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by Inlander Staff & r & & r & 16 Blocks -- Bruce Willis is a worn-out city cop, Mos Def is the chatty special witness he must escort to a court house and David Morse heads up a group of dirty cops who don't want him to get there. All three are excellent in their parts. Richard Donner's film is gritty and tense, with taut action sequences, but Richard Wenk's script offers a terrific character study of the three men at its center. (ES) Rated PG-13





Aquamarine -- Splash meets the Goonies meets, I dunno ... Emma, in this fractured fairy tale for tweens. Somehow, and we haven't got this completely figured out yet, the mysterious beaching of a mermaid following a winter storm will teach us all a valuable lesson about marrying for love and about, you know, not moving away from your neighborhood. Or something. Rated PG





Brokeback Mountain -- Everybody's talking about "the gay cowboy movie," with Jake Gyllenhaal and Heath Ledger as longtime lovers who try to keep the secret from their wives. Most folks are saying good things about Ang Lee's first film since Hulk. But the film runs too slow, and the story doesn't offer enough explanation of motivation. Beautiful scenery and a great performance by Michelle Williams really isn't enough. And Gyllenhaal's mustache looks ridiculous. (ES) Rated R





The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe -- The C.S. Lewis novel has its charm and fantastical imagery intact, although, happily, the religious overtones are now undertoned. During World War II, four siblings are sent to the British countryside for safety, where they find a portal to another world: the wintry land of Narnia. They must come together as a unit, join forces with magical creatures and defeat a wicked queen (Tilda Swinton). Nicely done, for all ages. (ES) Rated PG





Curious George -- The simple and gentle kiddie books have gone even simpler and gentler in this flatly animated film adaptation that's geared toward viewers who are too young to be brought to a movie theater. The Man in the Yellow Hat (voice of Will Ferrell) goes to Africa to find a museum-worthy relic and is followed back to New York by the frisky but lonely monkey, and all sorts of adventures ensue -- none of which will hold the attention of anyone older than 5. This will work far better as a baby-sitter on DVD. (ES) Rated G





Date Movie -- The Wayans brothers are so profitable (funny is another question) that people have begun floating films from their writing staff. Date Movie is just that. Two of the writers of Scary Movie were given clearance to satirize the romantic comedy genre in the broad, obvious strokes with which they satirized the horror genre. Exactly the kind of wackiness you'd expect ensues. Rated PG-13





Dave Chapelle's Block Party -- From the moment Dave Chapelle said he loved the word "skeet" because white people didn't know what it meant yet, we were hooked. And no, we didn't know what it meant. We rejoice now at the coming of his Block Party, half concert film and half documentary of the man himself. This is getting great reviews. Rated R





Doogal -- It's an animated comedy about a dog who must save the world from a madman with an ice age gun. The script has lots of references to Lord of the Rings, for some inexplicable reason. The cast, also inexplicably, includes the voices of William H. Macy, Judi Dench, Jon Stewart and Jimmy Fallon. Rated G





Eight Below -- So there's, like, this storm, right? Wicked one. In Antarctica or something. And there's this research team. They get out alive, but they're forced to leave their beloved (and intelligent) dog team behind to fend for themselves. Anthropomorphizing ensues. Rated PG





Final Destination 3 -- Anyone who said love's a bitch hasn't met fate. Same conceit at work here, kids. Fate -- or Death, or whatever -- meant to kill everyone onboard a rollercoaster, but some people survived, so now the disembodied hand of Fate/Death has to knock them off one by one, and it's up to a plucky group of kids to stop it. You know what they say: Third time's a suck-fest. Rated R





Firewall -- Harrison Ford runs all sorts of security systems at his bank and is the one picked by nasty Paul Bettany and his gang of techno thieves -- who have kidnapped his family -- to bypass those systems ands show them the money. The whole plot seems lifted from The Friends of Eddie Coyle, and while there are some good twists, we've seen Ford and others do this sort of thing before. (ES) Rated PG-13





Forces of Nature -- Showcasing the awesome spectacle of earthquakes, volcanoes, and severe storms as we follow scientists on their quests to understand how these natural disasters are triggered. Narrated by Kevin Bacon! Unrated





Freedomland -- For most of director Joe Roth's professional life, he has been a studio suit. As a director, he still acts like a studio suit. Freedomland has a lot of provocative thematic baggage -- and it's clearly far more than Roth knows how to handle. His idea of conveying urgent drama is to make sure the camera rocks and jitters with queasy persistence, or downshifts to super-slow-mo, or snap-cuts around so that it's nearly impossible to tell what's going on. (SR) Rated R





Greece: Secrets of the Past -- Continuing their long tradition of making learning fun, the folks at IMAX bring us Greece, wherein you get to "see how the island of Santorini was formed and how the island's volcanic eruption, one of the biggest explosions in Earth's history, occurred. Follow a team of archeologists piecing together the puzzles of ancient history and learn how the field of archeology has progressed. Travel to Athens and see how computer graphic imaging can restore the Parthenon to its original glory. Trace some of our modern society's customs -- democracy, medicine, athletics and theatre back to their roots in the Golden Age of Greece." Unrated





Magnificent Desolation -- Only 12 people have walked on the moon, but now IMAX is proclaiming that you'll be number 13. 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. Unrated





Nanny McPhee -- Emma Thompson gets ultra-ugly while Colin Firth stays super-repressed and painfully British in the precocious Nanny McPhee. Humans are comparing this to Mary Poppins -- and not just that dullard Gene Shalit. Rated PG





Night Watch -- From Russia with blood! Why can't Americans make fantasy horror flicks with this much verve and zazz? Plotted kinda like Constantine meets Dracula, but dark like Blade and with Matrix-y wirework, Nochnoi Dozor is a liter of former-Soviet blood pumped into a genre that -- with crap like Bloodrayne following close upon crap like Underworld 2 -- is in desperate need of a transfusion. Rated R





Pink Panther -- Remake of the Peter Sellers classic Francophone-lampooning slap-stick-a-thon about a stolen pink diamond. If anyone was going to try to reprise the role of Jacques Clouseau, we'd have wanted it to be Steve Martin. That doesn't mean it's going to be good, though. Rated PG





Running Scared -- Paul Walker gets gritty! Chazz Palminteri goes gangster! Right, that second one's nothing new, but the first is. This is supposed to be the mean streets tale of a gun gone missing. Charged with cleaning up the murder of a dirty cop, Walker loses track of the gun before he can properly dispose of it. Ultra-violence ensues. Rated R





The Squid and the Whale -- The way writer/director Noah Baumbach uses Bernard to lampoon intellectualism as a pursuit not of knowledge or understanding, but of a certain status in life (large vocabularies; summers off; senseless, tawdry hauteur; corduroy blazers) is often unbearably funny. Like all the humor in the film, though, it's tempered with the realization that the jokes cut on deep emotional traumas. This is a sad, hilarious film of curious depth. (LB) Rated R





The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada -- The story of a murdered ranch hand and the journey to bring him back to his home village -- and bring his killer to repentance. Full of riotous laughter and calamitous sorrow, The Three Burials of Melqiades Estrada manages the full gamut of lunatic emotions without cheapening any of them. That's a hell of a feat. It's another triumph for Arriaga and the first in a long time for Tommy Lee Jones. (LB) Rated R





Transamerica -- Dangerous Housewife Felicity Huffman plays a gnarly looking pre-op male-to-female transsexual who strikes out in search of (zoinks!) the son she never realized she fathered. Her performance earned her an Oscar nom for Best Actress and further underscores what Sports Night fans have known for years. That lady can act. Rated R





Tyler Perry's Madea's Family Reunion -- While the rest of America is glued to its seat by the tender gender-bender Transamerica, we're repulsed away from theaters by the crass cross-dressing preachiness of Tyler Perry. It's Diary of a Mad Black Woman 2, for all intents and purposes, which means you knew whether or not you were going to see it before you read this. Rated PG-13





Ultraviolet -- It's got the sleek futurism of The Island and the robotic-looking soldiers of Equilibrium! Remember how much both of those movies sucked? This one will too. Still, it's got the hot Milla Jovovich of The 5th Element (not the janky Jovovich of Resident Evil), so, you know, that's a plus. Rated PG-13





When a Stranger Calls -- A remaking of the 1979 semi-clasic of the same name, When a Stranger Calls is the kind of a film you know about even if you haven't seen it because it has one of those great lines that quickly becomes a pop touchstone. Calling 91 about harassing phone calls, the policeman on the other end and gasps, "It's coming from inside the house." Chilling. Whether or not you can write an whole movie around a single line of dialogue remains to be seen. Rated PG 13

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