by Inlander Staff & r & Aeon Flux -- I wanted so desperately for this movie to be good, not just for the MTV early-'90s liquid television kitsch factor, but because the general plot -- as futuristic dystopian thrillers go -- is gritty and interesting and filled with all manner of gray shades. No black and white morality here, this isn't Orwell. The world itself is imaginative and detailed as well, full of really fascinating devices and costume design. Even the background bric a brac looks alien and wonderful. The problem is that the dialogue is atrocious. If I hadn't used the Dyson vacuum joke last week, I'd make it again here. Disappointment made all the more tragic by what might have been. (LB) Rated PG-13
Chicken Little -- Disney's first attempt at in-house CGI animation in the Pixar mold sometimes feels less like a movie than part of a strategy to get back together with Pixar. The film begins with a lively pop as a re-imagining of the storybook tale about the tiny fowl (voiced by Zach Braff) who caused a panic by screaming that the sky was falling. But the sky really is falling, and Chicken Little gets faster, louder and scarier -- feeling more and more like something trying to out-Pixar Pixar. (Scott Renshaw) Rated G
Derailed -- Don't cheat on your spouse! That's the message in this tale of two people (Clive Owen, Jennifer Aniston) who do, and then pay the consequences when their tryst is interrupted by a vicious criminal (Vincent Cassel) who is out for both blood and money. Plot twists come roaring through, right up to the end. (ES) Rated R
Fighter Pilot -- As we follow Capt. Jack 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 video nor Top Gun razzle-dazzle. (MB) Not Rated.
First Decent -- A snowboarding movie! This one takes place in Alaska, where there are lots of mountains to snowboard down. The people who do so include Shawn Farmer, Terje Haakonsen, Nick Peralta, Hannah Teter and wunderkind Shaun White. Rated PG-13
Good Night, and Good Luck -- An elegant scolding frames George Clooney's meticulous and stirring account of the duel between broadcast journalist Edward R. Murrow (David Strathairn) and Red-baiter Senator Joseph McCarthy (played by himself, via archival news footage). Celebrated at a fete in 1958 for his career achievements, Murrow turns on the network-news broadcasters honoring him. "This will probably do no one any good," he begins, and concludes by condemning the new medium for selling out its potential and folding to political and commercial pressure. (Peter Keough) Rated PG.
Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire -- Harry and friends return for another term at Hogwarts, and Harry somehow becomes a contestant in the dangerous and exciting Triwizard Tournament. Director Mike Newell and entire-series writer Steve Kloves add new dimensions to the story, with more emotional punch and some maturing (sexual awakening?) of the young wizards. This fourth installment is the most fun and the scariest. Brendan Gleeson steals the show as "Mad-Eye." (ES) Rated PG-13
The Ice Harvest -- The cold makes a great character in films. Snow and ice have been well used to heighten the absurdism of films like Fargo, the claustrophobia of films like The Ice Storm and the drug trance effluvia of Angels in America. In The Ice Harvest, cold may well do all of those things. John Cusack is a mob attorney who, along with Billy Bob Thornton and, tries to extricate himself from his life as a crime barrister. So he steals a couple hundred Gs from his boss (Randy Quaid) in the middle of an atrocious ice storm. Pulitzer Prize winner Richard Russo writes and genius comedy director Harold Ramis (Caddyshack, Groundhog Day) directs. Rated R
Jarhead -- Spend some time in hot Middle Eastern sand with the Marines during Operation Desert Shield. Under the direction of Sam Mendes (American Beauty), it was funny and harrowing and boring and could drive a guy nuts. Jake Gyllenhaal plays a Marine who goes through tough emotional times with his fellow soldiers. The film concentrates more on them than on the politics of the time. Gyllenhaal, as Swoff, and Peter Sarsgaard, as Troy, are terrific. (ES) Rated R
Just Friends -- If we can use Eddie Murphy's late-'90s career resurgence as a guide, Ryan Reynolds will do movies where he plays a hapless fat man, then a hapless scientist, then a hapless cartoon character, then, hopefully, he'll become a hapless ex-star who never bothers us again. Just Friends is his hapless fat man movie. Rated PG-13
Kiss Kiss Bang Bang -- This might be the best noir film ever made because it never even begins to take itself seriously. A petty thief (Robert Downey Jr.) accidentally becomes an actor, but must first take detective lessons from a private eye named Gay Perry (Val Kilmer). In the middle of it all, the actor gets involved in romance and murder. Very funny, and a bit nasty. (ES) Rated R
Legend of Zorro -- "People still need Zorro!" Columbia Pictures is trying so hard to believe that, they went so far as to write it into the movie itself. Not merely content to let him be Zorro the swashbuckler, Legend of Zorro offers us Zorro the husband, Zorro the father, and -- God bless him -- Zorro the Savior of America. Nobody around here has seen it yet, but the stench Zorro has generated in larger movie markets is already wafting in. God Bless the Internet. Rated PG
Magnificent Desloation -- Only 12 people have walked on the moon, but now IMAX is proclaiming that you'll be number 13. All of you. Don't be fooled! You won't really be on the moon, just leaning back a little in your chair, gazing up at the moon's desolate vistas projected on a massive format screen. This is bound to be good. Tom Hanks produced it, and he doesn't put his name on bad movies. Except The Terminal... and Ladykillers. Unrated
Pride and Prejudice -- The Jane Austen story of happiness, misery and longing for love gets first-rate treatment in this gorgeously photographed and terrifically adapted, acted and directed version. Keira Knightley is luminous as Elizabeth, and Matthew MacFadyen nicely portrays an initially sour, eventually winning Mr. Darcy. Both Brenda Blethyn and Donald Sutherland steal a few scenes as Elizabeth's parents, but the film belongs to Knightley, who makes quite a leap from starring in Domino. (ES) Rated PG
Rent -- The ragged Broadway hit, full of unsympathetic characters and repetitive music, gets slicked-up for the screen. This is all about romantic relationships that have no chance of working -- either because of selfishness or weakness or illness. The songs are well sung, but some of them go on forever, getting in the way of the multiple stories. A couple of questions: How do such apparently poor people dress so well, and who the hell do they think they are, not wanting to pay rent? An exercise in bombast. (ES) Rated PG-13
Saw II -- Wasn't it enough to see Saw the first time? Do we really need a whole other movie about Seesaw, the homicidal cancer patient? Yes? All right, but if the first was a pretty blatant rip off of Se7en and Rube Goldberg's Inventions!, and this is a rehash of that, then we all know what to expect. Is knowing what to expect scary? We'd say no, but thousands upon thousands of horror flick sequels would beg to differ. Rated R
Walk the Line -- Biopics come in two distinct flavors, good and bad. There's very little in between. The good are measured and unsensationalized, focusing on the person more than his or her celebrity and public persona, engaging and salacious as those might be. They help us make sense of the person behind the image. Walk The Line - directed by James Mangold and starring Joaquin Phoenix as Johnny Cash and Reese Witherspoon as June Carter Cash - is one of those biopics. (LB) Rated PG-13
Yours Mine & amp; Ours -- In its never-ending quest to remake every film and TV show of note, Hollywood may have actually stumbled on a winner -- 1968's Yours, Mine and Ours, which starred Henry Fonda and Lucille Ball. In the remake, it's Dennis Quaid and Rene Russo who fall in love with tons of baggage -- 18 children between them, that is. The kids join forces to break up the happy couple. (TSM) Rated PG
Zathura -- Zathura equals Jumanjii minus Robin Williams plus outer space. Two brothers demonstrate their sibling rivalry, then discover a mysterious box down in their scary basement. Next thing you know, they're fighting off meteor showers and robots, then freezing their sister cryogenically. Director Jon Favreau delivers a familiar but still entertaining story -- until his romp runs out of ideas. Watch out for the Zorgons! Keep watching out for them! Those Zorgons are still coming! (LB) Rated PG
The new one is smart and funny and action-packed, and it’s bigger and better and sleeker. And Downey does it again, this time ramping up Stark’s arrogant wisecracking, telling anyone who’ll listen (mostly women) that, via the creation of his powerful Iron Man suit, he’s brought years of uninterrupted peace to the world.