40 Days and 40 Nights Boy gives up sex for Lent, boy meets girl, girl can't figure out what's wrong with him (or herself). This might have been fun if someone had bothered to work the script out. As it stands, there are more scenes without endings than in a broadcast of Saturday Night Live. And, bad acting aside, how many times can we take Shannyn Sossamon (also awful in A Knight's Tale) forgiving Josh Hartnett for screwing up? Worse, why do these two people have "best friends" who do nothing but hurt them? (ES) RATED: R

A Beautiful Mind Based on the life of mathematician John Nash, who claimed some fame in the '40s and '50s, the film also delves into his family life (Jennifer Connelly plays his wife), and -- here's what it's all about -- his longtime battles with inner demons. The movie achieves greatness in the way Howard has managed to let viewers see the world through Nash's eyes. And it rides a quirky road, from solving complex math problems to shooting it out with bad guys. (ES) RATED: PG-13

Beauty and the Beast Disney's 1991 animated masterpiece more than stands the test of time in this new version, digitally remastered for the IMAX screen. The new format shows what an astonishing piece of art the original was. A song intended for the original makes its debut here, complete with two new scenes. The original songs are just as witty, the familiar characters just as loveable, but most of all, Beauty and the Beast survives on the strength of its narrative. (Sheri Boggs) RATED: G

Big Fat Liar Frankie Muniz (Malcolm in the Middle) plays a boy whose school essay winds up in the hands of a Hollywood producer (Paul Giametti). Not only does the producer make a big-budget movie out of the humble essay, he also steals all the credit. When Frankie sees the finished film and realizes what has happened, Frankie goes to Hollywood -- along with pal Amanda Bynes -- bent on revenge. RATED: PG

Black Hawk Down Leave it to director Ridley Scott to create one of the most visceral film experiences ever (a feat he has accomplished before, with Alien and Blade Runner). This time it's the look and the feel of war, as we're plopped right in the middle of the horrific and badly botched American military action in 1993 Somalia. This is an incredibly powerful film in which atmosphere is more important than story, in which it eventually becomes almost impossible to tell the players apart, and in which Scott makes it quite clear that war really is hell. (ES) RATED: R

The Count Of Monte Cristo It's hard to figure out how many times this film has been made, but they definitely got it right this time. Jim Caviezel is the dashing but unlucky fellow who bumps into Napoleon Bonaparte, naively helps him deliver a message, and ends up in solitary confinement for a long time. Upon escape, he lives only for getting revenge upon those who wronged him, including longtime "friend" Guy Pearce. This is a handsome, well-told, well-acted production, with action, romance and laughs. (ES) RATED: PG-13

Crossroads Britney Spears is not the one who has the most to answer for in this nonsensical Viacom-Paramount-MTV distributed bore of a road movie. She demonstrates the old adage that what a talking dog says is not remarkable, but the fact that it speaks at all is, Director Tamra Davis shows that an incompetent female filmmaker can make a piece of garbage just as awful as any male filmmaker. PS: Britney does have a shower scene, and she has a karaoke scene, and she has a scene singing along with Madonna in her bedroom, using a spoon as a mike. You have been warned. (RP) RATED: PG-13

Dragonfly Kevin Costner plays a pediatrician who has just lost his wife (Susanna Thompson) in a tragic bus accident. He tries to lose himself in his work, only to find that his young patients are having remarkably similar near-death experiences, which he believes are somehow related to his wife trying to tell him something from beyond. Kathy Bates plays the neighbor concerned about his sanity. RATED: PG-13

The Fellowship of The Ring The world of Tolkien's Middle-earth comes vividly to life in Kiwi director Peter Jackson's adaptation of the story of little Frodo (Elijah Wood), big Gandalf (Ian McKellen) and the other hobbits, elves and humans. Together, they undertake a long trek toward the land of Mordor, where they must conduct some business about a powerful magic ring. The film is of epic proportions, with great performances in front of and among stunning visuals. The monsters are scary, the violence level is high. I can't wait for Part Two. (ES) RATED: PG-13

Gosford Park Robert Altman returns to the large-ensemble format with about 200 major characters (I'm joking) meeting up for a weekend of hunting and eating and drinking and, it turns out, a murder or two, in the 1930s English countryside. A fabulous cast (Helen Mirren, Alan Bates, Maggie Smith, Emily Watson and many more) plays the "upstairs-downstairs" game, with the rich ignoring the servants and the servants hating the rich. Altman lets things run a bit long, and the ending isn't neatly tied up, but it makes for a wonderfully atmospheric visit. (ES) RATED: PG-13

Harry Potter The kids will like this one more than the adults, but there's still plenty for everyone to gawk and laugh and flinch at. Upon turning 11, orphaned Harry is taken from a miserable upbringing and signed up at Hogwarts, a school for young wizards. Much adventure ensues, as do tons of special effects, along with positive messages about living a full life and helping friends. Well made and extremely faithful to the book. (ES) RATED: PG

Hart's War Second-rate World War II POW camp drama pits young American Irish Colin Farrell against scowl-of-steel Bruce Willis in a tepid battle to define honor. It's TV with more F-words. Directed by Gregory Hoblit. RATED: R (RP)

I Am Sam Sean Penn plays developmentally disabled Sam, who watches social service agents take away his young daughter (Dakota Fanning). He is told that, in spite of their obviously loving relationship, his mental age of about seven years makes him an unfit parent for the girl. Sam turns to Michelle Pfeiffer's aggressively polished hotshot lawyer for help in getting the child back. RATED: PG-13

In the Bedroom In the Bedroom manages to be several things, including thriller, melodrama and, most affectingly, a masterfully mournful family portrait that diligently confronts ideas about loss and grieving. In the Bedroom's measured pace, stylistic rigor and aching performances mark director Todd Field as a talent to watch. The narrative unfolds with such deceptively minute details as a coil of cigarette smoke. With Sissy Spacek, Tom Wilkinson and Marisa Tomei. (RP) RATED: R

John Q The shameless manipulation this film tries to hold over viewers is almost unforgivable and almost brings it down. But a smartly balanced portrayal by Denzel Washington and a small number of effective plot twists make this story of the father of an ailing child going up against an uncaring hospital system much easier to watch than it first seems. Putting the marginally talented Anne Heche in as a cold and calculating administrator who plays it like an automaton is a pretty big mistake. (ES) RATED: PG-13

Monster's Ball Billy Bob Thornton turns in a radically different minimalist performance than he delivered in The Man Who Wasn't There, yet it's a pretty remarkable job, the most compelling aspect of a flawed yet heartfelt, gorgeous, arty-as-heck movie. Thornton plays a death-row prison guard from a racist family (Peter Boyle, emphatically cold as Hank's father, appalls) who takes up with the widow of one of his prisoners. Director Marc Forster ladles on the loveliness even as the film becomes a series of warring voids. Halle Berry, as the prisoner's widow, is allowed to go way over the top, but when she is good, she is remarkable, and I truly love the movie's restrained ending. RATED:R (RP)

The Queen of the Damned The title is misleading, since that character (an absurd one, played in a slinky manner by the late Aaliyah) has hardly any screen time. This is really about Lestat (Stuart Townsend, bearing a very Hungarian accent), the Anne Rice-created vampire who has awakened from a century-long sleep to discover he wants to be a Goth rock singer. It's quite an outrageous story, some of it idiotic, but it is compelling, and it proudly carries a strong and loud sense of rock 'n' roll. There's a delicious supporting part by Vincent Perez as the older and wiser vampire Marius. (ES) RATED: R

Return to Neverland The sequel to Disney's 1953 animated feature Peter Pan opens in World War II London, where Wendy's daughter Jane is disillusioned by the war and no longer believes in fairy tales. She quickly discovers that fairy tales are quite alive and well: Captain Hook hopes to kidnap Wendy (whom he doesn't realize has become an adult) as bait for Peter Pan, but mistakes Jane for his quarry and kidnaps her instead. Then it's Peter, Tinkerbell and the Lost Boys to the rescue. RATED: G

Snow Dogs Can't get enough of those computer-animated talking dogs? Well, you're in luck, because Snow Dogs has a whole dogsled team full of 'em. Cuba Gooding Jr. plays a mild-mannered dentist who moves from Miami to Alaska, inherits his father's award-winning team and enters the big dogsled race. RATED: PG

Super Troopers Four Vermont State Troopers working on the Canandian border while the days away by ripping off speeders; budget crunches lead to a comedy about busting drug runners crossing the border. It's the second feature from the Broken Lizard comedy troupe, but I'm not convinced this Sundance 2001 offering will win many laughs. RATED: R (RP)

We Were Soldiers Mel Gibson turns in a great performance as the American officer who led the first battle against the Vietcong in 1965. The true story looks at the outnumbered Americans on the field, at the families who were waiting for them back home -- dreading bad news from Western Union -- and at the Vietnamese soldiers who were also fighting valiantly, but for a very different cause. A violent, complex, thought-provoking film. (ES) RATED: R

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Capsule reviews are written by Ed Symkus (ES) and Ray Pride (RP), unless otherwise noted.

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