser, Josh Hutcherson and Anita Briem. Directed by Eric Brevig. ''Journey to the Center of the Earth'' is cinematic sci-fi proof that the Earth's core is made of cheese. Mercifully, it's old-fashioned family-friendly B-movie cheese, served up in this Brendan Fraser/Jules Verne action epic for kids.

Seek out this ''Journey'' in a theater showing it in 3-D. You'll want the T-Rex, with his snapping teeth, the bio-luminescent birds, the gigantic Venus flytraps and that mouthwash Fraser spits down his sink all right in your face. Or lap. This is 3-D the way it used to be -- playful, used for effect, but not really a technology that can lift a middling movie much beyond tolerable.

Showing at: Brunswick 10, Falmouth 10, Saco 12, Westbrook 16

''Kit Kittredge:

An American Girl''

(G) (1:38) Stars Abigail Breslin, Julia Ormond, Stanley Tucci, Wallace Shawn and Joan Cusack. Directed by Patricia Rozema. Drama based on the American Girl doll franchise, centering on Kit Kittredge, a young woman who grows up in the early years of the Great Depression.

Showing at: Westbrook 16

''Mamma Mia!''

(PG-13) (1:48) Stars Meryl Streep, Pierce Brosnan, Amanda Seyfried, Julie Walters, Colin Firth, Christine Baranski. Directed by Phyllida Lloyd. The ABBA songbook provides the lyrics and melodies for this comic romance about a former girl group singer, her about-to-be-married daughter and the three men who might be the girl's father.

Showing at: Cinemagic Grand (South Portland), Saco 12, Westbrook 16, Brunswick 10, Falmouth 10, Nickelodeon (Portland)

''Space Chimps''

(G) (1:21) Voices of Andy Samberg, Stanley Tucci, Patrick Warburton, Cheryl Hines, Kristin Chenowith, Jeff Daniels. Directed by Kirk De Micco. Animated. Ham III, the grandson of the first chimp astronaut, is blasted off into space by an opportunity-seeking senator. Soon, the fun-loving chimp has to get serious about the mission at hand: Rid a far-away planet of their nefarious leader. Fortunately for Ham III, two of his simian peers are along for the ride.

Showing at: Saco 12, Westbrook 16, Brunswick 10

''Step Brothers''

(R) (1:52) Starring Will Ferrell, John C. Reilly, Mary Steenburgen. Directed by Adam McKay. Chronic slackers' mother and father marry, creating an unwieldy family unit. They initially hate each other but find out that they are not too different. The movie is about growing up and still being a kid.

Showing at: Falmouth 10, Brunswick 10, Cinemagic Grand (South Portland), Saco 12, Westbrook 16

''WALL-E''

(G) (1:32) Starring Fred Willard, with the voices of Ben Burtt, Jeff Garlin, Sigourney Weaver and John Ratzenberger. Directed by Andrew Stanton. Daring and traditional, groundbreaking and familiar, apocalyptic and sentimental, this often wordless story of robots in love gains strength from embodying contradictions that would destroy other films. ''Wall-E'' is the latest computer-animated Pixar film to manage what's become next to impossible for anyone else: appealing to the broadest possible audience without insulting anyone's intelligence.

Showing at: Brunswick 10, Cinemagic Grand (South Portland), Falmouth 10, Saco 12, Westbrook 16

''The X-Files: I Want to Believe''

(PG-13) (1:50) Starring David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson. Directed by Chris Carter. Mulder and the Scully are back in the duo's second big-screen adventure. Whatever creator Carter wanted to say in ''The X-Files: I Want to Believe'' about science, faith and morality, all he delivers is a police procedural, a movie that benefits from -- but doesn't make very good use of -- the history and the chemistry between its stars. Scully has returned to medicine. But an FBI agent has gone missing and the bureau needs help. There's a priest who seems to have psychic clues. Scully must deliver the reclusive, bearded Mulder to his old employers, his tormentors. Mulder can win the psychic's confidence. But he can't get involved in a snowy missing person's case without getting in over his head.

Showing at: Falmouth 10, Brunswick 10, Nickelodeon (Portland), Cinemagic Grand (South Portland), Saco 12, Westbrook 16.

-- From staff and wire reports

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