Last updated: August 30. 2013 3:14PM - 556 Views

Cate Blanchett is a wispy wonder to behold in Woody Allen's 'Blue Jasmine.'
Cate Blanchett is a wispy wonder to behold in Woody Allen's 'Blue Jasmine.'
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BLUE JASMINE — Cate Blanchett storms her way through the title role of Woody Allen’s pastiche-y melodrama, about a fallen socialite seeking refuge in her sister’s San Francisco flat. Lifted in chunks from “A Streetcar Named Desire,” and offering wincing blue-collar-type caricatures, the film is nonetheless a wonder — thanks to its star. With Alec Baldwin, Sally Hawkins and Bobby Cannavale, looking on in awe. 98 mins. PG-13 for adult themes. ♦ ♦ ♦

THE CONJURING — Because this was 1971, and the world, much less Rhode Island’s Perron family, had not seen “The Exorcist” and the generations of ultra-realistic horror movies and “Ghost Hunters” TV shows that followed, they didn’t heed the dog’s warnings. This is like a prequel to 40 years of demonic-possession thrillers. 112 mins. R for disturbing violence and terror. ♦ ♦ 1/2

DESPICABLE ME 2 — Gru is recruited by the Anti-Villain League to help deal with a powerful new super criminal. 98 mins. PG for rude humor and mild action. ♦ ♦ 1/2

ELYSIUM — A space station in the sky is an enormous wheel, on the rim of which its wealthy residents, having left the teeming and polluted Earth, inhabit pristine homes and are eternally healthy. Meanwhile, Los Angeles in 2154 is grimy, gritty and poor, with minimal medical care. Children look to the sky, dreaming of Elysium. Neill Blomkamp is making obvious statements about immigration and universal health care, and whether this bothers you or not will greatly influence how much you enjoy the film. 109 minutes. R for strong bloody violence and language throughout. ♦ ♦ ♦

GROWN-UPS 2 — After having the time of his life three summers ago, Lenny (Adam Sandler), decides to move his family back to his hometown and have them grow up with his gang of childhood friends and their children. But sometimes crazy follows you. 102 mins. PG-13 for crude and suggestive content, language and male rear nudity. ♦ ♦

JOBS — A solidly informative and entertaining “Brief History of Apple,” as seen through the eyes of its co-founding genius. We experience 30 years of Steve Jobs’ mercurial life and times, with plenty of tastes — but only tastes — of triumph plus a few dashes of comeuppance. 122 mins. PG-13 for some drug content and brief strong language. ♦ ♦ 1/2

KICK ASS 2 — Three years later, this covers much of the same ground as “Kick Ass,” with a lot of cute worn off or aged out of. Hit Girl (Chloe Grace Moretz) is no longer a pre-teen, and Kick Ass himself (Aaron Taylor-Johnson) strains to look like a high-school senior. The sequel is notable for some amusing bits, a few cool scenes and its wince-worthy violence and staggering body count. 95 mins. R for strong violence, pervasive language, crude/sexual content and brief nudity. ♦ ♦

LEE DANIELS’ THE BUTLER — “You hear nothing. You see nothing. You only serve.” Such are the instructions Cecil Gaines receives as he embarks on his daunting new job at the Eisenhower White House. But of course Gaines, played by Forest Whitaker in a moving, grounded performance, hears and sees everything. And that means that over more than three decades on the job, he has a Forrest Gump-like view not only of the White House under seven presidents but of the long arc of the civil-rights struggle in 20th-century America. 132 mins. PG-13 for violence and disturbing images, language, sexual material, thematic elements and smoking. ♦ ♦ ♦ 1/2

MONSTERS UNIVERSITY — Pixar’s first prequel takes a look at how its “Monsters, Inc. stars, Mike and Sully (the voices of Billy Crystal and John Goodman), first met, in the ivied halls of a college campus where the multi-hued, multi-limbed, multi-eyeballed students learn how to be “scarers.” Cute, funny, but not on the top tier when it comes to originality. 110 mins. G for mild scares. ♦ ♦ 1/2

THE MORTAL INSTRUMENTS — CITY OF BONES — In a world where there is no “Twilight,” “Underworld,” “Stargate” or “Star Wars,” this would be an interesting look at a magical universe where turmoil is equally divided between a war with demons and the battle for young love. But the story is so convoluted it’s likely only a fan of the original Cassandra Clare novels can fully comprehend it. It centers on Clary (Lily Collins), a young woman who believes her biggest problem is listening to a friend’s bad poetry. That changes when demons invade her home, trash the place and kidnap her mother all in an effort to recover a magic cup. 130 mins. PG-13 for action. ♦ ♦ 1/2

PARANOIA — This high-stakes thriller takes us behind the scenes of global success to a deadly world of greed and deception. The two most powerful tech billionaires in the world (Harrison Ford and Gary Oldman) are bitter rivals with a complicated past who will stop at nothing to destroy each other. A young superstar (Liam Hemsworth) falls between them and becomes trapped in the middle of the twists and turns of their life-and-death game of corporate espionage. 106 mins. PG-13 for some sexuality, violence and language. ♦ ♦ 1/2

PERCY JACKSON: SEA OF MONSTERS — To restore their dying safe haven, the son of Poseidon and his friends embark on a quest to the Sea of Monsters to find the mythical Golden Fleece while trying to stop an ancient evil from rising. 106 mins. PG for fantasy action violence, scary images and mild language. ♦ ♦ 1/2

PLANES — In the worst of the animated blockbusters to come our way this summer, a crop duster named Dusty longs to be more “than just what I was built for.” He longs to escape Propwash Junction, and with the help of his fuel-truck pal (Brad Garrett) and trusty mechanic forklift (Teri Hatcher), he might just get into the round-the-world race and win fame and glory. 90 mins. PG for some mild action and rude humor. ♦ 1/2

SMURFS 2 — Turns out those diminutive, blue-skinned forest-dwellers have been just fine since their 2011 big-screen outing, but there’s trouble brewing in their new adventure-comedy that will require their curious blend of wide-eyed optimism and goofy enthusiasm. 105 mins. PG for some rude humor and action.

TWO GUNS — Denzel Washington and Mark Wahlberg team up in this jokey-bloody action comedy that could use more jokes and less blood. 109 mins. R for violence throughout, language and brief nudity. ♦ ♦

THE WAY, WAY BACK — A fairly straightforward story of coming of age in a time of divorce manages to feel fresh, with all the frictions that arise as kids find themselves dealing with Mom and Dad’s new loves. 103 mins. PG-13 for thematic elements, language, some sexual content and brief drug material. ♦ ♦ ♦ 1/2

WE’RE THE MILLERS — In this raunchy, hilarious and ultimately sweet-natured riff on the road-trip comedy, low-level pot dealer David (Sudeikis) is robbed, and forced by his friend and boss, Brad (Ed Helms), to head south of the border and return an RV full of weed. To blend in and avoid suspicion, David recruits a fake family to ride along, and all manner of off-color hijinks occur. 110 mins. R for crude sexual content, pervasive language, drug material, brief graphic nudity. ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦

THE WOLVERINE — Hugh Jackman returns to his famed “X-Men” role in a more contemplative fashion. Logan travels to Japan to bid farewell to a dying acquaintance only to find himself protecting the life of an heiress. 126 mins. PG-13 for intense sci-fi action and violence, some sexuality and language. ♦ ♦

WORLD’S END — In the latest work of brilliant inanity from Edgar Wright, Simon Pegg takes this whole reluctant-savior-of-humanity thing to a new plane. Twenty years after high school, Pegg’s scruffy, unshaven, never-gonna-grow-up, substance-abusing Gary can’t hold down a job. His idea of a relationship is a quick tryst in the loo of a pub. This is a guy who’s gonna save us — or at least, parts of suburban England — from an alien invasion? Lord help us. 109 mins. R for pervasive language including sexual references. ♦ ♦ ♦

YOU’RE NEXT — The first 10 minutes of this horror will feel familiar to fans of the genre. Moments after a couple have sex in an isolated location, they’re brutally murdered. Don’t give up on the movie. Through the smart writing of Simon Barrett, the film slowly changes into a horror thriller that will have you questioning who is evil and who is good. It’s this ambiguity that makes for a refreshing take on what has become a genre stagnated by too many conventions. 96 mins. R for gore, violence, language, nudity. ♦ ♦ ♦

WORLD WAR Z — Brad Pitt goes running around the world — and driving and helicoptering and bicycling and jet-planing — in a desperate attempt to find the cure for a zombie pandemic. A relentless horror thriller. First stop: Philly. 116 mins. PG-13 for intense scares, zombie violence, adult themes. ♦ ♦ ♦

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