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Opening Films 

by Inlander Staff & r & MAN OF THE YEAR

Writer-director Barry Levinson has figured out a way to get Robin Williams to strut his stuff while still keeping it entertaining and not overbearing. Williams plays a TV talk show host who makes a presidential run. He's wild and raucous, but he makes lots of sense on the campaign trail. But then the film takes a strange turn when it looks into faulty voting machines, becoming a tense thriller. Lots of good stuff, but the two moods don't mix. (ES) Rated PG-13


There's an inevitable lack of scary when a horror sequel destroys the rigid rules put in place by its progenitor. Hannibal was way less scary than Silence of the Lambs (or Manhunter, or Red Dragon) because it let Lecter loose. Same with Ring 2. Samara stuck in a VHS tape is way scarier than Samara unencumbered. Whether or not less scary happens in the second Grudge film remains to be seen, but judging from the tag line ("What Was Once Trapped, Will Now Be Unleashed"), we'll file it under likely. Rated PG-13


There are no less than three scenes in the trailer of the WWE-produced The Marine that bite directly -- we mean directly -- from films like First Blood Part II, True Lies and Dukes of Hazzard to tell the story of a marine (John Cena, the professional wrestler) whose lady gets kidnapped by some gangsters. So it slavishly pulls from top-tier brainless action standards and injects them with a little World Wrestling-style "entertainment." Which is to say, hella clich & eacute;s. Rated PG-13


The Bible gets real sensual with the telling of the story of Esther, whose unworldly beauty and pluck single-handedly saved all Jews everywhere by wedding the most powerful dude in all the world at the time, the Persian Emperor Xerxes. Rated PG

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