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by THE INLANDER & r & & r & THE DARK KNIGHT & r & & r & Seldom do follow-ups ring so true to the original, then do them one better. Director Christopher Nolan revisits what he did with Batman Begins and improves everything. Christian Bale is gloomier, lonelier and angrier, both as Bruce Wayne and as the Caped Crusader, while Heath Ledger's intense, frightening and funny Joker might make the world forget that Nicholson ever played him. Violent, action-packed, brilliantly realized. An outstanding sequel. (ES) Rated PG-13





GET SMART


Steve Carell is about perfect as bumbling, over-enthusiastic spy Maxwell Smart (Agent 86), and all without copying Don Adams. Partnered with Agent 99 (Anne Hathaway), they must do battle against Siegfried (Terence Stamp), who's going for, you know, world domination, or at least blowing up L.A. The film has plenty of laughs, but an oddly high body count for a comedy. (ES) Rated PG-13





HANCOCK


Will Smith plays John Hancock, a man of unknown origins who can fly, beat up villains and bounce bullets off his chest. But he shouldn't fly when he drinks because a sloppy path of destruction usually results. Here's a film that starts off funny, and is loaded with fantastic visuals, but ends up becoming a rumination on family relations as well as public relations. (ES) Rated PG-13





HELLBOY II


Guillermo Del Toro reprises the writer/director role. The story -- about an indestructible goblin army that threatens to destroy humanity -- works well enough, but the real treats are the crackling dialogue, the performances by Ron Perlman and Jeffrey Tambor and Del Toro's virtuosic visual sense. Hellboy II has the best movie monsters I've seen in years, and most aren't computer-generated. (LB) Rated PG-13





JOURNEY TO THE CENTER OF THE EARTH


Be careful, you'll poke your eye out. At least that's how you'll feel when objects come flying at you in this 3D version of the Jules Verne novel. A scientist (Brendan Fraser) and his nephew (Josh Hutcherson) go to Iceland to study volcanoes, hire a guide (Anita Briem), and fall down to the... well, you know where. The story is kinda ridiculous, and many of the visual effects are hokey. (ES) Rated PG





KUNG FU PANDA


The voices of Jack Black as an out-of-shape panda and Dustin Hoffman as his martial arts teacher anchor this dazzling tale about believing in yourself to make anything happen. Black's Po is (accidentally) chosen to become the powerful Dragon Warrior, just as the vicious leopard (Ian McShane) escapes from prison. (ES) Rated PG





LEWIS & amp; CLARK


The super-sized version of the super-sized bit of American history -- the crossing of the Rockies by Lewis & amp; Clark. National Geographic has its name on this one, and Jeff Bridges narrates. (TSM) Not Rated at IMAX





Mamma Mia!


Young Sophie (Amanda Seyfried), on the eve of her wedding to young Sky (Dominic Cooper), has decided that now is the time to figure out who her father is: It could be any one of three former lovers of her mother, Donna (Meryl Streep). So she invites the men -- Bill (Stellan Skarsgaard), Sam (Pierce Brosnan), and Harry (Colin Firth) -- to her wedding. Family reunion and happiness, Sophie assumes, will ensue: Mostly, in Catherine Johnson's book/script, it's wacky comedy of a brand that went out with Technicolor. (MJ) Rated PG-13





THE MUMMY: TOMB OF THE DRAGON EMPEROR


This charmless exercise in overblown action steals shamelessly from its predecessors and Indiana Jones, but not what it should have stolen: the wonderfully cheeky attitude. A cursed Chinese emperor (Jet Li) is buried forever in statue form until dug up by the O'Connells -- Rick (Brendan Fraser), Evelyn (Maria Bello, a poor substitute for Rachel Weisz) and Alex (Luke Ford), their 30-year-old teenage son. The Mummy would have winked at this; Tomb doesn't even know that it's something to be winked at. (MAJ) Rated PG-13





SPACE CHIMPS


If monkeys in space suits but with bare hands and feet are your idea of the height of science fiction... then have I got a movie for you. It's Space Chimps, and it's awful. Jeff Daniels, Andy Samberg, Patrick Warburton and Kristin Chenoweth may have lent their voices to this thing filled with poop jokes, but it's even worse than Pigs in Space. (MAJ) Rated G





STEP BROTHERS


Rude and crude and stomachache funny, this stars Will Ferrell and John C. Reilly as two really immature 40-year-olds whose single parents (Richard Jenkins, Mary Steenburgen) marry. The "boys" must move in and share a room, with each trying to figure out and act on the best reasons to hate the other. Toilet humor abounds, along with naughty jokes, cussing and, because Judd Apatow is involved, a bit of male nudity. Dumb-ass movie of the year. (ES) Rated R





SWING VOTE


Drunk, lazy, out-of-work single dad (Kevin Costner) is pushed into voting in a presidential election by his civic-minded daughter (Madeline Carroll). But things, as they will in political comedies, go wrong. The race is so tight, it comes down to one vote: his. And now the candidates and the media and every group-with-a-cause wants a piece of him. It's a sharp, funny satire. (ES) Rated PG-13





WALL-E


The newest Pixar release jumps some 700 years into the future, offering a look at our garbage-strewn planet, a condition so out-of-control, humankind has left. Worker robots were put in place to clean things up, but they, too, left -- except for clunky little Wall-E. When he's visited by robot probe Eve, his lonely existence makes him go gaga over her. Great storytelling, with very little dialogue, exquisite visuals, a solid sense of humor, and a dash of Hello, Dolly! Ideal for every age imaginable. (ES) Rated G





THE X-FILES: I WANT TO BELIEVE


There's a sense of visiting old friends -- our heroes' relationship has changed since we saw them last, yet still feels fluid -- but nonwatchers of the TV show will find much to appreciate. There's no gore, no explosions, no demons except for the all-too-human kind. Stars David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson still have potent onscreen chemistry, which manifests itself in ways uniquely X-Files, in a push and pull of faith and doubt that lends this quiet monster flick surprising depth. (MAJ) Rated PG-13

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