Movie Reviews

Four Christmases

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The Story: When their holiday getaway flight is canceled, a couple is forced to spend Christmas with their improbable families. The Lowdown: Now's the time to unwrap that fruitcake your aunt sent five years ago. It is bound to be fresher than this.

Transporter 3

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The Story: Frank Martin is back. This time, at the behest of a shady American, he transports a trunk full of duffel bags, accompanied by a mysterious young woman. The Lowdown: A parade of over-the-top fight sequences and car chases that’s damn entertaining simply because it revels in its own absurdity and never takes itself even slightly seriously.

Australia

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The Story: A prim Englishwoman teams up with a rough Australian drover to save her murdered husband's cattle ranch from financial ruin. Romance and World War II follow. The Lowdown: A deliberately unrealistic, larger-than-life old-school epic that's constantly engaging, beautiful to look at and more emotionally engaging than it probably has a right to be. A big screen must-see.

Twilight

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The Story: New girl in town falls for dreamy vampire hunk. Improbable romance follows. The Lowdown: Really low-grade horror mixes with hard-to-buy teen romance in this dull adaptation of the popular series of young-adult books. Unless you're a really romantic teenage girl, there's not much here.

Murder on the Orient Express

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The Hendersonville Film Society will show Murder on the Orient Express at 2 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 30, in the Smoky Mountain Theater at Lake Pointe Landing Retirement Community, 333 Thompson St., Hendersonville. (From Asheville, take I-26 to U.S. 64 West, turn right at the third light onto Thompson Street. Follow to the Lake Point Landing entrance and park in the lot on the left.)

The Boy in the Striped Pajamas

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The Story: A young, naive, lonely German boy -- and son of a Nazi officer -- makes friends with a Jewish child who he believes is living on a farm, but who is in fact living in a concentration camp. The Lowdown: Full of good intentions, the movie falls victim to its own snail-like pacing, a plethora of Oscar-bait clichés and some contrived, manipulative plotting that makes the whole affair feel disingenuous.

Rachel Getting Married

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The Story: Drug-addict Kym gets out of rehab to attend her sister's wedding -- and face up to the demons of her past and present. The Lowdown: There's much to admire -- even to celebrate -- here, but a script that doesn't know when enough is enough and a talented director who piles on too much keep it from being great.

The Brothers Grimm

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The Hendersonville Film Society will show The Brothers Grimm at 2 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 23, in the Smoky Mountain Theater at Lake Pointe Landing Retirement Community, 333 Thompson St., Hendersonville. (From Asheville, take I-26 to U.S. 64 West, turn right at the third light onto Thompson Street. Follow to the Lake Point Landing entrance and park in the lot on the left.)

Bolt 3-D

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The Story: A TV-star dog -- who believes he’s some sort of “super dog” because he doesn’t realize he’s living his life on the set of a wildly popular adventure show -- escapes into the real world in order to track down his master, only to learn that life is much different in reality. The Lowdown: A perfectly perfunctory kiddie film, with nice enough animation, uneventful 3-D effects and absolutely zero surprises.

Happy-Go-Lucky

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The Story: A look at the life of Poppy Cross, an inveterately happy English primary-school teacher, as she interacts with her friends, relations and the world in general. The Lowdown: A surprisingly deep, yet mostly sunny, look at one person's world done in a refreshing manner that makes it all seem new and invigorating.

Quantum of Solace

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The Story: In a direct sequel to Casino Royale, James Bond seeks revenge for the death of Vesper Lynd, while also bringing down a world-class villain and getting himself branded a rogue agent. The Lowdown: The shortest Bond film ever plays like the longest. Nice to look at -- and there is one standout sequence -- but otherwise, the film is too sober-minded to be fun and too action-obsessed to be as deep as the script thinks it is.

Soul Men

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The Story: Two washed up soul musicians travel cross-country in order to play a tribute concert for their former partner. The Lowdown: An amiable, but overlong and uneventful comedy that’s entertaining through the sheer force of the personalities of Samuel L. Jackson and Bernie Mac.

A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum

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The Hendersonville Film Society will show A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum at 2 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 16, in the Smoky Mountain Theater at Lake Pointe Landing Retirement Community, 333 Thompson St., Hendersonville. (From Asheville, take I-26 to U.S. 64 West, turn right at the third light onto Thompson Street. Follow to the Lake Point Landing entrance and park in the lot on the left.)

House

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The Story: Travelers in rural Alabama are trapped in a house by a masked madman who is not looking out for their best interests. The Lowdown: A confused and totally unscary entry in the hillbilly-horror sweepstakes, but with a supposed message of spiritual uplift.

Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa

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The Story: The various zoo animals from 2005’s Madagascar return in an attempt to leave the island of Madagascar and head home, only to end up on the mainland in the company of Alex the lion’s estranged family. The Lowdown: A safe and comfy sequel to an already lacking original, with this one offering more dull pop-culture references and unexciting plotting.

Role Models

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The Story: Two reps for an energy drink land in trouble and are given community service mentoring a couple of boys as an alternative to jail time. The Lowdown: An agreeable and pretty funny little movie, with a degree of heart and some solid performances to make the predictable nature of it all go down nicely.