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by Inlander Staff


Blade: Trinity -- Wesley Snipes still hunts vampires, but now he's joined by two compadres: smart-aleck Hannibal King (Ryan Reynolds) and markswoman Abigail Whistler (Jessica Biel). Their mission is to help create a virus that will wipe out vampires. The film is violent and action-packed, but also very funny in both dialogue and offbeat plot devices (such as a cute little Pomeranian vampire). There's solid support from Dominic Purcell as Vampire No. 1, Parker Posey as a nasty vampiress, and wrestling's Triple H as a body-slamming vampire thug. (ES) Rated R





Christmas with the Kranks -- The John Grisham novel Skipping Christmas transfers sloppily to the screen, spreading its holiday "joy" with a story of recent empty-nesters (Tim Allen, Jamie Lee Curtis) who decide to forget about Christmas for one year to go on a cruise. But the neighborhood is not happy about this, and the film starts to turn from laughs to threats. (ES) Rated PG





Closer -- All the things you've thought and felt but never put into precise and profane language at the moment you're most wounded: That's the black heart of the scarring, scarily funny language of Patrick Marber's play. Earning their acting chops and the R rating in a game of sexual musical chairs are brash dermatologist Clive Owen, self-pitying obits writer Jude Law, photographer Julia Roberts and unformed life force Natalie Portman. Directed by Mike Nichols. (RP) Rated: R





Finding Neverland -- A dramatic, yet kind of whimsical look at how J.M. Barrie (Johnny Depp) was inspired to write the play Peter Pan -- by meeting a widow (Kate Winslet) with four young boys who definitely could use a father figure. But there's a chance the boyish playwright's own marriage will suffer. Depp puts on a terrific Scottish accent, and is joined by Julie Christie and Dustin Hoffman. But Freddie Highmore, who plays Peter, steals the show. (ES) Rated PG





Flight of the Phoenix -- A remake of director Robert Aldrich's 1965 original, Flight of the Phoenix would be 15 percent better if not for its abysmal use of pop music, and 100 percent better if Aldrich's son William had never thought to ride on his father's coattails by producing it. The expertly filmed crash sequence is a high point that the movie never again achieves as a group of survivors attempt to escape from the desert. Dennis Quaid's stalwart performance doesn't rescue the movie from its unconvincing dialogue or flaccid plotting, but he does give it its dynamic character hook. (Cole Smithey) Rated PG-13





The Incredibles -- The likely final Pixar-Disney co-production is a major departure from Finding Nemo and Toy Story in that all of the characters are humans. One of them, Mr. Incredible (voice of Spokane native Craig T. Nelson) is a former superhero who was forced to retire and is now in insurance, but misses his old life. His wife, the former Elastigirl (Holly Hunter), is not happy when he has a chance to get back in the game, but no one is aware that it's a trap by an old enemy. Funny, wild, thoughtful, filled with adult issues. (ES) Rated PG





Ladder 49 -- When a veteran firefighter (Joaquin Phoenix) is trapped within a high-rise inferno, the chief (John Travolta) and his crew must figure out how to find and rescue him. The film plays out through as series of imaginatively presented flashbacks that chronicle the man's life -- in and out of the firehouse -- over the past decade, from deadly situations to goofy pranks. The story maintains a high degree of intensity but is flawed in its use of tired clich & eacute;s, some overacting and an ending that's too maudlin. (ES) Rated PG-13





Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events -- Like an Edward Gorey drawing come to life, A Series of Unfortunate Events is at once bleak, sinister, comic and, above all, weirdly beautiful. Imaginary author Lemony Snicket's tale of three resourceful orphans pitted against their evil distant relative, Count Olaf, resonates with real (at times downright oogly) peril. While the plot does sometimes get lost in lugubrious pacing and Jim Carrey will overact, the three children playing the young Baudelaires inhabit their parts with a genuine, unaffected charm. Not for younger kids, and be sure to stay for the lovely nouveau-Gothic animations throughout the credits. (Sheri Boggs) Rated: PG





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





National Treasure -- An absurdly plotted story has a third-generation treasure hunter (Nicolas Cage) believing that he's finally closing in on some long-lost glittery spoils from thousands of years past. The only problem now is that the supposed final clue is on the back of the very well protected Declaration of Independence, and he's not the only guy after it. The script relies too much on coincidences and long-winded speeches that lead only to more clues. But despite all of this, it's a pleasant enough, relatively harmless romp. (ES) Rated PG





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





Ocean's Twelve -- George Clooney, Brad Pitt and all the rest are back in a rousing follow-up to Ocean's Eleven that turns out to be a much looser romp through the now international heist scene. Told in convincing manner that they must return the $160 million they stole the first time around, they head for Europe and some bigger jobs. But it turns into a "who's a better thief?" contest. It's one of those rarities: a sequel better than the original. (ES) Rated PG-13





The Polar Express -- The popular Chris Van Allsburg book gets the Robert Zemeckis treatment and a dazzling animated style that makes it look like a living Van Allsburg drawing. Never mind that train to Hogwarts. The one that pulls up at a young boy's house on Christmas Eve is headed for the North Pole and a certain jolly fat man. And it seems that the other young passengers have one thing in common: They're all wearing pajamas. Tom Hanks voices the conductor and four other parts, including the boy. Charming, wistful, with a nice dose of adventure. (ES) Rated G (Opens Wednesday, Nov. 10, at IMAX, AMC and Regal)





Santa vs. the Snowman -- Steve Oedekerk, the twisted mind behind Nickelodeon's Jimmy Neutron, has revitalized the Christmas special with just the right mix of the familiar and the original. When the Snowman covets Santa's beloved status, the future of Christmas is at stake. Armies of elves and tiny snowmen can't settle things, so it's up to a little girl to show everyone the real meaning of Christmas. This is a half-hour filled with lots of laughs; the big battle scene alone is worth the price of admission. Not Rated. Only at Imax. (TM)





Shark Tale -- This underwater animated feature tells of a dreamer fish named Oscar (voice of Will Smith), who thinks he'll get ahead in the world by taking credit for killing a bad shark. When the shark's crime boss father (Robert De Niro) hears of Oscar's bragging, it's score-settling





Sideways -- Miles (Paul Giamatti) and Jack (Thomas Haden Church) are two pals who go on a West Coast wine-tasting tour, just before Jack is to get married and Miles is to find out if his novel is being published. Miles is an unhappy sweetheart of a guy who knows his wine. Jack is a carefree, womanizing cad who will drink anything put in front of him. They both meet women on the road (Virginia Madsen and Sandra Oh), and the film jumps back and forth between vibrant comedy and emotional distress, all the while offering great insight on the joys of wine. (ES) Rated R





Spanglish -- Adam Sandler plays it cool and calm as a chef and restaurateur, married to a New Age, politically correct, babbling loony (Tea Leoni). Their lives take an interesting turn when they hire housekeeper and single mom Flora (Paz Vega), who has sneaked over the Mexican border with her daughter (Shelbie Bruce). There's a language barrier, but that doesn't stop Flora, who doesn't speak English, from seeing there's trouble in paradise. The film's serious center is balanced by comic surroundings -- Cloris Leachman is priceless as Leoni's ex-jazz singer mom -- and there's a sweetness to it all. (ES) Rated PG-13





The SpongeBob SquarePants Movie -- Rumor has it that the creative team behind this Nickelodeon phenomenon resisted the siren call of taking their cartoon to the big screen. They probably wondered how to stretch something that thrives in a 12-minute format into 70 minutes. You can see why they worried: The first 20 minutes of this movie are hilarious, especially the live-action opening, but then it drags badly, especially in another live-action sequence near the end. SpongeBob and Patrick go on a spiritual journey to prove they are men -- and to keep Bikini Bottom provisioned with crabby patties. They're as funny as ever, but this is really Plankton's movie -- he's the Yosemite Sam of the modern cartoon era, and his plan for undersea domination is diabolica-licious. Rated: PG (Ted S. McGregor, Jr.)





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 turn for the worse. You can pretty much imagine where the hijinks go from there. Be sure to look for a Deliverance reference involving Burt Reynolds as -- you guessed it -- a crazy mountain man. Rated: PG-13


Rated: PG-13





Publication date: 12/23/04

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