The Adventures of Tintin
The gist: Steven Spielberg's first animated movie is a 3-D CGI adaptation of an 82-year-old Belgian comic strip about a young reporter who gets into adventures way more exciting than being chained to a desk writing movie capsules all day. PG
The cast: Voices of Jamie Bell, Andy Serkis, Daniel Craig, Nick Frost, Simon Pegg, Toby Hones and Cary Elwes.
The buzz: Spielberg makes cartoons shine, too. "Spielberg has fashioned a whiz-bang thrill ride that's largely faithful to the wholesome spirit of his source but still appealing to younger, Tintin-challenged auds," Variety says.
Mission: Impossible — Ghost Protocol
The gist: Tom Cruise and Co. are back, this time trying to clear the IMF's name after it's implicated in a terrorist bombing plot. That means Ethan Hunt has to ride motorcycles and jump off the world's tallest building, natch. PG-13
The cast: Cruise, Simon Pegg, Jeremy Renner, Ving Rhames, Paula Patton, Vladimir Mashkov and Samuli Edelmann.
The buzz: This one gets almost universal acclaim, which is nice, considering it's the fourth flick in the franchise. "Powered by Cruise's moxie, Mission: Impossible — Ghost Protocol proves that in a Hollywood action-ride culture drenched in fake adrenaline, it's cathartic to encounter the real thing," Entertainment Weekly gushes.
The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo
The gist: David Fincher's remake of the first of late author Stieg Larsson's Millenium Trilogy movies, although the director of Se7en for some reason felt the need to tone down the sex and violence. That's why people liked the original Swedish version. R
The cast: Daniel Craig, Rooney Mara, Christopher Plummer, Stellan Skarsgard, Steven Berkoff and Robin Wright.
The buzz: It's still an original film in its own right, but you know how tbt* feels about remakes. "Fincher's film, with its chilly esthetics, would seem as calculated as a Michael Crichton thriller of the '90s. But Mara keeps us entranced even when we want to look away," the New York Daily News reasons.
The gist: An experimental indie about a silent movie star facing the onset of the talkies that is shot mostly as a silent movie. Shot in black and white with title cards, so don't go complaining about having to read your movies. PG-13
The cast: Jean Dujardin, Berenice Bejo, John Goodman, Penelope Ann Miller, James Cromwell and Missy Rowe.
The buzz: Quite a feat in this CGI-obsessed era. "Michel Hazanavicius's black-and-white throwback to cinema's silent era may seem steeped in fusty nostalgia, but it glitters and gleams with utterly of-the-moment wit and romantic zest," the Washington Post lauds.
We Bought a Zoo
The gist: Cameron Crowe wanted to make a family film, so he asked Matt Damon to star as a single dad who buys a zoo so he can connect with his two kids. Since Damon is a father himself, he said sure, why not? PG
The cast: Damon, Scarlett Johansson, Thomas Haden Church, Colin Ford, Maggie Elizabeth Jones and Angus Macfadyen.
The buzz: Really, how much are you expecting from a movie full of animals? "It doesn't dodge the potholes of earnest sentimentality and at times overplays the whimsy. But the uplifting tale has heart, humanity and a warmly empathetic central performance from Matt Damon," the Hollywood Reporter points out.
The gist: Not content to simply have a good animated feature in theaters, Steven Spielberg directs this yarn about an Englishman hunting through the battlefields of World War I for his thoroughbred, who was bought to be a British army cavalry steed. Gee, we wonder if it has a happy ending. PG-13
The cast: Jeremy Irvine, Emily Watson, Peter Mullan, Niels Arestrup, David Thewlis and Tom Hiddleston.
The buzz: It tries a little too hard, but it's a solid family movie. "You may find yourself resisting this sentimental pageant of early-20th-century rural English life, replete with verdant fields, muddy tweeds and damp turnips, but my strong advice is to surrender," the New York Times suggest.
The Darkest Hour
The gist: And of course, we need a mindless sci-fi movie, this time about five folks stranded in Moscow during an all-out attack by special effects. PG-13
The cast: Emile Hirsch, Olivia Thirlby, Max Minghella, Rachel Taylor, Joel Kinnaman and Veronika Vernadskaya.
The buzz: No reviews for what is sure to be an award-winning parable of U.S. foreign policy, but the theaters will be packed nonetheless.
— Joshua Gillin [email protected]