The Aviator -- Scorsese, DiCaprio, Hughes -- as in Howard -- are director, star and subject of this splendid look at three busy decades in the life of the industrialist, filmmaker and airplane nut. The script gives plenty of leeway for DiCaprio to show his acting chops. (ES) Rated PG-13
Be Cool -- The follow-up to Get Shorty is a big let-down, in that it introduces lots of promising stories -- all within the main plot of Chili Palmer (John Travolta) discovering a new performer -- but the script never bothers to develop any of them. Travolta still knows how to play a smoothie, but the film gets smothered under its supposedly hip weight. (ES) Rated PG-13
Bela Lugosi Meets A Brooklyn Gorilla -- Two nightclub entertainers (blatant and annoying Martin & amp; Lewis clones Duke Mitchell and Sammy Petrillo) fall out of a plane (wearing parachutes, no less) into the jungles of an isolated Pacific island whereupon they encounter a primitive tribe, a shagariffic savage named Nona and kooky mad scientist, Dr. Zabor, played by hard-up horror legend Bela Lugosi. Hijinks ensue. Turns out the kooky Doctor's experiments are considerably less unnatural than the acting or plot of this strange yet oddly entertaining mess. And yes, a gorilla is involved. (Mike Corrigan) Midnight at CenterStage Saturday night.
Constantine -- Keanu Reeves tries to break out of the Matrix mold with mixed results: He's as wooden as ever, but he gets to toss off some great one-liners. To solve a mystery, he has to go to Hell for answers. With shades of Wings of Desire and Chinatown. Better than Van Helsing but not as good as Hellboy. Rated R (Cole Smithey)
Guess Who -- Big Bernie Mac is the future father-in-law, Ashton Kutcher is the future son-in-law who find many different ways to butt heads in this racially charged, yet fresh and funny updating of Guess Who's Coming to Dinner. When Theresa (Zoe Saldana) brings this skinny white boy home, all kinds of comic possibilities come to light, and most of them are pulled off with aplomb. (ES) Rated PG-13
Hitch -- Breezy romantic comedy gets a big boost here with Will Smith as the title character, a "date coach" for unsure men, and Kevin James (The King of Queens) as one of those men, who is shooting for the sky with a beautiful heiress (Amber Valletta). But the coach isn't having much luck with the ladies, and when his eyes pop over gossip columnist Eva Mendes, things get complicated. (ES) Rated PG-13
Hostage -- Looks like Bruce Willis is putting on the old Die Hard suit once again in an effort to shore up his sagging action-hero status. Here he plays a former LAPD hostage negotiator who has taken a job as the police chief of a sleepy suburban town. But now wouldn't you know it, a botched convenience store robbery forces him to rely on his old skills. Rated R
Hotel Rwanda -- This powerful and shocking film, recounting the horrific civil unrest in Rwanda a decade ago, has echoes of current events (in Sudan) that cannot be ignored. Don Cheadle, as the real life hotelier who saved literally thousands, carries the film on his slim shoulders with ease and turns in the finest performance of his career. (Marc Savlov) Rated: PG-13
Ice Princess -- A high school senior science geek (Michelle Trachtenberg) discovers the sport of ice skating while doing a project on the aerodynamics of competitive skaters. It's a Disney film, but it doesn't have any of the usual formulaic plot turns. The acting is generally good, except for an over-performance by Joan Cusack as the girl's mom. Some of it is surprisingly downright nasty, but most is just the right amount of cute. (ES) Rated G
Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events -- A Series of Unfortunate Events is at once bleak, sinister, comic and weirdly beautiful. Imaginary author Lemony Snicket's tale of three orphans pitted against their evil relative, Count Olaf, resonates with real peril. While the plot does sometimes get lost in slow pacing and Jim Carrey will overact, the three children playing the young Baudelaires inhabit their parts with charm. (Sheri Boggs) Rated: PG
Free showing at the Garland.
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
Meet the Fockers -- In Meet the Parents, Jack Byrnes (Robert De Niro) asks, "What sort of people name their son Gay M. Focker?" In this sequel, he finds out. In fact, the kind of people are Dustin Hoffman and Barbra Streisand, and the Byrnes are off to meet the Fockers before their daughter marries Gay forever. Rated: PG-13
Million Dollar Baby -- Clint Eastwood plays the crusty old boxing trainer, Hilary Swank is his enthusiastic young charge and Morgan Freeman is the wise observer. Swank's spunky Maggie must convince Eastwood's Frankie to become her teacher. She's really good, with great desire to match her moves. Eastwood's film traces her comet-like rise. (ES) Rated PG-13
Miss Congeniality 2 -- Miss Congeniality 2 does the same exact thing as its predecessor: It transforms Gracie (Sandra Bullock) into a lip-gloss-wearing swan, has her parade through the movie doing sketch comedy in Prada and Chanel, solving crime by outsmarting her bosses and then saving the girl (the same girl as in the first movie). This tired sequel tries hard to be a chick flick about girl power, but it fails miserably. It's painfully short of real feminine authenticity, true humor or any semblance of what it's like to be a woman cop -- or, for that matter, a beauty queen. (Cara Gardner) 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
National Treasure -- An absurdly plotted story has a third-generation treasure hunter (Nicolas Cage) believing that he's finally closing in on some long-lost glittery spoils from thousands of years past. The only problem now is that the supposed final clue is on the back of the very well protected Declaration of Independence, and he's not the only guy after it. (ES) Rated PG
The Pacifier -- Vin Diesel plays a Navy SEAL who fails to protect a scientist and now must take care of the scientist's five kids. Watch him change diapers, trip over toys in the driveway, rebuff sullen teens and commandeer the Romanian nanny (Carol Kane)! It's James Bond meets Cheaper by the Dozen!
Racing Stripes -- Every animal of the Kentucky farm can chat with each other, including a visiting pelican named Goose, and they're all smarter than the people around them. But the plot of this live-action film hinges on a young zebra (voice of Frankie Muniz) who thinks he's a racehorse, and, of course, ends up in a major thoroughbred race. (ES) Rated PG
Raising Arizona -- A childless couple (Nicolas Cage, Holly Hunter) want a baby, real bad. Unable to adopt, they do the questionably next best thing by dropping in on a couple who have just given birth to some nice healthy quintuplets. Who would even notice if one was missing? Hilarious slapstick, some amazing shots and typically off-kilter characters abound in this early (1987) Coen Brothers effort. (Sheri Boggs) Rated: PG-13 Showing at the Garland at midnight on Friday and Saturday night.
The Ring 2 -- The Ring 2 follows Rachel (Naomi Watts) and her son, Aidan (David Dorfman), who have recently moved to the Oregon Coast in an attempt to leave their nightmarish past behind. But before they get too far, that little black-haired brat, Samara, is back. This time, she wants a new Mommy -- and Rachel's looking like a great pick. Directed by Ringu's Hideo Nakata, this Ring is as much of a scare-fest as the first. If the first Ring made you fear your television, The Ring 2 will make you terrified of your bathtub. (Leah Sottile) Rated: PG-13
Robots -- The makers of Ice Age return with a computer-animated fable about a na & iuml;ve young robot (the good guy) heading for the big city to make it as an inventor, but clashing with a money-hungry industrialist (the bad guy). The story is clich & eacute;-ridden, the general sound is headache-inducing, most of the acting is flat (though Greg Kinnear is good) and the script desperately wants to be hip. (ES) Rated PG
The Wedding Date -- Kat (Debra Messing) is a girl in trouble, and we don't mean in the diapers-and-surprise way. Nope, trouble is a sister's wedding where your ex is a groomsman. Kat does what any sensible woman in such a predicament would do -- she hires the best damn male escort in all of Manhattan. Rated: PG-13
Publication date: 03/31/04