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by Inlander Staff


Crash -- This film strongly suggests that everyone in post-9/11 Los Angeles is angry, and that most of the population is pretty darn racist. Matt Dillon is a bad cop who doesn't realize it; Sandra Bullock is a horrible, wealthy shrew of a woman; Ludacris (in the film's best performance, in a film filled with great performances) is a carjacker. Lots of different stories take place in the rich and poor sections, in homes and on the streets. This is wrenching drama, real adult entertainment, constantly building in tension, with powerful payoffs. It's terrifically co-written and directed by Paul Haggis, who wrote Million Dollar Baby. (ES) Rated: R





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.





Grand Canyon -- Seen by more than 220 million people and a designated "first stop" at the National Geographic 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.





Hitch -- Breezy romantic comedy gets a big boost here with winning portrayals by Will Smith as the title character, a "date coach" for unsure men trying to win the women of their dreams, and by Kevin James (The King of Queens) as one of those men, who is shooting for the sky with a beautiful heiress (Amber Valletta). But the coach, himself, isn't having much luck with the ladies, and when his eyes pop over workaholic gossip columnist Eva Mendes, things get complicated. We all know how this is going to end. But getting there involves witty, sometimes slapstick fun. (ES) Rated PG-13





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 Prefect (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. (Cole Smithey) 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





Kingdom of Heaven -- Ridley Scott's newest epic is not a bad film -- it has scope and visual splendor and good acting and a compelling story. But neither is it very good, due to too many weak spots. The part about the young Balian (Orlando Bloom) rising so quickly from blacksmith to warrior is a stretch; the reasoning behind the Christians-versus-Muslims battle for Jerusalem circa 1200 is muddled; there isn't a lick of soul in the performance by Eva Green as the love interest; and the vultures hovering above a field of dead bodies are awfully reminiscent of the winged monkeys in The Wizard of Oz. (ES) Rated: R





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, football-mad warden to recruit the worst of the worst for an upcoming Guards versus Cons football match. With help from Chris Rock and Burt Reynolds, Crewe and his band of muscled misfits manage to finesse a real team into existence via nonstop practice and the occasional inspirational speech. (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 much. Funny sights for the kids, funny dialogue -- and many movie references -- 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





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





Robots -- The makers of Ice Age return with a computer-animated fable about a na & iuml;ve young robot heading for the big city to make it as an inventor, but clashing with a money-hungry industrialist. The story is clich & eacute;-ridden, the sound is headache-inducing and the script desperately wants to be hip. (ES) Rated PG





The Rocky Horror Picture Show -- The Rocky Horror Picture Show continues to prove that audiences really do have a sense of humor. This campy, deliberately raw rock musical horror comedy has been nurturing a cult audience since 1975. Starring a thinner Tim Curry (as a transvestite alien) and a young Susan Sarandon (as a budding nympho), the groaningly bad dialogue, ridiculous songs and B-movie enthusiasm can inexplicably come together with a live audience to make everyone happy to be their own weird selves. (Marty Demarest) (Plays at Midnight Friday and Saturday at the Garland). Rated: R





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 one may have a few plot problems and stiff performances from a couple of lead players, but it's a rip-snorting, action-packed outer space epic. 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





The Wackiest Wagon Train in the West -- This so-called "movie" is really nothing more than a three-episode compilation of the failed 1973 TV western/sitcom, Dusty's Trail, which starred none other than Bob Denver (from Gilligan's Island) trying desperately to re-capture that "little buddy" magic. He fails miserably. In one of the more shameless situation recycling jobs in television history, Denver stars as Dusty, the bumbling assistant to the coach master who somehow manages to get his wagon separated from the train and lost in the wilderness. Sound familiar? Well, the similarities don't end there. For avid students of TV esoterica only. Rated: G (Playing Saturday night at 11 pm at CenterStage, Mike Corrigan)





Publication date: 06/02/05

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