recommended viewing

November 28, 2008|By Capsules by Michael Sragow unless noted

Capsules by Michael Sragow unless noted. Full reviews are at baltimoresun.com/movies.

Bolt: *** 1/2 ( 3 1/2) This animated tale of a dog who thinks he's a TV superhero and the girl who loves him just for being a dog is the best Disney film in years. It's filled with winning characters, clever dialogue and thrilling action, all leavened by a heart that's always in the right place. PG 96 minutes (Chris Kaltenbach)

Eagle Eye: ** 1/2 ( 2 1/2) A mysterious woman who seems able to control any electronic device coerces a slacker (Shia LaBeouf) and a single mother (Michelle Monaghan) into implementing a plot that may bring down the U.S. The movie is moderately gripping but too gimmicky; by the end, watching it is like seeing someone else crack a jigsaw puzzle. PG-13 118 minutes

Four Christmases : *** 1/2 ( 3 1/2) Vince Vaughn and Reese Witherspoon are a commitment-phobic couple who flee the country at Christmas to avoid their families. But when their flight is fogged in and they get interviewed live on TV, the jig is up, and it's time to face the relatives. A tired plot, perhaps, but a cast laden with Oscar winners (Witherspoon, Sissy Spacek, Robert Duvall, Mary Steenburgen, Jon Voight) and a script that's funny, not stupid, makes this a very pleasant surprise. PG-13 82 minutes (Chris Kaltenbach)

Slumdog Millionaire: **** ( 4 STARS) This tinderbox of comedy and drama centers on the unlikeliest epic hero: a ragamuffin in Mumbai (formerly Bombay) who, at age 18, becomes a contender on the Indian version of Who Wants to Be a Millionaire. Gradually, the scrappy underclass hero comes to stand in for all of us. Director Danny Boyle (Trainspotting) outdoes himself with a blend of hair-raising social melodrama, earthy humor and mystic adventure. The result is a movie of kaleidoscopic contradictions and dazzling clarity: a Dickensian extravaganza. Rated R 120 minutes

Transporter 3 : *** ( 3 STARS) Frank Martin (Jason Statham), who offers super-swift automotive transport of goods or people, no questions asked, for the right price, breaks his rules more flagrantly than ever in this third outing for the sake of his latest package - a Ukrainian beauty named Valentina (Natalya Rudakova). If you're addicted to action, the movie will put you in adrenaline-freak heaven. PG-13. 100 minutes

What Just Happened: **** ( 4 STARS) It's a superb comedy that just happens to take place in that tinseled part of the real America known as Hollywood. Robert De Niro's harried, resourceful producer attempts to keep a British auteur (Michael Wincott) and an American superstar (Bruce Willis) from imploding, as well as woo an ex-wife (Robin Wright Penn) and provide fatherly guidance to his eldest child (Kristen Stewart)in this Barry Levinson-directed film is negotiating relationships and deals, or barking or receiving orders, or begging for favors. The result is a crackpot symphony of missed connections. R 107 minutes

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