Capsule reviews of films opening this week:
"The International" — Equal parts globe-trotting thriller and architecture porn, as perfectly crystallized by its mind-blowing central set piece: a seemingly endless shootout at the Guggenheim Museum. The back story of how Tom Tykwer and Co. shot it is about as complicated as the plot of the film itself. The scene is so elaborate and ambitious, it's enough to make you wonder whether the earliest nugget of Eric Warren Singer's script began with the idea: "Hey, this sounds crazy, but what if we staged a big, bloody shootout along Frank Lloyd Wright's famously pristine, white ramps?" Oh yes, and other events take place during "The International," but none that will leave you with quite the same breathless impression. Tykwer, the German director who wowed audiences a decade ago with his pulsating "Run, Lola, Run," once again keeps the action moving fluidly in this, his largest film to date. But there's also an undercurrent of gritty substance, a tortured tone that harkens to the action dramas of the 1970s. A sexily rumpled Clive Owen stars as Interpol agent Louis Salinger, who's investigating some potentially shady dealings at one of the world's most powerful banks. When one of his undercover associates gets murdered while on the case, Salinger teams up with Manhattan Assistant District Attorney Eleanor Whitman (a strangely stiff Naomi Watts) to uncover not just that killing but the bank's myriad worldwide transgressions. Character development is a bit lacking, but Owen engages in one great battle of wits with the formidable Armin Mueller-Stahl as the bank's shadowy adviser. R for some sequences of violence and language. 118 min. Three stars out of four.
— Christy Lemire, AP Movie Critic
"Under the Sea 3D" — You never get used to it. Even about halfway in, even having settled into your seat, you'll still find yourself dazzled again and again by the impossibly breathtaking beauty of this underwater IMAX adventure. Longtime documentary filmmaker Howard Hall took his cameras to Australia's Great Barrier Reef and the Coral Triangle of Papua New Guinea and Indonesia to capture footage of a wild array of sea life. His intention was to entertain with wondrous visuals as well as convey a message about the impact global warming is having on these exotic creatures. Jim Carrey provides the narration, but the images are so distractingly awesome, it's often hard to pay attention to what he's saying. Kids will be delighted by the vibrant colors and the film's frequently playful tone — the sea lions with their expressive eyes, for example, are just too cute for words — while adults will be wowed by the complexity of the three-dimensional technology. Truly, giant chunks of coral seem to have been plopped right into your lap. A great white shark swims so close to your face, you can count its piercing teeth. And countless black-and-white-stri ped catfish cascade over each other as they feed on silt, undulating toward you in delicate waves. But much of the joy comes from discovering animals you might never have heard of before, such as the giant cuttlefish, which change color from deep red to bashful beige and back again to communicate with each other. They're a mesmerizing sight to behold — until their long, sharp tongues suddenly snap from their mouths to zap some poor, unsuspecting smaller fish. Cycle of life, man. Sunrise, sunset — even in some of the most remote places on Earth. G. 40 min. Three and a half stars out of four.
— Christy Lemire, AP Movie Critic