Posted Online: Nov. 29, 2012, 11:42 am

At the movies: Nov. 30, 2012

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Photo: Associated Press / 20th Century Fox
Suraj Sharma stars as Pi Patel in a scene from 'Life of Pi.'
Photo: Associated Press / Sony Pictures
Tommy Lee Jones, left, and Will Smith are shown in a scene from 'Men in Black 3.'
New in theaters

Great Escape 14 Stadium Cinemas, Moline:

"Collection" (R)
"Killing Them Softly" (R)

Rave Motion Pictures 53, Davenport:
"Collection" (R)
"Killing Them Softly" (R)
Nova 6 Cinemas, Moline:
"The Perks of Being a Wallflower"(PG-13)
Central Theater, Geneseo:
"Skyfall" (PG-13)

Putnam Museum's National Geographic Giant Screen Theater, Davenport:
"Led Zeppelin: Celebration Day" (not rated)
Minireviews

These are Roger Ebert's mini-reviews (unless otherwise noted) of some of the movies currently playing in the Quad-Cities area.

"The Collection" (R, 82 minutes). The only man ever to survive the wrath of a deranged killer who imprisons his victims in a booby-trapped abandoned hotel is forced to lead a group of mercenaries to rescue the killer's latest target. With Emma Fitzpatrick, Christopher McDonald and Josh Stewart. Written by Patrick Melton and Marcus Dunstan, directed by Dunstan. -- Los Angeles Times

"Killing Them Softly" (R, 97 minutes). Set in a dreary and barren post-Katrina New Orleans, a cruel drama about organized crime with a cast much better than it deserves. After an ill-advised stickup of a high-stakes mob-organized poker game, a series of mob executions threatens to pretty much wipe out the local syndicate. OK. But no suspense, romance or humor? Only dry, weary dialogue, suffering and blood? Afraid so. Starring Brad Pitt, Ray Liotta, James Gandolfini, Richard Jenkins. Rating: 2 stars Last week: "Life of Pi" ( PG, 125 minutes). A miraculous achievement of storytelling and a landmark of visual mastery. Inspired by a worldwide best-seller that seemed unfilmable, it is a triumph over its difficulties. It also is a moving spiritual achievement, a movie whose title could have been shortened to "Life." The story involves the 227 days its teenage hero (Suraj Sharma) spends drifting across the Pacific in the same lifeboat as a Bengal tiger. The movie quietly combines various religious traditions to enfold its story in the wonder of life. How remarkable that these two mammals, and the fish beneath them and birds above them, are all here. One of the year's best. Rating: 4 stars

"Red Dawn" ( PG-13, 93 minutes). Opens with a hard-fought high school football game before the next day in Spokane, Wash., is interrupted by the thud of bombs. The young gridiron stars of the Wolverines race outside to see enemy aircraft flying overhead in formation, dropping paratroopers from the skies. An alarming sight, but the movie reassures us an invasion by communist North Korea can be vanquished by the members of the team and their girlfriends, using mostly automatic weapons stolen from the North Koreans themselves. They're all instinctive combat fighters, even a cheerleader. Light on dialogue, heavy on mindless action. Rating: 1 1/2 stars

"Rise of the Guardians" (PG, 97 minutes). Hyperactive 3-D animated fantasy regarding the plight of Jack Frost, who nobody seems able to see. Called upon in a crisis to help the Guardians (Santa, the Easter Bunny, the Tooth Fairy, etc.), he saves the day. Younger children like the breakneck action, magical ability to fly and the young hero who is tired of being overlooked. Their parents and older siblings may find the 97-minute running time quite long enough. Rating: 3 stars

Coming to video Tuesday, Dec. 4

These are Roger Ebert's mini-reviews (unless otherwise noted) of some new video releases.

"Beasts of the Southern Wild" (PG-13, 93 minutes). Cut off from the Louisiana mainland, surrounded by rising waters, the Bathtub is a desolate wilderness of poverty where a small community struggles to survive. A small girl named Hushpuppy (Quvenzhane Wallis) fiercely asserts herself in this wasteland, in a film of great imagination and beauty. One of the year's best films. Directed by Benh Zeitlin. Rating: 4 stars
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"The Odd Life of Timothy Green" (PG, 104 minutes). A warm and lovely fantasy, the kind of full-bodied family film that's being pushed aside in favor of franchises and slam-bang confusion. On a picture-postcard farm in the middle of endlessly rolling hills where it always is Indian summer, a lovable boy comes into the life of a childless couple and brings along great joy and wisdom. Jennifer Garner, Joel Edgerton, young CJ Adams and a rich supporting cast. Written and directed by Peter Hedges ("What's Eating Gilbert Grape"). Accessible for all but the youngest children, and I suspect their parents will enjoy it, too. Rating: 3 1/2 stars

"Hope Springs" (PG-13, 100 minutes). Tommy Lee Jones and Meryl Streep play a couple whose marriage has frozen into a routine. Every day starts with his nose buried in the newspaper and ends with him asleep in front of the Golf Channel. They haven't slept in the same room for years. She convinces him over his own dead body to attend a couples therapy session at a Maine clinic run by Steve Carell. The movie contains few surprises, but one of them is Jones' excellent performance -- vulnerable, touchy and shy. Rating: 3 stars

"The Dark Knight Rises" (PG-13, 164 minutes). Leaves the fanciful early days of the superhero genre far behind and moves into a doom-shrouded, apocalyptic future that's close to today's headlines. As urban terrorism and class warfare envelop Gotham and its infrastructure is ripped apart, Bruce Wayne (Christian Bale) emerges reluctantly from years of seclusion in Wayne Manor and faces a soulless villain named Bane (Tom Hardy), as powerful as he is. The film slowly begins with a murky plot and too many new characters, but builds to a sensational climax. It lacks the near-perfection of "The Dark Knight" (2008); it needs more clarity and a better villain, but it's an honorable finale. Rating: 3 stars New on video this week:
"Sparkle" (PG-13, 116 minutes). A full-bodied musical melodrama that acquires a melancholy undertone because it features the last performance by Whitney Houston. She stars as the strict, churchgoing mom of three girls who are gifted singers: sexy Carmen Ejogo, studious Tika Sumpter and lovable Jordin Sparks (from "American Idol"), who has the title role and writes songs she's at first too shy to perform. With scene-stealing work by Mike Epps as a snaky comedian and Derek Luke as Sparkle's big-hearted boyfriend. Rating: 3 stars

"Men in Black 3" (PG-13, 103 minutes). Fifteen years after the original and a decade after the blah sequel, this third installment is the best in the series. Tommy Lee Jones and Will Smith are back as anti-alien Agents K and J, and Josh Brolin has a movie-stealing role as the young Agent K, looking and sounding uncannily like Jones. Rick Baker, Hollywood's top-ranking creature creator, creates a gob-smacking gallery of aliens and the time travel plot even works in the Apollo 11 moon launch. Rating: 3 stars

"Step Up Revolution" (PG-13, 97 minutes). Kathryn McCormick of "So You Think You Can Dance" and newcomer Ryan Guzman co-star in the story of a new girl in Miami Beach who gets involved in his professional-grade flash mob just when her evil dad (Peter Gallagher) wants to tear down all their beloved hangouts and erect a huge development. Lots of good dancing and choreography. The plot is, well, moronic. Rating: 2 stars

"Lawless" (R, 115 minutes). Based on a real-life, blood-soaked war between moonshiners and the law in Franklin County, Va., in 1931. The three Bondurant brothers (Shia LaBeouf, Tom Hardy and Jason Clarke) fearlessly rule their turf, until a foppish federal agent (Guy Pearce) arrives from Chicago. A well-made film about ignorant and violent people. It's not so much the movie is too long, but rather too many people must be killed before it can end. Rating: 2 1/2 stars