“Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues” (PG-13, 116 minutes, Paramount): This is sequel to the 2004 comedy that introduced Ron Burgundy (Will Ferrell), the fatuous, substance-free news reader, possesses all of the boneheaded gags and inspired lunacy of the original, as well as swaths of dull, frankly unfunny material. But buried inside this grab bag of hits and misses is a pretty good point about the descent of television news into a miasma of 24/7 speculation, fluff and, most of all, hype. Ron’s his old team of Champ Kind (David Koechner), Brick Tamland (Steve Carell) and Brian Fantana (Paul Rudd) show every sign of being as bumbling and arrogantly vapid as they were back in San Diego on their new graveyard shift at GNN. Considering the improvisatory talents – even genius – of Ferrell and his co-stars, it’s no surprise that laughs abound. Contains crude and sexual content, drug use, profanity and comic violence.
“47 Ronin” (PG-13, 118 minutes, Universal): One of the defining fables of pre-modern Japan, the tale of the 47 ronin has been filmed many times in that country. Yet somehow no previous director thought to include rampaging supernatural beasts, a shape-shifting witch or Keanu Reeves. Those last three are prominent in “47 Ronin,” Hollywood’s first stab at the samurai tale. It’s big and brawling yet often dull, with about as much genuine Japanese character as a food-court teriyaki stand. The cast is mostly Japanese, but chosen from the small list of actors with recent credits in mainstream American movies. Despite the references to Japanese legend, the film’s principal influence is all those recent mash-ups of fairy tales, horror flicks and action pictures. (Contains intense sequences of violence and action, some disturbing images and thematic elements.
Also: “At Middleton” (stars Andy Garcia and Vera Farmiga), “An Unreal Dream: The Michael Morton Story” (documentary), “SEAL Team 8: Behind Enemy Lines,” “When Jews Were Funny” (documentary on Jewish comedy), “The Pirate Fairy” (Disney, animated), “Warrior Assassin” (2011, China), “The Little Rascals Save the Day,” “Lost Islands” (2008, Israel), “Birds of Paradise” (animated), “Knights of Badassdom,” “American Experience: Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid” (PBS) and “The Story of Medicine: Pain, Pus & Poison” (BBC).