The animated "Rise of the Guardians" is a lively and witty tale, based on William Joyce's "The Guardians of Childhood" books. It supposes a "Justice League" of folkloric figures Santa (voice of Alec Baldwin), the Easter Bunny (voice of Hugh Jackman), the Tooth Fairy (voice of Isla Fisher) and the Sandman joining forces and enlisting Jack Frost (voice of Chris Pine) to battle the Boogeyman (voice of Jude Law) and protect children. The movie is a little dark and scary for little children, but for everyone else it's a treat.
"Red Dawn" is an unnecessary remake of the 1984 Cold War action drama, this time with North Koreans invading the Pacific Northwest instead of the Soviets. It's up to a Marine (Chris Hemsworth), his high-school quarterback brother (Josh Peck), and some of their friends (including Adrienne Palicki and Josh Hutcherson) to band together into a guerrilla unit. It's bombastic, ridiculous, and shot with nausea-inducing camerawork.
The art-house slate is dominated by "Smashed," an absorbing drama about alcoholism centering on a schoolteacher (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) who decides to get sober, which puts a strain on her marriage to her still-drinking husband (Aaron Paul). The strong supporting cast (including Nick Offerman, Megan Mullally and Octavia Spencer) bring some offbeat humor to the story, but it's Winstead's fearless performance that propels the drama.
Lastly, there's "A Royal Affair," a period Danish drama about palace intrigue in the late 1700s, with a young queen (Alicia Vikander), a mad king (), and a German doctor (Mads Mikkelsen) who becomes the king's advisor and the queen's lover. The highlight is Mikkelsen's nuanced performance.