New movies this week
Monsters vs. Aliens
The gist: A cartoon with a title that's pretty self-explanatory. What, you think it's about cricket players vs. mobsters? In 3-D? PG
Starring: Voices of Reese Witherspoon, Seth Rogen, Hugh Laurie, Will Arnett, Kiefer Sutherland, Stephen Colbert, Renée Zellweger and Rainn Wilson.
The buzz: Could it be that not all animated stories are good? Shocking! "The movie works hard — desperately hard — to be all things to all audience segments. And the visible effort erodes the sense of gaiety, of unfettered fun," Entertainment Weekly admonishes.
The gist: Another one of those family dramas with a twist: two sisters reconnect by running a company that cleans up crime scenes. We give it props for a decent framing device. R
Starring: Amy Adams, Emily Blunt, Alan Arkin, Steve Zahn, Mary Lynn Rajskub, Clifton Collins Jr. and Jason Spevack.
The buzz: And wow, it's a decent story, too: "A smartly done morality tale that couldn't be more in sync with these troubled times," the L.A. Times calls it.
The gist: Wrestler John Cena is a detective subjected to 12 challenges by an escaped convict holding the cop's girlfriend hostage. If they got any more like a video game, you'd have to plug your head into the screen. PG-13
Starring: John Cena, Steve Harris, Ashley Scott, Aidan Gillen, Brian White and Gonzalo Menendez.
The buzz: They're not showing this movie to anyone beforehand. Renny Harlin directed it, for crying out loud.
The Haunting in Connecticut
The gist: A woman moves her family into an old mortuary, where angry spirits are all mad about something. Like they should care. They're dead! PG-13
Starring: Virginia Madsen, Kyle Gallner, Martin Donovan, Elias Koteas and Amanda Crew.
The buzz: Madsen went from Sideways to this schlock? That's the scary part. "Haunting tweaks familiar tropes enough to make them interesting," the Hollywood Reporter says. "Just not so interesting as to inspire many nightmares after the credits roll."
— Joshua Gillin firstname.lastname@example.org