New movies this week
Zero Dark Thirty
The gist: A look at the hunt for Osama bin Laden and the raid in Pakistan that took him down. This one has a just slightly higher budget and production values than that made-for-TV movie SEAL Team Six. That means this one has better-looking 'splosions and a CIA analyst who doesn't look like a librarian in a soft-core porn movie.
Starring: Jessica Chastain, Jason Clarke, Kyle Chandler, Jennifer Ehle, Mark Strong, Joel Edgerton, Chris Pratt, James Gandolfini, Harold Perrineau, Stephen Dillane and Frank Grillo.
The buzz: All jokes aside, there's a reason this one is up for an Oscar. "As a hugely compressed account of the Osama bin Laden manhunt, as a compelling but troubling look at "black ops" tradecraft, and as a riveting portrait of a fiercely determined woman working in a male-dominated sphere, the film is a resounding success," the Philadelphia Inquirer says.
The gist: A gangland yarn based on the Mickey Cohen years and the cops trying to take him down. It got pushed back because of the Aurora theater shootings, with the scene featuring a movie audience getting gunned down being excised. You know, because a movie about people otherwise being shot, stabbed, run over or otherwise having the life throttled out of them isn't at all violent with that scene taken out. R
Starring: Sean Penn, Josh Brolin, Ryan Gosling, Emma Stone, Robert Patrick, Giovanni Ribisi, Nick Nolte and Anthony Mackie.
The buzz: Releasing it after the new year didn't make it all that good of a movie. "Bits and pieces here and there entertain. But it never really comes together in a satisfying way, and given the talent involved, that adds up to a big disappointment," the Arizona Republic says.
A Haunted House
The gist: The Scary Movie folks take on found footage flicks like Paranormal Activity and The Devil Inside. Expect a lot of groans and rattles, all right. R
Starring: Marlon Wayans, Cedric the Entertainer, Essence Atkins, David Koechner, Nick Swardson and Affion Crockett.
The buzz: You don't expect them to preview a movie that will be in theaters for three weeks, do you? If you watch the trailer, you'll catch most of the jokes, anyway.
— Joshua Gillin, firstname.lastname@example.org