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by Inlander Staff


After the Sunset -- Possibly the ideal film to more or less ignore while lounging poolside and sipping Jamaican rum, After the Sunset is 100-proof pap that's as inoffensively asinine as it is eager to explore the wonders of deep diving into Hayek's admittedly impressive cleavage. (Marc Savlov) Rated: PG-13





Alfie -- It's safe to say that Jude Law owns every frame of this remake of the 1966 Michael Caine film, the one that shot him to fame and will finally push Law to the top. It's time in the life of a cad, a real ladies' man, a guy who's simply into the joy of being with women. Updated and moved from London to New York, the story actually presents a sympathetic side to Alfie. But back to Law: He talks right to the camera, imbues Alfie with the gamut of emotional experiences, and makes us boo him and cheer him. Nice assistance from Marisa Tomei and Susan Sarandon as a couple of supposed conquests. (ES) Rated R





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 the cheese-bombs Resident Evil and Event Horizon. Be afraid. Rated: PG-13





Back to the Future -- This sci-fi comedy made Deloreans even more coveted than they already were, while making young Michael J. Fox even more of a star than he already was. Marty McFly (Fox) accidentally gets sucked back into the '50s, just in time to meet his own parents when they were teenagers. Unfortunately his arrival bungles their ever meeting one another; Marty must scramble to get them together before he gets zapped back to 1985, otherwise he'll never be born. Christopher Lloyd camps it up as the neighborhood crackpot/mad scientist. (SB) Rated: PG (Playing at midnight Friday and Saturday night at the Garland)





Bridget Jones: The Edge Of Reason -- This sequel is nothing more than a rehash of the original, in reverse. It's a few weeks later, and slightly plump Bridget (Renee Zellweger) is now happily involved with dullard Mark Darcy (Colin Firth). That's different. But when caddish Daniel Cleaver (Hugh Grant) happens by, she goes all goofy on him again -- maybe because he adores her big panties. The problem: No one is even likeable. Mark is above everyone, Daniel is a jerk, and Bridget, well, poor Bridget is a self-deprecating dummy. An exasperatingly unfunny comedy. (ES) Rated R





The Grudge -- A ghost or a curse or some such does bad things to anyone who enters a serene house in Tokyo, where Karen (Sarah Michelle Gellar) has taken a job caring for a dementia-riddled woman. Things go wrong and get worse for our heroine and everyone around her. But the filmmakers don't dole out enough information about what the hell is going on. It's scary, due to lots of visual shockeroos and creepy sounds. But in the end, even with all kinds of explanations, nothing much makes sense. (ES) 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, scary, wild, thoughtful, filled with adult issues. The newest film from Brad Bird (The Iron Giant). (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 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





Maniac -- Maniac (1934) is a zany cinematic mess that almost makes Ed Wood films seem like works of pure genius. The fractured story line involves an ex-vaudeville actor who also happens to be the assistant to a mad doctor with a Frankenstein complex. After murdering the doctor (so he can be resurrected?), the actor assumes the dead physician's identity. Elements of Edgar Allen Poe's "The Black Cat" are somehow weaved into the storyline -- along with a parade of busty women, characters who come and go mysteriously and acting that is almost uniformly hysterical. A real jaw-dropper. (MC) (Playing at midnight Saturday night at Center Stage)





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)





The Princess Diaries 2 -- 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 ostensibly a girl-empowerment spin on fairytale dreams with way too many in jokes and appearances by his doddering old cronies. The sets are shabby, the costumes are awful and there is so much superfluous junk going on in ill-framed shots you wonder about Marshall's deteriorating attention span. (RP) Rated: G





Ray -- Jamie Foxx delivers an astoundingly rich performance as musical legend Ray Charles. As one would expect, the music is great and the cast (especially Kerry Washington, Sharon Warren and Regina King) is exceptional. But in the end, this is Foxx's film, and he makes the most of it. Far from an impersonation, his performance is a respectful and accurate tribute to the man, suffused with passion, love, and pain. (Chuck Koplinski) Rated: PG-13





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)





Saw -- Recommended, but only with the strenuous caveat that Saw, even as a coming attractions trailer, may be one of the most disturbing movies I've ever seen. Put up against Se7en, its inventive mind warps go up to about 16.7. (RP) Rated: R





Seed of Chucky -- Could anyone still be scared by this husky-voiced plastic doll? If you know anybody who is, they're lame - and you'll probably find them this holiday season watching this latest addition to the Child's Play series. As a scary movie, it's no Halloween and no Friday the 13th - it's just campy. Chucky was married when we last left him, and in this episode, their child resurrects him and his wife Tiffany (Jennifer Tilly). The three of them go on a bloody joy ride of death and destruction. Yawn. (LS) Rated: R





Shall We Dance? -- An American remake of the Japanese art house hit about a bored attorney (Richard Gere) who goes through a life change when he signs up for dance lessons after getting a look at the school's hot teacher (Jennifer Lopez). His wife (Susan Sarandon) thinks he's working late. Things get a little weird at home, but grow funny and impassioned at the studio. An outrageously bewigged Stanley Tucci plays another dancer. Directed with flash and pizzazz and gentleness by Peter Chelsom (Funny Bones). (E.S.) Rated PG-13





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





The Yes Men -- A documentary about two guys -- call them Mike and Andy -- who pull off some pretty impressive pranks. The best is when and how they impersonate two members of the World Trade Organization, manage to get some speaking gigs, then get up in front of convention crowds and deliver lectures on subjects that would make real WTO folks grimace. Very funny stuff, some of it slightly off color, most of it mind-boggling. (ES) Rated: R (Playing at the Met on Nov. 18, and Nov. 22-24 at 3 pm, 5:30 pm and 8 pm)





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





Publication date: 11/18/04

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