The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel has one of those titles that suggests something life-affirming this way comes. Premise, casting and pacing are key when filmmakers set out to charm an audience, especially with an ensemble cast of veteran thespians, and director John Madden (Shakespeare in Love, The Debt) has two of the three secured. With Judi Densch, Bill Nighy, Tom Wilkinson and Maggie Smith among a group of mostly middle-class U.K. retirees checking into a run-down resort in Jodhpur, one can only hope Madden does not overextend their stay.
He does a pretty good job of bringing them together, working from screenwriter Ol Parker’s adaptation of a novel by Deborah Moggach (2005’s Pride and Prejudice). Densch is Evelyn, recently widowed and apparently drawn to India after an experience with a call center. Wilkinson is Graham, a judge who spent the happiest time of his life in Jodhpur. Nighy and Penelope Wilton play henpecked husband Douglas and bitchy wife Jean, and Maggie Smith plays a racist sourpuss who goes East for a hip replacement that would take six months to receive in England.
Norman (Ronald Pickup) and Madge (Celia Imrie) are both on the trip in search of love, but are relatively inconsequential except to help fill the rooms. Madden would have been in a better position if they had been excised in the adaptation process, but he has a far better grasp of how to handle an ensemble cast that includes Bill Nighy than director Richard Curtis (Pirate Radio) does. Everyone experiences some sort of self-actualization, but none of the subplots feel contrived, and for most of the film it’s entertaining just to watch the cast interrelate. The storyline is overextended, though, and its difficult to sit through the final scenes without thinking of what Madden could have cut to earn Marigold Hotel a five-star rating. MATT KELEMEN
bernie (PG-13, 104 mins) See review, this issue. Village Square, Sam’s Town.
The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel (PG-13, 124 mins) See review, this issue. Opens wide.
Chernobyl Diaries (R, 90 mins) A group of thrill-seeking tourists take a tour of Chernobyl’s ground zero, and naturally, plenty of murderous shadowy figures abound. Opens wide.
Jiro Dreams of Sushi (PG, 81 mins) See review, this issue. Village Square.
Men in Black III (PG-13, 103 mins) Agent J (Will Smith) has to go back in time to prevent Agent K (Tommy Lee Jones) from getting killed by an alien. In other news: What? Opens wide.
21 Jump Street (R, 109 mins) An action-comedy where two youthful looking cops (Channing Tatum, Jonah Hill) are sent back to high school to stop a synthetic drug ring. Both have to relive their old personal issues and new ones they never encountered back in school.
American Reunion (R, 113 mins) The “American Pie” gang attends its high school reunion, proving you’re never too old for horny hijinks. Suncoast, Tropicana
The Avengers (PG-13, 142 mins) All of Marvel Comics’ summer-kickoff maneuvering over the past decade had been leading up to this: “The Avengers” is the first film to combine established superheroes so boldly. Iron Man (Robert Downey, Jr.), Captain America (Chris Evans), Thor (Chris Hemsworth) and the Incredible Hulk (Mark Ruffalo) assemble to do battle with Loki (Tom Hiddleston, giving the film’s best performance), who is set to unleash some sort of interplanetary wave of destruction on New York City. Marvel should have had the formula down pat by now, but co-writer/director Josh Whedon gives it some unexpected life that the studio can hopefully build on next year. And the year after that. (CB: 5.3.12)
Battleship (PG-13, 131 mins) A film adaptation of the same-named board game, but with hostile aliens and a really expensive cast (Taylor Kitsch, Alexander Skarsg?rd, Rihanna, Liam Neeson). Who paid for this shit?
Cabin in the Woods (R, 95 mins) Five friends go to a cabin together. You can gather the rest — and you’ll be wrong. Colonnade
Chimpanzee (G, 78 mins) Narrated by Tim Allen, this documentary follows Oscar, a curious baby chimpanzee who gets separated from his troop but gains an unlikely ally in a fully-grown male chimp. Suncoast, Colonnade
Coriolanus (R, 122 mins) Caius (Ralph Fiennes) is a patriot with love for his country and contempt for its citizens. In this modern-day version of a lesser known Shakespearean play, the use of cell phones and viral videos causes Caius (Ralph Fiennes, also directing here), a patriot with love for his country and contempt for its citizens, to be ultimately exiled from Rome. He joins forces with an enemy (Gerard Butler), to get revenge on the city. Fiennes’ blend of action and homage is top-notch, as is his direction. (MK: 4.26.12) Village Square
Dark Shadows (PG-13, 113 mins) Barnabas Collins (Johnny Depp) is a vampire unearthed in a Maine fishing town, where the town boss Angelique Bouchard (Eve Green) actually is the witch who condemned him to eternal damnation and would like to see him suffer more. Unfortunately, all the best jokes are previewed in the film’s trailer. (MK: 5.10.12)
Delicacy (PG-13, 108 mins) Nathalie (Audrey Tatou) loses her husband and tries to move on by staying focused on work and storing her emotions inside, which come out unexpectedly. She quickly falls for another man (Francois Damiens), much to the dismay of her enamored boss (Bruno Todeschini), who is compelled to take action. Delicacy feels tailor-made for Tatou, but the Foenkinos brothers’ balance of light comedy and moody desperation is conveyed with a breezy cinematic style and a great performance by Damiens. (MK: 4.26.12) Village Square
The Dictator (R, 120 mins) Admiral General Aladeen (Sacha Baron Cohen) is a ruthless despot, the Supreme Oppressor of the North African country of Wadiya. After an assassin’s bullet kills his double, Aladeen insists that his second-in-command hire another lookalike in time for the Admiral General’s trip to the United Nations. Every once in a while, a redeeming one-liner buys Baron Cohen another couple minutes of your trust. But a great comedy? Not even close. (CB: 5.17.12)
Dr. Seuss’ The Lorax (PG, 94 mins) While a boy goes in search of the one thing that will get the affections of the girl of his dreams, he learns about the Lorax, a grumpy creature trying to save his world.
The Five-Year Engagement (R, 124 mins) Violet (Emily Blunt) and Tom (Jason Segel) hit a lot of bumps in the in their long trip down the isle.
Girl in Progress (PG-13, 90 mins) While her daughter Ansiedad (Cierra Ramirez) is in a hurry to grow up, Grace (Eva Mendes) is too busy dealing with the affections of married men and co-workers.
Hunger Games (PG-13, 142 mins) Although there are a couple missteps in this film adaptation of author Suzanne Collins’ popular young adult trilogy, Gary Ross’ film is a very accomplished one, with a terrific despairing quality. Katniss (Jennifer Lawrence) volunteers in place of her younger sister to perform in the yearly games in which 24 teens fight to the death. A strong performance by Lawrence carries the so-so acting of others, helped out by reliable actors like Woody Harrelson. (CB: 3.22.12)
Journey 2: The Mysterious Island (PG, 94 mins) After receiving a mysterious distress call from an unknown island, Sean Anderson (Josh Hutcherson) goes on an adventure to find his grandfather. Tropicana
Lockout (PG-13, 95 mins) Set in the near future, an ex-government agent falsely accused of espionage must save the President’s daughter from the violent inmates of a maximum security space prison. Tropicana
The Lucky One (PG-13, 101 mins) A soldier (Zac Efron) who served three tours in Iraq goes to North Carolina to find the woman (Taylor Schilling) in a found picture he believes was his good luck charm.
Mirror Mirror (PG, 106 mins) Snow White (Lilly Collins), exiled by the Evil Queen (Julia Roberts), finds the help of seven rebels willing to help her get her kingdom back. Of course there has to be a charming prince (Armie Hammer), but the queen is vying for his affections as well.
The Pirates: A Band of Misfits (PG, 88 mins) Pirate Captain (the voice of Hugh grant) sees opportunity by winning a science contest with Charles Darwin (David Tennant). The awe inspired by the stop-motion animation can only keep a child entertained for so long, and since the jokes in this film can go right over their heads, most of the time it needs something more. (CB: 4.26.12)
The Raven (R, 111 mins) After a madman starts bringing the darkest words of Edgar Allen Poe (John Cusack) to life, a detective (Luke Evans) teams up with Poe to figure out how to stop and catch the murderer — especially before he gets to Poe’s love (Alice Eve). Suncoast, Sam’s Town
Safe (R, 94 mins) Ex-cage fighter Luke (Jason Statham) protects a young girl, both harassed by Russian mobsters, among others. Sam’s Town
Salmon Fishing in the Yemen (PG-13, 107 mins) Fred (Ewan McGregror) must explore the prospects of salmon fishing with a young sheik (Amr Waked) and his bubbly assistant, Harriet (Emily Blunt), but as the operation crumbles, so does Fred’s outlook — and his burgeoning relationship with Harriet. Just because a film lacks surprises doesn’t mean it won’t take an entirely satisfying turn at the end. Based on the 2006 Paul Torday novel. (MK: 3.29.12) Village Square
Think Like a Man (PG-13, 122 mins) Four women buy a Steve Harvey relationship book and take the advice to heart. When their pursuers realize what’s going on, they use the same book to exact their revenge.
The Three Stooges (PG, 92 mins) Although the impressions of the classic trio are spot at times, and the backstory provided is historically interesting, the movie is just bad. From the Farrelly Brothers, who have made some quintessential idiot movies, comes their worst; bringing these fellows into the 21st century is a difficult task and the filmmakers did not succeed. (CB: 4.12.12)
Titanic 3D (PG-13, 194 mins) James Cameron asks you to spare another three-and-a-half-hours to watch his 1997 nautical epic again, this time in 3D. With Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet. Sam’s Town
What to Expect When You’re Expecting (PG-13, 110 mins) A rom-com’d take on Heidi Murkoff’s book meant to terrify young baby-having couples by saying that, in contrast to the title, you can’t actually plan a damn thing about this baby-having thing.
Wrath of the Titans (PG-13, 99 mins) Perseus (Sam Worthington) must battle ancient titans and rescue his father Zeus (Liam Neeson) from the underworld, where his brother Hades (Ralph Fiennes) and son Ares (Edgar Ramirez) have taken him. A sequel to the “Clash of the Titans” remake. Tropicana
Creepy Puppet double feature “The Dark Crystal” (PG, 93 mins) When his world is thrown into chaos, a Gelfling must find the missing shard of a crystal to restore balance. “Labyrinth” (PG, 101 mins) When baby Toby’s asshole sister wishes him into the Goblin King’s custody, she has to complete David Bowie’s maze in 13 hours to get him back. Saturday, 2p. The Sci-Fi Center, 900 E. Karen Ave., Suite D-202, 792-4335, www.thescificenter.com, $5
Dr. Who Night (NR) Episodes from the BBC television show, chronicling the adventures of the eccentric time-traveling alien and his friends. Friday, 8p. The Sci-Fi Center, 900 E. Karen Ave., Suite D-202, 792-4335, www.thescificenter.com. $5
House of Ghosts (NR, 77 mins) Independent director Christopher Mihm’s first supernatural thriller about a group of dinner partiers contacting the afterworld and soon being accosted by an evil force. Saturday, 8p. The Sci-Fi Center, 900 E. Karen Ave., Suite D-202, 792-4335, www.thescificenter.com, $5
Monday Movies (NR) Comedy features presented on a big screen. Monday, 9p. Freakin’ Frog, 4700 S. Maryland Parkway. 597-9702.
Paint Your Wagon (NR, 148 mins) A musical about two gold miners (Clint Eastwood, Lee Marvin) who share all kinds of hijinx, including the purchase of a wife to share. Tuesday, 1p. Clark County Library. 1401 E. Flamingo Road, 507-3400. Free.
Saturday Morning Cartoons (NR, 120 mins) Rotating childhood favorite cartoons from the ’60s to the ’90s. Saturday, 10a. The Sci-Fi Center, 900 E. Karen Ave., Suite D-202, 792-4335, www.thescificenter.com. Free