** 2Fast2Furious -- Vin Diesel took a powder, leaving Paul Walker to carry this sequel. Still a cop among speedsters, Walker's Brian O'Conner and a partner go to work for an "import-export" sleaze, all the while setting him up for a fall. But really, who cares about plot when there's about a million-dollar upgrade from the first film in terms of high octane races and spectacular crashes? Rated: PG-13
*** 28 Days Later -- When animal rights activists break into a research lab and release the wrong apes at the wrong time, the world is thrown into chaos. An experiment in rage results in a deadly virus that turns people into bloodthirsty maniacs, and the contagion rate is astonishing. A few survivors hook up to try to find other survivors. But they definitely look in the wrong place. This blackest of dark comedies from Danny Boyle (Trainspotting) is a combination end-of-the-world, zombie-road-trip movie. It looks low budget, but it's quite deliciously creepy and, at points, kinda disgusting. (ES) Rated R
Alex & amp; Emma -- This romantic comedy starring Kate Hudson as Emma and Luke Wilson as Alex might just have something going for it, thanks to Wilson's goofy charm and director and co-writer Rob Reiner's deft and usually very funny treatment of just about everything he touches. The story finds author Alex with a serious case of writer's block and an even more serious case of gambling debts. In order extricate himself from his loan shark's clutches, he has to finish a novel in just 30 days. Enter feisty and opinionated stenographer Emma who trumps Alex's stale ideas at every turn with her infinitely more inventive plot points. Life eventually begins to imitate art. And you can pretty much take it from there. Rated: PG-13
Bruce Almighty -- He's got the power, as the music in that trailer has been pounding into our heads for weeks now tells us. Jim Carrey, in full-on Ace Ventura mode, plays a perpetually dissatisfied newspaper reporter whose bitching and moaning attracts the attention of God (Morgan Freeman). Rather than smite the hapless mortal, or visiting a well-deserved plague of locusts upon him, God decides instead to give him the chance to see how he likes being God for a day. Turns out Jim would like it just fine, thanks. Rated: PG-13
Charlie's Angels: Full Throttle -- The girls (Drew Barrymore, Cameron Diaz and Lucy Liu) are back, and this time they're battling "fallen" angel Demi Moore. That is, when they're not also motocrossing, surfing, lap dancing, hurtling off the sides of Hoover Dam or clinging precariously to speeding cars. Bernie Mac replaces Bill Murray as Bosley's brother; John Cleese shows up as Lucy Liu's dad. If that's not silly enough for you, look for cameos by Bruce Willis, Jaclyn Smith and even those ubiquitous Olsen twins. Rated: PG-13
Coral Reef Adventure -- Think of it as a way to explore all 1,300 miles of Australia's Great Barrier Reef, but without the danger of those pesky shark attacks. With a strong conservation message throughout, viewers get the sense of swimming along with some of the world's top self-described "fish nerds" in search of new species. Not rated
Daddy Day Care -- Eddie Murphy plays Charlie, an ad exec who loses his job when his cereal campaign flops. Stuck at home with the kid -- is this plot starting to sound like a certain 1983 Michael Keaton film? -- Charlie teams up with his buddy Phil (Jeff Garlin) to open a daycare. No day care license? No experience? No food card? No problem. Rated: PG
* Dumb & amp; Dumberer -- The title says it all. (ES) Rated PG-13
**** Finding Nemo -- The Disney folks once again team up with the geniuses at Pixar for a funny, sad, frightening, wondrous animated story of Marlin, a single father clown fish trying his best to raise his son Nemo (it's a Disney film, so of course Mom was killed). But Nemo is caught in a collector's net and ends up in an aquarium, with dad and a ditzy blue tang in pursuit. Albert Brooks and Ellen DeGeneres provide terrific voices and back-and-forth banter. Life in a dentist's aquarium results in much riotous fish talk about root canals. There's -- guess what? -- a happy ending. (ES) Rated G
*** Holes -- The popular kids novel gets Disneyized, but the story's hint of toughness is intact. A teenager is framed for a theft and sent to a reform school summer camp, where the evil warden (Sigourney Weaver) forces all the kids to dig deep holes out in the desert. (ES) Rated PG
*** Hollywood Homicide -- Anyone who's ever wanted to see Harrison Ford precariously balanced on a small pink girls' bicycle gets his wish here. Everyone else gets a goofy comedy with serious, often violent undertones. Ford and Josh Hartnett play cop partners, each of whom has a completely unrelated side job that keeps getting in the way of solving a murder. Lena Olin looks terrific as Ford's love interest, as do a battery of young women as Hartnett's. The story is fun but could use some trimming, especially of the slapstick scenes. (ES) Rated PG-13
*** HULK -- Ang Lee (Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, Eat Drink Man Woman) has successfully managed to fuse popcorn sensibility and emotional drama in bringing the Marvel Comics character to the screen. The mutant genes in scientist Bruce Banner (Eric Bana) go nuts when he gets angry, turning him big and green. This doesn't go well with his former lover (Jennifer Connelly) but fascinates his demented scientist father (Nick Nolte). Soon the army is after him, and he willingly takes it on. Amazing effects, plentiful close-ups and drama of Greek tragedy proportions. (ES) Rated PG-13
*** The Italian Job -- Heist movies are one of the hardest of genre styles to pull off, which is why it's usually scary to hear the announcement of a remake like The Italian Job, requisitioning the contours of a likable 1969 Michael Caine vehicle. But against the odds, The Italian Job is that rare remake that does justice to the modest charms of its predecessor while working in a contemporary style. The Italian Job will be the summer's unexpected lark, as concerned with the fun of the faces -- including Mark Wahlberg, Charlize Theron and Edward Norton -- and the lure of the game as the history of the genre. (RP) Rated: PG-13
**** Lewis & amp; Clark -- The IMAX folks have packed a lot into this vivid account of the two adventurers' travels across the American wilderness. Narrator Jeff Bridges does pretty much all the speaking, while actors play out the scenes. And those scenes are played out in breathtakingly beautiful settings, spellbinding on the giant screen. Much of the story gets into details of important characters -- such as Indian guide Sacagawea -- who were left out of our history books. (ES) Unrated
**** The Matrix Reloaded -- The ante was upped, just due to the unexpected success and groundbreaking visuals of The Matrix. But writer-directors the Wachowski brothers have nothing to worry about concerning acceptance of this follow-up. Neo, Trinity, Morpheus and Agent Smith return for more philosophical rantings about the possible end of humankind, along with a huge leap in action and the quality of visual effects. A street fight between Neo and a bunch of Smiths is astounding. A freeway chase between all sorts of characters is outrageously and breathlessly entertaining. Terrific filmmaking. Now also at IMAX. (ES) Rated R
*** Nowhere in Africa -- A picturesque story of a well-off Jewish family that relocates to Kenya after being forced from Nazi Germany is the sort of movie that wins the hearts of audiences and Oscar nominations, yet never quite achieves more than exoticism. Directed by Caroline Link. (RP) Not Rated. Shows Tues. July 3 and July 5-8 at the Met.
Rugrats Go Wild -- It's Tommy Pickles like you've never seen him before... Actually, the entire Pickles family gets marooned on a desert island, and the only way they're likely to get rescued is if the (Wild) Thornberrys can find them. But Nigel Thornberry has suffered a bit of a bump on the head, and it's up to his cartoon family to save the day for Nickelodeon's other cartoon family on their own. Oh, and Bruce Willis lends his voice to the endeavor. Rated: PG
**** X2: X-Men United -- Director Bryan Singer returns, with the main cast intact, along with a couple of new faces -- most notably Alan Cumming as the teleporting, Bible-spouting Nightcrawler -- to continue the story of good mutants and bad mutants and their struggle with humans who don't want them around. The sequel is bigger, better, funnier, sexier and more violent than the original. The past of Wolverine (Hugh Jackman) starts to become clear, and his climactic fight with Yuriko aka Deathstrike (Kelly Hu) achieves moments of screen greatness. (ES) Rated PG-13
**** Don't Miss It *** Worth $8 ** Wait For The Video * Save Your Money
Capsule reviews are written by Ed Symkus (ES) and Ray Pride (RP), unless otherwise noted.
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Publication date: 07/03/03