Adrenaline Rush -- Adrenaline Rush follows two young skydivers, offering a look at both the physical sensations and the psychological challenges of risk-taking. At IMAX. Not rated.
Alien vs. Predator -- Hollywood has been trying to get these two badasses together for years. And since both the baddies rely on special effects more than acting to succeed, most of the film's work will have to be done by the director. In this case, that means Paul W. S. Anderson, who brought the world Event Horizon. Rated: PG-13
Anacondas: The Hunt for the Blood Orchid -- A boatload of scientists head out for an expedition to a tropical island on a quest to locate the legendary Black Orchid. As it turns out, this island is teeming with big, fat snakes all hopped up on that crazy orchid juice. In fact, the anacondas are bigger, faster, more deadly and (curiously enough) smarter than your garden-variety anaconda. Smart snakes. Now isn't that scary, kids? Rated: PG-13
Anchorman -- Anchorman isn't so much a satire of TV news and 1970s sexism as it is an excuse for Will Ferrell to improvise for two hours in polyester. (MD) Rated: PG-13
The Bourne Supremacy -- Jason Bourne (Matt Damon) still doesn't know who he is or where he's come from, but he and his lover Marie (Franka Potente) just want to be left alone. Of course, they're not, and there will be hell to pay. Damon is up to action star status, Joan Allen is terrific as a CIA agent on the hunt. (ES) Rated PG-13
A Cinderella Story -- This war-horse fairytale gets dragged out one time too many so Hillary Duff (Lizzie McGuire) can pout around as a San Fernando Valley high school student, persecuted by her cruel step-mom Fiona (Jennifer Coolidge of American Pie). (Cole Smithey) Rated: PG
Collateral -- After a couple of historical entries (Ali, The Insider), Michael Mann defines the mean streets of L.A. once more with stripped-down, street-savvy results. The acting's solid, and the digital video landscapes are gorgeously dreamlike. With Tom Cruise, Jamie Foxx, Jada Pinkett Smith, Mark Ruffalo and Javier Bardem. (RP) Rated: R
Exorcist: The Beginning -- Here's some brilliant casting: Swedish actor Stellan Skarsgard stars as a young Father Merrin -- the part that Max von Sydow played in the original film. Exorcist: The Beginning tells the story of how he encountered the demon named Pazuzu in Africa as a younger man. Rated: R
Fahrenheit 9/11 -- Michael Moore's powerful, wrenching, drenching, heartfelt, ultimately patriotic polemic is a rapid-fire assemblage of what he finds awry in our nation's government over the past four years. It may be the electoral season's most controversial Rohrschach test. It's not a campaign commercial, but a hushed, mocking voice of outrage. (RP) Rated: R
Garden State -- Angst in the 20-something set is at the center of this story of a semi-successful actor (Zach Braff) who heads from L.A. to his hometown in New Jersey for his mother's funeral. He must deal with his uptight dad (Ian Holm) and the plights of his loser friends, as well as the possibility of a blooming romance with a free-spirited gal (Natalie Portman). (ES) Rated R
Harry Potter and the Prisoner Of Azkaban -- The kids are all back at Hogwarts, but so is the presence of wizard Sirius Black (Gary Oldman) who is said to be gunning for Harry. The darkest of the three films, the story has Harry and pals getting mixed up with teachers who may be good, bad or both. (ES) Rated PG
Hero -- Despite much confusion in keeping track of the story and who's telling which lies, director Zhang Yimou's tale of political treachery and revenge in ancient China works as one of the most exciting visual extravaganzas in recent years. Jet Li stars as a mysterious nameless man who says he's vanquished a would-be emperor's enemies. Flashbacks to sword fights are on a grand scale, as are bow-and-arrow attacks by massive, invading armies. The photography and musical score are brilliant. Great to watch -- if only it all made a little more sense. (ES) Rated PG-13
The Human Body -- It's the human body, like you've never seen it! Consider what it means to see the inner workings of the lungs via endoscope and then picture that five stories up on the IMAX screen. The Human Body also features "the fusing of a father and mother's DNA inside a newly fertilized human egg." Not rated.
IMAX Nascar -- Kiefer Sutherland is your personal pit boss on this up-close look at life behind the wheel. With in-car footage reaching 180 miles an hour, a 12,000-watt sound system and five stories of heart-stopping action. Not Rated.
Lewis & amp; Clark -- The IMAX folks have packed a lot into this vivid account of the two adventurers' travels across the American wilderness. (ES) Unrated
Little Black Book -- Quirky, verbal romantic comedy with a lot on its mind about trust in relationships. Brittany Murphy's bubbly as a small-time talk show assistant, but the dark beating heart is a fierce, non-careerist Holly Hunter, embodied as only she could do it. (RP) Rated: PG-13
The Manchurian Candidate -- Like the original, this looks at war, a returning war hero, a governmental conspiracy, a problematic relationship between a weak man and his strong mother and a great deal of paranoia. With Denzel Washington, Liev Schrieber and Meryl Streep. (ES) Rated R
Napoleon Dynamite -- One person's geek is another's superhero. Such is the appeal of indie effort Napoleon Dynamite, starring John Heder as the titular hero, who lives with his grandmother and brother in rural Idaho. Rated: PG-13
The Notebook -- Get out the Kleenex, but be prepared to smile, too. Gentle James Garner spends his days reading a love story to Alzheimer's patient Gena Rowlands, and that 1940s story is played out with Ryan Gosling and Rachel McAdams as the young lovers. (ES) Rated: PG-13
Open Water -- Since its Sundance debut, this extremely low-budget, shot-on-video, put-real-actors-near-real-sharks, sometimes creepy Blair Witch-goes-to-the-sea hybrid -- The Blair Shark Project? -- is a stripped-down bit of indie product that succeeds more in creating a mood where anything might happen than genuine suspense. (RP) Rated: R
The Princess Diaries 2: Royal Engagement -- Five years after the events of The Princess Diaries, perky Princess Mia (Anne Hathaway), heiress of the Rinaldi family, is caught up in an intrigue for the throne of Genovia, Unfortunately, 70-year-old director Garry Marshall litters what's a spin on fairy tale dreams with way too many in-jokes and appearances by his old cronies. (RP) Rated: G
Shrek 2 -- The story picks up right where the first one left off, with a little extra twist: Prince Charming arrives to rescue Princess Fiona, but it's too late; she's on her honeymoon. And Charming's mom -- Fairy Godmother -- is not happy. A visit by Fiona and Shrek to her parents' kingdom leads to marital strife, as well as new characters. This may not be as fresh as the original, but it's just as hip and funny. (ES) Rated PG
Spider-Man 2 -- Just as X2 outdid everything in X-Men, so too does this sequel outshine its predecessor. Peter Parker (Tobey Maguire) is beset with problems -- no money, no personal life, many emotional demons and the fact that Mary Jane (Kirsten Dunst) has another fella. Enter Doc Ock, a well-meaning scientist who has gone wacko after an accident, and has become Spidey's new nemesis. (ES) Rated PG-13
Suspect Zero -- A serial killer who hunts serial killers? Well, that's a new spin. The ever-versatile Ben Kingsley stars as a mysterious avenging angel who takes great pleasure in cleaning up the FBI's most wanted list, vigilante-style. Director E. Elias Merhige (Shadow of the Vampire) has a knack for cool visuals but is sometimes a little lacking in the story-telling arena. At least he has an interesting premise. Rated: R
SuperBabies: Baby Geniuses 2 -- SuperBabies focuses on (what else?) a super-baby with mysterious powers who comes to the aid of a new set of brilliant toddlers. High adventure and assorted wackiness ensues. The new generation of superheroes? M-m-maybe. Rated: PG
The Terminal -- A quick visit to New York turns into a long-term ordeal for non-English-speaking Viktor (Tom Hanks), who has his passport taken when his country is overthrown in a coup. A warm, funny film that looks at many sides of the human condition. (ES) Rated PG-13
The Village -- Even if my expectations weren't low, I think I would have been happily shocked by the rude alchemy of M. Night Shyamalan's latest puzzle-box. I was pleased with how the strands of the story resolved neatly -- though not without great resonance about the dangers of fear and isolationism. (RP) Rated: PG-13
Without a Paddle -- Three buddies (Seth Green, Matthew Lillard and Dax Shepherd) find themselves lost in the Oregon outback when their rafting trip takes a bad turn. You can pretty much imagine where the hijinks go from there. Look for a Deliverance reference involving Burt Reynolds as a crazy mountain man. Rated: PG-13
Capsule reviews are written by Ed Symkus (ES), Ray Pride (RP) and Marty Demarest (MD) unless otherwise noted.
Publication date: 09/02/04