Three Sequels, No Waiting

It’s the middle of December, and the Thanksgiving movies are played out; time for the studios to get serious about courting families and Oscars in roughly the same proportions. Shall we plunge right in?

“Alvin and the Chipmunks: Chipwrecked”: It’s okay, Phil, it’s okay. It’s over. There’s no more pain. It’s over. (Ask Bryan Cranston.)

“Dragonslayer”:  Andy says there are no dragons in Tristan Patterson’s documentary, just some skate punk clawing his way back from a breakdown. But really, come on — if some idiot could bring a suit against “Drive” because it wasn’t a proper action movie, this is just asking for trouble.

Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol“:  Brad Bird’s first live-action movie is as nimble and visually charged as his amazing animated work — and it puts Tom Cruise back on track as a credible action hero after the horrorshow that was “Knight and Day”.

Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows“: I wasn’t a huge fan of Guy Ritchie’s first kick at the can, but the sequel is more satisfying — if only because (a) we already know Robert Downey Jr. is terribly miscast as Holmes, (b) this one moves so quickly it doesn’t really matter and (c) Stephen Fry was born to play Mycroft.

Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy“:  Gary Oldman’s precisely calibrated performance serves as the anchor for Tomas Alfredson’s high-speed version of John Le Carre’s massive espionage novel, which comes at the material from a different angle  than the beloved 1979 miniseries.

“Young Adult”: Jason Reitman and Diablo Cody’s follow-up to “Juno” is less self-consciously hip and more of a grim slog through the psyche of a horribly unhappy woman who hits bottom and keeps right on going. Charlize Theron is terrific as said woman; Patton Oswalt is even more so as the equally damaged high-school classmate who becomes her voice of reason. The movie’s kind of lumpy, but those performances blaze.

… and that’s everything for today. I mean, you could cheat and read all the reviews of next week’s movies over at the NOW site, but that’d spoil all the fun, wouldn’t it?

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