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Movie picks 

Films recommended by our reviewers are indicated by an *.

2012 (PG-13)

As the end of the world nears, as predicted by the Mayan calendar, a group of would-be heros struggles to survive. — Not reviewed

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 him. — MaryAnn Johanson

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Avatar (PG-13)

Avatar is set in a computer-generated world called Pandora, a planet inhabited by the Na'vi, who are rich in a coveted resource ridiculously named Unobtainium. As highly detailed as Avatar looks, its meager plot fails to pull you in, leaving you to ponder the technology. — Tricia Olszewski

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

The Blind Side (PG-13)

The Blind Side takes on the real-life underdog-makes-good story of Michael Oher, currently a first-year left tackle for the Baltimore Ravens. It's not unimpressive because it's a "feel-good" story, but because it's simply a lazy piece of movie-making. — Scott Renshaw

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

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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

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Did You Hear About the Morgans? (PG-13)

Hugh Grant and Sarah Jessica Parker star in this romantic comedy about a New York couple who witness a murder and are moved to a tiny Wyoming town for their protection. — Not reviewed

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

Disney's A Christmas Carol (PG)

A remake of Dickens' classic tale, this time with Jim Carrey playing Scrooge. — Not reviewed

Chapel Hills 15, Cinemark 16, Hollywood Interquest, Tinseltown

*Fantastic Mr. Fox (PG)

Wes Anderson directs this stop-motion animated adaptation of Roald Dahl's 1970 children's novel. It's a surprisingly adult-ish film featuring George Clooney voicing the title role and Meryl Streep as his no-less-fantastic wife. — Jeff Sneider

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The Fourth Kind (PG-13)

This "fact-based" film tells the tale of an Alaskan town whose residents have been disappearing in unexplained circumstances and alien encounters are suspected. — Not reviewed

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G-Force (PG)

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

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*Invictus (PG-13)

Directed by Clint Eastwood, this film set in the post-Apartheid era of South Africa, stars Morgan Freeman and Matt Damon — who, for a true story of human-rights hero Nelson Mandela and rugby player Francois Pienaar, probably are the most obvious casting choices around. — Jonathan Kiefer

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

*Julie & Julia (PG-13)

Meryl Streep is delightful as cooking legend Julia Child. Endearing Amy Adams plays her counterpart Julie Powell, a woman who decides to launch a blog chronicling her preparation of every recipe from Julia's cookbook Mastering the Art of French Cooking. — Scott Renshaw

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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

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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. The film teases, it terrorizes and it will burn images in your brain that will freak you out for days afterward. — Tricia Olszewski

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*Precious: Based on the Novel Push by Sapphire (R)

I'm mystified that some commentators have called this frank film racist, exploitive or emblematic of liberal guilt. How do we tell a story about the worst that a girl's experience can be — raped by her father, abused by her mother, ignored by almost everyone around her — if we're not up-front about it? — MaryAnn Johanson

Carmike 10, Hollywood Interquest, Kimball's Peak Three

The Princess and the Frog (G)

Is it too churlish to complain about The Princess and the Frog? Disney finally gives us a black princess ... and she spends most of the movie as an amphibian? — MaryAnn Johanson

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

*The Road (R)

At last: The long-delayed, Viggo Mortensen-intensive adaptation of Cormac McCarthy's novel, about a man and his young son wandering through a glumly gritty post-apocalyptic world, has arrived. And just in time to kick off the holiday season! — Jonathan Kiefer

Chapel Hills 15

*Shorts (PG)

Shorts is a zippy, slapsticky romp about a suburban town gone bonkers when a wish-granting, rainbow-colored rock falls out of the sky. — Jonathan Kiefer

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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

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The Twilight Saga: New Moon (PG-13)

In this second installment based on the books by Stephenie Meyer, Edward, a vampire, and his human girlfriend Bella Swan mope around a lot. Two hours of pretty teenagers — including Bella's werewolf friend, Jacob Black (Taylor Lautner), who doesn't like vampires but does like Bella — making moon eyes at one another in this love triangle is an hour-forty-five too much. — MaryAnn Johanson

Chapel Hills 15, Cinemark 16, Tinseltown

Up in the Air (R)

George Clooney plays a businessman and frequent flier on the verge of reaching his 10 millionth mile, when his company grounds him, threatening his life on the road. — Not reviewed

Chapel Hills 15, Cinemark 16, Hollywood Interquest, Tinseltown

*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. — Scott Renshaw

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*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

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  • Our reviewers' recommendations for films playing around the area.

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