by Inlander Staff & r & The Bad News Bears -- While Richard Linklater's remake cleaves to the bone most of the way home, it lacks the fastball-to-the-noggin punch of the original. Still, there are moments of pure goofball zaniness scattered throughout, and Billy Bob Thornton shines, with a chummy leer and a perpetual bevy of Hooters girls trailing behind him. (Marc Savlov) Rated PG-13
Batman Begins -- Director Christopher Nolan (Memento) instills a heightened reality to this telling of the Batman tale -- going back to the boyhood horrors that marred Bruce Wayne, taking in the young adult physical training that shaped him and extending to his attempt to save Gotham City from villainous ruin. Christian Bale is perfect as Bruce Wayne/Batman, as are Michael Caine as Alfred, Gary Oldman as a good cop and Cillian Murphy as the demented Scarecrow. (ES) Rated: PG-13
Bewitched -- The idea is a good one: Instead of just doing a movie version of the popular sitcom about a witch who marries a regular guy, this goofy stab at Hollywood is about the people who are making a new version of the series for TV, with Will Ferrell as the actor playing Darren, and Nicole Kidman in the Samantha role. Shirley MacLaine as Endora is the show-stealer, but everyone's game, and most are good. Some of the length and fluff content could be trimmed, but it'll still please crowds. (ES) PG-13
Cinderella Man -- Ron Howard has made a good old-fashioned Hollywood movie about Depression-era prizefighter James Braddock, in a terrific portrayal by Russell Crowe. His fighting days were hindered due to bad hands, but he scrapped through, providing for his family (an equally fine Renee Zellweger plays his wife). Look for another winning performance by Paul Giamatti as his manager, along with some brilliant, brutal fight scenes. (ES) Rated PG-13
Charlie and the Chocolate Factory -- Tim Burton's take on the Roald Dahl story, first filmed in 1971, is a little more whimsical and has less of an edge than that film. But the Burton-style story of the poor but happy boy who wins a trip to the mysterious chocolate factory with four horrid kids is so much more imaginative, and brilliantly designed with sets, visual effects and color schemes. Johnny Depp is quirky and troubled as Wonka, and Freddie Highmore is delightful as Charlie. And don't worry -- some of it is creepy. (ES) Rated: PG
The Devil's Rejects -- Baby, Otis, Captain Spaulding and the rest of the greasy, gruesome Firefly family wander through the set of Bonanza, meet up with a team of ruthless bounty hunters and have themselves an awesome gorefest (what one critic called "one of the most depraved and terrifying showdowns in cinematic history"). But then, what else did you expect from director Rob Zombie? (JS) Rated: R
Fantastic Four -- This latest transfer from comic book to film misfires at every step on every level. The plot: Four people have their molecules rearranged after a cosmic storm hits them in outer space, and they come back able to stretch or catch on fire or turn invisible or be ugly. Comic history is rewritten by also placing Victor von Doom onboard. But it's shoddy filmmaking, with hokey effects, a villain that's more angry than villainous, and actors -- especially the pretty but talentless Jessica Alba -- caught standing around waiting to deliver their lines. Anything but fantastic. (ES) Rated PG-13
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. . (Michael Bowen) Not Rated.
Grand Canyon -- Seen by more than 220 million people and a designated "first stop" at the Grand Canyon Visitor's Center, Grand Canyon: The Hidden Secrets is an IMAX classic. Segments include a wild whitewater rafting trip, a flight over -- and into -- the canyon's crimson and yellow striated depths and a closer look at Lake Powell. Not Rated.
Hustle & amp; Flow -- What's a pimp to do when he realizes that even though he's livin' large and in charge, his life is on a one-way track to nowhere? Well, go "legit" of course -- and follow your buddy into the lucrative rap music game. What could have been a horrible clich & eacute;-and-stereotype-ridden failure in fact attracted a lot of attention from film critics at the 2005 Sundance Film Festival for its smarts, humor and inventive camera work. Stars Terrence Dashon Howard as the pimpy protagonist DJay. (MC) Rated: R
The Island -- The Island is about explosions, not cloning. It's about car chases, sight gags and one perfunctory sex scene. It's about clever product placement and forcing millions of people to watch hundreds of trailers. It's about making lots of money. Michael Bay's directorial aesthetic draws deeply from MTV and attention-deficit disorder. He only really pauses long enough for you to get a good look at that Cadillac logo, that Michelob label, those MSN Search kiosks. Then it's off to blow something up. (LB) Rated: PG-13
The Longest Yard -- While this new remake is considerably toned down in terms of both the 1974 original's freewheeling (and hilarious) vulgarities and grim prison violence, director Peter Segal and star Adam Sandler show at least a full understanding of what made the rough-and-tumble original so appealing. Sandler takes over for Reynolds as former pro footballer Paul Crewe, disgraced in a point-shaving debacle and current resident of a Texas penitentiary. Once incarcerated, Crewe is forced by a sadistic warden to recruit the worst of the worst for a Guards versus Cons football match. (Marc Savlov) Rated: PG-13
Madagascar -- Through odd circumstances, four pampered animal pals at the Central Park Zoo (voices of Chris Rock, Ben Stiller, David Schwimmer, Jada Pinkett Smith) end up on the title island, with no food, no caretakers and no idea what to do. And a huge populace of goofy lemurs doesn't help. Funny sights for the kids, funny dialogue for the adults and an insane performance by Sacha Baron Cohen (Da Ali G Show) as Julian, king of the lemurs. (ES) Rated PG
March of the Penguins -- Actor Morgan Freeman narrates the American version of this joint U.S./ French project documenting the astounding life cycle of the hardy and determined Emperor Penguin of the South Arctic. Though the tagline anthropomorphizes the poor penguins to a silly degree ("In the harshest place on Earth, love finds a way"), this rare look at the annual journey of the penguins as they march single-file hundreds of miles across the frozen wastes of the Antarctic to and from their traditional breeding grounds has the ring of something mesmerizing. (MC) Rated: G
Mr. & amp; Mrs. Smith -- Beyond its relentless gunfights and car chases, the only thing Mr. & amp; Mrs. Smith offers its audience is the attractive onscreen union of Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie. John and Jane Smith are a married couple of hired assassins who have managed to keep their similar occupations concealed from one another until a double-booked hit pits them against each other. The film toys with role reversals and marital therapy, but in the end it falls flat. (Cole Smithey) Rated: PG-13
Must Love Dogs -- Despite a winning performance by John Cusack and an OK one by Diane Lane as unhappy recent divorcees who meet via the Internet, the film is too much of a rehash of other romantic comedies (especially of the Meg Ryan variety). There are some original laugh-inducing scenes, but there are just as many that feel tired. And if you don't know how this one is going to end by the 10-minute mark, you haven't seen enough Meg Ryan films. (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
The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants -- A quartet of lifelong friends (Amber Tamblyn, Alexis Bledel, America Ferrera, and newcomer Blake Lively) must separate for the summer, but manage to stay together -- at least in spirit -- via a pair of jeans that happens to fit all of them. Based on the Ann Brashares novel, the idea is a stretch -- literally -- but the message about friendship and finding oneself is strong and well delivered. (ES) Rated PG
Sky High -- Will Stronghold is a powerless kid with superhero parents (Captain Stronghold and Jetstream), attending a school for kids with extraordinary superpowers. So how's he to manage the embarrassment of being a mere sidekick while negotiating all the problems normal kids go through (girls, parents, peer pressure)? Will he find his superpowers? Does anyone really care? Rated PG
Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith -- George Lucas hits his stride with the final chapter. He neatly ties the six films together, ending it on the planet Tatooine, where Episode IV begins. This thing opens with 20 relentless minutes, presents a superb performance by Ian McDiarmid as Chancellor Palpatine, and, for you lightsaber fans, offers multiple thrilling battles with the flashy weapons. Excellent effects all the way through, with a mostly solid story. (ES) Rated PG-13
Stealth -- Jessica Biel is still a looker, but in Stealth she gets serious. Real serious. She's tough, playing a Navy pilot alongside Jamie Foxx and Josh Lucas. They're a team, and when their commander announces the arrival of computer-driven planes, they're all ... not for it. Let's just say El Chief-o should have listened to the three kids. That little humdinger of a plane up and disobeys orders, and next thing you know, there's a national security threat issued. Not good. Rated PG-13
War of the Worlds -- Steven Spielberg's dream project works on every level but one of the most important ones: the ending. But uncalled-for sappiness aside, this is a terrific piece of filmmaking, with gigantic, often feverishly grisly visual effects sitting comfortably next to a character study of a man (Tom Cruise) who, while trying to figure out how to survive an attack by creatures who are bent on destroying mankind, also must become the father he never was. Wild, believable visuals, a New York nod to 9/11, and solid acting from Cruise. Not to be missed. (ES) Rated PG-13
Wedding Crashers -- Owen Wilson and Vince Vaughn make a very good comedy team. Wilson (The Life Aquatic) isn't so much an actor, however, as a personality: He offers the same tousle-haired puppy-dog vulnerability in all his movies. In contrast, Vaughn (Dodgeball) is manic, firing off machine-gun explanations of why he doesn't like conventional dating and how complicated it is to steer women into bed. They're guys who will live, hedonistically, forever. But just when you think that'll be this movie's chief attraction, it turns out to be a charming romantic comedy. (MB) Rated R
The Wild Parrots of Telegraph Hill -- Born and raised in southwestern Washington, Marc Bittner tried to be a novelist in Europe but ended up instead -- for 14 years -- as a homeless street musician in San Francisco. Judy Irving's acclaimed documentary traces how he fell in with a bunch of red and green parrots with names like Tupelo, Mingus, Picasso and Pushkin. Turns out there are a lot of frustrated novice bird owners who just let go of their screaming, biting pets -- and that parrots survive in urban areas as structured flocks just fine, thank you. (MB) Rated G, at the Met, Aug. 1-4 and Aug. 6-7.