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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


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


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

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


Alexandre Aja has already made the worst thriller ever (P2, about an angry/horny night watchman dressed like Santa who terrorizes a female lawyer he's infatuated with). Now with a bigger name cast (well, Keifer Sutherland anyhow), he goes for the repeat, crafting a horror film about the demons that live in mirrors that looks to have every supernatural clich & eacute; we can think of. (LB) Rated R


This charmless exercise in overblown action steals shamelessly from its predecessors, but not what it should have stolen: the 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 it's something to be winked at. (MJ) Rated PG-13


And now, a haiku: Mmmm, the best dope in town. Ooohh, the cops are bad. Bullets fly. Inhale. Laugh. (ES) Rated R


Those pants are still traveling as our four heroines -- who share jeans that magically fit them all -- go off on more adventures. It's all about emotions as they wrestle with boyfriend troubles, learn about themselves and discover how hard families can be. All of which are lessons young women must learn... but they're handled here with such sentimentality that it couldn't be more phony. (MAJ) Rated PG-13

Star Wars: The Clone Wars

Pretty darn awesome, as overblown Saturday morning cartoons go. It's nonstop battles with a few funny lines thrown in, but the battles are highly entertaining, way more coherent than anything George Lucas created for his recent I-III trilogy. Anakin Skywalker and Obi-wan Kenobi are off on a mission to rescue Jabba the Hutt's son. Sure, it's cheesy, but the original Star Wars was cheesy, too -- we just didn't realize it because we were only in third grade. (MJ) Rated PG


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


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


High-octane action, smartly written satire and wild comedy come together in a story of contemporary actors making a movie about a daring rescue during the Vietnam War; suddenly, they get caught up in dangerous events. Highlights include an edgy, Oscar-worthy performance by Robert Downey Jr. (in blackface) as a "Method" actor, and a riotous extended cameo by a well-known Scientologist as a repulsive producer. Directed by (and co-starring) Ben Stiller. (ES) Rated R


Two gal pals (Scarlet Johansson and Rebecca Hall) go to Spain for the summer, where both of them get romantically (or is it just sexually?) involved with a handsome, carefree fellow (Javier Bardem) who has never quite come to terms with his beautiful and troublemaking ex-wife (Penelope Cruz). Woody Allen wrote and directed this breezy comedy, and it's his best film since Sweet and Lowdown. (ES) Rated PG-13


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. Great storytelling, with very little dialogue, exquisite visuals and a dash of Hello, Dolly! Ideal for every age imaginable. (ES) Rated G

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