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Find the latest movie reviews for movies playing in Chicago this week.

Chicago movie listings

Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb

When the exhibits at New York's Natural History Museum start behaving strangely, Larry Daley (Ben Stiller)—now the director of nighttime operations—must find out the cause. He learns that the Tablet, which magically brings Teddy Roosevelt (Robin Williams), Jedediah (Owen Wilson) and the other exhibits to life at night, has started to decay. Larry, along with his son and museum friends, must travel to London's British Museum to learn how to prevent the Tablet's magic from disappearing.

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PK

A stranger's childlike curiosity and world-view challenges people's long-held notions, making friends of some and foes of others.

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The Babadook

Who would bring a children's book called Mister Babadook, rife with illustrations of toothy terrors peering around bedroom doors, into their home? The answer to that is left deliciously vague in this slow-building, expertly unsettling horror film, but it's probably safe to assume that it wasn't the broken Australian family at the heart of the story.

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Annie

Updating the title character from the Great Depression to the Great Recession, director Will Gluck’s thoroughly modern Annie is a candied corporate fantasia that could only take place in Taylor Swift’s New York. Although the film might have been a fun holiday diversion, its admirably revisionist spirit is undermined by the same proto-Randian contempt for the poor that first defined the story of America’s most optimistic orphan when she was introduced in a 1924 comic strip.

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The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies

"The defining chapter" declare the posters for this wrap-up episode in Peter Jackson’s trilogy of Lord of the Rings prequels, the last of three films stretched from J.R.R. Tolkien's one novel, The Hobbit. Exactly what’s being defined is left conveniently vague, because what we have here is a whole lot more of Jackson’s proven formula: more battles, more creatures, more not-quite-comical asides, more stern speechifying and more gob-smackingly elaborate action set pieces. If you’ve been enjoying The Hobbit so far, you’re in for a treat. But if you were hoping for something extra or different this time around—a touch of honest emotion, perhaps—then The Battle of the Five Armies will leave you wanting.

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Back in Time

A man recounts his life in Beijing during the 1980s and reminisces about the one truth that allowed him to endure.

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The Imitation Game

Hidden codes, secret meanings and mixed messages pulse through the reliable, old-fashioned, buzzing copper wires of true-life period drama The Imitation Game. Snappy and not too solemn, but perhaps not as much of a psychological puzzle as it could have been, the film gives us key episodes in the tragic life of Alan Turing. He was the mathematician whose biting antisocial intelligence briefly ran in step with the needs of the British war effort in the 1940s when he was employed to help break the Nazis’ Enigma code at Bletchley Park. Turing’s wartime achievements, kept under wraps for years, counted for nothing when his homosexuality fell foul of the law in the early 1950s, sending an already fragile personality into free fall.

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Top Five

Of course, Chris Rock loves to crack us up, but lately, a stealth dramatist has emerged: His previous self-directed film, 2007’s I Think I Love My Wife, was based on a chatty Eric Rohmer classic, and watching him play off Julie Delpy in 2 Days in New York (2012) made him seem like a Linklater-ready natural. That impulse is further pursued in the dazzling Top Five—on the surface, a lost-artist comedy in the vein of Woody Allen’s Stardust Memories, but more deeply, a referendum on the dead-end choices Rock himself might be feeling.

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The Two Faces of January

The sight of a sweaty, drunken Viggo Mortensen—his suit crumpling in solidarity with the worry lines etched on his face—is increasingly horrific in this pleasingly old-fashioned, unhysterical 1960s-set thriller. It’s the directing debut of the screenwriter Hossein Amini (The Wings of the Dove, Drive), and it has an unhurried, louche air about it that gives way to claustrophobia as it starts to get its clammy hands around your neck. An adaptation of Patricia Highsmith’s 1964 novel—and not entirely different in tone and spirit to the author’s The Talented Mr. Ripley—the film whips us back to a sunny, simpler southern Europe of Yanks abroad and near-nostalgic plots that turn on passports, newsprint and unwelcome private detectives.

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Exodus: Gods and Kings

Exodus, more so than any other episode of the Old Testament, is a story that exists in order to be retold. While most of the major milestones on the Jewish calendar are observed via one-way conversation with God, only on Passover do we so explicitly recite history to each other. By that logic, I can’t fault Ridley Scott for wanting to stage a version of this saga, just as I can’t ignore the fact that my dad tells the same tale every spring, but much more engagingly, in half the time and drunk on Manischewitz.

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