by Inlander Staff
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
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
Cellular -- Don't answer that phone! This one's kind of like Phone Booth in reverse, as a wrong number turns out to create a race against time to save whoever it is on the other end of that cell phone (Kim Basinger). Starring Chris Evans and William H. Macy. 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
Dodgeball -- Ben Stiller, again. This time he's the vain, shallow owner of Globo Gym, which is trying to drive away competitor Average Joe's Gym across the street. Vince Vaughan and the guys at Joe's decide to enter a dodgeball tournament and win the money they need. It's often randomly hilarious, and even when the jokes don't work, they at least keep coming. (MD) Rated: PG-13
Enter the Dragon -- The quintessential Bruce Lee experience and as fine an example of 1970s filmmaking as you'll find. Big afros, disco-funk clothes, opium smuggling and through it all the incomparable Lee, who can barely contain a secret "Damn, I'm good," smile through all his dazzling kung fu acrobatics. (Midnight Friday and Saturday at the Garland, Sheri Boggs)
Forces of Nature -- Kevin Bacon is your host on this National Geographic jaunt into the path of tornadoes, volcanoes and earthquakes. While teams of scientists try to unravel the secret clues that indicate when disaster will strike, the National Geographic/IMAX filmmakers are hot on the pursuit of tornadoes from Texas to North Dakota, in one instance, coming within 400 feet of being swept up in an F-3 twister. The Soufriere Hills Volcano eruption in Monserrat provides all the molten lava and pyrotechnics you could ask for. Not Rated.
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 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 score are brilliant. (ES) Rated PG-13
I, Robot -- Fox apparently wasn't happy with this futuristic drama's initial showing and is re-releasing it for another try. The special effects, for once, are done right: Computer-generated robots instead of computer generated-creatures. And could it be that Will Smith is growing as an actor? Possibly, but it's hard to tell much of the time in this well-polished but ultimately noisy thriller. (MD) Rated: PG-13
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.
Island of the Sharks -- If it's gory and/or violent food-chain action you're after, Island of the Sharks won't disappoint. In addition to all the hungry sharks patrolling the waters, you'll also see marlins decimate entire schools of fish as well as meet the mantis shrimp and its sickle claw of sudden, skewering death. But it's not all "eat or be eaten" off the shores of Cocos Island, as the film also offers glimpses of a bio-diverse ecological region. 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
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
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 -- 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
Resident Evil: Apocalypse -- You can see the inevitable franchise merger from miles away: "Resident Raider: Lara vs. Alice." Still, you can't get a good series going without a sequel, and here the video game Resident Evil picks up where the first movie left off. One of only two biochemical warfare survivors left in the world, Alice (Milla Jovovich) battles both viruses and the zombies they create. Rated: R
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
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
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: 09/16/04