Adrenaline Rush -- Adrenaline Rush follows two young skydivers, offering a look at both the physical sensations and the psychological challenges of risk-taking. At IMAX. Not rated.
Alien vs. Predator -- Hollywood has been trying to get these two badasses together for years. And since both the baddies rely on special effects more than acting to succeed, most of the film's work will have to be done by the director. In this case, that means Paul W. S. Anderson, who brought the world Event Horizon. Rated: PG-13
Anacondas: The Hunt for the Blood Orchid -- A boatload of scientists head out for an expedition to a tropical island on a quest to locate the legendary Black Orchid. As it turns out, this island is teeming with big, fat snakes all hopped up on that crazy orchid juice. In fact, the anacondas are bigger, faster, more deadly and (curiously enough) smarter than your garden-variety anaconda. Smart snakes. Now isn't that scary, kids? Rated: PG-13
The Bourne Supremacy -- Jason Bourne (Matt Damon) still doesn't know who he is or where he's come from, but he and his lover Marie (Franka Potente) just want to be left alone. Of course, they're not, and there will be hell to pay. Damon is up to action star status, Joan Allen is terrific as a CIA agent on the hunt. (ES) Rated PG-13
Collateral -- Michael Mann defines the mean streets of L.A. once more with stripped-down, street-savvy results. The acting's solid, and the digital video landscapes are dreamlike. With Tom Cruise, Jamie Foxx, Jada Pinkett Smith, Mark Ruffalo and Javier Bardem. (RP) Rated: R
The Cookout -- Gangster rap producer and label CEO Lance Rivera directed and singer/sometime actress Queen Latifah co-wrote this latest attempt to cash in on black urban culture. Quran Pender stars as Todd Anderson, a pro basketball hopeful recently snatched up by the New Jersey Nets for a cool $30 mil. In order to assure his family and old friends that he hasn't grown too big for his britches, Todd decides to keep things "real" by throwing a barbecue and inviting everyone in his life to the party. Wackiness ensues. Rated: PG-13
Exorcist: The Beginning -- Here's some brilliant casting: Swedish actor Stellan Skarsgard stars as a young Father Merrin -- the part that Max von Sydow played in the original film. Exorcist: The Beginning tells the story of how he encountered the demon named Pazuzu in Africa as a younger man. Rated: R
Garden State -- Angst in the 20-something set is at the center of this story of a semi-successful actor (Zach Braff) who heads from L.A. to his hometown in New Jersey for his mother's funeral. He must deal with his uptight dad (Ian Holm) and the plights of his loser friends, as well as the possibility of a blooming romance with a free-spirited gal (Natalie Portman). (ES) Rated R
Harry Potter and the Prisoner Of Azkaban -- The kids are all back at Hogwarts, but so is the presence of wizard Sirius Black (Gary Oldman) who is said to be gunning for Harry. The darkest of the three films, the story has Harry and pals getting mixed up with teachers who may be good, bad or both. (ES) Rated PG
Hero -- Zhang Yimou's tale of treachery and revenge in ancient China works as one of the most exciting extravaganzas in recent years. Jet Li is a mysterious nameless man who says he's vanquished a would-be emperor's enemies. Flashbacks to sword fights are on a grand scale, as are bow-and-arrow attacks by massive armies. The photography and musical score are brilliant. (ES) Rated PG-13
The Human Body -- It's the human body, like you've never seen it! Consider what it means to see the inner workings of the lungs via endoscope and then picture that five stories up on the IMAX screen. Not rated.
IMAX Nascar -- Kiefer Sutherland is your personal pit boss on this up-close look at life behind the wheel. With in-car footage reaching 180 miles an hour, a 12,000-watt sound system and five stories of heart-stopping action. Not Rated.
Lewis & amp; Clark -- The IMAX folks have packed a lot into this vivid account of the two adventurers' travels across the American wilderness. (ES) Unrated
Mommie Dearest -- Mommie Dearest (1981) is one of those films whose rating improves the moment it makes it into the pantheon of Midnight Movie-dom. Campy, histrionic and weighed down by its own self-importance, Mommie Dearest is the stuff of which drag queens' dreams are made. Faye Dunaway, playing Joan Crawford, in a movie that opens with a prolonged scene of Crawford's painstaking beauty regime? You couldn't ask for more. (SB) Rated: PG (Showing at the Garland at midnight on Friday and Saturday nights)
Napoleon Dynamite -- One person's geek is another's superhero. Such is the appeal of indie effort Napoleon Dynamite, starring John Heder as the titular hero, who lives with his grandmother and brother in rural Idaho. Rated: PG-13
The Notebook -- Get out the Kleenex, but be prepared to smile, too. Gentle James Garner spends his days reading a love story to Alzheimer's patient Gena Rowlands, and that 1940s story is played out with Ryan Gosling and Rachel McAdams as the young lovers. (ES) Rated: PG-13
Open Water -- Since its Sundance debut, this extremely low-budget, shot-on-video, put-real-actors-near-real-sharks, sometimes creepy Blair Witch-goes-to-the-sea hybrid -- The Blair Shark Project? -- is a stripped-down bit of indie product that succeeds more in creating a mood where anything might happen than genuine suspense. (RP) Rated: R
Paparazzi -- It's not a good sign when a director's primary claim to fame is as Mel Gibson's former hair stylist. So it is that debut director Paul Abascal has made a tacky revenge thriller that draws on the same antagonistic relationship between paparazzi photographers and celebrities that caused the untimely death of Princess Diana. Predictable, yet full of inconsistencies. (Cole Smithey) Rated: PG-13
The Princess Diaries 2: Royal Engagement -- Five years after the events of The Princess Diaries, perky Princess Mia (Anne Hathaway), heiress of the Rinaldi family, is caught up in an intrigue for the throne of Genovia, Unfortunately, 70-year-old director Garry Marshall litters what's a spin on fairy tale dreams with way too many in-jokes and appearances by his old cronies. (RP) Rated: G
Shrek 2 -- The story picks up right where the first one left off, with a little extra twist: Prince Charming arrives to rescue Princess Fiona, but it's too late; she's on her honeymoon. And Charming's mom -- Fairy Godmother -- is not happy. A visit by Fiona and Shrek to her parents' kingdom leads to marital strife, as well as new characters. This may not be as fresh as the original, but it's just as hip and funny. (ES) Rated PG
Suspect Zero -- A serial killer who hunts serial killers? Well, that's a new spin. The ever-versatile Ben Kingsley stars as a mysterious avenging angel who takes great pleasure in cleaning up the FBI's most wanted list, vigilante-style. Director E. Elias Merhige (Shadow of the Vampire) has a knack for cool visuals but is sometimes a little lacking in the story-telling arena. At least he has an interesting premise. Rated: R
SuperBabies: Baby Geniuses 2 -- SuperBabies focuses on (what else?) a super-baby with mysterious powers who comes to the aid of a new set of brilliant toddlers. High adventure and assorted wackiness ensues. Rated: PG
Vanity Fair -- The William Thackeray novel gets another treatment, this time with Reese Witherspoon as Becky, the smiling, sneering social climber in 19th-century London. The multi-leveled story is wicked in its serious, satirical shots at class structure, and sometimes just wickedly funny. Jim Broadbent, Bob Hoskins and Gabriel Byrne play small, memorable roles. Rhys Ifans shows a terrific dramatic side. Superb costumes and design along with sumptuous cinematography. (ES) Rated PG-13
The Village -- Even if my expectations weren't low, I think I would have been happily shocked by the rude alchemy of M. Night Shyamalan's latest puzzle-box. I was pleased with how the strands of the story resolved neatly -- though not without great resonance about the dangers of fear and isolationism. (RP) Rated: PG-13
We Don't Live Here Anymore -- A sizzling sexual liaison between two close friends threatens to tear apart their respective marriages and imperil the security of their children in this smart, well-acted drama set in the Pacific Northwest and starring Naomi Watts, Mark Ruffalo, Laura Dern and Peter Krause. The film examines the complexities of modern sexual and emotional relationships by focusing on the intimate lives of two couples who must sort out a landslide of emotion that follows in the wake of their adulterous affairs. Rated: R
Wicker Park -- Josh Hartnett plays the role of Matthew, a young Chicago investment banker who becomes obsessed with a woman he believes to be his long-lost love. Trouble is, he's engaged to someone else. But that's piffle compared with getting to the bottom of this riddle. So he follows the woman home and begins a search for the truth that may very well lead to danger. And what would a thriller be without a little danger? Rated: PG-13
Without a Paddle -- Three buddies (Seth Green, Matthew Lillard and Dax Shepherd) find themselves lost in the Oregon outback when their rafting trip takes a bad turn. You can pretty much imagine where the hijinks go from there. Look for a Deliverance reference involving Burt Reynolds as a crazy mountain man. Rated: PG-13
Capsule reviews are written by Ed Symkus (ES), Ray Pride (RP) and Marty Demarest (MD) unless otherwise noted.
Publication date: 09/09/04