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November 9, 2011

Harry Potter And The Deathly Hallows, Part 2 (Warner Bros.) pulled significantly better reviews than Part 1, and did better at the box office as well, making more than $1.3 billion dollars worldwide. (Part 1 scored a mere $955 million.) That might have something to do with the fact that Part 1 is heavy on languid, draggy setup, whereas Part 2 finally gets to the payoff, with huge action setpiece after huge action setpiece, and many of the series’ neglected actors finally taking center stage for a few satisfying moments before the series ends…

Decades in the making, Atlas Shrugged: Part 1 (Fox) gave the Tea Party movement its Lord Of The Rings and bad-movie lovers another Battlefield Earth. There’s no doubt that Ayn Rand’s influence on contemporary political thought is immense, but seeing her free-market ideals dramatized casts serious—and hilarious—doubts on their real-world application. Resembling a robot Ann Coulter, Taylor Schilling stars as a corporate visionary who hooks up with an iconoclastic steel magnate to lay down the world’s most magical train tracks, but the liberals are too committed to mediocrity to let it happen. The free market rejected Atlas Shrugged: Part 1, but the producers are not about to let the free market dictate their business. Part 2 (of three) is due next year…

A collaboration between YouTube and National Geographic—and reflective of the worst aspects of both—the documentary Life In A Day (Virgil) was culled from more than 4,500 hours of home-movie footage from around the world, all shot from midnight to midnight on July 24, 2010. Intended as a mosaic of diverse cultures, the film instead is pseudo-poetic and banal in the extreme, stringing together montage sequences that demonstrate universal truths, like how people from Roanoke to the Sudan put on their pants one leg at a time…

From an early scene that has a baby shitting in Jason Bateman’s mouth, The Change-Up (Universal) tries to establish itself as a raunchy new twist on the body-switching comedy, but the film can’t escape the not-so-grand tradition of movies like Vice Versa, Like Father, Like Son, and 18 Again. Bateman stars as a married father who pines for single friend Ryan Reynolds’ unburdened, skirt-chasing lifestyle; Reynolds, in turn, longs for Bateman’s more substantive domestic situation. This may come as a shock, but the grass isn’t always greener on the other side.

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