Cinderella Man -- Ron Howard has made a good old-fashioned Hollywood movie about Depression-era prizefighter James Braddock, in a terrific portrayal by Russell Crowe. His fighting days were hindered due to bad hands, but he scrapped through, providing for his family (an equally fine Renee Zellweger plays his wife). Look for another winning performance by Paul Giamatti as his manager, along with some brilliant, brutal fight scenes, and loads of heart. (ES) Rated PG-13
Crash -- This film strongly suggests that everyone in post-9/11 Los Angeles is angry, and that most of the population is pretty darn racist. Matt Dillon is a bad cop who doesn't realize it; Sandra Bullock is a horrible, wealthy shrew of a woman; Ludacris (in the film's best performance, in a film filled with great performances) is a carjacker. Lots of different stories take place in the rich and poor sections, in homes and on the streets. This is wrenching drama, real adult entertainment, constantly building in tension, with powerful payoffs. It's terrifically co-written and directed by Paul Haggis, who wrote Million Dollar Baby. (ES) Rated: R
Fighter Pilot -- What audience does IMAX have in mind for Fighter Pilot: Operation Red Flag? As we follow Capt. John Stratton, an F-15 Eagle pilot, battling 125 pilots from six nations in the world's largest air war games, the realization settles in that Fighter Pilot works neither as you-are-there documentary, Air Force recruiting film or Top Gun razzle-dazzle. The preparations for and remote monitoring of the fly boys' loop-de-loops are more engaging than the war games themselves -- and that ain't good. (Michael Bowen) Not Rated.
Grand Canyon -- Seen by more than 220 million people and a designated "first stop" at the National Geographic Grand Canyon Visitor's Center, Grand Canyon: The Hidden Secrets is an IMAX classic. Segments include a wild whitewater rafting trip, a flight over -- and into -- the canyon's crimson and yellow striated depths and a closer look at Lake Powell. History gets its share here, too, as Grand Canyon examines the earliest native cultures of the area as well as the first European explorers to find it. Not Rated.
It Came From Outer Space -- This is a well-crafted and atmospheric sci-fi yarn from 1953 written by author Ray Bradbury about alien contact that, instead of playing up the monstrous aspect of the visitors, ultimately portrays them as benevolent, if vastly superior to humans. It's plenty creepy, though, with beautifully shot scenes, real tension, decent special effects and good dialogue (especially considering similar films that came out of the this period). Recommended. Playing at Center Stage at 11 pm on Saturday, June 11. (Mike Corrigan)
Kingdom of Heaven -- Ridley Scott's newest epic is not a bad film -- it has scope and visual splendor and good acting and a compelling story. But neither is it very good, due to too many weak spots. The part about the young Balian (Orlando Bloom) rising so quickly from blacksmith to warrior is a stretch; the reasoning behind the Christians-versus-Muslims battle for Jerusalem circa 1200 is muddled; there isn't a lick of soul in the performance by Eva Green as the love interest; and the vultures hovering above a field of dead bodies are awfully reminiscent of the winged monkeys in The Wizard of Oz. (ES) Rated: R
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. Unrated
The Longest Yard -- While this new remake is considerably toned down in terms of both the 1974 original's freewheeling (and hilarious) vulgarities and grim prison violence, director Peter Segal and star Adam Sandler show at least a full understanding of what made the rough-and-tumble original so appealing. Sandler takes over for Reynolds as former pro footballer Paul Crewe, disgraced in a point-shaving debacle and current resident of a Texas penitentiary. Once incarcerated, Crewe is forced by a sadistic, football-mad warden to recruit the worst of the worst for an upcoming Guards versus Cons football match. With help from Chris Rock and Burt Reynolds, Crewe and his band of muscled misfits manage to finesse a real team into existence via nonstop practice and the occasional inspirational speech. (Marc Savlov) Rated: PG-13
Lords of Dogtown -- Though I still much prefer the documentary version, The Lords of Dogtown's gritty backstory, casting of leads (dead ringers for Tony Alva and Jay Adams) and production design (eerily precise in nailing the look of '70s So Cal surf culture) lend it an air of authenticity rarely experienced in fiction. Here, Venice Beach truly looks like the hellhole it was in the '70s, and the boys' lives look anything but glamorous (most came from broken homes and poor economic conditions). It might be tough for some viewers (especially adults) to get beneath the tough-guy attitudes, petty cruelties and minor crimes of the characters and into the desperate passions that fueled them. But for skateboarders -- especially for those with a reverence for history -- it's a must-see. (Mike Corrigan) Rated: PG-13.
Madagascar -- Through odd circumstances, four pampered animal pals at the Central Park Zoo (voices of Chris Rock, Ben Stiller, David Schwimmer, Jada Pinkett Smith) end up on the title island, with no food, no caretakers and no idea what to do. And a huge populace of goofy lemurs doesn't help much. Funny sights for the kids, funny dialogue -- and many movie references -- for the adults and an insane performance by Sacha Baron Cohen (Da Ali G Show) as Julian, king of the lemurs. (ES) Rated PG
Monster-in-Law -- The only reason this doesn't get a "turkey" is because of Jane Fonda's truly funny performance as the title character. She disapproves of her surgeon son (Michael Vartan) falling for his multi-careered new girlfriend (Jennifer Lopez), and she will go to any devious lengths to split them up. That's where the funny stuff comes in. But Fonda acts insanely large circles around ever-smiling Lopez (a very limited actress), and Vartan is stuck with a badly written part that makes his character look incredibly na & iuml;ve and uncaring. Bad moviemaking, filled with cliches. (ES) Rated PG-13
Mystery of the Nile -- The cinematography is gorgeous, but this isn't one of IMAX's best efforts. Pasquale Scaturro and Gordon Brown are to be commended for successfully completing a previously impossible feat -- running the entire Nile River -- but the whole thing starts to feel like an episode of Survivor. Still, it's pretty to watch and carries a few IMAX moments. Not Rated
The Pacifier -- Vin Diesel plays a Navy SEAL who fails to protect a famous scientist and now is forced into taking care of the scientist's five kids. That's right, he's a SEAL out of water! Watch him change diapers, trip over toys left in the driveway, rebuff sullen teens and commandeer the weird Romanian nanny (Carol Kane)! It's James Bond meets Cheaper by the Dozen! Rated: PG
Party Monster -- It's Macaulay Culkin all tarted up as real-life party monster Michael Alig, who moved to Manhattan and became notorious for both his extravagant lifestyle and his infamously hedonistic large scale parties (Disco 2000 being one). Alig's downward spiral culminated in the brutal slaying of his drug dealer roommate. Also starring Seth Green, Natasha Lyonne, Chloe Sevigny and yes, Marilyn Manson. Rated: R Showing at the Garland on Friday and Saturday at midnight.
Sahara -- If the filmmakers behind Sahara were hoping to instill in their audiences the same sensations that one might experience while trapped in the desert, they've succeeded. Based on the novel by Clive Cussler, Sahara's incoherent plot includes treasure hunters, sexy World Health Organization doctors, evil West African despots, plague, quasi-European bad guys, toxic dumps and exploding vehicles. It also feels even longer than its stated run time of 127 minutes. Matthew McConnaughey plays the machismo-drenched hero Dirk Pitt; Penelope Cruz and Steve Zahn gamely tag along as his sidekicks. (SB) Rated: PG-13
Robots -- The makers of Ice Age return with a computer-animated fable about a na & iuml;ve young robot heading for the big city to make it as an inventor, but clashing with a money-hungry industrialist. The story is clich & eacute;-ridden, the sound is headache-inducing and the script desperately wants to be hip. (ES) Rated PG
The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants -- A quartet of lifelong friends (Amber Tamblyn, Alexis Bledel, America Ferrera, and newcomer Blake Lively) must separate for the summer, but manage to stay together -- at least in spirit -- via a pair of jeans that happens to fit all of them. Based on the Ann Brashares novel, the idea is a stretch -- literally -- but the message about friendship and finding oneself is strong and well delivered. (ES) Rated PG
STAR WARS: EPISODE III Revenge of the Sith -- George Lucas hits his stride with the final chapter. He neatly ties the six films together, ending it on the planet Tatooine, where Episode IV begins. This one may have a few plot problems and stiff performances from a couple of lead players, but it's a rip-snorting, action-packed outer space epic. This thing opens with 20 relentless minutes, presents a superb performance by Ian McDiarmid as Chancellor Palpatine, and, for you lightsaber fans, offers multiple thrilling battles with the flashy weapons. Excellent effects all the way through, with a mostly solid story. (ES) Rated PG-13
Publication date: 06/09/05