Opening this week

'Life of Pi'
'Life of Pi'

Life of Pi In adapting Yann Martel's celebrated novel about an Indian boy who becomes shipmates with a hungry tiger, director Ang Lee takes full advantage of the 3-D medium: Life of Pi is filled with astonishing lyrical beauty and grandiose magical realism. Dramatically – well, that's another story. Lee and screenwriter David Magee rely on a trite "interview with the hero" framing device, as well as unnecessary narration and spiritually didactic dialogue. The thematic underpinnings of the tale are made explicit, verbalized so that even the dimmest viewer will understand the film's thesis on storytelling and faith. You won't see a better-looking movie this year, but you'll surely see better ones. (PG)
– Jeff Meyers

Red Dawn Once upon a time, a major studio was actually able to release a movie that showed the contiguous United States being invaded by Soviet troops. And nobody said "That's completely ridiculous! You'll never work again!" Because it was the '80s, see, and this invasion business was apparently a thing a lot of people feared might actually happen, because they were all busy trying to put off worrying about AIDS. Now that it's 28 years later and the Soviet Union no longer even exists, you might think that remaking Red Dawn would be utterly impossible. Shows what you know! All it took is one minor tweak: In the new version, the marauding force that threatens to lay siege to all of America comes not from Russia, but from North Korea. Yeah, that tracks! And we still don't have to talk about AIDS. (PG-13)

Also playing
Twilight: Breaking Dawn — Part 2
If you're part of the small demographic that hasn't decided whether to see this movie – don't. As with the previous entries in the series, the acting is laughable, the protagonist is passive to the point of catatonia, the special effects are only slightly better than what you'd see on the SyFy channel, and the anti-sex, pro-abstinence, anti-abortion subtext is odious. Yet this still might have been a damn interesting film if someone like David Cronenberg had gotten his hands on it. His disturbing approach to body identity and sexuality could have given Stephenie Meyer's unlikely mix of Mormon morality and pervy goth romanticism a rich landscape to play in. Instead, scripter Melissa Rosenberg does nothing to improve the source material, and as for director Bill Condon and his effects wizards, they even forgot to make the young vampires sparkle in the sunlight – for the entire movie. Or maybe they didn't. Maybe Meyer randomly changed the rules again. Who knows? At this point, you're either all-in or simply don't care. (PG-13)
– Steve Schneider