The Amityville Horror -- In the latest Amityville Horror, you get to see it all. Where chairs rocked and doors slammed unprovoked in the 1979 version, this Amityville reveals all -- blood, guts, bullets, axes, drowning, murder, possession, bugs, creepy kids, ghosts and more evil than a packed clown car. While the story is mostly the same as the original, the scenes that were terrifying in the '79 version hardly cause a blink in this one. These are modern scares -- the kind you forget about within a few minutes of the end credits. (Leah Sottile) Rated: R
Crash -- This film strongly suggests that everyone in post 9/11 Los Angeles is angry, and that most of the population is pretty darn racist. Matt Dillon is a bad cop who doesn't realize it; Sandra Bullock is a horrible, wealthy shrew of a woman; Ludacris (in the film's best performance, in a film filled with great performances) is a carjacker. Lots of different stories take place in the rich and poor sections, in homes and on the streets. This is wrenching drama, real adult entertainment, constantly building in tension, with powerful payoffs. It's terrifically co-written and directed by Paul Haggis, who wrote Million Dollar Baby. (ES) Rated: R
Fighter Pilot -- What audience does IMAX have in mind for Fighter Pilot: Operation Red Flag? As we follow Capt. John Stratton, an F-15 Eagle pilot, battling 125 pilots from six nations in the world's largest air war games, the realization settles in that Fighter Pilot works neither as you-are-there documentary, Air Force recruiting film or Top Gun razzle-dazzle. The preparations for and remote monitoring of the fly boys' loop-de-loops are more engaging than the war games themselves -- and that ain't good. (Michael Bowen) Not Rated.
Freddy Got Fingered --- Hyperactive, sorta annoying Tom Green stars as a not-so-young man with slacker tendencies who realizes that moving back in with his parents is the key to avoiding responsibility and bankruptcy. Unfortunately, his dad is less than happy with the arrangement, leading to escalating hostilities that could result in... nuclear annihilation. With former squeeze Drew Barrymore, Julie Hagerty and Marisa Coughlan. RATED: R. Playing at the Garland at Midnight on Friday and Saturday night.
Hitch -- Breezy romantic comedy gets a big boost here with winning portrayals by Will Smith as the title character, a "date coach" for unsure men trying to win the women of their dreams, and by Kevin James (The King of Queens) as one of those men, who is shooting for the sky with a beautiful heiress (Amber Valletta). But the coach, himself, isn't having much luck with the ladies, and when his eyes pop over workaholic gossip columnist Eva Mendes, things get complicated. We all know how this is going to end. But getting there involves witty, sometimes slapstick fun. (ES) Rated PG-13
Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy -- Douglas Adams' popular novel comes to filmic life as Earthling Arthur Dent (Martin Freeman) hitches a ride into outer space with his furtively alien pal Ford Prefect (Mos Def) when Earth is detonated to make way for a hyperspace bypass. Wacky aliens prevail as Arthur and Ford hitch their way onto a stolen spacecraft with a bi-polar (two-headed) President of the Galaxy, Zaphod Beeblebrox (Sam Rockwell) and Beeblebrox's cherished postmodern American assistant Trillian (Zooey Deschanel). It all unspools like an effortless compilation of humor from Monty Python, Men in Black, Mars Attacks and Brazil. It's a skeptical satire that fits slapstick physical humor with a biting sense of the importance of creative thought. (Cole Smithey) Rated PG-13,
House of Wax -- Wax is scary. You can't let it reach a boil and it's a bitch to get out of shag carpeting. What's even scarier is people made out of wax (sorry, Madame Tussaud). A hapless crew of college kids (including Elisha Cuthbert and Paris Hilton) has a weird nighttime incident with a voyeuristic trucker. Then, the next day, they wander into a town that surprisingly has no people but one awesome wax museum. You can see where the rest of this is going. Also, Paris Hilton apparently performs some sort of striptease. We'd expect nothing less. Rated: R
The Interpreter -- Nicole Kidman is a UN interpreter who overhears a plot to assassinate a bad guy African leader. Sean Penn is the FBI agent who checks her out, isn't sure if she's telling the truth and eventually must protect her. The biggest problems with the film are that it's dragged out to near-boredom territory, and there seems to be some sort of emotional wall between the two lead actors that neither one can climb over. (ES) Rated PG-13
Journey to the Seventh Planet -- This 1962 Danish sci-fi cheapie (starring Z-movie stalwart, John Agar) has a great premise, one that Andrei Tarkovsky used to great effect in Solaris ten years later. Here, U.N. astronauts on an expedition to Uranus discover -- too late, perhaps -- that the bizarre seventh planet is home to a being powerful enough to read the minds of the crew and to reshape reality based on their memories and desires. Unfortunately, the production values are bottom-of-the-barrel. with lots of stock footage and junk borrowed from previous space films. Still, I have to say, I'm intrigued. (MC) Not Rated.
Kicking & amp; Screaming -- Will Ferrell, Robert Duvall and Mike Ditka appear together in a film that sings the praises of kids' soccer and caffeine addiction. Ferrell mucks about in his trademark clueless schmo routine, Duvall is the tough-as-nails old codger, and Ditka is Ditka, which makes Kicking & amp; Screaming roughly as entertaining as watching your neighbor's kid's soccer game -- not because you want to, but because you have to. Feh. (Marc Savlov) Rated: PG
Kingdom of Heaven -- Ridley Scott's newest epic is not a bad film -- it has scope and visual splendor and good acting and a compelling story. But neither is it very good, due to too many weak spots. The part about the young Balian (Orlando Bloom) rising so quickly from blacksmith to warrior is a stretch; the reasoning behind the Christians-versus-Muslims battle for Jerusalem circa 1200 is muddled; there isn't a lick of soul in the performance by Eva Green as the love interest; and the vultures hovering above a field of dead bodies are awfully reminiscent of the winged monkeys in The Wizard of Oz. (ES) Rated: R
Lewis & amp; Clark -- The IMAX folks have packed a lot into this vivid account of the two adventurers' travels across the American wilderness. Narrator Jeff Bridges does pretty much all the speaking, while actors play out the scenes. And those scenes are played out in breathtakingly beautiful settings. Unrated
Million Dollar Baby -- Clint Eastwood plays the crusty old boxing trainer, Hilary Swank is his enthusiastic young charge and Morgan Freeman is the wise observer. Swank's spunky, trashy Maggie signs up at an old-fashioned gym and must convince Eastwood's Frankie to become her teacher. She's really good, with great desire to match her moves. Eastwood's film traces her comet-like rise, tells of lost people finding each other, and tosses in a risky tonal shift that goes for the emotions of all the characters and every audience member. (ES) Rated PG-13
Mindhunters -- This updating of Ten Little Indians strands a group of FBI trainees on an island for some innovative maneuvers. Then they start falling, one by one -- quite possibly by one of the group. The story's been told often, but this version -- with Val Kilmer, Christian Slater, Jonny Lee Miller and more -- deals out some innovative murders and adds some new touches to an overdone genre. Plenty of violence and a little bit of gore, but much of it is off-screen. (ES) Rated R
Monster-in-Law -- The only reason this doesn't get a "turkey" is because of Jane Fonda's truly funny performance as the title character. She disapproves of her surgeon son (Michael Vartan) falling for his multi-careered new girlfriend (Jennifer Lopez), and she will go to any devious lengths to split them up. That's where the funny stuff comes in. But Fonda acts insanely large circles around ever-smiling Lopez (a very limited actress), and Vartan is stuck with a badly written part that makes his character look incredibly na & iuml;ve and uncaring. Bad moviemaking, filled with cliches. (ES) Rated PG-13
Mystery of the Nile -- The cinematography is gorgeous, but this isn't one of IMAX's best efforts. Pasquale Scaturro and Gordon Brown are to be commended for successfully completing a previously impossible feat -- running the entire Nile River -- but the whole thing starts to feel like an episode of Survivor. Still, it's pretty to watch and carries a few IMAX moments. Not Rated
Robots -- The makers of Ice Age return with a computer-animated fable about a na & iuml;ve young robot heading for the big city to make it as an inventor, but clashing with a money-hungry industrialist. The story is clich & eacute;-ridden, the sound is headache-inducing and the script desperately wants to be hip. (ES) Rated PG
Sahara -- If the filmmakers were hoping to instill in their audience the same sensations -- blurred vision, deadening thirst and above all, fear of never escaping -- that one might experience while trapped in the desert, they've succeeded. Based on the novel by Clive Cussler, Sahara's incoherent plot includes treasure hunters, sexy doctors, West African despots, plague, quasi-European bad guys and exploding vehicles. (SB) Rated: PG-13
Unleashed -- Irish gang boss Bart (Bob Hoskins) has what no other Mafioso does -- a human pit bull. Raised like an animal and trained to kill any enemy of Bart's with his bare hands, Danny (Jet Li) even wears a high-tech dog collar. The collar keeps him from going ape-sh** and killing Bart and all his cronies; it also keeps him from having any hope of a normal life -- until the day he escapes and meets a blind piano tuner (Morgan Freeman) and his saucy stepdaughter. Already released in France as Danny the Dog, the movie's getting big buzz for Li's considerable acting (as well as karate) chops. Rated R
Publication date: 05/19/05