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Movie Clips

Avatar (PG) It’s 2154 and humanity’s technologically advanced military industrial complex is poised to plunder the mineral riches of a planet called Pandora. The only thing in their way is the dominant life form called the Na’vi.

Avatar (PG)

It’s 2154 and humanity’s technologically advanced military industrial complex is poised to plunder the mineral riches of a planet called Pandora. The only thing in their way is the dominant life form called the Na’vi. The humans take the time to develop a kind of remote control Na’vi doppelganger, or “Avatar”, which will walk among them and be controlled by a marine back on the ship. To reverse a clichĂ©, what you get is what you see. Flesh and falling objects alike behave as they should. In Avatar there’s no real suspension of disbelief necessary. It’s taken care of and it’s all in the details. And the 3-D actually works. It’s subtle. Foreground objects seem to be in front of the screen, background seems much farther away. So why, after an exhilarating three hours of beauty and awesomeness, visual perfection, really, do I feel so unmoved? It may simply be the lack of any character development, any real sense of jeopardy in the script. (MK)

Brooklyn’s Finest (18A)

There’s a much better movie hiding inside this one, somewhere. Brooklyn’s Finest is another in the line of films about flawed cops and mean streets. The movie spins three separate strands involving different New York cops, all of whom are morally compromised in some way. In the opening scene, Sal (Ethan Hawke) commits cold-blooded murder and steals drug money; he can’t support his already oversized family on his salary. Meanwhile, Tango (Don Cheadle) is begging for a transfer from undercover work, before his wife leaves him permanently. And Eddie (Richard Gere) is literally marking the days until retirement. Each man winds up in his own tangled web of ethics and morality, leading to a climax that brings all three together at the same crime-infested projects. How and why this occurs I will not say, however, it’s in this very construction that the film’s flaws become clearest. (KS)

Cop Out (14A)

Kevin Smith neither knows how to direct nor cares about the content of any movie that he did not write. All the evidence that you need to confirm this statement is contained in Cop Out. The movie is about a couple of cops who stumble onto information that can help them take down a Mexican drug lord named Poh Boy (Guillermo Diaz) in New York. It’s too bad they mess up the sting, the bad guy gets away and they lose face in front of all of their detective buddies. At the same time Jimmy Monroe (Bruce Willis) is trying to figure out how to pay for his daughter’s expensive wedding, a feat made even more unreachable now that he’s been suspended without pay. He seeks to sell a prized and pristine baseball card for a large fortune but as he’s in the middle of having it appraised, the store gets robbed. The thief then sells the card to the very same drug lord in exchange for narcotics. It turns out that Poh Boy is a big sports fan and serious collector of memorabilia. How coincidental! Think Beverly Hills Cop and you’ve got the prime template for this iteration. (SH)

Crazy Heart (14A)

You can almost taste the cheap whiskey and smell the stale cigarettes of the bars and bowling alleys that Crazy Heart’s Bad Blake (Jeff Bridges) has been reduced to playing at every night. The years have been hard to Bad Blake, and the one-night stands, the boozing, and the slow and steady slide into obscurity aren’t making things any easier. What really makes Crazy Heart something to behold — thanks to pitch-perfect casting and a tightly-wound script adapted from Thomas Cobb’s novel — is that it starts at rock bottom, and you’re right alongside Bad for the journey up. The film itself is a story of redemption, and sweetly so. (MH)

Dear John (PG)

The crew has stocked their story with a magnetic coupling in the form of Channing Tatum and Amanda Seyfried. As the maidenly Savannah, she clings to and drapes herself over John, a Special Forces soldier of few words and a hot temper. When 9/11 strikes, however, John’s sense of duty promises to keep them apart for an insufferable period. In an attempt to stay close, the two exchange countless handwritten letters. Add to that John’s father’s autism, Savannah’s dream of opening an equestrian camp for kids, John’s questionable past and a jealous rival and Dear John should be the most gag-worthy piece of folderol this side of Brendan Fraser. But the film and its makers face these contrivances head on, without irony and stick to their belief in the couple at hand. It’s a good move; Seyfried and Tatum lock in on each other and never let go. (JS)

Shutter Island (14A)

Teddy Daniels (Leonardo DiCaprio), a U.S. Marshal is assigned to Shutter Island with his partner Chuck Aule (Mark Ruffalo) to investigate an escaped patient named Rachel. The problem goes beyond the fact no one can figure out how she got away; there’s also the stickiness of who among the facility’s ominous staff is telling the truth or if there is more hidden away than just an escapee. There are implications of medieval testing on the patients. Daniels and Aule are discomfited by the bureaucratic and enigmatic wardens who insist upon a thorough investigation but who also stymie it by providing little assistance, even going so far as to withhold vital information. Knowing that the odds are stacked against them, the detectives surmise they have played into an elaborate trap and now are inmates themselves. 1/2 (SH)

Valentine’s Day (PG)

What we are treated to are about 10 separate but still intersecting stories about couples and singles and how they respond to Valentine’s Day itself. One guy proposes while another woman takes a very long flight home to see her loved one. Reality takes the backseat in a stretch limousine during this romantic hodgepodge. The old school writing features a lot of easy setups followed by quick punchlines, making it seem all too much like an extended sitcom. It’s a substance-free story, existing only to tell people love is patient, kind, but sometimes blind and dumb. Most of the characters experience some of love’s foibles while other dunderheads carry on oblivious to the world around them. This obviously isn’t the kind of movie that is recommended for singles but they can still appreciate it. If you’re a romantic at heart you’ll fall for it, possibly even shedding a tear or two during key scenes. (SH)