Capsule reviews of ''American Hustle,'' ''Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues,'' and more

By Owen GleibermanMarc Snetiker and Chris Nashawaty
January 30, 2014 at 05:00 AM EST

American Hustle
R, 2 Hrs., 18 Mins.
A film of jaw-dropping virtuosity and pleasure. It’s a con-man drama set in 1978, and David O. Russell’s filmmaking out-Scorseses Scorsese. AOwen Gleiberman

Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues
PG-13, 1 Hr., 55 Mins.
Will Ferrell’s clueless Ron Burgundy returns for an ’80s-set sequel that’s mostly hilarious, in a reheated sort of way. BChris Nashawaty

August: Osage County
R, 1 Hr., 59 Mins.
This adaptation of Tracy Letts’ play is for anyone who thrives on a certain in-your-face emotional shock value. Yet it’s also a contraption that spreads its darkness like whipped butter on a roll. BOwen Gleiberman

Gimme Shelter
PG-13, 1 Hr., 40 Mins.
Apathy abounds in Ronald Krauss’ DOA snorer about a pregnant teen (Vanessa Hudgens) tracking down her birth father (Brendan Fraser). Hudgens competently recites fill-in-the-angst monologues and Rosario Dawson finds surprising depth as her addict mother, but no one escapes Krauss’ script, which drops every hollow cliché of troubled teens into a movie you swear you’ve seen better versions of a hundred times before. C-Marc Snetiker

R, 2 Hrs., 5 Mins.
The visionary director Spike Jonze delivers another idiosyncratic take on the world: A divorced loner (Joaquin Phoenix) falls in love with his operating system (voiced by Scarlett Johansson). The sci-fi romance is clever, but it’s also emotionally icy. B Chris Nashawaty

The Legend of Hercules
PG-13, 1 Hr., 39 MINS.
The saga of brawny Greek demigod Hercules (Kellan Lutz) gets a Gladiator-style makeover in this rousingly schlocky sword-and-sandal spectacle. If it’s shirtless he-men squaring off that you’re after, you definitely won’t feel gypped. C+Chris Nashawaty

Lone Survivor
R, 2 Hrs., 1 Min.
Peter Berg’s harrowingly brutal account of an ill-fated 2005 Navy SEAL mission in Afghanistan attempts to mine triumph from tragedy. But the soldiers, including Mark Wahlberg and Ben Foster, never become fleshed-out characters before they’re air-dropped into harm’s way. B-Chris Nashawaty

Ride Along
PG-13, 1 Hr., 40 Mins.
A generic odd-couple comedy pitting Kevin Hart’s motormouthed pip-squeak against Ice Cube’s gruff pit bull. C+ Chris Nashawaty

Saving Mr. Banks
PG-13, 2 Hrs.
Emma Thompson soars as the sour-lemon author of Mary Poppins. B+Chris Nashawaty

The Secret Life of Walter Mitty
PG, 1 HR., 54 Mins.
Ben Stiller updates James Thurber’s classic story about a nebbish with a vibrant fantasy life but never shows us the soul of his dreamer. B- Chris Nashawaty

NOT RATED, 1 Hr., 27 MINS.
Thirty years ago, Godfrey Reggio directed Koyaanisqatsi — a cult stoner classic that used time-lapse photography and a hypnotic Philip Glass score to warn us about the soulless, dehumanizing nature of technology. Now he’s back and his once innovative technique feels just as numbingly repetitive as Glass’ trancelike soundtrack. Containing mostly static shots of human faces, eerie moonscapes, and derelict factories, Visitors sure looks swell. But if there’s a deeper point to Reggio’s juxtapositions, it was lost on me. C Chris Nashawaty

The Wolf of Wall Street
R, 2 Hrs., 59 Mins.
Martin Scorsese’s shoot-the-works epic about the rise and fall of a financial flimflam man (Leonardo DiCaprio, dripping jerk charisma) is a dazzling-but-too-long circus of sex and drugs. B+Chris Nashawaty