New movies this week
The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn, Part I
The gist: The fourth of five movies enumerating the reasons why dating a werewolf or vampire is difficult. Really? You needed five movies to do that? And they even censored the sex scene. Weak. But: Vampire baby. PG-13
The cast: Kristen Stewart, Robert Pattinson, Taylor Lautner, Billy Burke, Peter Facinelli and Elizabeth Reaser.
The buzz: This abstinence parable is not what you'd call good, but the fans will flock no matter what. "It is in many respects the best installment of the franchise as its stars go from sullen kids to sullen young adults, where their expressions look more natural," USA Today says.
Happy Feet Two
The gist: Another go-'round that will try to convince your kids that penguins dance and fly, mashed up with some kind of climatic upheaval that will get the global warming deniers all worked up. PG
The cast: Voices of Elijah Wood, Robin Williams, Alecia Moore, Hank Azaria, Brad Pitt and Matt Damon.
The buzz: Uneven to say the least, even with its all-star cast. "The animation remains impressive, and there are some very funny moments, courtesy of the talented cast. But fans of the original will want to lower their expectations," the New York Daily News warns.
The gist: A man with a loving wife and a deaf daughter begins having apocalyptic visions of a storm, so he starts building a storm shelter in the back yard as his marriage and sanity begin to fall apart. We're not really hoping for a happy ending to this one. R
The cast: Michael Shannon, Jessica Chastain, Tova Stewart, She Whigham, Natasha Randall and Ron Kennard.
The buzz: A fable for our times, about a guy afraid of losing everything because of events beyond his control. "It is a quiet, relentless exploration of the latent (and not so latent) terrors that bedevil contemporary American life, a horror movie that will trouble your sleep not with visions of monsters but with a more familiar dread," the New York Times lauds.
Martha Marcy May Marlene
The gist: Another heartwarmer, this one about a woman who escapes a cult but begins to fear they're coming after her. Because of her mental illness, we're left wondering if they are or not. Cheery! R
The cast: Elizabeth Olsen (as in, the Olsen twins' baby sister), Christopher Abbott, Hugh Dancy, Maria Dizzia, Brady Corbet and Julia Garner.
The buzz: Another well-made thriller about a person descending into madness. You should take in a double feature. "What writer-director Sean Durkin has given us is an existential thriller about identity and just how tenuous a grasp we have on who we really are," the L.A. Times says.
The gist: A British girl and an American boy fall in love, but are split apart when she violates the terms of her visa. And stay out, you goldanged fereigners! PG-13
The cast: Felicity Jones, Anton Yelchin, Jennifer Lawrence, Charlie Bewley, Alex Kingston and Oliver Muirhead.
The buzz: Try this if you don't care for the double dose of insanity. Love stories are fun, right? "A serious, deeply felt romance for an audience Hollywood most often bombards with raunchy sex comedies and video-game adaptations," the Washington Post says.
— Joshua Gillin firstname.lastname@example.org