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Movie picks

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Films recommended by our reviewers are indicated by an *.

The Adventures of Tintin (PG)

Visually, Tintin offers an exponential leap in the potential for motion-capture adventure with action set pieces. But there are vacant human spaces in the center. It's like Raiders of the Lost Ark, if Indiana Jones had been played by Taylor Lautner. — Scott Renshaw

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Alvin and the Chipmunks: Chipwrecked (G)

After surviving the sinking of their cruise ship, Alvin, Simon and Theodore must survive on a Polynesian island. — Not reviewed

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Arthur Christmas (PG)

An animated holiday comedy featuring the voices of James McAvoy (as the younger son of Santa Claus), Hugh Laurie (Santa's eldest son) and Jim Broadbent (Santa). — Not reviewed

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*The Artist (PG-13)

The Artist is at turns funny, heartbreaking, thrilling and a visual marvel, with only Ludovic Bource's sublime score to guide our reactions. The film is art that stands on its own, a reflective surface of some of cinema's best ideas. — Justin Strout

Kimball's Peak Three

Big Miracle (PG)

Inspired by the true story, the rescue adventure tells the tale of a small town news reporter and a Greenpeace volunteer who join together to save a family of gray whales trapped by ice in the Arctic Circle. — Not reviewed

Chapel Hills 15

*Chronicle (PG-13)

Chronicle makes us reconsider entirely the terms superhero and supervillain. No one here can be reduced to such black-and-white terms. They're just people doing the best they can with what they have. It's just that they suddenly have so much more than the rest of us. — MaryAnn Johanson

Carmike 10, Chapel Hills 15, Cinemark 16, Hollywood Interquest, Tinseltown

Contraband (R)

Chris Farraday long ago abandoned his life of crime, but after his brother-in-law, Andy, botches a drug deal, Chris is forced back in. — Not reviewed

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*A Dangerous Method (R)

In director David Cronenberg's handsome tale of camaraderie and competition, the scenes between Viggo Mortensen (Sigmund Freud) and Michael Fassbender (Carl Jung) crackle with civilized intellectual sparring. But it's Keira Knightley (Sabina Spielrein) who saves the film from its inherent staginess. — Justin Strout

Kimball's Peak Three

The Darkest Hour (PG-13)

Five young people find themselves stranded in Moscow, fighting to survive during an alien attack. — Not reviewed

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*The Descendants (R)

The film is an almost dirge-like story about grief, but so much more than that. George Clooney plays Matt King, a Hawaiian real-estate baron; it's a triumph for all, especially the audience. — Justin Strout

Chapel Hills 15, Kimball's Peak Three

Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance (PG-13)

In the successor to the worldwide hit Ghost Rider, Johnny, who still struggles with his curse as the devil's bounty hunter, is hiding out in a remote part of Eastern Europe when he is recruited by a secret sect to save a young boy from the devil. — Not reviewed

Carmike 10, Chapel Hills 15, Cinemark 16, Hollywood Interquest, Tinseltown

The Grey (R)

The plane carrying an unruly group of oil-rig roughnecks crashes into the remote Alaskan wilderness. Battling mortal injuries and merciless weather, the survivors have only a few days to escape the icy elements — and a vicious pack of rogue wolves on the hunt — before their time runs out. — Not reviewed

Carmike 10, Cinemark 16, Tinseltown

The Iron Lady (PG-13)

The film waffles too much over what to do with Margaret Thatcher, and spends too much time on the seemingly obligatory montages of rioting laborers, soldiers in the Falklands and other events of the time. Meryl Streep's presence guarantees you won't doubt for a moment that you've seen the story of Thatcher; the rest of the film can't decide what that story is. — Scott Renshaw

Kimball's Peak Three

Jack and Jill (PG)

Family man Jack (Adam Sandler) must deal with his twin sister, Jill, when she visits for Thanksgiving and then will not leave. — Not reviewed

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Journey 2: The Mysterious Island (PG)

A frenetic pace provides distraction from the absence of an actual story. But it's frustrating to sit through yet another movie in which no one appears to care that adventure works best when the biggest investment isn't the special-effects budget, but the audience's investment in the people running from the digital dangers. — Scott Renshaw

Carmike 10, Chapel Hills 15, Cinemark 16, Cinemark 16 IMAX, Hollywood Interquest, Tinseltown

Joyful Noise (PG-13)

The small town of Pacashau, Ga., has fallen on hard times, but the people are counting on the Divinity Church Choir to lift their spirits by winning the National Joyful Noise Competition. — Not reviewed

Carmike 10, Picture Show

*The Muppets (PG)

When dealing with something like The Muppets, nostalgia certainly plays into one's response. But there's the nostalgia that comes from simply trotting out a bunch of characters and saying, "Hey, remember them?" and then there's showing such a deep respect for your source material that you allow another generation to fall in love with them for the exact same reason the previous generation did. — Scott Renshaw

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One for the Money (PG-13)

Desperate for some fast cash, born-and-bred Jersey girl Stephanie Plum turns to her last resort: convincing her sleazy cousin to give her a job at his bail bonding company ... as a recovery agent. — Not reviewed

Tinseltown

Puss in Boots (PG)

Puss in Boots takes arguably the best part of the last two Shrek movies, stretches it as thin as can be, and leaves us hating cats. — Dan Hudak

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Red Tails (PG-13)

The heroic contributions to the World War II effort by the Tuskegee Airmen, the first African-American military pilots in the U.S. armed forces. Produced by George Lucas, it stars Cuba Gooding Jr. and Terrence Howard. — Not reviewed

Cinemark 16, Tinseltown

Safe House (R)

None of it is as brave or even as captivating as it appears to think it is, and the film has nowhere near the conscience it would like you to think it has by the time it's done throwing some car chases and showers of broken glass at you. — MaryAnn Johanson

Carmike 10, Chapel Hills 15, Cinemark 16, Hollywood Interquest, Tinseltown

*The Secret World of Arrietty (G)

Like many of writer Hayao Miyazaki's films, Arrietty centers on an adventurous young female protagonist, and a fantastical world of intricate detail. But it's also distinctive for a sense of pacing that's often hushed and deliberate. — Scott Renshaw

Chapel Hills 15, Cinemark 16, Hollywood Interquest, Tinseltown

*Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows (PG-13)

Guy Ritchie's latest installment is fun, witty, and perhaps most shocking of all, occasionally restrained. It's more satisfying than its predecessor. — Scott Renshaw

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Star Wars: Episode I - The Phantom Menace (PG)

In Star Wars: Episode I, Darth Vader is a hopeful 9-year-old boy named Anakin Skywalker and Obi-Wan Kenobi is a brash young Jedi Knight. — Not reviewed

Carmike 10, Cinemark 16, Hollywood Interquest, Tinseltown

This Means War (PG-13)

When Reese Witherspoon's Lauren finds herself dating Chris Pine's smooth-talking CIA agent FDR, as well as his partner-in-espionage, Tom Hardy's Tuck, she naturally recognizes their respective appeal and elegantly dissects it: FDR has "tiny hands" and Tuck is "British."Yes, This Means War is that dumb. Worse, it thinks you are, too. — Justin Strout

Carmike 10, Chapel Hills 15, Cinemark 16, Hollywood Interquest, Tinseltown

Underworld: Awakening (R)

After waking from a 15-year coma, Selene discovers she has a 14-year-old vampire-Lycan hybrid daughter and that they must stop a bio-tech company from creating an army of super-Lycans. — Not reviewed

Tinseltown

The Vow (PG-13)

Based on the true story of a newlywed couple recovering from an accident that puts the wife in a coma. She wakes up with severe memory loss and can't remember any of her life with her new husband, so he has to fight to win her heart all over again. — Not reviewed

Chapel Hills 15, Cinemark 16, Hollywood Interquest, Tinseltown

We Bought a Zoo (PG)

Let's face it, when you take your family to the zoo, safe and predictable is exactly what you're looking for. It isn't, however, what you look for in a Cameron Crowe movie. — Anders Wright

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The Woman in Black (PG-13)

This adaptation of Susan Hill's 1983 novel pays homage to the Gothic Hammer Horror films. Set in Victorian England, Arthur Kipps (Daniel Radcliffe) is a man who finds a village of the damned, townsfolk grappling with an inexplicable epidemic of their children fatally harming themselves. But the film falls too flat after that. — Neil Morris

Carmike 10, Chapel Hills 15, Cinemark 16, Tinseltown

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