No place like home: Quvenzhane Wallis in “Beasts of the Southern Wild.”
ICE AGE: CONTINENTAL DRIFT
Rated: PG for mild rude humor and action/peril
Stars: Ray Romano, Denis Leary, John Leguizamo
Manny the mammoth, Diego the saber tooth and Sid the sloth encounter a new set of prehistoric perils when the great continent of Pangea suddenly subdivides. Steve Martino (“Horton Hears a Who”) and Mike Thurmeier (“Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs”) co-directed the fourth installment in the animated action comedy franchise. Reviewed in this section.
NEIL YOUNG JOURNEYS
Rated: PG for language including some drug references, and brief thematic material
Stars: Neil Young
Jonathan Demme (“Stop Making Sense”) directed this documentary about the rock star’s solo show last May in Toronto, where he was born.
FOLLOW ME: THE YONI NETANYAHU STORY
★ ★ ★
Rated: No MPAA rating
Stars: Yonathan Netanyahu, Benjamin Netanyahu, Tirza Goodman
This affecting documentary tells the life story of Colonel Yonathan Netanyahu, leader of the 1976 commando raid that freed 103 Israeli hostages at Uganda’s Entebbe Airport — and the only Israeli killed during the mission. The detailed story of the raid is fascinating, but even more so is the revelation of Netanyahu’s complex and poetic character, revealed in intimate letters to friends and family, including his brother, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. The only outstanding flaw in “Follow Me” is its unnecessary use of sentimental music to underscore the pathos of this reluctant warrior’s story, which speaks for itself. Produced and co-directed by Skokie native Ari Daniel Pinchot.
THE AMAZING SPIDER-MAN
★ ★ ★ 1/2
Rated: PG-13 for sequences of action and violence
Stars: Andrew Garfield, Emma Stone, Rhys Ifans
Though the recent, spectacularly successful series of “Spider-Man” adventures directed by Sam Raimi is still fresh in moviegoer memory, this compete reboot of the spider-saga by director Marc Webb (“(500) Days of Summer”) quickly establishes itself as a worthy successor by telling the same story in a different — and in some ways superior — manner. Webb doesn’t score quite as high as Raimi in terms of visual dazzle, but he delivers plenty of adrenaline-pumping action. And he generates a surprising level of gravitas by taking the heavy-duty dramatic elements in the story very seriously. Best of all, the remarkable chemistry between Garfield as Peter Parker/Spider-Man and Stone as his high-school girlfriend Gwen ups the romantic ante in a way that improves on the comics, as well as Raimi’s Tobey Maguire/Kirsten Dunst match-up.
BEASTS OF THE SOUTHERN WILD★ ★ ★ 1/2
Rated: PG-13 for thematic material including child imperilment, some disturbing images, language and brief sensuality
Stars: Quvenzhane Wallis, Dwight Henry, Gina Montana
Winner of the Grand Jury Prize at Sundance and the Camera d’Or at Cannes, this debut feature by young New Orleans writer/director Benh Zeitlin is every bit as baffling as it is visually dazzling, but if you have an appetite for adventurous fare, don’t miss it. A sort of free-floating, stream-of-consciousness rumination on life by its five-year-old motherless heroine, Hushpuppy (Wallis, a truly fierce and fascinating presence), “Beasts of the Southern Wild” kind of, sort of, tells the story of her crazy, terminally ill, perpetually drunken father (Henry) and their down and out neighbors (most played by non-pros) in a rag-tag squatters’ community on the seaward side of a levee — and what happens to them after a hurricane destroys their homes and kills off their food supply. But what’s up with that rampaging herd of giant, apocalyptic prehistoric warthogs?
KATY PERRY: PART OF ME
Rated: PG for some suggestive content, language, thematic elements and brief smoking
Stars: Katy Perry, Shannon Woodward, Lucas Kerr, Glen Ballard
The pop star’s life on and off stage is the subject of this documentary directed by Dan Cutforth and Jane Lipsitz (“Justin Bieber: Never Say Never”).
Rated: R for strong, brutal and grisly violence, some graphic sexuality, nudity, drug use and language throughout
Stars: Aaron Johnson, Taylor Kitsch, Benicio Del Toro, Salma Hayek, John Travolta
Two friends (Johnson and Kitsch) and their shared girlfriend (Blake Lively) enjoy an idyllic life as successful marijuana growers until a Mexican cartel decides to cut in on their business. Oliver Stone (“Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps”) directed the crime drama.
TAKE THIS WALTZ
Rated: R for language, some strong sexual content and graphic nudity
Stars: Michelle Williams, Seth Rogen, Luke Kirby
The life of happily married woman (Williams) is complicated when she falls for an artist (Kirby) who lives across the street. Sarah Polley (“Away from Her”) wrote and directed the comedy-drama.
MA GIC MIKE★ ★ ★ 1/2
Rated: R for pervasive sexual content, brief graphic nudity, language and some drug use
Stars: Channing Tatum, Matthew McConaughey, Olivia Munn
Whatever other benefits Tatum might have enjoyed during his brief stint as a teenage male stripper, his g-string days have supplied him with his best role, more or less playing himself, apparently, in Steven Soderbergh’s sexy and surprisingly substantial portrait of a cheerfully sleazy subculture. Pushing 30, Mike (Tatum) hopes to parlay stripping-cash into a custom-furniture business, when he reluctantly takes a clueless protégé nicknamed The Kid (Alex Pettyfer) under his wing after falling for his big sister (Cody Horn) — then isn’t able to manage The Kid’s attraction to the destructive dark side of the business. Beefcake abounds, but the real attraction is an assortment of convincingly, twilight-inhabiting characters, especially McConaughey (back to baring his chest, and then some) as devil-in-training club owner Dallas.
TO RO ME WITH LOVE★ ★
Rated: R for some sexual references
Stars: Woody Allen, Judy Davis, Alec Baldwin, Roberto Benigni
The unofficial rule that only every third or fourth film from the inexhaustible Woody Allen turns out to be a keeper resets with a vengeance in this uninspired and even occasionally tedious romantic omnibus. Allen’s presence, as a failed opera director who flies to Rome to meet his daughter’s Italian boyfriend, then convinces the kid’s shower-singing father (acclaimed tenor Fabio Armiliato) to suds and warble while playing Pagliacci on stage in a portable bathtub, is a modest selling point — and the scrub-brush Pagliacci is a wonderfully absurd ongoing sight gag. Otherwise, this tired assemblage of half-developed love stories is a dull disappointment after last year’s delightful “Midnight in Paris.”
Rated: PG-13 for some crude sexual remarks and brief drug references
Stars: Tyler Perry, Eugene Levy, Denise Richards
A Wall Street investment banker (Levy) who has agreed to testify against the mob is relocated by the FBI to the home of Madea (Perry) and her family. Perry (“Good Deeds”) wrote and directed the comedy.
PEOPLE LIKE US
Rated: PG-13 for language, some drug use and brief sexuality
Stars: Chris Pine, Elizabeth Banks, Michelle Pfeiffer
After his father dies, a young man (Pine) has to deliver an inheritance to a sister (Banks) he has never known. Screenwriter Alex Kurtzman (“Cowboys and Aliens”) makes his directorial debutwith the drama.