At the Movies

Universal Pictures/Associated Press

Agnes, voiced by Elsie Fisher, left, and Gru, voiced by Steve Carell in “Despicable Me 2.”

New in Theaters

Despicable Me 2. (In standard format and digital 3-D with surcharge.)

(Playing at Durango Stadium 9)

Stealing the moon can be a tough act to follow, as reformed criminal mastermind Gru and the creative team behind the $540-million-grossing 2010 smash “Despicable Me” discovered when it was time to dream up an encore.

After all, it was no mean feat to successfully juggle all that lunar lunacy with a delightful companion plot involving a trio of orphaned girls who, in turn, steal Gru’s heart. While the new edition doesn’t quite catch that inspired spark, there’s still plenty to enjoy here courtesy of those zippy visuals and a pitch-perfect voice cast led by the innately animated Steve Carell.

“Despicable Me 2” finds Carell’s Gru more or less embracing his newly domesticated life after adopting Margo (Miranda Cosgrove), Edith (Dana Gaier) and little Agnes (Elsie Fisher), even swapping his more nefarious activities for a startup jelly-and-jam-making operation. But he soon finds himself in a stickier situation when he’s dispatched by the top-secret Anti-Villain League to track down the perpetrator of a fresh heist involving a ginormous electromagnet.

Returning directors Pierre Coffin and Chris Renaud and the returning writing team of Ken Daurio and Cinco Paul again maintain the energy at a brisk, buoyant clip, while Carell and the rest of cast add an extra layer of dimension to those expressively drawn characters.

Also amusingly returning to the fold is Russell Brand as rickety resident mad scientist Dr. Nefario, Steve Coogan as AVL head honcho Silas Ramsbottom and Ken Jeong as Floyd Eagle-san, now the owner of a wig store.

Back again to imbue the production with a pleasing visual and aural snap are production designer Yarrow Cheney and on-a-roll Pharrell Williams, whose springy songs blend nicely with Heitor Pereira’s bright score.

Those who foolishly opt to leave at the start of the end credits will be missing out on another entertaining 3D demonstration again led by a handful of those wacky Minions.

“Despicable Me 2,” a Universal release, is rated PG for, according to the Motion Picture Association of America, “rude humor and mild action.” Running time: 98 minutes.

Michael Rechtshaffen, The Hollywood Reporter

The Lone Ranger.

(Playing at Durango Stadium 9 and the Gaslight Cinema)

There’s a limit, it turns out, to how much Johnny Depp and a bucket of makeup can accomplish.

In “The Lone Ranger,” Gore Verbinski’s flamboyant re-imagination of the hokey long-running radio show and `50s cowboy TV series, Depp eagerly attempts to recreate the extravagant magic of his similarly farcical Jack Sparrow of Verbinski’s “Pirates of the Caribbean.”

With cracked white and black streaks down his face and a dead crow atop his head, Depp’s Tonto (whose look makeup artist Joel Harlow took from the Kirby Sattler painting “I Am Crow”) appears more witch doctor than warrior. One would think that a so-costumed Depp careening through the Old West with Buster Keaton aplomb would make “The Lone Ranger,” at worst, entertaining.

But Verbinski’s film, stretching hard to both reinvent an out-of-date brand and breathe new life in the Western with a desperate onslaught of bloated set pieces, is a poor locomotive for Depp’s eccentric theatrics. For two hours, the Jerry Bruckheimer-produced “Lone Ranger” inflates, subverts and distorts the conventions of the Western until, in an interminable climax, the big-budget spectacle finally, exhaustingly collapses in a scrap heap of train wreckage.

“The Long Ranger” is, alas, a runaway train. A filmmaker of great excess, Verbinski’s ricocheting whimsy here runs off the rails. Flashback-heavy plot mechanics, occasionally grim violence and surrealistic comedy add up to a confused tone that seems uncertain exactly how to position Depp’s Tonto in the movie, to say nothing of Armie Hammer’s wayward Lone Ranger.

The film begins with an elderly, leathery Tonto (also Depp, nearly unrecognizable) at a 1933 San Francisco fair where, under a sign labeled “noble savage,” the old Native American regales a young, masked Lone Ranger fan (Mason Cook) about his adventures with John Reid (Hammer).

The lawman is made a Texas Ranger when the criminal Butch Cavendish (William Fichtner, ashen and sinister) escapes. The pursuit takes on urgency when Cavendish massacres the rest of the Rangers (including Reid’s brother, played by James Badge Dale), leaving Reid and Tonto to navigate a familiar mid-19th century Old West the coming railroad, mining development and Indian warfare with familiar types like the intrepid tycoon Latham Cole (Tom Wilkinson) and a one-legged madam (Helena Bonham Carter).

Stepping into Clayton Moore’s boots, the tall, baritone Hammer never looks at ease. While he exudes the Lone Ranger’s earnest wholesomeness, he’s understandably an uncertain straight man alongside Depp’s slapstick. Having to wear a white Stetson and mask in his first starring role feels like yet another humiliation for the Winklevoss twins Hammer memorably played in “The Social Network.”

The most laudable aspect of “The Lone Ranger” is that it attempts to dispel and mock Hollywood’s past Native American ills. Depp, who has claimed he has some Cherokee ancestry, delights in upending false images of Indian mysticism, all the while tossing bird seed to the dead crow on his head.

But “The Lone Ranger,” which was made with much of the “Pirates” team including screenwriters Ted Elliott and Terry Rossio, along with “Revolutionary Road” adapter Justin Haythe, can only be filed alongside “Cowboys and Aliens” and “Wild, Wild West” as ornate films that are so nervous about the modern appeal of the Western that they ruin it by impulsively overstuffing it. The Coen brothers’ “True Grit” and the 2007 remake of “3:10 to Yuma” better understood the genre’s inherent terseness.

When Verbinski was last directing and Depp was a cartoon lizard, they crafted a far better Western in “Rango.”

“The Lone Ranger,” a Walt Disney release, is rated PG-13 for sequences of intense action and violence, and some suggestive material. Running time: 149 minutes. H½ out of four.

Jake Coyle, AP Entertainment Writer

Still in Theaters

Durango Stadium 9

(Next to Durango Mall, 247-9799, www.allentheatresinc.com)

White House Down. Fortunately for President Jamie Fox, Officer Channing Tatum just happened to be touring the White House when terrorists struck. Rated PG-13.

The Heat. Melissa McCarthy can make anyone – even Sandra Bullock –look funny and the R rating is icing on the cake. Rated R.

Monsters University. (In standard format and digital 3-D with surcharge.) A prequel to the 2001 blockbuster in which the monsters attend college. Rated G.

World War Z. (In standard format and digital 3-D with surcharge.) It’s safe to call this the first installment in a new franchise that has Brad Pitt battling for his life against a planet full of zombies. Rated PG-13.

Man of Steel. The latest re-telling of the Superman story didn’t wow critics, but the fans can’t stay away. Rated PG-13.

This is the End. Seth Rogen, Craig Robinson, Jay Baruchel, James Franco, Jonah Hill and Danny McBride play themselves in a comedy about the world ending and how the rich and famous might handle it. Rated R.

Back Space Theatre

(1120 Main Ave., 259-7940, www.thebackspacetheatre.org)

Frances Ha. A New York gal lives more inside her own mind than the real world, but she seems happy about it. Rated R.

Gaslight Cinema

(102 Fifth St. Next to the railroad depot, 247-8133, www.allentheatresinc.com)

The Kings of Summer. Three teenagers spend a summer in the woods where they build a house and live off the land. Rated R.

The Quartet. At a home for retired musicians, the annual concert to celebrate Verdi’s birthday is disrupted by the arrival of Jean, an eternal diva and the former wife of one of the residents. Rated PG-13.

Ted Holteen and The Associated Press

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