by Inlander Staff & lt;BR & Batman Begins -- Visionary 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 and its inhabitants 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. Probably too scary for very young kids, but tremendously exciting movie-making for everyone else. (ES) Rated: PG-13
Bewitcherd -- 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 movie about Depression-era fighter 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 (Renee Zellweger plays his wife). Look for another winning performance by Paul Giamatti as his manager, along with some brilliant, brutal fight scenes, and loads of heart. (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. The preparations for and remote monitoring of the fly boys' loop-de-loops are more engaging than the war games themselves -- and that ain't good. (Michael Bowen) Not Rated.
George A. Romero's Land of the Dead -- I like my zombies decayed, bloodthirsty, avaricious, ill-tempered and in large numbers. But one thing, in my mind, that zombies will never be is smart. They don't think, they don't strategize - they are simply attracted to eating humans. Yet early in Land of the Dead, we learn that zombies are, in fact, getting smarter. Instead of biting, these zombies shoot, swing, chop and even punch -- to the point that this flick might be more aptly entitled George A. Romero's Zombie Empire Strikes Back. The over-the-top gore is the only reason to watch the movie all the way through, considering that the acting is high school level - at best. (Leah Sottile)
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. History gets its share here, too, as Grand Canyon examines the earliest native cultures of the area as well as the first European explorers to find it. Not Rated.
Herbie: Fully Loaded -- Dear Hollywood, I have been a faithful movie watcher since I was very little. The images, the sounds, the visions and spectacles that you have created have been the stuff of my sleeping and waking dreams. Your brilliance and creativity have fueled my own imagination for decades. Which, I guess, is why I'm writing. I'm worried about you, Hollywood. I'm worried that you're losing steam, that you've run out of fresh ideas. Case in point: you're remaking every movie or TV series that ever made a dollar, just to make more dollars. A remake of Herbie the Love Bug? Seriously? The original was so nice. Why ruin the original with (admittedly hot) freakin' Lindsay Lohan as a NASCAR wanna-be? Why? I used to worship you, Hollywood. Now you're dead to me. (JS) Rated: G
Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy -- Douglas Adams' popular novel comes to filmic life as Earthling Arthur Dent (Martin Freeman) hitches a ride into outer space with his furtively alien pal Ford Perfect (Mos Def) when Earth is detonated to make way for a hyperspace bypass. Wacky aliens prevail as Arthur and Ford hitch their way onto a stolen spacecraft with a bi-polar (two-headed) President of the Galaxy, Zaphod Beeblebrox (Sam Rockwell) and Beeblebrox's cherished postmodern American assistant Trillian (Zooey Deschanel). It all unspools like an effortless compilation of humor from Monty Python, Men in Black, Mars Attacks and Brazil. It's a skeptical satire that fits slapstick physical humor with a biting sense of the importance of creative thought. In short, it's very British, in the best sense of the word. (Cole Smithey) Rated PG-13,
The Interpreter -- Nicole Kidman is a UN interpreter who overhears a plot to assassinate a bad guy African leader. Sean Penn is the FBI agent who checks her out, isn't sure if she's telling the truth and eventually must protect her. The biggest problems with the film are that it's dragged out to near-boredom territory, and there seems to be some sort of emotional wall between the two lead actors that neither one can climb over. An absurd plot turn near the end doesn't help matters. (ES) Rated PG-13
Kicking & amp; Screaming-- Will Ferrell, Robert Duvall and Mike Ditka appear together in a film that sings the praises of kids' soccer and caffeine addiction. Ferrell mucks about in his trademark clueless schmo routine, Duvall is the tough-as-nails old codger, and Ditka is Ditka, which makes Kicking & amp; Screaming roughly as entertaining as watching your neighbor's kid's soccer game -- not because you want to, but because you have to. Feh. (Marc Savlov) Rated: PG
Lewis & amp; Clark -- The IMAX folks have packed a lot into this vivid account of the two adventurers' travels across the American wilderness. Narrator Jeff Bridges does pretty much all the speaking, while actors play out the scenes. And those scenes are played out in breathtakingly beautiful settings. Unrated
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
Monster-in-Law -- The only reason this doesn't get a "turkey" is because of Jane Fonda's truly funny performance as the title character. She disapproves of her surgeon son (Michael Vartan) falling for his multi-careered new girlfriend (Jennifer Lopez), and she will go to any devious lengths to split them up. That's where the funny stuff comes in. But Fonda acts insanely large circles around ever-smiling Lopez (a very limited actress), and Vartan is stuck with a badly written part that makes his character look incredibly na & iuml;ve and uncaring. Bad moviemaking, filled with cliches. (ES) Rated PG-13
Mr. & amp; Mrs. Smith -- Beyond its relentless gunfights and car chases -- so many bullets are fired, it feels like a full-blown war -- 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 because there's (ironically) no real relationship to work out. (Cole Smithey) 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 Nightmare Before Christmas -- Midnight movies were made for such as this. The reigning king of Halloweentown, Jack Skellington, is becoming bored with scaring small children and walking through cemeteries with his little dog Zero. Discovering a "wood between the worlds," Jack falls into Christmas and tries to import many of their customs, with disastrous results. From afar, Sally the rag doll pines for Jack, while the sack-shaped villain Oogie Boogie gambles with Santa's fate in his underground lair. A wonderfully ghoulish romanticism pervades this fable for all ages. Rated: PG (Sheri Boggs) (Playing at the Garland on Friday and Saturday Nights at Midnight)
Rebound -- As predictable as a sunrise, this Mighty Ducks/Bad News Bears clone is also entirely inoffensive, lacking even the most basic profanities and sophomoric japes usually associated with Martin Lawrence, playing a legendary basketball coach who - as punishment for an on-court meltdown - is sent to coach the losing-streakers at his old former junior high. Rebound is never really much more than what it would appear, but director Steve Carr, who helmed the similarly predictable Daddy Day Care, keeps things moving, both on and off the court, with the sort of light, sweet humor you're not likely to find in too many other summer movies. (Marc Savlov) 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
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
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.