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A&E Blog

Now-a-Dollar May 20

by Scott Renshaw
- Posted // 2011-05-19 -

There may be only one new choice in first-run theaters as Capt. Jack Sparrow takes over, but you'll find more variety -- and better use of Johnny Depp -- at the discount houses.

The headliner is the quirkiest animated entry of 2011: Rango, with Johnny Depp providing the voice of the titular pet lizard who's stranded in the Mojave Desert with a chance to re-invent himself as a hero. "Surreal" doesn't begin to do justice to the look and feel of this odd mash-up of Chinatown and spaghetti Westerns. If this is what director Gore Verbinski chose to do instead of yet another Pirates, he made the right call.

A less-successful animated effort -- both financially and artistically -- is Mars Needs Moms, an extremely loose adaptation of a Berkeley Breathed picture book about a kid's journey into space to rescue his mother. If you've been waiting for the movie that would finally convince you that motion-capture animation can be interesting and not-creepy, this is not that movie.

If you're interested in young people on adventures, consider Hanna instead, with Saoirse Ronan as a teenager raised in isolation by her rogue-secret-agent dad (Eric Bana) and finally set free into the world to execute the one person who knows her secret (Cate Blanchett). Credit director Joe Wright with taking an ill-conceived script and turning it into something equal parts gripping and preposterous.

Finally, the Cinemark Valley Fair in West Valley is the only location grabbing Limitless this week. If you want a pre-Hangover Part II dose of Bradley Cooper -- here playing a writer who experiments with a drug that expands your mind, but has killer side effects -- it's got some filmmaking style to make up for the one-note storytelling.

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