New this week
The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug | Having survived the first part of their unsettling journey, Bilbo Baggins and his companions continue east. More dangers await them, including the skin-changer Beorn and the giant spiders of Milkwood. PG-13. Starring: Ian McKellen, Martin Freeman and Richard Armitage. Critic’s rating: 3 stars.
Tyler Perry’s A Madea Christmas | Madea gets coaxed into helping a friend pay her daughter a surprise visit in the country for Christmas, but the biggest surprise is what they’ll find when they arrive. PG-13. Starring: Tyler Perry, Kathy Najimy and Chad Michael Murray.
Out of the Furnace | Russell Baze has a rough life: He works a dead-end blue collar job at the local steel mill by day and cares for his terminally ill father by night. When Russell’s brother Rodney returns home from serving time in Iraq, he gets lured into one of the most ruthless crime rings in the Northeast and mysteriously disappears. The police fail to crack the case so – with nothing left to lose – Russell takes matters into his own hands, putting his life on the line to seek justice for his brother. R. Starring: Christian Bale, Casey Affleck and Zoe Saldana. Critic’s rating: 2 stars.
The Book Thief | A young girl living with foster parents in Nazi Germany begins collecting forbidden books and sharing them with the Jewish refugee hiding in her home. PG-13. Starring: Sophie Nelisse, Geoffrey Rush and Emily Watson. Critic’s rating: 2.5 stars.
Frozen (2013) | Anna teams up with rugged mountain man Kristoff and his loyal reindeer Sven in an epic journey, encountering Everest-like conditions, mystical trolls and a hilarious snowman named Olaf in a race to find Anna’s sister Elsa. PG. Starring: Kristen Bell, Idina Menzel and Jonathan Groff. Critic’s rating: 3 stars.
Black Nativity | Langston, a Baltimore teen raised by a single mother, travels to New York City to spend the Christmas holiday with estranged relatives, the Rev. Cornell Cobbs and his wife, Aretha. However, Langston soon finds that Cobbs has strict rules, and the youth is unwilling to follow them. PG. Starring: Forest Whitaker, Angela Bassett and Tyrese Gibson. Critic’s rating: 3 stars.
Homefront | Hoping to escape from his troubled past, former DEA agent Phil Broker moves to a seemingly quiet backwater town in the bayou with his daughter. However, he finds anything but quiet there, for the town is riddled with drugs and violence. R. Starring: Jason Statham, James Franco and Kate Bosworth. Critic’s rating: 2 stars.
Philomena | An elderly Irish woman as a teenager gave birth while she was working at a convent. The Catholic Church had the child adopted, and now, decades later, Philomena is introduced to Martin Sixsmith, onetime government spokesperson who is now working as a freelance journalist. Martin agrees to help Philomena look for her son, and the trail takes them to the United States, and brings them face-to-face with some long-buried secrets. PG-13. Starring: Judi Dench, Steve Coogan and Sophie Kennedy Clark. Critic’s rating: 3.5 stars.
Delivery Man | An aging slacker and former sperm donor discovers that he is the biological father of 533 children, and that 142 of them have filed a lawsuit to learn his true identity. PG-13. Starring: Vince Vaughn, Cobie Smulders and Chris Pratt. Critic’s rating: 2.5 stars.
The Hunger Games: Catching Fire | Katniss Everdeen and Peeta Mellark take a “Victor’s Tour” of the districts, and President Snow plots their downfall during preparations for The Quarter Quell, which only occurs every 25 years in celebration of the Capitol’s victory over the districts. PG-13. Starring: Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson and Liam Hemsworth. Critic’s rating: 2.5 stars.
The Best Man Holiday | After nearly 15 years apart, the college friends finally reunite over the Christmas holidays, they will discover just how easy it is for long-forgotten rivalries and romances to be ignited. R. Starring: Morris Chestnut, Taye Diggs and Regina Hall. Critic’s rating: 2.5 stars.
Thor: The Dark World | Thor, the Mighty Avenger, battles to save Earth and all the Nine Realms from a shadowy enemy that predates the universe itself. Thor fights to restore order across the cosmos but an ancient race led by the vengeful Malekith returns to plunge the universe back into darkness. PG-13. Starring: Chris Hemsworth, Natalie Portman and Tom Hiddleston. Critic’s rating: 2.5 stars.
Twelve Years a Slave | In the years before the Civil War, Solomon Northup, a free black man from upstate New York, is kidnapped and sold into slavery in the South. Subjected to the cruelty of one owner, he also found unexpected kindness from another, as he struggled continually to survive and maintain some of his dignity. R. Starring: Chiwetel Ejiofor, Michael Fassbender and Brad Pitt. Critic’s rating: 3.5 stars.
Ender’s Game | In the near future, a hostile alien race has attacked Earth. If not for the legendary heroics of International Fleet Commander Mazer Rackham, all would have been lost. In preparation for the next attack, the highly esteemed Colonel Hyrum Graff and the International Military are training only the best young minds to find the future Mazer. PG-13. Starring: Harrison Ford, Asa Butterfield and Ben Kingsley. Critic’s rating: 2 stars.
Last Vegas | Aging pals Billy, Paddy, Archie and Sam have been best friends since childhood. When Billy finally proposes to his much-younger girlfriend, all four friends go to Las Vegas to celebrate the end of Billy’s longtime bachelorhood and relive their glory days. PG-13. Starring: Michael Douglas, Robert De Niro and Morgan Freeman. Critic’s rating: 2.5 stars.
Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa | 86 year-old Irving Zisman is on a journey across America with his 8 year-old grandson Billy. Along the way, Irving will introduce Billy to people, places and situations that give new meaning to the term child-rearing. R. Starring: Johnny Knoxville and Jackson Nicoll. Critic’s rating: 2 stars.
Captain Phillips | This film focuses on the 2009 hijacking of the U.S. container ship Maersk Alabama by a crew of Somali pirates. PG-13. Starring: Tom Hanks, Barkhad Abdi and Catherine Keener. Critic’s rating: 3.5 stars.
Gravity 3D | Dr. Ryan Stone is a medical engineer on her first shuttle mission. Her commander is veteran astronaut Matt Kowalsky, helming his last flight before retirement. Then, on a routine space walk, disaster strikes – the shuttle is destroyed, leaving Ryan and Matt stranded in deep space with no link to Earth and no hope of rescue. As their fear turns to panic, they realize that the only way home may be to venture further into space. PG-13. Starring: Sandra Bullock, George Clooney and Ed Harris. Critic’s rating: 3.5 stars.
Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2 | Inventor Flint Lockwood thought he saved the world when he destroyed his most infamous invention – a machine that turned water into food causing cheeseburger rain and spaghetti tornadoes. But Flint soon learns that his invention survived and is now creating food-animals. PG. Starring: Bill Hader, Anna Faris and James Caan. Critic’s rating: 2 stars.
Lee Daniels’ The Butler | This film tells the story of a White House butler who served eight American presidents over three decades. The film traces the dramatic changes that swept American society during this time, from the civil rights movement to Vietnam and beyond, and how those changes affected this man’s life and family. PG-13. Starring: Forest Whitaker, Oprah Winfrey and Cuba Gooding Jr. Critic’s rating: 2.5 stars.