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Movie picks

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Films recommended by our reviewers are indicated by an *.

9 (PG-13)

9's story is a familiar post-apocalyptic scenario in which machines have gotten the best of humans by exterminating them and laying waste to the planet. But hope is not lost: There are little puppets. — Jonathan Kiefer

Chapel Hills 15

*Amelia (PG)

The Earhart of Amelia (played by Hilary Swank) is fully formed as a role model from the very first moment, and so she remains all the way through to the end (and beyond). — Jonathan Kiefer

Cinemark 16, Hollywood Interquest, Kimball's Peak Three, Tinseltown

Astro Boy (PG)

Dr. Tenma (the voice of Nicolas Cage) is the scientific genius of Metro City, when his boy, Toby, is killed in an accident and Tenma builds a robot version of the boy. It's creepy and weird, particularly in how the film pretends to be a "robots are people, too" theme yet itself fails to treat the robots as such. — MaryAnn Johanson

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

Cirque du Freak: The Vampire's Assistant (PG-13)

There's more than a hint of juvenile wishful thinking to the tale here: Wouldn't it be, like, super-cool if you could get away from boring ol' school and boring ol' adolescence by becoming a vampire and running away to join a freak show? — MaryAnn Johanson

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

Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs (PG)

This animated adventure is based on the popular children's book about a village where food, rather than rain, falls from the heavens. — Not reviewed

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

Couples Retreat (PG-13)

This half-assed update of Fantasy Island, manages to feel somehow both shriveled to short-sitcom proportions and bloated to feature-film length. — Jonathan Kiefer

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

*District 9 (R)

District 9 opens with "documentary" footage of bureaucrat Wikus Van De Merwe, who will head up the massive task of relocating 1 million otherworldly refugees — while a weapons manufacturer tries to figure out how the aliens' weapons work. — MaryAnn Johanson

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The Final Destination (R)

After a teenager's vision helps prevent a fatal car accident, Death comes looking to claim those who got away. — Not reviewed

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G-Force (PG)

A team of guinea pigs, specially trained as high-tech spies through a secret government program, embarks on a mission to save the planet. — Not reviewed

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G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra (PG-13)

A team of elite soldiers must take on a dangerous group known as Cobra, which is led by a nefarious weapons dealer. — Not reviewed

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Good Hair (PG-13)

In this documentary about African American hairstyles, comedian Chris Rock talks with a cast of celebrities including Ice-T, Nia Long, Paul Mooney, Raven-Symoné, Maya Angelou, KRS-One, Salt-n-Pepa and Reverend Al Sharpton. — Not reviewed

Tinseltown

Halloween II (R)

Director Rob Zombie remakes this horror sequel in which killer Michael Myers is still on the loose looking for his younger sister Laurie, and wreaking havoc on Halloween night. — Not reviewed

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

*The Hangover (R)

Three groomsmen get so wrecked at a Vegas bachelor party that they lose their memories and their groom. The comedy's excellence will be clear to those who can appreciate a film that makes short work of acknowledging its similarity to Three Men and a Baby. — Jonathan Kiefer

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*Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (PG)

Half-Blood Prince is far less dense with magical action than its predecessors, and perhaps that makes it feel mostly like a stage-setter for the finale that will be Deathly Hallows. Yet it's so rich with characterization that it scarcely matters. — Scott Renshaw

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Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs (PG)

This time out, Manny the mammoth (voiced by Ray Romano) is about to be a dad, but complications ensue as Diego the tiger beings to feel left out, and Sid the sloth adopts some dinosaur eggs. Which leaves me thinking: There are a couple of things that we should let go extinct. — MaryAnn Johanson

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*Julie & Julia (PG-13)

Meryl Streep is delightful as cooking legend Julia Child. Endearing Amy Adams plays her counterpart Julie Powell, a would-be novelist who decides to launch a blog in which she'll chronicle preparing every recipe from Julia's cookbook Mastering the Art of French Cooking. — Scott Renshaw

Chapel Hills 15

Law Abiding Citizen (R)

A decade after the murders of his wife and daughter, a man seeks his own vengeance against the killer. — Not reviewed

Carmike 10, Chapel Hills 15, Cinemark 16, Tinseltown

Love Happens (PG-13)

After a widower (Aaron Eckhart) writes a bestselling book on dealing with loss, he finds himself falling for a woman (Jennifer Aniston) he meets at one of his seminars. — Not reviewed

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Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian (PG)

Director Shawn Levy and screenwriters Robert Garant and Thomas Lennon found an even cooler idea for this sequel to the 2006 film Night at the Museum — the biggest, most diverse museum on the planet comes alive at night — and they squandered it in an even bigger way. — MaryAnn Johanson

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*Paranormal Activity (R)

Katie and Micah are a young couple who suspect the presence of a supernatural being in their house, one that first started haunting Katie when she was 8. The film teases, it terrorizes and it will burn images in your brain that will freak you out for days afterward. — Tricia Olszewski

Chapel Hills 15, Cinemark 16, Hollywood Interquest, Tinseltown

Ponyo (G)

This animated film from Japanese director Hayao Miyazaki (Spirited Away), tells the story of a young boy and his goldfish who dreams of becoming a princess. — Not reviewed

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*The Proposal (PG-13)

The editor-in-chief (Sandra Bullock) at a New York publishing house enlists her long-suffering assistant (Ryan Reynolds) for a marriage of convenience when her work visa is about to expire. This old rom-com ground proves surprisingly comfortable. — Scott Renshaw

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Saw VI (R)

In this sixth installment of the slasher/horror franchise, Agent Strahm has died and Detective Hoffman stands to carry on Jigsaw's grand scheme. — Not reviewed

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

The Stepfather (PG-13)

When a student returns home from military school and meets his mother's new boyfriend, he soon suspects the man may be hiding a dangerous past. — Not reviewed

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

Surrogates (PG-13)

In a future world where people stay inside while their surrogate robots interact for them, Bruce Willis plays a cop who must emerge into the world to investigate a string of killings. — Not reviewed

Chapel Hills 15

*The Time Traveler's Wife (PG-13)

Henry DeTamble suffers from a genetic anomaly that causes him to become displaced in time, at random moments he can't control. People and events important to him draw him like gravity. This is science fiction that really knows what sci-fi is all about: what it means to be human. — MaryAnn Johanson

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*Up (PG)

Elderly curmudgeon Carl (Edward Asner) launches his house into the air with a massive cascade of balloons and a plan to head to a South American jungle. —Scott Renshaw

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*Where the Wild Things Are (PG)

You could argue that Where the Wild Things Are is the most ambitious film ever inspired by a 10-sentence-long picture-book — but that sentiment doesn't do justice to this prickly, hilarious, devastatingly emotional work of art. — Scott Renshaw

Carmike 10, Chapel Hills 15, Cinemark 16, Cinemark 16 IMAX, Hollywood Interquest, Kimball's Peak Three, Tinseltown

*Zombieland (R)

The flesh-eating undead are not, understandably, every movie-goer's taste. But this time, skipping the latest zombie flick will mean missing what may be the funniest American comedy of 2009. — Scott Renshaw

Chapel Hills 15, Cinemark 16, Hollywood Interquest, Tinseltown

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