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by THE INLANDER & r & & r & THE ALPS & r & & r & The award-winning MacGillivray-Freeman team (Everest) is back with this true story of John Harlin III, who wants to climb Eiger's North Face in the Swiss Alps. The twist is he's doing it 40 years after his dad died on that same climb. Spectacular scenery is an IMAX given, but a great story takes it all up a notch. (TSM) Not Rated





THE CHRONICLES OF NARNIA: PRINCE CASPIAN


The four Pevensie siblings are again magically whisked off to Narnia, where they must work with the fantastical Narnians (talking badgers, sword-fighting mice, etc.) and against the nasty Telmarines, all the while joining forces with the one good Telmarine, Caspian, who is the rightful king to be. Epic battles are fought on expansive fields, and though a body count grows, most of the carnage is done off-camera. A solid follow-up to the first film in the C.S. Lewis series. (ES) Rated PG





GALAPAGOS


IMAX and the Smithsonian (with a heady promotional assist by America On-Line) team up to resurrect a 1999 film giving viewers a close-up view of the sights, sounds and salamanders found on, around and even in the famous island chain. It's going to be a tragic day when IMAX runs out of natural wonders to photograph. Thankfully there are a still a few left. (LB) Not Rated





THE HAPPENING


Maybe M. Night Shyamalan intended this to be an exercise in sucking all the emotion out of a movie. Strange and unknowable terrors are afoot, and a group of Philadelphians, including Mark Wahlberg's and John Leguizamo's schoolteachers, are trying to get out of the affected area. Along the way, they encounter stilted dialogue and other lifeless characters doing ridiculous things. You want a Shyamalan twist ending? How's this: The Happening is one big joke on us. (MAJ) Rated R





THE INCREDIBLE HULK


There's more action and less dialogue, which makes for a really good start at getting the story of the big angry green guy right this time. Art house darling Ang Lee has given way to Louis Leterrier. And OK actor Eric Bana has been replaced by solid Edward Norton. The story picks up some time after Bruce Banner hightailed it to South America to "cure" himself. He's back, with the army still after him, and another creature, the Abomination, who's ready to go at him. Great fights, wild action, with some emotion seeping through. (ES) Rated PG-13





INDIANA JONES: KINGDOM OF THE CRYSTAL SKULL


Fans have been waiting almost 20 years for the Steven Spielberg-Harrison Ford follow-up to the adventures of their favorite archaeologist-professor. And the wait turns out to be worth it, with Indy going up against Cold War-era Russians and their power-mad scientist leader (Cate Blanchett, looking hot in a tight jumpsuit and a pageboy haircut). Everyone's searching for the mythic crystal skulls of Peru, with guns firing, swords slashing and vehicles hurtling through jungles. Ford is not too old for the part and Shia LaBeouf doesn't overact. Funny, fast-moving, and action-packed. (ES) Rated PG-13





IRON MAN


Robert Downey Jr. nails the role of his career, while Jon Favreau does the same in the director spot. The Marvel comic springs vibrantly to life with action and comedy in the story of a weapons maker who sees the light and wants to change his life, right around the same time he develops a "heart problem" and invents a metal suit that lets him blow away the bad guys. Great fun, and no doubt the start of a new franchise. (ES) Rated PG-13





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 with the idea of grabbing that title. Lots of action and laughs, and plenty of heart. (ES) Rated PG





SEX AND THE CITY


Fans of the TV show rave about how it depicts "real" women and "real" concerns. But I don't see a real woman in Carrie Bradshaw: I see a very narrow, stereotypical idea of what women are. I see a caricature of "women," not someone who is a human being first and a woman second, like we all actually are. Fans of the show will likely find it lovely; certainly, there are moments of intense drama that will make far more sense to those who have an investment in these characters. I would have preferred it, though, had this Sex movie included something that spoke to those who were not already fans. (MAJ) Rated R





THE STRANGERS


The only thing "strange" about this film is that a studio gave it a green light. Lazy writing and flat, repetitive direction, along with actors who either scowl or scream, result in a horror film that's scary only because the sound is sometimes turned up too high. It's one of those "people trapped in an isolated house by maniacs" plots. Neither Liv Tyler nor Scott Speedman, as the victims, adds anything, and first-time writer-director Bryan Bertino needs to go in search of an original idea, or at least a story that's less stupid. (ES) Rated R





YOU DON'T MESS WITH THE ZOHAN


I was startled to find myself laughing at a few bits, early on in the film, as Sandler's Zohan, an Israeli counterterrorism commando, goes up against his nemesis, a Palestinian terrorist known as the Phantom (John Turturro). Zohan has found some unexpected laughs in sending up the outrageousness of action movies. I can't honestly say that I loved Zohan -- it's too madly in love with the ethnic stereotypes it bandies about in place of smarter humor -- but in a relative sense, given my history of hating Adam Sandler, it is a huge admission for me to say that I kinda got a kick out of this silly movie. (MAJ) Rated PG-13

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