by Inlander Staff

Adventures of Shark Boy and Lava Girl in 3-D -- Don't be deterred by the kiddie-friendly name. In fact, this new flick is directed by Robert Rodriguez, the man with the plan behind Sin City. Granted, he also did Spy Kids, but unlike a screening of The Jetsons Movie or some My Little Pony flick, Rodriguez has probably packed enough action into this kid-centric film to keep you awake. Kid-at-heart David Arquette leads the cast of kids in this story about a boy who is joined by his imaginary superhero buddy for a whole gaggle of adventures. Rated: PG

Amityville 3-D -- Not to be confused with the remake of the original Amityville Horror earlier this year, Amityville 3-D is 1983 cinema at its finest. A reporter moves into the unluckiest house in all of Long Island hoping to debunk all the superstitions surrounding it, only to find that the basement is full of an evil funk. Look for Candy Clark, Lori Loughlin and Meg Ryan (Meg Ryan????) in smaller roles. Playing at the Garland at midnight on Friday and Saturday nights. Rated: PG

Astounding She Monster -- Reasonably fun '50s-era sci-fi hokum -- with a great title and poster art -- from director Ronald V. Ashcroft, who mentored under Ed Wood. The plot takes off as a good-guy geologist finds his remote cabin invaded by a gang of kidnappers holding a rich woman for ransom. Yet all are made to cower before the might and mystery of the title she-monster, an interstellar babe in a glittery jumpsuit who walks backwards, is all blurry and whose very touch is death. Production values are bottom-of-the-barrel -- the "special effects" included photographing the she-monster out of focus. Oooh, scary. (Mike Corrigan) Not Rated. Playing at Center Stage at 11 pm on Saturday Night.

Batman Begins -- Visionary director Christopher Nolan (Memento) instills a heightened reality to this telling of the Batman tale -- going back to the boyhood horrors that marred Bruce Wayne, taking in the young adult physical training that shaped him and extending to his attempt to save Gotham City and its inhabitants from villainous ruin. Christian Bale is perfect as Bruce Wayne/Batman, as are Michael Caine as Alfred, Gary Oldman as a good cop and Cillian Murphy as the demented Scarecrow. Probably too scary for very young kids, but tremendously exciting movie-making for everyone else. (ES) Rated: PG-13

Cinderella Man -- Ron Howard has made a good old-fashioned movie about Depression-era fighter 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 (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) is a carjacker. This is wrenching drama, real adult entertainment, constantly building in tension. (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 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.

High Tension -- The Last House on the Left meets Psycho in this stylistically thrilling but ultimately tedious French import -- dubbed and recut for an Americanized R-rating. Cecile De France plays Marie, a young Parisian who travels to the countryside with girlfriend Alex (Maiwenn Le Besco) on holiday only to find herself the fancy of a truck-driving maniac (Philippe Nahon). You'd think the dubbing would get in the way of the story, but there's so little dialogue (and so little story) that it hardly registers. (Marc Savlov) Rated: R

The Honeymooners -- Why? Why? As if it weren't enough to bastardize the cherished TV memories of our youth (The Flintstones, Scooby-Doo), why do they have to go and make them completely unrecognizable? Case in point: this racially reinvented version of The Honeymooners, with Cedric the Entertainer filling Jackie Gleason's bus-driving shoes, Mike Epps as best buddy Ed Norton and Gabrielle Union and Regina Hall as their long-suffering wives. It's not even set in the '50s but in the hip-hop here and now. What's next? Sanford and Son starring Tommy Lee Jones and Ashton Kutcher? I Love Lucy with Queen Latifah and John Leguizamo? Grrrr. Rated: PG-13

House of Wax -- Wax is scary. You can't let it reach a boil, and it's a bitch to get out of shag carpeting. What's even scarier is people made out of wax. A hapless crew of college kids (including Elisha Cuthbert and Paris Hilton) has a weird nighttime incident with a voyeuristic trucker. Then, the next day, they wander into a town that surprisingly has no people but one awesome wax museum. You can see where the rest of this is going. Rated: R

Howl's Moving Castle -- Poor Sophie Hatter. Just as a wild, exciting magical man literally sweeps her off her feet, she is turned into a crone by an evil witch. Why ... why it's enough to make you mad as a hatter! Which is where this film, directed by acclaimed Japanese animator Hayao Miyazaki, falls short of his 2001 Oscar-winner Spirited Away. Old crone Sophie winds up in a bizarre moving castle, which turns out to be the home of the dashing young wizard, Howl. Approximately 119 minutes before the finale, you know their love for each other will be revealed. Lots of interesting visuals, a steady supply of funny lines, but a thin story overall. (KT) Rated: PG

Kicking and Screaming -- Will Ferrell, Robert Duvall and Mike Ditka appear together in a film that sings the praises of kids' soccer and caffeine addiction. Ferrell mucks about in his trademark clueless schmo routine, Duvall is the tough-as-nails old codger, and Ditka is Ditka, which makes Kicking & amp; Screaming roughly as entertaining as watching your neighbor's kid's soccer game -- not because you want to, but because you have to. Feh. (Marc Savlov) Rated: PG

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. (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. For skateboarders, 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. Funny sights for the kids, funny dialogue for the adults and an insane performance by Sacha Baron Cohen (Da Ali G Show) as Julian, king of the lemurs. (ES) Rated PG

Mr. & amp; Mrs. Smith -- Beyond its relentless gunfights and car chases -- so many bullets are fired, it feels like a full-blown war -- the only thing Mr. & amp; Mrs. Smith offers its audience is the attractive onscreen union of Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie. John and Jane Smith are a married couple of hired assassins who have managed to keep their similar occupations concealed from one another until a double-booked hit pits them against each other. The film toys with role reversals and marital therapy, but in the end it falls flat because there's (ironically) no real relationship to work out. (Cole Smithey) 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

The Perfect Man -- Dude. This is, like, retribution for all of you mid-30s Heather Locklear haters out there. For once, Locklear plays the desperately single mom of Hilary Duff -- and not only is she desperate, but she bakes cakes for a living. (Not sexy.) Duff tries her darnedest to hook her mom up with Chris Noth (Mr. Big of Sex and the City), but learns some real lessons about love. We give Duff a decade or so, and she'll be playing that frumpy, cake-bakin' mom. And Locklear will be, like, ancient. 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

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