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by Inlander Staff


50 First Dates -- Drew Barrymore is cute as hell, and she has genuine sparks with a (surprisingly) sweet Adam Sandler. But neither of them brings any sense of character to this story about a relationship that must start anew each day due to Barrymore's short-term memory loss. (Marty Demarest) Rated: PG-13





Agent Cody Banks 2: Destination London -- Frankie Muniz plays the teenage secret agent, still plagued with debilitating shyness around girls. Quite frankly, we think this would be a lot funnier if he vomited, a la South Park's Stan, every time he got around a cute girl, but that's just us. This time around, our pubescent young hero has a new secret agent partner and an assignment in London. Rated: PG





The Barbarian Invasions -- Remy is the aging patriarch and former professor now on his deathbed; Sebastien, Remy's son, gathers together not only Remy's family but also former colleagues, rivals and mistresses. Winner of the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language film. Showing at the Met Cinema through April 1. Rated: R





Cold Mountain -- Anthony Minghella's adaptation of Charles Frazier's bestseller. Some performances are steeped in sorrow -- Jude Law's - and others are crackerjacks -- Renee Zellweger's hillbilly sprite and Natalie Portman's lonely widow. Nicole Kidman portrays an object of longing, a woman who comes into focus. It's lovely and tragic. (RP) Rated: R





Confessions of a Teenage Drama Queen -- Lindsay Lohan goes from being the most popular girl in her school to being just another new kid in the suburbs, which are already presided over by their own drama queen. But there's nothing that a teenage drama queen likes more than scheming against and plotting the downfall of another teenage drama queen. Rated: PG





Dawn of the Dead -- People -- the other other white meat. If the box office success of 28 Days Later is any indication, zombies are hot, hot, hot. The remake of George Romero's original (itself a sequel to Night of the Living Dead), Dawn of the Dead takes place after plague has decimated the population and the dead refuse to stay in their crypts. Sarah Polley, Ving Rhames and Mekhi Phifer are a few of the unlucky survivors holed up in an abandoned mall and outnumbered by the zombie hordes. Rated: R





Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind -- The newest film from writer Charlie Kaufman and director Michel Gondry (their last was Human Nature) is up the in the rare air of the Kaufman-Spike Jonze collaborations. Shy Joel (Jim Carrey) and extrovert Clementine (Kate Winslet) are an item until one tires of the other and has a scientific procedure that can erase a person from another's mind. Complications follow. This is an often funny, often very sad, constantly startling look at relationships and the fragility of memory. Philosophical issues run right up against emotional ones. Solid acting, imaginative direction, brilliant writing. (ES) Rated R





Hidalgo -- This is a film about Frank Hopkins (Viggo Mortensen) and his Mustang, Hidalgo -- members of the Buffalo Bill Cody Wild West Show, both a bit long in the tooth, but nevertheless expert riders. A sheikh (Omar Sharif) invites them to take part in a 3,000-mile desert race for big stakes, and the rest is a big entertaining movie, with a couple of extraneous visual effects, but some splendid action, acting and storytelling. (ES) Rated PG-13





The Human Body -- It's the human body, like you've never seen it before! Seriously, 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. In addition to lots of fascinatingly "ewwww" footage, The Human Body also features "the fusing of a father and mother's DNA inside a newly fertilized human egg, a sequence which took nearly a year to capture." Yeah, we can imagine. 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





Miracle -- Here we go again -- another underdog sports movie, this time a true story, about the 1980 U.S. Olympic Hockey team, made up of college players, and their spirited bid for victory over the Russian machine of a team that might as well be professional. The film is well made, and there's a solid performance by Kurt Russell as Herb Brooks, a man who was convinced he was right about everything, especially his relentless and sometimes brutal coaching of the team. But it goes on too long, is padded with unnecessary side stories, and hey, most people know how it ends. (ES) Rated: PG





Monster -- Real-life prostitute turned serial killer Aileen Carol Wuornos is played with startling dedication to her craft by Charlize Theron, in a film that never strays from the unpleasant road it sets out on. Her young, na & iuml;ve lover is played by Christina Ricci, also terrific in the part. Theron, putting on some pounds and some drastically unflattering makeup, has reached a high point in her career. (ES) Rated R





Mystic River -- Three urban boyhood pals grow apart and come together years later, each with inner demons. The thug, Jimmy (Sean Penn), is grieving over his daughter's murder; the investigative cop, Sean (Kevin Bacon) can't get over his wife leaving him; and possible suspect Dave (Tim Robbins) keeps reliving a horrible incident from his youth. Powerful stuff. (ES) Rated R





The Passion of the Christ -- A loud, thudding lockstep depiction of torture and murder with little about philosophy, goodness or celebration, Mel Gibson's The Passion of the Christ is a protracted representation of the last 12 hours of Jesus Christ's life. Not for the faint of heart and especially not for children or even teenagers, Gibson's dark vision focuses on Christ (Jim Caviezel) having his flesh rent into tatters, shredding into gobs of viscera. In short, Gibson's Gospel is one of brutality and suffering. (RP) Rated: R





The Return of the King -- Peter Jackson is a maestro of ceaseless and varied visual raptures, including both awe-inspiring armies of the dead, and a daughter-avenges-father scene on the battlefield that might be the best thing onscreen all year. (RP) Rated: PG-13





Secret Window -- Johnny Depp's oddball approach to roles -- though always interesting -- can either work for or against the movie. Here, playing a successful writer going through a divorce, his tics make sense. Unfortunately, the rest of the film is a hackneyed, predictable affair that lurches from laughter to suspense without succeeding at either. (Marty Demarest) Rated: PG-13





Spartan -- David Mamet's initially confounding, eventually fascinating story of a kidnapping, and the special forces group that's trying to foil it, gets more involved as it goes on. Val Kilmer is a tough former Marine Ranger who is called in to assist in the rescue of "an important man's" daughter, who might have been taken from her Boston school to the Middle East as a sex slave. But the case is full of dead ends, as well as violence. It seems that the closer he gets, the farther he gets. Plot twists galore feed the air of mystery. Riveting stuff with, as always with Mamet, sharp and bare-bones dialogue. (ES) Rated: R





Starsky and Hutch -- It's a smooth and hip translation from old TV show to new movie, with Ben Stiller and Owen Wilson in the leads. The two "difficult" cops are teamed up to take on a murder case that turns out to be drug-related. Stiller gives us a terrific by-the-books uptight character, and Wilson is just as good going the laid-back route. With Snoop Dog as a slippery Huggy Bear, plenty of leisure suits and Afros, and the hard-charging red Torino flying through the air in slo-mo. (ES) Rated PG-13





Taking Lives -- There's identity theft like the kind you see on those amusing Citibank commercials, and then there's identity theft like that in Taking Lives. Not content just to steal your information and maybe buy a new pickup, the identity thief of Taking Lives likes to take actual lives and then assume the identities of his hapless victims. Angelina Jolie plays the FBI profiler assigned to the case. Also starring Kiefer Sutherland, Gena Rowlands and Ethan Hawke. Rated: R





Twisted -- Whaddya do if you're a cop and someone keeps coming along and killing all your one-night stands? You hunt that rat bastard serial killer down, sister! Ashley Judd plays the cop-with-a-vengeance; Morgan Freeman (do they have to be in every movie together?) plays her suspicious boss. Andy Garcia plays her equally suspicious cop partner. Rated: R





Young Black Stallion -- Young Neera is separated from her father in World War II-era North Africa. Left to fend for herself in the desert, she befriends a wild young colt -- who helps her reunite with her family. Rated: G





Capsule reviews are written by Ed Symkus (ES), Ray Pride (RP) and Marty Demarest (MD) unless otherwise noted.





Publication date: 03/25/04

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