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BALLS OF FURY


A Ping-Pong prodigy is needed for a "top-secret mission," so Randy (Dan Fogler) goes off with Agent Rodriguez (George Lopez) to train with Master Wong (James Hong), before finally facing the menacing Mr. Feng (Christopher Walken). The Ping-Pong action and comedy are nonstop, and Fogler holds the film together. A stupid, very funny film. (ES) Rated PG-13





BECOMING JANE


The Harlequinization of Jane Austen? Becoming Jane doesn't go that far. In fact, while the movie takes license with some hints from Austen's life, it's also a reminder that unrequited love can fuel some affecting prose. It's a movie that knows how to dramatize the essentially undramatic life of an author. And yes, Hollywood romanticizes: Anne Hathaway is more beautiful and self-assertive than Austen ever was. (MB) Rated PG





THE BOURNE ULTIMATUM


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. An excellent addition to the Bourne film catalogue. (ES) Rated PG-13





THE BRAVE ONE


When she's beaten senseless, and a loved one is brutally murdered in a mugging, a New York radio show host (Jodie Foster) buys a gun and has thoughts of revenge running through her head. But this is smarter than your average vigilante film, because she plays an average person, not quite sure what to do. Things become interesting when a cop (Terrence Howard) meets her and starts to get suspicious. (ES) Rated R





DRAGON WARS


Seriously dudes, Korean dragons are coming to L.A. The narrator said so, and I believe him. He said it was based on a legend, so you know there's like some ancient sorcery afoot. If there's one thing L.A.'s always screwed by, it's ancient sorcery. It doesn't say "based on a true story" anywhere, but... Oh, I almost forgot the worst part: the dragons have missile launchers. (LB) Rated PG-13





EASTERN PROMISES


David Cronenberg follows up A History of Violence with another study of seedy, dangerous people crossing paths with innocent folks. Here it's members of London's Russian mob coming in contact with a midwife (Naomi Watts) who's trying to trace the history of a mysterious young woman who died in childbirth. Viggo Mortensen plays the malevolent driver for the crooks who may or may not get too close with the midwife. The violence is over the top and in your face, yet the film also features a streak of tenderness. (ES) Rated R





The 11th HOUR


"How is this one better than the other one?" I heard one critic mutter. I knew just what he meant. The "other one" featured Al Gore, won an Oscar, and miraculously shifted the tide of public opinion toward the climate change yea-sayers. This isn't nearly as riveting, but may succeed in transporting redemptive ideas from the fringe to the mainstream movie-going audience. (JL) Rated PG; at the Panida and Magic Lantern





GOOD LUCK CHUCK


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





HAIRSPRAY


There have been plenty of big, splashy musicals in recent years, but why are they always so grim? This one, about teens in Baltimore in the early '60s, is incredibly happy, and heck, John Travolta plays a 350-pound woman! It's about mother-daughter relationships, husband-wife relationships, times of racial change, all celebrated in catchy song and dance. Yes, there is such thing as a feel-good movie. (ES) Rated PG





HALLOWEEN


Why remake a classic? Because Rob Zombie is willing to direct it, that's why. John Carpenter, the creator of the legendary original Halloween, wrote the remake's screenplay and hand-picked Zombie, so things are OK in the credibility department. (MD) Rated R





HARRY POTTER AND


THE ORDER OF THE PHOENIX


This streamlined version of the immense fifth book picks up with Harry (Daniel Radcliffe) threatened with expulsion from Hogwarts for using his magic in public. The ever-sprawling story relies less on the friendships among him, Hermione and Ron and more on a transformation from fantasy to horror. (ES) Rated PG-13





HURRICANE ON THE BAYOU


Katrina can be discussed in human, social and political terms, but Hurricane on the Bayou examines the hurricane 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





LA VIE EN ROSE


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





LEWIS & amp; CLARK


Lewis, Clark and Sacajawea embark on a journey to discover vast land and indigenous people. Relive the journey that charted the Pacific Northwest and got towns and rivers named in the explorers' honor. At IMAX. (TM) Rated G





MR. BEAN'S HOLIDAY


On his way to the beach, Bean accidentally kidnaps a Russian filmmaker's son, crashes a film set, befriends a beautiful French actress and becomes the surprise hit of the Cannes film festival -- all without saying more than a dozen words. How Rowan Atkinson remains so flexible at 52 is a mystery. (JS) Rated G





MR. WOODCOCK


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, like guys falling off treadmills and getting trapped under a bed during sex. (MB) Rated PG-13





ONCE


A spare, beautiful quasi-musical about a street singer and the poor immigrant in whom he finds a muse and collaborator, Once is easily the best movie I've seen in 2007. More than that, it's probably the most beautiful and guileless film to emerge from a decade overly obsessed with cleverness. (LB) Rated R





RESIDENT EVIL: EXTINCTION


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; (post-apocalypse, desert landscape, Mad Max existence with fortified outposts of humanity) certainly puts it in the running for worst videogame adaptation ever. What a dubious honor. At least you could laugh at Dead or Alive. (LB) Rated R





RUSH HOUR 3


Chris Tucker still gets a few zingers in this third installment of the fire-and-ice buddy-cop series, but the series' assets are this film's greatest liability. Chan seems old and weary; the only saving grace is a lovable French cabbie hungry for American action. (JS) Rated R





STARDUST


A magical, comedy-laced fantasy about some people searching for a star that has fallen and taken human form (Claire Danes). If one of the rotten sons of a dying king finds it, he'll be the heir. If an evil old witch (Michelle Pfeiffer) gets it, she'll stay young and make life miserable for all. (ES) Rated PG-13





SUPERBAD


Three high school seniors try to find booze for a big party while trying not to think about the fact that college will soon separate them. Equal parts raucous, funny, and sweet, this is far from your usual teen comedy. It's a goofy class act, with sharp dialogue. (ES) Rated R





SYDNEY WHITE


Amanda Bynes (Hairspray) is Snow White! Only she's in a sorority during her first year at college. But then a sorority witch forces her to move into a run-down house with a bunch of nerdy guys. I know -- let's call them the Seven Dorks! It's like a revenge comedy targeted against prissy blondes -- a kind of humor that's very satisfying for the non-prissy and totally dorky among us. (MB)





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 n

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