Elizabeth Olsen

“Puss in Boots” (PG) — Before you throw this one into the heap with the Shrek sequels, know that this could, by all accounts, be considered a successful spinoff. Antonio Banderas returns to voice the titular Puss, the suave, swashbuckling cat who eventually befriends Shrek. This story focuses on his background, so the supporting cast and sagging quality of the Shrek franchise is thankfully absent, clearing the way for family fun with a talking, dancing, sword-fighting cat.

There isn’t one of those timeless Pixar-style narratives, but Puss makes for a fine animated adventure. Humpty Dumpty (voiced by Zach Galifinakis) plays the cat’s bumbling co-conspirator, and Selma Hayek voices Softpaws, a fellow cat/thief who runs with idea of a feline femme fatale.

“J. Edgar” (R) — This bloated biopic comes off as more of a dispassionate history lesson than a delving portrait of an enigmatic figure. Directed by Clint Eastwood with Leonard DiCaprio in the leading role, the film follows J. Edgar Hoover from his early 20s until he’s way past 70, mostly focusing on his career. The performers labor under heavy servings of age-makeup, but there’s little payoff in the long story of manipulation and paranoia.

There are hints and little teasers of the personal drama of Hoover — whom people still argue about to this day — but no revelations. Hoover’s career is meaty enough to fuel a whole film, but Eastwood uses bits of Hoover’s personal life to propel the drama, only to jump back to career highlights before anything comes to a head.

“Martha Marcy May Marlene” (R) — Newcomer Elizabeth Olsen plays Martha in this psychological thriller about a young woman who recently escaped a dangerous cult. Olsen’s performance hits the mark, as Martha’s paranoia and trauma keep her a complicated character. This is the big debut of Mary-Kate and Ashley’s kid sister, as well as Sean Durkin, the writer/director. This film looks good on both of them.

“Tower Heist” (PG-13) — The Master of Modern Mediocrity, Brett Ratner, helms this slapstick comedy-action film that sets out to capture the hilarity of middle-class working stiffs trying to pull an outlandish caper on a wealthy Wall Street jerk. It’s nice to see Eddie Murphy out of the fat suit and back in a conventional comedic role as a small-time crook in an ensemble with Ben Stiller.

This is still a Ratnor film, so the comedic talent is mostly put to work on slow and obvious dialogue, as well as a few silly reactions to dangerous stunts. Despite lack of comedic sizzle, at least things can’t get too boring when cars flip, glass breaks and all manner of chase scenes take place.

“The Adventures of Tintin: Season Two”
“Nurse Jackie: Season Three”
“Matlock: The Seventh Season”
“Hazel: The Complete Second Season”
“Weeds: Season Seven”

© 2012 King Features Synd., Inc.