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by THE INLANDER & r & & r & ACROSS THE UNIVERSE & r & With a love story (involving Evan Rachel Wood) set in the peace-loving '60s -- and with an all-Beatles soundtrack -- millions will be muttering "Don't mess it up." But if ever a director could pull off a psychedelic visual phantasmagoria, it's Julie Taymor. Don't prejudge this movie; let the experience wash over you. Let it be. (MB) Rated PG-13


Casey Affleck is mesmerizing as the coward -- a 20-year old who's been obsessed with the James brothers since childhood. The title gives away the ending, but the journey is viscerally suspenseful, as Jesse James (played by a typically insane Brad Pitt) loses his mind and sinks into paranoia, mysticism and pointless revenge. (JS) Rated R


The second sequel in the Bourne series takes everything up a couple of notches. Matt Damon returns as the amnesia-suffering former CIA agent, regularly chased and shot at by his own people, for reasons that are eventually revealed. But there's also trouble between members of the CIA camp. (ES) Rated PG-13


Director Shekhar Kapur squanders the potential for contemporary parallels -- and even for historical accuracy -- in his over-romanticized treatment of personal and political events in the 1580s. Cate Blanchett is regal as Elizabeth I, Clive Owen is asked to swash too many buckles as Sir Walter Raleigh, and Abbie Cornish steals soap-opera thunder as the queen's lady-in-waiting. (MB) Rated PG-13


This tale of love lost, found, stolen, bungled and borrowed features a familiar backdrop (it's filmed and set in Portland) and some touching, funny work from the ensemble cast (Greg Kinnear, Morgan Freeman, Radha Mitchell, Selma Blair) but suffers the typical effects of novel-to-film conversion. The pace is too rushed, the characters too shallow and the dialogue too tidy. Every line sounds like a movie. (JS) Rated R


An up-and-coming rapper gets chased out of New York by some thugs and heads to Puerto Rico to live with his dad, where he discovers hot chicks and Reggaeton. When the NY/PR synthesis hip-hop he creates hits hard, it's time to head back to NY, quit running and, you know, be a man. (LB) Rated PG-13


Sean Astin encourages the residents of a small town in Iowa to rally behind the high school baseball team and its coach one last time before their school gets merged into another. (MB) Rated PG


Joseph Kingman should consider a vasectomy. Seriously. When you're the world's best football player and a perennial playboy bachelor something's bound to sneak up on you. That's exactly what happens when Kingman (the Rock) answers a doorbell one day to find he has a daughter. One part Any Given Sunday, one part Adventures in Babysitting and ten parts Big Daddy. (LB) Rated PG


Lady's man (Dane Cook) is cursed -- after women sleep with him, they fall in love with the next man they meet. This has a couple of laughs and lots of groans. Cook is OK in the part, but Jessica Alba, as the woman he falls for, has no concept of comedic acting. (ES) Rated R


Ben Stiller suffers at the hands of a series of hollow, one-dimensional harpies in the Farrelly Brothers' remake of Neil Simon's 1972 original. The old one hit No. 91 on AFI's list of the funniest movies ever. This version misses the mark. (MJ) Rated R.


Hurricane on the Bayou examines the Hurricane Katrina as an ecological issue. Beginning as a documentary about the Mississippi Delta, the filmmakers end up turning their IMAX cameras on Katrina. (MD) Not Rated; no deaths are depicted


"No matter what I say, it draws controversy. It's sorta like the abortion issue." That's Billy Mitchell. He's the world's greatest Donkey Kong player, with a top score thought to be unbeatable. That was, until Steve Weibe, a depressed middle school teacher from Seattle, shattered Mitchell's mark. This documentary chronicles the ensuing videogame feud. (LB) Rated PG-13.


When an FBI team (Jamie Foxx, Chris Cooper, Jennifer Garner, Jason Bateman) is sent to Saudi Arabia to investigate a horrific terrorist bombing, they find that local politics and traditions get in the way of everything they're trying to do. Part character study, part extremely intense action film. (ES) Rated R


This inscrutably told biopic of Edith Piaf's brief, sad life is lifted considerably by Marion Cotillard's performance. Director Olivier Dahan's frequent time shifting, though, obscures the march of tragedy, trying to connect past causes with future effects but never pausing long enough on one event to capture the full weight of either the traumas or their disastrous results. (LB) Rated PG-13


George Clooney, looking ragged, plays a "fixer" in a Manhattan law firm. He's the guy who cleans up the nasty messes the bosses don't want to deal with. But one call involves a litigator in his own office (Tom Wilkinson) who has decided to work against instead of for his client when he realizes that a mega-corporation is guilty. A nail-biter with classy performances and a tight, twisting script. (ES) Rated R


An interesting premise -- fat kid (Seann William Scott) gets tormented by his P.E. teacher (Billy Bob Thornton), matures into a self-help author, looks on horrified as Mom (Susan Sarandon) marries Mr. Woodcock -- gets ruined by a descent into junior-high sight gags. (MB) Rated PG-13


Is this the worst film of all time? Not quite, but leaving behind its videogame roots only to hop in bed with every crappy zombie clich & eacute; certainly puts it in the running for worst videogame adaptation ever. At least you could laugh at Dead or Alive. (LB) Rated R


The trailer for this IMAX film shows a whole lot of boring scientists in deserts brushing dirt away from huge skeletons. Promos promise they'll also indulge us with some spectacular deep-sea, 3-D, CG behemoths, though, including "Dolly," a playful dolichorhynchops. (JS)


The holiday season is approaching, so you know what time it is: children's fantasy time! Though cloaked in clich & eacute;s -- the hero is an outcast, but discovers he has unbelievable powers and a noble destiny -- The Seeker looks considerably more sinister. (LB) Rated PG

3:10 TO YUMA

This remake of the 50-year-old Glenn Ford Western about a murderous bad guy being taken to the titular train gives Russell Crowe something to crow about: He's terrific as cold-hearted bad guy Ben Wade. The still-underrated Christian Bale takes on the down-on-his-luck but heroic Dan Evans part. This is a classic Western done up in style by director James Mangold. (ES) Rated R


Four African-American couples with various problems take an annual trip to some ski resort and are dumped on by an unrelenting blizzard of Tyler Perry's populist folksiness. (LB) Rated R


The Russian Mafia is making lots of inroads in New York of the 1980s. Among those cops working to contain them are a father and son (Robert Duvall, Mark Wahlberg). But another son (Joaquin Phoenix) is on the payroll of the bad guys. Dysfunctional family business unfolds, but the story starts to drag early on, and the acting is lackluster. (ES) Rated R n

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