Capsule reviews of films opening this week:


Capsule reviews of films opening this week:

“Sherlock Holmes” — Robert Downey Jr. is so NOT Sherlock Holmes. That’s not a hindrance — in fact, it’s a big help — as he and Guy Ritchie bring Arthur Conan Doyle’s Victorian-age detective into the modern world. Enough of the trappings are left in their brawn-over-brain action romp to make Downey a reasonably faithful embodiment of Holmes. And of course, this is Downey, whose career resurgence rests on his ability to make the most unlikely role his own. The movie’s big failing is the drab story, a bit of nonsense revolving around a secret society and potentially supernatural doings. But Ritchie compensates with exhilarating action, and the movie offers engaging interplay among Downey and Jude Law as Holmes sidekick Watson, Rachel McAdams as the woman in the detective’s life, Eddie Marsan as Scotland Yard Inspector Lestrade and Mark Strong as the bad guy. PG-13 for intense sequences of violence and action, some startling images and a scene of suggestive material. Running time: 129 minutes. Three stars out of four.

— David Germain, AP Movie Writer

———

“Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squeakquel” — a movie that offers exactly two big laughs for its kiddo audience — one involving passing gas, the other a shot to the crotch. In the considerable gap between these two bits of comic invention, you have plenty of time to ponder why the movie turns on the idea of Dave (Jason Lee) sending Alvin, Simon and Theodore to high school. Do chipmunks, particularly world-famous rock star chipmunks, really need a diploma? Aren’t they already smarter than Dave? While there’s no story, the movie does double the number of rodents, introducing the girl group, The Chipettes. Alvin and the boys compete against The Chipettes in a talent show, while that darned Ian (David Cross) tries to kidnap the ... oh, why bother going into detail? Just know there’s twice the chipmunks and about half the laughs of the 2007 holiday hit. 89 minutes. One star out of four.

— Glenn Whipp, for The Associated Press

———

“The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus” — Terry Gilliam’s film is more than a peculiar coda for Heath Ledger, the star who died midway through production. With relatively few changes, Gilliam and co-writer Charles McKeown refashioned the script so that Ledger’s part could be finished with three actors filling in: Johnny Depp, Jude Law and Colin Farrell. Farrell is the best and most dynamic of the bunch. The resulting film is an outlandish juggling act. It teeters, creaks and breaks at the seams but somehow holds together better than you would expect. It’s overstuffed and ultimately spins out of control, but one leaves the theater impressed at Gilliam’s resilience in creating such ornate tales. Christopher Plummer plays Dr. Parnassus, whose traveling show leads people through a mirror and into a world of imagination (which can look something like the Monty Python cartoons Gilliam used to animate). Tom Waits plays an amiable devil in a bowler hat. PG for violent images, some sensuality, language and smoking. 122 minutes. Two and a half stars out of four.

— Jake Coyle, AP Entertainment Writer

———

“It’s Complicated” — Writer-director Nancy Meyers’ latest relationship comedy isn’t what the name promises at all. It’s simple, almost as simple about grown-up romance and heartache as the average Hollywood teen comedy is about youthful love and sex. That said, a simple-minded story can benefit enormously with Meryl Streep on screen for almost an entire movie. Streep is charming as a divorced woman in an affair with her remarried ex-husband (Alec Baldwin) and a flirtation with a new man (Steve Martin). Too bad Streep puts on this nice show for such a superficial story, and for that matter, too bad for Baldwin, Martin and the rest of an earnest supporting cast led by John Krasinski. Meyers serves up fluff as light as the pastries Streep’s character bakes for a living, a story to make divorced people wish their broken marriages and the ugly aftermath could be as fun and frolicsome as this. R for some drug content and sexuality. 118 minutes. Two stars out of four.

— David Germain, AP Movie Writer