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by THE INLANDER & r & & r & ALIENS VS PREDATOR: REQUIEM & r & & r & The Predators are back to kill the Aliens. AvP:R is better than the original only because it's rated R and because it doesn't take place in a futuristic pyramid in present-day Antarctica. Twentieth Century Fox has sold out the Bedford Falls of everyone's nostalgia for the sci-fi franchises of Pottersville in a cynical, soulless cash-in. (BK) Rated R





ALVIN AND THE CHIPMUNKS


For anyone living in the last quarter of the 20th century, this needs no introduction. The classic cartoon is live-action and computerized here, then fortified with Jason Lee as the chipmunks' guardian, Dave, along with a healthy bit of fecal humor. (LB) Rated PG





ATONEMENT


Director Joe Wright has made a devastatingly powerful movie with Atonement. In this story about childhood love and lost innocence set against the backdrop of WWII, Wright expertly films some of the more pivotal moments from varying angles, and we see them at different times through different character perspectives. Wright tells a tragic story that spans nearly 60 years, employing a raw intensity sometimes missing from this sort of film. Atonement is a sad romantic story that could've so easily been a rapturous one, were it not for a few childish mistakes. Its impact is a lasting one. (BG) Rated R





BEFORE THE DEVIL KNOWS YOU'RE DEAD


Sydney Lumet (Network) has long been able to pull great performances from his actors, and here he does it again with two brothers (Ethan Hawke and Philip Seymour Hoffman) -- one strapped for cash, the other outwardly successful, both moral failures -- who betray their parents. The film hangs on whether their father (Albert Finney) chooses vengeance or forgiveness. Unfortunately, Before the Devil Knows You're Dead blows its d & eacute;nouement as badly as its characters have screwed up their lives. (LB) Rated R





CHARLIE WILSON'S WAR


Director Mike Nichols and screenwriter Aaron Sorkin have conspired to make a campy movie about the way America trained the soldiers of Osama bin Laden. Tom Hanks and Julia Roberts trade too-witty barbs as a boozing and womanizing congressman and a right-wing socialite; meanwhile, Philip Seymour Hoffman steals scenes as a loose cannon and CIA fix-it man. (CS) Rated R





ENCHANTED


The sweet silliness of the collective Disney animated fairy tale landscape meets the rough reality of Noo Yawk City? Why didn't someone think of this sooner? Evil queen Susan Sarandon banishes princess Amy Adams from a parody of an animated world to an idealized version of Central Park -- with prince James Marsden in florid pursuit and Patrick Dempsey lying in wait. Great for kids and grownups, Enchanted is, well, enchanting. (MJ) Rated PG





THE GOLDEN COMPASS


If it weren't for the wondrous visuals, this would only merit a "wait for the DVD" rating. The story traces the adventures of young Lyra, the only person who can read the title Compass. She and her shape-shifting daemon must go up against the evils of Mrs. Coulter (Nicole Kidman) and get a giant ice bear (voice of Ian McKellen) on her side, as she searches for a way to travel between worlds. More is coming in two planned sequels. (ES) Rated PG-13





THE GREAT DEBATERS


Denzel Washington's second directing effort endows a clich & eacute;d underdog-makes-good framework with a social justice theme. As the coach of the Wiley College debate team, he tells his students, oppressed by Jim Crow laws, that he intends "to give you back your beautiful minds." By mythologizing both a team and a social movement, Washington has created a predictable but principled film. (LB) Rated PG-13





I AM LEGEND


No invading aliens, yet New York City is desolate. There is only Robert Neville, alone in the urban vastness with his German shepherd, Sam. Will Smith plays Neville like a man pushing to keep himself too busy to have a breakdown. And when he stops to talk to mannequins, he'll break your heart. But if he's alone, why does he shut up his home every night like a fortress? (MJ) Rated PG-13





JUNO


Offbeat and surprising, Jason Reitman's (Thank You for Smoking) second film is about perky, outspoken, wisecracking Juno MacGuff (Ellen Page), a 16-year-old with the kind of curiosity that leads her to have sex with her best pal Paulie (Michael Cera), just because it's something to do. That leads to a pregnancy test, the results, her breaking the news to Paulie, a confession to her parents (J.K. Simmons and Allison Janney) and a trip to the abortion clinic. But something happens -- suffice to say it has to do with fingernails -- that changes her mind. That's only the beginning of this sweet, funny, heartfelt film, filled with snappy dialogue and spot-on delivery. (ES) Rated PG-13





NATIONAL TREASURE: BOOK OF SECRETS


Treasure hunter Ben Gates (Nicolas Cage) sets out to clear the family name (turns out an ancestor might have helped plot Lincoln's assassination) and finds himself in the middle of some plot holes and political intrigue. Expect more of what you saw in the first installment: car chases, conspiracy theories and a lot of historical jibber jabber. It's no Indiana Jones, but Cage seems back to his true form, shining brighter and cracking wiser than he has in years. (JS) Rated PG





NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN


When Llewellyn Moss (Josh Brolin) finds the remnants of what looks like a drug deal gone bad -- heroin, money, bodies -- he decides to take the money. That puts a psychopath (Javier Bardem) on his trail. And while Tommy Lee Jones' sheriff provides some help, Llewellyn has now plunged himself into a world in which everyday things turn lethal. Joel and Ethan Coen return to the violent black comedy of Fargo. (ES) Rated R





ONE MISSED CALL


One more film based on a paranoid Japanese anti-technologist horror flick that seems just about identical in form to all other paranoid Japanese horror flicks of the last decade, One Missed Call is about some sort of malevolence that tells you you're going to die by leaving -- get this -- voice mail messages of your own death rattle! Of course, the only way to stop the carnage is to trace it back to the source, which is probably some dead demon baby or something. (LB) Rated PG-13





P.S. I LOVE YOU


A passionate married couple (Hilary Swank, Gerard Butler) is dealt a terrible blow when he suddenly dies and she, despite helpful friends, feels alone in the world. The film manages to find a lot of humor and positive vibes in the situation when she starts receiving letters of instruction from him, written when he was still alive, suggesting how she can get on with her life and maybe even find love again. (ES) Rated PG-13





SWEENEY TODD


Tim Burton and Johnny Depp -- together again -- in a big splashy version of the Stephen Sondheim musical about a Victorian-era barber (Depp) who, with his sharpest razors, decides to take revenge upon the dastardly judge (Alan Rickman) who tore him apart from his family. Helena Bonham Carter plays his accomplice, who makes meat pies with very special ingredients, and Sacha Baron Cohen plays an "Italian" snake oil salesman. It's gory and violent, and the songs aren't up to Sondheim par, but Burton's vision is amazing. (ES) Rated R





WALK HARD: THE DEWEY COX STORY


Judd Apatow and John C. Reilly skewer just about every music biopic ever made in this occasionally hilarious send-up. Well-timed throughout the first half, it drags in the second (the Beatles scene gets tedious fast), but pointed use of some of the film genre's more tiresome techniques, a couple of good running gags ("You don't want no part of this shit!") and a few shocking moments of physical comedy make this a gem. Plus, Reilly plays Will Ferrell better than even Ferrell does. (JS) Rated R





THE WATER HORSE: LEGEND OF THE DEEP


A Scottish lad finds what looks like a baby dinosaur. So the family decides that the creature -- by now, it's enormous -- has to be set free to swim in a nearby lake. Which, since this is Scotland, is known as a "Loch." (MB) Rated PG

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