Silver Screen: The Score Card, October 9, 2014 Edition

Silver Screen: The Score Card, October 9, 2014 Edition
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Silver Screen: Confidence Man: The Hugh DeNeal Story Is Stranger than Fiction
Silver Screen: 127 Hours ****
Silver Screen: 21 Jump Street ***
Silver Screen: A Good Day to Die Hard *
Silver Screen: A Million Ways to Die in the West *1/2
Silver Screen: A Most Wanted Man ***1/2
Silver Screen: A Very Harold and Kumar 3D Christmas ***
Silver Screen: A Walk Among the Tombstones ***
Silver Screen: About Last Night ***1/2
Silver Screen: Admission ***1/2
Silver Screen: After Earth *
Silver Screen: All Is Lost ****
Silver Screen: American Hustle ****1/2
Silver Screen: American Reunion **1/2
Silver Screen: Argo **1/2
Silver Screen: As Above, so Below ***1/2
Silver Screen: August: Osage County ****
Silver Screen: Bad Teacher ***
Silver Screen: Bad Words **
Silver Screen: Battle: Los Angeles **
Silver Screen: Battleship *
Silver Screen: Beautiful Creatures *1/2
Silver Screen: Before Midnight ****1/2
Silver Screen: Begin Again ***1/2
Silver Screen: Bernie ****
Silver Screen: Black Swan ****
Silver Screen: Blended **1/2
Silver Screen: Blue Jasmine ****1/2
Silver Screen: Blue Valentine ****
Silver Screen: Boyhood ****1/2
Silver Screen: Brave ***
Silver Screen: Breaking Dawn Part I *1/2
Silver Screen: Brick Mansions **
Silver Screen: Bridesmaids ****
Silver Screen: Broken City ***
Silver Screen: Bully **
Silver Screen: Captain America **
Silver Screen: Captain America: The Winter Soldier ***1/2
Silver Screen: Captain Phillips ****
Silver Screen: Carrie **
Silver Screen: Cars II *1/2
Silver Screen: Case Thirty-nine *
Silver Screen: Cedar Rapids ****
Silver Screen: Charlie Saint Cloud **
Silver Screen: Chef ****
Silver Screen: Chernobyl Diaries *
Silver Screen: Chronicle ****
Silver Screen: Cloud Atlas ***
Silver Screen: Contagion ****1/2
Silver Screen: Contraband *
Silver Screen: Cowboys & Aliens ***
Silver Screen: Crazy, Stupid, Love **
Silver Screen: Dallas Buyers Club ****
Silver Screen: Dark Shadows *1/2
Silver Screen: Dark Skies **1/2
Silver Screen: David Wong’s John Dies at the End: A Local Author Sees His Novel Hit the Big Screen
Silver Screen: Dawn of the Planet of the Apes ****1/2
Silver Screen: Dead Man Down 1/2*
Silver Screen: Deliver Us from Evil *
Silver Screen: Delivery Man ***
Silver Screen: Despicable Me **1/2
Silver Screen: Despicable Me II ***1/2
Silver Screen: Devil ***
Silver Screen: Dinner for Schmucks *1/2
Silver Screen: Director Rusty Nails Presents... Dead On: The Life and Cinema of George A. Romero
Silver Screen: Divergent *1/2
Silver Screen: Django Unchained ****1/2
Silver Screen: Don Jon *
Silver Screen: Don't Be Afraid of the Dark **
Silver Screen: Draft Day *
Silver Screen: Dream House *1/2
Silver Screen: Dredd 3D *1/2
Silver Screen: Drive ****1/2
Silver Screen: Drive Angry 3D **1/2
Silver Screen: Due Date ***1/2
Silver Screen: Easy A ***1/2
Silver Screen: Eat Pray Love ***
Silver Screen: Edge of Tomorrow ****
Silver Screen: Elysium **
Silver Screen: End of Watch ****
Silver Screen: Ender’s Game ***
Silver Screen: Escape Plan ***
Silver Screen: Evil Dead ***
Silver Screen: Fast and Furious VI **
Silver Screen: Fast Five **1/2
Silver Screen: Faster **1/2
Silver Screen: Fifty/Fifty ****
Silver Screen: Final Destination V **
Silver Screen: Flight ****
Silver Screen: Forty-two ***1/2
Silver Screen: Frances Ha ****1/2
Silver Screen: Friends with Benefits **
Silver Screen: Fright Night ***
Silver Screen: Fruitvale Station ****
Silver Screen: G.I. Joe: Retaliation *
Silver Screen: Gangster Squad *1/2
Silver Screen: Get Him to the Greek ***
Silver Screen: Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance 1/2*
Silver Screen: Godzilla **1/2
Silver Screen: Going the Distance ***
Silver Screen: Gone **1/2
Silver Screen: Gone Girl ****1/2
Silver Screen: Gravity ****1/2
Silver Screen: Gravity ****1/2
Silver Screen: Green Lantern *1/2
Silver Screen: Grown Ups *
Silver Screen: Grown Ups II zero stars
Silver Screen: Guardians of the Galaxy ***1/2
Silver Screen: Hall Pass *1/2
Silver Screen: Hanna ****
Silver Screen: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part II ****
Silver Screen: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part I ***
Silver Screen: Haywire ***1/2
Silver Screen: Her ***1/2
Silver Screen: Hereafter *
Silver Screen: Hit and Run ***
Silver Screen: Homefront *1/2
Silver Screen: Hope Springs ***1/2
Silver Screen: Horrible Bosses **1/2
Silver Screen: House at the End of the Street *
Silver Screen: How Do You Know ***
Silver Screen: How to Train Your Dragon II ***
Silver Screen: I Am Number Four *
Silver Screen: Identity Thief ***
Silver Screen: In Time **1/2
Silver Screen: Inception ****1/2
Silver Screen: Inside Llewyn Davis *****
Silver Screen: Insidious ***1/2
Silver Screen: Insidious: Chapter Two ***
Silver Screen: Iron Man III **1/2
Silver Screen: J. Edgar **
Silver Screen: Jack and Jill 1/2*
Silver Screen: Jack Reacher ***
Silver Screen: Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit ***
Silver Screen: Jackass 3D **1/2
Silver Screen: Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa *1/2
Silver Screen: Jeff, Who Lives at Home ***1/2
Silver Screen: Jersey Boys **1/2
Silver Screen: Jobs **
Silver Screen: Jonah Hex *
Silver Screen: Josh Hyde’s Postcards and Love Letters
Silver Screen: Just Go with It *
Silver Screen: Kick-Ass II zero stars
Silver Screen: Killer Elite **
Silver Screen: Killer Elite **
Silver Screen: Killing Them Softly **1/2
Silver Screen: Knight and Day *1/2
Silver Screen: Kung Fu Panda II ***
Silver Screen: Larry Crowne *1/2
Silver Screen: Lawless ****
Silver Screen: Let Me In ***
Silver Screen: Let’s Be Cops ***1/2
Silver Screen: Life as We Know It *1/2
Silver Screen: Life of Pi **1/2
Silver Screen: Limitless ***
Silver Screen: Lincoln ****
Silver Screen: Lockout **
Silver Screen: Lone Survivor ***
Silver Screen: Looper ****
Silver Screen: Love and Other Drugs *1/2
Silver Screen: Lucy ***
Silver Screen: Machete **
Silver Screen: Machete Kills **1/2
Silver Screen: Magic in the Moonlight **
Silver Screen: Mama **1/2
Silver Screen: Man of Steel *
Silver Screen: Megamind ***1/2
Silver Screen: Men in Black III *1/2
Silver Screen: Midnight in Paris ****
Silver Screen: Million Dollar Arm **1/2
Silver Screen: Mission: Impossible: Ghost Protocol ****
Silver Screen: Moneyball ***1/2
Silver Screen: Monsters University ***
Silver Screen: Moonrise Kingdom ****1/2
Silver Screen: Movie Forty-three zero stars
Silver Screen: My Soul to Take 3D 1/2*
Silver Screen: Nebraska ****1/2
Silver Screen: Need for Speed *
Silver Screen: Neighbors ***1/2
Silver Screen: New Year’s Eve *
Silver Screen: No Good Deed *
Silver Screen: No Strings Attached ***
Silver Screen: Noah 1/2*
Silver Screen: Non-Stop ***1/2
Silver Screen: Now You See Me 1/2*
Silver Screen: Oblivion ***1/2
Silver Screen: Oculus ***1/2
Silver Screen: Olympus Has Fallen zero stars
Silver Screen: One Day **
Silver Screen: Our Idiot Brother ***
Silver Screen: Out of the Furnace *
Silver Screen: Oz the Great and Powerful **
Silver Screen: Pacific Rim ****
Silver Screen: Pain and Gain ***
Silver Screen: Paranormal Activity II ***1/2
Silver Screen: Paranormal Activity III ***1/2
Silver Screen: Paranormal Activity IV *
Silver Screen: ParaNorman ***1/2
Silver Screen: Parker ***1/2
Silver Screen: Paul ***1/2
Silver Screen: Piranha 3D ***1/2
Silver Screen: Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides *1/2
Silver Screen: Playing for Keeps 1/2*
Silver Screen: Predators ***
Silver Screen: Premium Rush ***
Silver Screen: Priest 1/2*
Silver Screen: Prisoners ****
Silver Screen: Project X 1/2*
Silver Screen: Prometheus ***1/2
Silver Screen: Real Steel *
Silver Screen: Red ***
Silver Screen: Red Dawn *
Silver Screen: Red Tails **
Silver Screen: Resident Evil: Retribution *
Silver Screen: Riddick ***
Silver Screen: Ride Along **1/2
Silver Screen: Ride Along **1/2
Silver Screen: Rise of the Planet of the Apes ****
Silver Screen: RoboCop ***
Silver Screen: Runner Runner *1/2
Silver Screen: Rush ****
Silver Screen: Sabotage **
Silver Screen: Safe ***
Silver Screen: Safe Haven *1/2
Silver Screen: Safe House ***
Silver Screen: Salt ***
Silver Screen: Savages ***1/2
Silver Screen: Saw VII 3D Zero Stars
Silver Screen: Scott Pilgrim versus the World ***1/2
Silver Screen: Scream IV *
Silver Screen: Seeking a Friend for the End of the World **1/2
Silver Screen: Seven Psychopaths ***1/2
Silver Screen: Sex and the City II 1/2*
Silver Screen: Sex Tape *
Silver Screen: Shaft and Coffy: Novotny Lawrence Discusses the Blaxploitation Movement
Silver Screen: Shark Night 3D 1/2* -- Apollo 18 **
Silver Screen: Side Effects ****1/2
Silver Screen: Silent House **1/2
Silver Screen: Silver Linings Playbook ***1/2
Silver Screen: Sin City: A Dame to Kill For 1/2*
Silver Screen: Sinister ***1/2
Silver Screen: Skyfall ****
Silver Screen: Skyline *
Silver Screen: Snitch ***
Silver Screen: Snow White and the Huntsman **1/2
Silver Screen: Soldiers Speak Out: Carbondale Oscar Winner Barb Trent’s Latest Film
Silver Screen: Something Borrowed *
Silver Screen: Source Code ****1/2
Silver Screen: Splice ****
Silver Screen: Star Trek into Darkness ****
Silver Screen: Straw Dogs *1/2
Silver Screen: Straw Dogs *1/2
Silver Screen: Super Eight ****
Silver Screen: Taken II **
Silver Screen: Takers *1/2
Silver Screen: Tammy **1/2
Silver Screen: Ted ***1/2
Silver Screen: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles *
Silver Screen: That Awkward Moment 1/2*
Silver Screen: That's My Boy *
Silver Screen: The A-Team **1/2
Silver Screen: The Academy Honors... The Boys and Girls Club of Carbondale
Silver Screen: The Adjustment Bureau *1/2
Silver Screen: The Amazing Spider-Man **1/2
Silver Screen: The Amazing Spider-Man II ***1/2
Silver Screen: The American ****
Silver Screen: The Artist ****
Silver Screen: The Audubon Trilogy: Fugitive Narratives and the Drama of the Natural World
Silver Screen: The Avengers ****
Silver Screen: The Big Muddy Film Festival
Silver Screen: The Big Wedding *
Silver Screen: The Big Year *1/2
Silver Screen: The Book Thief **
Silver Screen: The Bourne Legacy ***
Silver Screen: The Boxtrolls ****
Silver Screen: The Boys and Girls Club Night at the Oscars
Silver Screen: The Butler ****
Silver Screen: The Call **1/2
Silver Screen: The Campaign ***
Silver Screen: The Company You Keep *1/2
Silver Screen: The Conjuring ***1/2
Silver Screen: The Counselor ****
Silver Screen: The Dark Knight Rises ***
Silver Screen: The Debt ***1/2
Silver Screen: The Descendants ****1/2
Silver Screen: The Dictator ***1/2
Silver Screen: The Dilemma *1/2
Silver Screen: The Drop ****1/2
Silver Screen: The Equalizer **
Silver Screen: The Expendables **1/2
Silver Screen: The Expendables II *1/2
Silver Screen: The Fault in Our Stars ****
Silver Screen: The Fifth Estate 1/2*
Silver Screen: The Fighter ****
Silver Screen: The Five-Year Engagement ***1/2
Silver Screen: The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo *
Silver Screen: The Giver ***1/2
Silver Screen: The Grand Budapest Hotel ****
Silver Screen: The Great Gatsby ****
Silver Screen: The Green Hornet **1/2
Silver Screen: The Guilt Trip ***
Silver Screen: The Hangover Part II **1/2
Silver Screen: The Hangover Part III *1/2
Silver Screen: The Heat **1/2
Silver Screen: The Host 1/2*
Silver Screen: The Hunger Games ***
Silver Screen: The Hunger Games: Catching Fire ***1/2
Silver Screen: The Ides of March ****
Silver Screen: The Internship **1/2
Silver Screen: The Karate Kid ***
Silver Screen: The Karate Kid ***
Silver Screen: The King's Speech ****
Silver Screen: The Last Airbender *
Silver Screen: The Last Exorcism ***
Silver Screen: The Last Stand ***
Silver Screen: The Lego Movie ***
Silver Screen: The Lincoln Lawyer ***
Silver Screen: The Lone Ranger ***
Silver Screen: The Lucky One *1/2
Silver Screen: The Man with the Iron Fists **1/2
Silver Screen: The Master ****1/2
Silver Screen: The Maze Runner ***
Silver Screen: The Mechanic **1/2
Silver Screen: The Monuments Men ***1/2
Silver Screen: The Next Three Days ***
Silver Screen: The November Man **
Silver Screen: The Other Guys ***
Silver Screen: The Perks of Being a Wallflower ****
Silver Screen: The Place Beyond the Pines ****1/2
Silver Screen: The Possession *
Silver Screen: The Purge *
Silver Screen: The Purge: Anarchy **1/2
Silver Screen: The Quiet Ones *
Silver Screen: The Raid II ***1/2
Silver Screen: The Raven *
Silver Screen: The Rite *
Silver Screen: The Roommate *1/2
Silver Screen: The Rover **
Silver Screen: The Rum Diary ***
Silver Screen: The Score Card , February 24, 2011 Edition
Silver Screen: The Score Card , February 3, 2011 Edition
Silver Screen: The Score Card , March 31, 2011 Edition
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Silver Screen: The Score Card, April 10, 2014 Edition
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Silver Screen: The Score Card, June 19, 2014 Edition
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Silver Screen: The Score Card, October 7, 2010 Edition
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Silver Screen: The Score Card, September 11, 2014 Edition
Silver Screen: The Score Card, September 12, 2013 Edition
Silver Screen: The Score Card, September 13, 2012 Edition
Silver Screen: The Score Card, September 15, 2011 Edition
Silver Screen: The Score Card, September 18, 2014 Edition
Silver Screen: The Score Card, September 19, 2013 Edition
Silver Screen: The Score Card, September 20, 2012 Edition
Silver Screen: The Score Card, September 22, 2011 Edition
Silver Screen: The Score Card, September 25, 2014 Edition
Silver Screen: The Score Card, September 26, 2013 Edition
Silver Screen: The Score Card, September 27, 2012 Edition
Silver Screen: The Score Card, September 29, 2011 Edition
Silver Screen: The Score Card, September 4, 2014 Edition
Silver Screen: The Score Card, September 5, 2013 Edition
Silver Screen: The Score Card, September 6, 2012 Edition
Silver Screen: The Score Card, September 8, 2011 Edition
Silver Screen: The Scorecard July 01, 2020 Edition
Silver Screen: The Scorecard July 15, 2010 Edition
Silver Screen: The Scorecard July 22, 2010 Edition
Silver Screen: The Scorecard July 29, 2010 Edition
Silver Screen: The Scorecard June 10, 2010 Edition
Silver Screen: The Scorecard June 17, 2010 Edition
Silver Screen: The Scorecard June 24, 2010 Edition
Silver Screen: The Secret Life of Walter Mitty ****
Silver Screen: The Sitter ***1/2
Silver Screen: The Social Network ****1/2
Silver Screen: The Sorcerer's Apprentice **
Silver Screen: The Spectacular Now ****
Silver Screen: The Thing **1/2
Silver Screen: The Three Stooges ***
Silver Screen: The Tourist **
Silver Screen: The Town ***1/2
Silver Screen: The Tree of Life *****
Silver Screen: The Twilight Saga: Eclipse *1/2
Silver Screen: The Vow **
Silver Screen: The Watch **
Silver Screen: The Way Way Back ****
Silver Screen: The Wolf of Wall Street ****
Silver Screen: The Wolverine *1/2
Silver Screen: The Woman in Black **
Silver Screen: The Words 1/2*
Silver Screen: The World’s End ****
Silver Screen: Thirty Minutes or Less ***1/2
Silver Screen: This Is Forty ****
Silver Screen: This Is The End ***1/2
Silver Screen: Thor ***
Silver Screen: Thor: The Dark World *
Silver Screen: Three Days to Kill **
Silver Screen: Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy ***1/2
Silver Screen: To Rome with Love ***1/2
Silver Screen: Total Recall **1/2
Silver Screen: Tower Heist ***
Silver Screen: Toy Story III ****
Silver Screen: Transcendence *1/2
Silver Screen: Transformers: Age of Extinction 1/2*
Silver Screen: Transformers: Dark of the Moon *1/2
Silver Screen: True Grit ****1/2
Silver Screen: Twelve Years a Slave ****1/2
Silver Screen: Twenty-two Jump Street ***1/2
Silver Screen: Twilight: Breaking Dawn Part II *
Silver Screen: Two Guns ***
Silver Screen: Unknown ***
Silver Screen: Unstoppable **
Silver Screen: Veronica Mars ***1/2
Silver Screen: Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps ****
Silver Screen: Wanderlust ***1/2
Silver Screen: War Horse **
Silver Screen: Water for Elephants ***
Silver Screen: We Bought a Zoo ****
Silver Screen: White House Down ***
Silver Screen: Winter's Tale 1/2*
Silver Screen: World War Z **
Silver Screen: Wrath of the Titans 1/2*
Silver Screen: Wreck-it Ralph ***1/2
Silver Screen: X-Men: Days of Future Past ***
Silver Screen: X-Men: First Class ***
Silver Screen: Your Highness ***1/2
Silver Screen: You’re Next **1/2
Silver Screen: Zero Dark Thirty ****1/2
Silver Screen: Zookeeper *


Who:
What:
Where:
When:
Pictured: The Judge.
Bryan Miller

> opening this week in Carbondale (Friday unless otherwise noted).

< leaving Carbondale this Friday.

Bryan Miller unless otherwise credited.

The Boxtrolls (PG, ****): This wonderful stop-motion-animated feature from the studio that created ParaNorman and Coraline is a storybook tale heavy on the allegory but never just heavy. In the peculiar town of Cheesebridge, nefarious social climber Archibald Snatcher (voiced by Ben Kingsley) schemes to rise to the top of the town hierarchy by promising to rid the streets of the boxtrolls, a harmless group of cardboard-dwelling gremlins who love to build rather than destroy. Snatcher frames the boxtrolls for the kidnapping of a child who is actually an orphan adopted by the subterranean critters, who raise the tot, named Eggs (Isaac Hempstead Wright). With the help of his new friend Winnie (Elle Fanning), a preteen Eggs must ascend to the city streets to prove his adopted family means humans no harm. The Boxtrolls has just the right amount of salty satire; the city elders (led by an especially funny Jared Harris) spend all their time eating fancy cheeses in “the tasting room,” not to be distracted by petty endeavors like building a children’s hospital. Snatcher’s henchmen (voiced by the great trio of Nick Frost, Richard Ayoade, and Tracy Morgan) ponder the nature of thugdom and come up with a philosophy eerily similar to “We were just following orders.” But this dynamite debut from relative newcomers Graham Annable and Anthony Stacchi isn’t dour, it’s delightful, and its titular creatures are lumpily endearing. They speak their own silly, indecipherable language, yet their personalities are clearly distinguished and emotions beautifully conveyed through the pure animation of gesture and expression thanks to more stellar work from the folks at the independent animation studio Laika.

The Drop (R, ****1/2): This understated, affecting adaptation of a short story from novelist and screenwriter Dennis Lehane (Mystic River, Gone Baby Gone, The Wire) succeeds in large part because of its narrow scope and tight focus, but the small scale of the plot doesn’t diminish the movie’s emotional wallop. Cousins Bob (Tom Hardy) and Marv (James Gandolfini) go through the motions of running a dingy bar that’s actually a front for Chechen gangsters. The boys are jolted out of their torpid routine by a pair of incidents: Bob adopts an abused dog with the help of a troubled neighbor lady (Noomi Rapace) with a vindictive ex-boyfriend (Matthias Schoenaerts), and Marv’s bar is robbed of $5,000 of the Chechens’ money. The seemingly unrelated incidents stir up secrets of the past and force the men to reconcile long-buried animosities in this devastating, slow-burning crime story that favors character development over tired noir tropes. Belgian director Michaël R. Roskam (Bullhead) perfectly captures the rhythms and textures of the neighborhood in all its dilapidated glory. He makes a truly cinematic movie out of a great script that would work nearly as well as an intimate stageplay. Everyone in the small cast shines, but Hardy and Gandolfini excel, the former draping his bulky frame in oversized sweaters that can’t quite hide his simmering physicality, the latter struggling to turn his world-weariness and lifetime of regrets into some kind of goomba Buddha wisdom. This is the last film with the late, great Gandolfini, and it’s a small mercy that his swan song is so elegant. Perhaps the greatest endorsement Roskam’s wonderfully textured movie could receive is to say that it’s deserving of being the actor’s final work.

The Equalizer (R, **): Antoine Fuqua’s latest begins with the patient rhythms and careful composition of a more thoughtful and nuanced movie, but it turns out to be like sitting in a high-backed chair at a white-tablecloth restaurant to eat a frozen pizza. After a compelling slow-burn of a first half-hour leads to a startling, thrilling run-in between retired killer Robert McCall (Denzel Washington) and a group of Russian gangsters, the movie gives way to cartoon silliness that’s dissonant with its grim, bloody aesthetic. McCall becomes a kind of aging superhero that even an army of machine-gun-toting killers can’t stop, even if he’s armed with nothing more than the stock, off-the-shelves hammer at his local Home Depot. The movie too often shows its roots as a mostly forgotten 1980s action series, cramming a full season’s worth of subplots and murders into a two-hour-and-fifteen-minute slog.

The Giver (PG-13, ***1/2): Lois Lowry’s 1993 novel was published during an era of hope and prosperity, but in retrospect it seems like the template for the current craze of dystopian young-adult fiction. Jonas (Brenton Thwaites) lives in a rigidly controlled society risen from the ashes of a long-ago war. The council of Elders (led by Meryl Streep) impose strict rules on language and thoughts, and keep the population thoroughly medicated. Jonas is chosen to be the community’s Receiver, the one member of the group allowed access to the shared memories and cultural history of the old world. In his lessons from the former Receiver (Jeff Bridges), Jonas learns the complexities and risks of the ideas and emotions now forbidden, and begins to suspect that the new order is an unsuitable replacement for the messier but freer society it replaced. Phillip Noyce’s mostly faithful adaptation is as deliberate and controlled as the world it creates, but flush with heady ideas and intense emotion. It’s slower and talkier than its contemporary counterparts, without the action-adventure power fantasies of blockbuster fare like The Hunger Games and Divergent, but the commentary is more pointed for it, assuming today’s teen audience has a tolerance for a chatty movie shot partly in black and white. Like Lowry’s excellent book, the film version is aimed at a younger demographic but never panders to it, and with superb performances by Bridges and Streep, as well as a heartbreakingly naïve Alexander Skarsgård, The Giver becomes the most thoughtful entry in an overcrowded genre.

Gone Girl (R, ****1/2): Director David Fincher helms this fantastic adaptation of Gillian Flynn’s terrific novel, the book everyone is talking about that you can’t talk about without spoiling the surprise. The entire, meticulously constructed plot hinges on a big revelation that pivots the story into an entirely new direction without sacrificing fidelity to what has come before it. But this is no one-note M. Night Shyamalan reversal. The film is deliriously twisty throughout and maintains an incredible amount of suspense for the entire duration of its generous but not excessive two-and-a-half hour running time. Here’s what you can know going in: Ben Affleck stars as Nick, one half of an unhappy couple forced into humility by the recession and family health issues. When his wife Amy (Rosamund Pike) goes missing, the investigating detective (Kim Dickens) is suspicious of the kidnapping story. Evidence begins to mount against Nick, who suspects the culprit may be one of Amy’s obsessive ex-boyfriends (Neil Patrick Harris and Scoot McNairy). The truth is startling— and don’t let anyone tell you what that truth is before seeing this for yourself, one of the year’s most intoxicating movies, a truly unnerving psychological headtrip that earns its place among the pantheon of unforgettable thrillers by the likes of Thomas Harris and Ira Levin.

Guardians of the Galaxy (PG-13, ***1/2): James Gunn’s sci-fi/superhero mashup gallivants through the cosmos, but it seems to exist in some different universe altogether where such movies are actually fun. Gunn’s candy-colored pop fantasy is the opposite of Christopher Nolan’s dreary Batman movies, and it’s driven more by tone than narrative. The shaggy-dog space comedy exists within a fairly familiar structure that, ultimately, doesn’t matter much at all. The plot— about the search for a missing gemstone that can destroy entire worlds— is secondary, an excuse to gather together the bickering team of genetically modified, gun-toting raccoon Rocket (voiced by Bradley Cooper), his sentient tree-man bodyguard Groot (voiced by Vin Diesel), the green-skinned rebel daughter (Zoe Saldana) of cosmic overlord Thanos (Josh Brolin), and literal-minded hulk Drax (wrestler Dave Bautista) under the leadership of Peter Quill (Chris Pratt), a fast-talking spaceman thief. The movie flits from one brightly colored sci-fi setpiece to another, disposing with its good ideas as quickly as its bad ones. There’s as much nutritional value here as you might find in a box of Pixy Stix, but it tastes just as sweet. This is pure, inconsequential frivolity, but then again, when did we start taking superhero movies so seriously?

The Maze Runner (PG-13, ***): The latest adaptation of a dystopian young-adult novel distinguishes itself from the crowded pack by mostly shirking the pandering adornments and special-effects flourishes of its contemporaries in favor of focused storytelling. Thomas (Dylan O’Brien) awakens with no memories in a verdant clearing surrounded on all sides by a massive concrete maze. He joins a society of similarly mind-wiped boys who have formed a society as they search for a way out of their elaborate confines—and for answers as to who put them there. First-time feature director Wes Ball does a nice job of keeping the pace crisp and the high-concept premise clear. The movie benefits greatly from a lack of overly complicated backstory, although during the final ten minutes the piper must be paid and some of the mysteries must be solved. The answers, alas, point to an overarching storyline that’s too familiar and which seems destined to collapse into sci-fi absurdity in the same way the TV series Lost came apart when it had to start answering questions rather than posing them. Despite the unsatisfying conclusion and likelihood of seriously inferior sequels, this installment at least remains engaging throughout. Featuring a strong young cast that includes Kaya Scodelario, Will Poulter, Ki Hong Lee, and Aml Ameen.

< No Good Deed (PG-13, *): Making a pun on the title is a movie critic’s lamest retort, but you can’t make a movie as terrible as No Good Deed and put No Good right there on the poster. This unsubtle clunker wants to be a home-invasion thriller with psychosexual undertones, but only winds up imbuing a straight-to-DVD-caliber story with icky subtext that suggests the movie’s trusting, neglected housewife victim (Taraji P. Henson) and her sexually voracious best friend (Leslie Bibb) partly invite doom on themselves when they fall for the charms of a seductive stranger (Idris Elba) who comes to the door seeking help. Director Sam Miller, working from Aimee Lagos’s tin-eared script, wants to posit Elba’s calculating psychopath as a kind of blue-collar Hannibal Lecter, but the movie isn’t nearly smart enough to capture the evil complexity of such a character, even if Elba himself is more than up to the task. Henson’s helpless housewife-turned-heroine is at turns presented as naïve, overly cautious, streetwise, clueless, oversexed, and resourceful— no wonder she can never get a handle on the character, who’s infuriatingly obtuse right up until she suddenly transforms into a wily survivor, long past the point we’ve stopped caring.

< A Walk Among the Tombstones (R, ***): Liam Neeson plays yet another weary killer whose dormant skills are called back into operation. The names are changed, but almost everything else is the same. This time around he’s Matthew Scudder, a former cop who forsook his badge and his booze after a tragedy and now works as a private investigator. He’s paid $40,000 by a drug runner (Downton Abbey’s Dan Stevens) to find the men who abducted his wife and killed her despite receiving the ransom. Director and screenwriter Scott Frank has previously adapted a particularly successful pair of Elmore Leonard novels, Get Shorty and Out of Sight, but their jauntiness and delightfully dizzying tone give way in this riff on the far grimmer, more lurid Lawrence Block, who specializes in cheap, queasy concoctions of sex and death. Frank’s assured direction and keen ear as well as Neeson’s overqualified presence help elevate the movie slightly above the below-average marks it deserves. The most improbable, clichéd subplot, involving Scudder’s plucky homeless teen sidekick (Brian “Astro” Bradley), turns out to be the ray of light the movie needs, even if some of the notes there do ring false.

Also in or Coming to Local Theaters

> Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day (PG): Judith Viorst’s popular kids’ book comes to the big screen featuring Steve Carell, Jennifer Garner, Bella Thorne, and newcomer Ed Oxenbould as Alexander, who wakes up with gum in his hair only to find that his day gets much, much worse from there.

Annabelle (R): This spinoff of The Conjuring focuses on the demonic doll featured in that film’s story-within-a-story, who here terrorizes a couple following their brush with Satanists. Featuring Alfre Woodard.

Dolphin Tale II (PG): In this sequel to the family friendly tearjerker, a group of marine biologists (including Morgan Freeman and Harry Connick Jr.), along with the help of a plucky kid (Nathan Gamble), must find a mate for their rescued dolphin. Also featuring Ashley Judd and Kris Kristofferson.

> Dracula Untold (PG-13): In this effects-centric prequel story, Dracula (Luke Evans) is a noble royal willing to make a deal with the devil to gain the powers necessary to stop an evil horde from overtaking his kingdom.

> Fury (R): A flinty tank commander (Brad Pitt) leads a crew of men (including Michael Pena, Shia LaBeouf, Scott Eastwood, and Logan Lerman) on a dangerous mission into enemy territory in the waning days of World War II in the latest from writer-director David Ayer (End of Watch).

The Good Lie (PG-13): Reese Witherspoon stars in this inspiring true story about an employment-agency worker in Kansas who helps a group of African refuges known as the Lost Boys of the Sudan.

> The Judge (R): Robert Downey Jr. stars as the kind of slick big-city attorney just begging to be humbled onscreen by the simple folks from the small town he left. He returns to defend his father (Robert Duvall), a venerable judge accused of murder. Also featuring Vera Farmiga, Billy Bob Thornton, and Dax Shepard.

Left Behind (PG-13): The bestselling series of thrillers/Christian propaganda first went into a dreadful straight-to-DVD series starring Kirk Cameron and now gets a more elaborate treatment. Nic Cage stars as an airline pilot struggling with the reality of being left on Earth with a handful of other sinners and survivors following the Biblical rapture. Shoulda paid those taxes, Nic.

My Old Lady (PG-13): Writer / director Israel Horovitz leads an excellent cast about an American man (Kevin Kline) who inherits French real estate, but his father’s will allows a woman (Maggie Smith) to remain there for the duration of her life with her daughter (Kristin Scott Thomas).

This Is Where I Leave You (R): A stacked cast including Tina Fey, Jason Bateman, Connie Britton, Jane Fonda, Adam Driver, Rose Byrne, and Dax Shepard play members of a family reunited following the death of their patriarch in Jonathan Tropper’s adaptation of his own novel, directed by Night at the Museum’s Shawn Levy.

> Unfair: The Movie (NR): One-night only screening of an antitax documentary diatribe that puts the ire in I.R.S.

When the Game Stands Tall (PG): Jim Caviezel stars in this inspirational sports flick about real-life high-school football coach Bob Ladouceur, whose team won 151 consecutive games. Featuring Michael Chiklis and Laura Dern.