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SAFETY NOT GUARANTEED

Globe. 14A

Aubrey Plaza, best known as the hottie depressive April in Parks and Recreation, goes deeper (but no less funny) as a Seattle magazine intern who joins a more seasoned writer (Jake M. Johnson) to investigate a mysterious classified ad posted by an eccentric loner (Mark Duplass) seeking a time-travel companion. Plaza has the gift for combining comedy and melancholia and that works especially well in this funny-poignant meditation on coming to terms with the past, by any means necessary. Starts tomorrow. HHH1/2

Starting tomorrow

CLOUDBURST

Cinematheque. Subject to classification.

Oscar winners Olympia Dukakis and Brenda Fricker are an aging American lesbian couple who, facing forced separation due to their infirmities, take off to Canada to get legally married. Directed by Thom Fitzgerald.

DIARY OF A WIMPY KID: DOG DAYS

Grant Park, Kildonan Place, Polo Park, St. Vital, Towne. G

Yet another entry in the ongoing film adaptations of author Jeff Kinney's juvenile stories of family, friends and school daze.

THIS IS NOT A FILM

Cinematheque. Subject to classification.

Iranian director Jafar Panahi (The White Balloon), was sentenced to six years in prison for advocating propaganda against the Islam Republic and banned from making films for 20 years. So while under house arrest, he makes a film, shot on an iPhone and a digital camera, expressing his outrage and acting out a script he wasn't allowed to shoot in a gesture of admirable defiance.

TOTAL RECALL

Grant Park, Kildonan Place, Polo Park, St. Vital, Towne. 14A

Colin Farrell stars as a man who plunges into a deadly adventure when he visits a futuristic memory implant boutique and discovers his whole identity may be a lie. This is a remake of the Paul Verhoeven film from 1990 that starred the less accomplished thespian Arnold Schwarzenegger.

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The following movies have been previously reviewed by Free Press movie critic Randall King, unless otherwise noted.

THE AVENGERS

Polo Park. PG

Superhero franchises assemble! This witty, thrilling comic-book movie from writer-director Joss Whedon elegantly combines four existing Marvel movie franchises -- Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.), Thor (Chris Hemsworth), Captain America (Chris Evans) and The Hulk (Mark Ruffalo) -- for an action spectacle that still manages to be smart and savvy. HHHH

THE AMAZING SPIDER-MAN

Polo Park, St. Vital, Towne. PG

Director Marc Webb relaunches the Spidey origin story with Mary Jane Watson, J. Jonah Jameson and the Green Goblin nowhere in sight. Webb eschews the more baroque style of director Sam Raimi's recent trilogy for dramatic naturalism -- in the scenes not involving clashing mutants. This amounts to entertaining summer diversion, to be sure, but Webb's insistence on playing Spider-Man straight results in a movie that comes off as dour and rather joyless by comparison. HHH

BEASTS OF THE SOUTHERN WILD

Grant Park. 14A

Benh Zeitlin's feature directing debut tells the story of a six-year-old named Hushpuppy who lives on the bayou with her daddy. When a great storm approaches, and her father gets sick, Hushpuppy is forced to use her wits to survive in an increasingly hostile landscape. A bleak fairy tale with elements of Southern gothic and black martyrdom, this is a memorable, if contrived, window into the 21st-century American soul. HHHH (Reviewed by Katherine Monk)

THE BEST EXOTIC MARIGOLD HOTEL

Grant Park. PG

The cream of elder English actors (Judi Dench, Maggie Smith, Bill Nighy, Tom Wilkinson) play retirees who travel to India to take up residence in what they believe is a newly restored hotel, only to discover their new home is less luxurious than advertised. This movie would have been little more than an episode of Fantasy Island with English accents, but thanks to great detail work from the cast and a gentle hand from director John Madden, Best Exotic Marigold Hotel proves you're never too old to bloom. HHH (Reviewed by Katherine Monk)

BRAVE

Kildonan Place, Polo Park, St. Vital, Towne. PG

Pixar Animation turns its high technology to the service of an old-fashioned adventure about a Scottish princess whose rebellion against an arranged marriage results in a perilous, magic-infused mission. In so doing, Brave bravely steps away from that kind of boys-and-their-toys material of their past in favour of material that is more nuanced, more beautiful and decidedly more feminine in its perspective. HHHH

THE DARK KNIGHT RISES

Globe, Grant Park, Kildonan Place, Polo Park, Polo Park IMAX, Portage Place IMAX, St. Vital, Towne. 14A

Christopher Nolan completes his Batman trilogy in style with this apocalyptic tale of class warfare in Gotham City, as Batman/Bruce Wayne (Christian Bale) is forced out of exile by a mysterious terrorist known as Bane (Tom Hardy), as well as the feline cat-burglar Catwoman (Anne Hathaway). Even at its most outrageous, there is a recurrent ping of realpolitik plausibility here that distinguishes this movie from all other superhero movies and summer blockbusters in general. HHHH

ICE AGE: CONTINENTAL DRIFT

Grant Park, Kildonan Place, Polo Park, St. Vital, Towne. G

Manny (Ray Romano), Diego (Denis Leary) and Sid (John Leguizamo) are back for another round of extinction-themed hijinks. The script is the weakest in the franchise, but there's something darkly compelling about watching evolutionary Armageddon dressed as family fluff. HHH (Reviewed by Katherine Monk)

THE INTOUCHABLES

Globe. 14A

This hit film from France focuses on an angry young man with a criminal past (Omar Sy) who finds himself given the job of caring for a wealthy aristocrat (Franßois Cluzet) rendered quadriplegic after a paragliding accident. Sy is a charmer: he won a French César award as best actor, besting Jean Dujardin of The Artist. While some North American critics have been quick to take offense at perceived racial stereotypes, this stands as a refreshing Gallic variation of an American buddy movie formula. HHH1/2

MAGIC MIKE

Grant Park, Polo Park, St. Vital, Towne. 14A

Channing Tatum shows off his many talents as a male stripper in this entertaining, if somewhat predictable, romantic drama based on his own life. Mike thought he had it all until he introduced a struggling buddy (Alex Pettyfer) to the world of buff dancing and watched it change him for the worse. Director Steven Soderbergh maps every cliché, and elegantly avoids most, as he offers an entertaining piece of escapism that gently pokes at gender-based hypocrisy. HHH1/2 (Reviewed by Katherine Monk)

STEP UP REVOLUTION

Polo Park, St. Vital, Towne. PG

Long on dancing, short on plot, Step Up Revolution pits a young dancer (Kathryn McCormack) against efforts by her developer father (Peter Gallagher) to rebuild a neighbourhood. If you can get past the contrived drama, you'll probably like the dance scenes. HH (Reviewed by Melissa Leong)

TED

Kildonan Place, Polo Park, St. Vital, Towne. 18A

A crude comedy with Mark Wahlberg as a 35-year-old slacker who's being held back by his best friend and roommate, a talking teddy bear (voiced by director Seth MacFarlane). The vulgar jokes push envelopes you didn't know existed, but there's a sweetness to the film, and it's often very funny. HHH1/2 (Reviewed by Jay Stone)

THE WATCH

Grant Park, Polo Park, St. Vital, Towne. 18A

Ben Stiller plays a Costco manager who starts a neighbourhood watch when the local Costco becomes the headquarters for an alien invasion. A comedy that tries to pile every lame, formulaic ingredient into an overladen shopping cart, The Watch attempts to make us laugh with scenes of incompetent law enforcement, but ends up making us cry with tears of boredom and bad taste. HH (Reviewed by Katherine Monk)

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition August 2, 2012 E14

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