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BIG MIRACLE PG Big Miracle is based on actual events from 1988, when three gray whales—two adults and a baby—were cut off from the open ocean by pack ice near Point Barrow, Alaska. In this adaptation, the whales and an international effort to free them spark romance between a news reporter (John Krasinski) and a Greenpeace volunteer (Drew Barrymore). Together the reporter and activist draw international attention to the whales’ plight, as locals attempt to cut a pathway to the sea to save the whales. When this effort fails, U.S. officials are finally stirred to action. Undeniably harrowing, the whales’ peril is further illustrated via underwater footage that places Barrymore in the icy waters up close and personal with the youngest. The story illuminates our growing sense of connection to these gentle giants. (Lisa Miller)

CHRONICLE PG-13 Three teens living in the Pacific Northwest explore an underground passageway in the woods and find a strange substance they feel compelled to touch. Within minutes, they realize they have gained telekinetic powers. They start exploring the scope of these powers, as by squaring off in a baseball game in which they control the ball, bat and gloves using only their minds. Next, the boys wreak havoc at a local shopping mall, where they discover an ability to fly, fight and impress local girls, who reward them with sex. As their confidence grows, the lads increasingly rebel and misbehave, with tragic results. Chaos ensues in unexpected ways that make this low-budget effort (an estimated $15 million) surprisingly entertaining. (L.M.)

THE GREY R An oil-drilling team is stranded in the Alaskan wilds by a plane crash, and team leader John Ottway (Liam Neeson) soon realizes they have been spotted by a hungry, territorial pack of wolves. Ottway, devastated by his impending divorce, struggles to retain self-control while leading the survivors on a perilous wintry trek with ravenous wolves hot on their trail. Writer-director Joe Carnahan films the action lean and mean, but makes time to explore his characters’ motivations. He hits viewers with a surprise twist, trusting an unsuspecting audience to remain through the credits, when the mystery is finally resolved. (Lisa Miller)

THE WOMAN IN BLACK PG-13 Fresh from the Harry Potter series, Daniel Radcliffe plays Arthur Kipps, a lawyer, widower and father dispatched to sort through papers at a remote mansion belonging to a deceased elderly woman. Staying alone in the dilapidated home, Kipps sees the specter of the titular woman in black (Liz White) and learns that a vengeful ghost has been terrorizing locals and taking their children. Before long, he is bedeviled by apparitions that float through the house and move in strange ways popularized by Japanese horror films such as Ringu. Nicely designed sets, costumes and camerawork yield an array of spooky moments, as this glossy production does its best to work with Radcliffe’s stiff style. None of this, however, prevents the film from losing momentum during a drawn-out second half. (L.M.)