New in theaters
'Things We Lost in the Fire' is a welcome and heartfelt advertisement for compassion, while the high-concept '30 Days of Night' explores the aftermath of a vampire invasion in Barrow, Alaska.
New in theaters Gone Baby Gone (R)
Director: Ben Affleck. With Casey Affleck, Morgan Freeman. (114 min.)
When a 4-year-old is kidnapped, her aunt and uncle appeal to a neophyte detective team (Casey Affleck, Michelle Monaghan) to help find her. This story may remind viewers of "Mystic River," also based on a novel by Dennis Lehane, but this is a worthy and exciting directorial debut from Ben Affleck. Authentic local atmosphere and believable supporting players, especially Amy Ryan as the child's drug-using mother, make up for some lapses in credibility. Grade: B – M.K. Terrell
Things We Lost in the Fire (R)
Director: Susanne Bier. With Halle Berry, Benicio Del Toro. (119 min.)
When her husband dies while trying to break up a domestic fight between strangers, Audrey Burke (Halle Berry) looks up her spouse's oldest friend, heroin-addict Jerry Sunborne (Benicio Del Toro), whom she partly blames for her loss. Against all odds, each seems to have some quality that brings healing to both of them and to her two young children. Support comes, too, from Audrey's brother, a neighbor, and Jerry's young friend from Narcotics Anonymous (Alison Lohman). If the film tends toward didacticism at times, it's a welcome advertisement for compassion. Grade: B – M.K.T.
30 Days of Night (R)
Director: David Slade. With Josh Hartnett, Melissa George. (113 min.)
"We should have come here sooner," suggests the vampire leader upon arriving in Barrow, Alaska, the scene of this new horror flick. He's right: It's so dark in Barrow that aircraft can't use the landing strip. Luckily, Sheriff Eben Oleson (Josh Hartnett) and estranged wife Stella (Melissa George) team up to save what's left of the town. Here's a story set in a place where people are almost as impervious to cold as vampires, and roads remain plowed even after a blizzard. Grade: C – M.K.T.
STILL in theaters Why Did I Get Married? (PG-13)
Director: Tyler Perry. With Janet Jackson, Tyler Perry. (113 min.)
Critic-proof, many-hatted Tyler Perry has done it again: delivered an overreaching and overexpositional melodrama that opened at No. 1. In his tale of four couples on a revelatory weekend in the Colorado Mountains, there are only two that are compelling, though R&B singer Jill Scott's touching and soulful performance as the zaftig wife of a shameless philanderer makes the whole overwrought affair much easier to take. Grade: C – Robert Newton