American Graffiti -- Before Star Wars, there was American Graffiti. George Lucas recreates the wild days of his youth (hot rodding in Modesto, Calif.) in this 1973 hit, which was in turn set in the more innocent time of 1962. Richard Dreyfuss, Suzanne Sommers and an impossibly baby-faced Harrison Ford all launched their acting careers here, and the movie was the inspiration behind the TV series Happy Days. (Sheri Boggs) Rated: PG. Showing at midnight at the Garland on Friday and Saturday nights.
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. He does this better than most of his co-stars, but the result is more like a series of sketches than a movie. (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
Cellular -- Don't answer that phone! This one's kind of like Phone Booth in reverse, as a wrong number turns out to create a race against time to save whoever it is on the other end of that cell phone (Kim Basinger). Starring Chris Evans and William H. Macy. Rated: PG-13
Collateral -- 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 dreamlike. With Tom Cruise, Jamie Foxx, Jada Pinkett Smith, Mark Ruffalo and Javier Bardem. (RP) Rated: R
First Daughter -- Katie Holmes plays not only the daughter of the leader of the free world, but a college freshman who just wants to have a normal life. Marc Blucas (Buffy the Vampire Slayer) is not only her dorm's resident advisor but also a Secret Service agent. Can these two crazy kids still date like normal people? Sure they can. Michael ("I'm Batman") Keaton plays the President. Rated: PG
The Forgotten -- When a young mom (Julianne Moore), distraught over the death of her son, is told by her husband and shrink that the son never existed, she freaks out, then starts to find pieces to the puzzle in her confused head. With the help of a fellow (Dominic West) who lost a daughter in the same plane crash, she finds lots of clues, all the while being chased by mysterious agents. The sci-fi-ish story goes on too long, and the ending is disappointing, but acting and visual effects are terrific, so maybe it's OK not to know exactly what's going on. (ES) Rated PG-13
Forces of Nature -- Kevin Bacon is your host on this jaunt into the path of tornadoes, volcanoes and earthquakes. The National Geographic/IMAX filmmakers are hot on the pursuit of tornadoes from Texas to North Dakota, in one instance, coming within 400 feet of being swept up in an F-3 twister. Not Rated.
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
Hero -- Zhang Yimou's tale of treachery and revenge in ancient China works as one of the most exciting extravaganzas in years. Jet Li is a nameless man who says he's vanquished a would-be emperor's enemies. Flashbacks to sword fights are grand, as are bow-and-arrow attacks by massive armies. The photography and score are brilliant. (ES) Rated PG-13
I, Robot -- Fox apparently wasn't happy with this futuristic drama's initial showing and is re-releasing it for another try. The special effects, for once, are done right: Computer-generated robots instead of computer generated-creatures. And could it be that Will Smith is growing as an actor? Possibly, but it's hard to tell much of the time in this well-polished but ultimately noisy thriller. (MD) Rated: PG-13
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.
Island of the Sharks -- If it's gory and/or violent food-chain action you're after, Island of the Sharks won't disappoint. In addition to all the hungry sharks patrolling the waters, you'll also see marlins decimate entire schools of fish as well as meet the mantis shrimp and its sickle claw of sudden, skewering death. But the film also offers glimpses of a bio-diverse ecological region. 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
Mr. 3000 -- Bernie Mac plays a retired player for the Milwaukee Brewers who thinks his career is over until three of his hits are disqualified and he's under the magic 3000-hit mark. Back to home plate, Bernie. Angela Bassett plays a sports reporter and -- you guessed it -- Bernie's love interest. Rated: PG-13
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
Resident Evil: Apocalypse -- You can't get a good series going without a sequel, and here the video game Resident Evil picks up where the first movie left off. One of only two biochemical warfare survivors left in the world, Alice (Milla Jovovich) battles both viruses and the zombies they create. Rated: R
Shaun of the Dead -- Cheekily cheery, Shaun is the smartest slab of comic wise-assery in an age. With some of the deadpan of The Office and a little of the elevated dumbness of Anchorman, Shaun of the Dead's story of love gone wrong and gore gone right (amid bloodthirsty undead) is genuinely funny. Director Edgar Wright is no Sam Raimi in the pantheon of splatter, but the verbal timing's swell -- and instead of George Romero's mall, we get North London zombies running amok at the local pub. (RP) Rated: R
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
Sky Captain and the World Of Tomorrow -- Fans of old Saturday matinee serials are going to love this throwback to heroes, villains, damsels in distress and cliffhangers. Everyone else will likely be agog at the visual effects going on behind Jude Law (the hero) and Gwyneth Paltrow (the damsel), all of which were created on a computer before any actor stepped in front of a blue screen. Set circa 1940, this is about an evil plot involving kidnapped scientists, gigantic stomping robots, various flying weapons and more. The look is lavish, the mood is one of fantastical fun. It's a groundbreaker. (ES) Rated PG
Wimbledon -- This would have been a lot more fun had they let John McEnroe play Paul Bettany's character -- a tennis pro with one last shot at Wimbledon (and love) with young racket phenom Kirsten Dunst. Could have called it Being John McEnroe. How come nobody ever comes to us for movie ideas? 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: 09/30/04