The Magnet Tribune
Capsule reviews of feature filmsFriday, September 02, 2005 By Steven Rea and Carrie Rickey, Knight Ridder Newspapers
ALIENS OF THE DEEP 3 ½ stars. James Cameron directed this mind-blowing look at the surprisingly rich variety of life that thrives at the bottom of the ocean. IMAX and 3D _ what a combo. G _ David Hiltbrand. BAD NEWS BEARS 2 stars. Billy Bob Thornton is subversively funny in this otherwise uninspired update of the 1976 film about the beer-guzzling misfit who coaches uncoordinated Little Leaguers who swear like stevedores. PG-13 (profanity, sexually explicit language) _ Carrie Rickey. BATMAN BEGINS 2 ½ stars. Christian Bale plays the caped crusader with a melancholy ordinarily reserved for Hamlet in Christopher Nolan`s well-written origin story. But in a film made with such obvious care, is it too much to ask that the action sequences not be monotonous to the point of narcotizing? PG-13 (violence) _ Carrie Rickey. THE BROTHERS GRIMM 2 ½ stars.Terry Gilliam visits early 19th-century Germany and the exploits of a couple of charlatan witch-busters (Matt Damon and Heath Ledger) _ the famous fabulists before they put ink to paper. Madness and mayhem, whooshing cameras, cartoonish slapstick, inspired surrealism and more than a little over-the-top nonsense ensues. PG-13 (violence, profanity) _ Steven Rea. CATERINA IN THE BIG CITY 3 ½ stars. Caterina is 14, the city is Rome and her classroom is divided between frizz-haired daughters of leftist literatti and flatiron-tressed spawn of right-wing fatcats. What`s a non-aligned girl to do? Resonant comedy from Paolo Virzi. No MPAA rating (teenage drinking) _ Carrie Rickey. CHARLIE AND THE CHOCOLATE FACTORY 4 stars. "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory" is easily one of director Tim Burton's most all-around successful outings. Visually, it's sublime, seamlessly mixing live action, real props and sets, and computer imagery to create an alternative world that's not quite of the here and now, but not quite of the there and then, either. PG (quirky situations, action and mild language) _ Steven Rea. CRASH 3 ½ stars. A raw, edgy study of intersecting lives in Los Angeles, and about the fear and paranoia on the underside of the American "melting pot." Boasting coarse racial epithets and frank depictions of ethnic prejudices, this large ensemble drama will have people talking, and arguing, for a long time. R (violence, profanity, adult themes) _ Steven Rea. DARK WATER 2 ½ stars. The pale Jennifer Connelly battles demons of the marital, mental and ghostly kind in this effective haunted-apartment film from Brazilian director Walter Salles. PG-13 (mature themes, violence images, brief language) _ Carrie Rickey. THE DUKES OF HAZZARD 2 stars. This weird, moonshine-and-marijuana-fueled yee-haw fest based on the `80s TV show pushes the PG-13 envelope with raunch and redneck ribaldry, and an orgy of stunt driving. Jessica Simpson plays pneumatic bumpkin Daisy Duke, with Johnny Knoxville and Seann William Scott as Luke and Bo. PG-13 (sex jokes, drugs, violence, profanity) _ Steven Rea. FANTASTIC FOUR 1 ½ stars. On the grade-o-meter graph between great ("Spider-Man," "X-Men") and awful, this noisy adaptation of the Marvel Comic about a clan of freakily-powered superheroes falls right there alongside such thumping duds as "Catwoman." PG-13 (violence, adult themes) _ Steven Rea. FOUR BROTHERS 2 ½ stars. Easily the best 1975 B-movie made in 2005, John Singleton`s raucously entertaining vigilante flick stars Mark Wahlberg, Tyrese Gibson, Andre Benjamin and Garrett Hedlund as adopted siblings who come home to avenge the death of their foster mother. R (violence, sexual candor, profanity) _ Carrie Rickey. THE GREAT RAID 3 stars. A deliberately retro, unabashedly patriotic war movie based on the real-life rescue mission of 511 U.S. and Allied POWs from a Japanese prison camp in the Philippines in the waning months of World War II. With James Franco, Benjamin Bratt and Joseph Fiennes. R (violence, profanity, adult themes) _ Steven Rea. GRIZZLY MAN 4 stars. Werner Herzog`s unbelievable but true saga of Timmy Treadwell, self-styled ecowarrior and Dr. Doolittle to the Alaskan grizzly. R (medical candor) _ Carrie Rickey. HERBIE: FULLY LOADED 2 ½ stars. With Danica Patrick-mania reigning, this is an ideal moment for the studio to strap Lindsay Lohan into a crash helmet for a female remake of its old racetrack romance, "The Love Bug." But "Herbie: Fully Loaded" wears out its considerable charm rapidly and spends its final half-hour spinning its wheels. G _ David Hiltbrand. THE ISLAND 2 stars. Ewan McGregor and Scarlett Johansson star as a couple on the run in this mid-21st century sci-fier about genetic engineering and other stuff you've already seen in movies like "Gattaca" and "The Truman Show." From Big Bang theorist filmmaker Michael Bay. PG-13 (action, violence, sexual content, profanity, adult themes) _ Steven Rea. KINGS AND QUEEN 4 stars. Emmanuelle Devos and Mathieu Amalric star in this brilliant, gyroscopic family melodrama, from French director Arnaud Desplechin. Full of passion and humor, madness and grief, the film is about life, and like life: messy, impossible, elating, unavoidable. No MPAA rating (profanity, drugs, nudity, adult themes) _ Steven Rea. THE LONGEST YARD 2 stars. Adam Sandler in a so-so remake of the 1974 Burt Reynolds bone-crusher classic about convicts versus guards on the gridiron. The difference between the 1974 original and this is the difference between embattled masculinity and playful boyishness. PG-13 (drug references, violence) _ Carrie Rickey. MADAGASCAR 3 stars. With neither the ambition nor the sophistication of a "Shrek" or "The Incredibles," the computer-animated "Madagascar" is nevertheless an enjoyable buddy picture in which the four exotic mammals escape the confines of the Central Park Zoo and return to the wild. Despite the use of the latest digital animation tools, it evokes an old-school, Looney Tunes cartooning style. PG (potty humor) _ Steven Rea. MAD HOT BALLROOM 3 stars. A crowd-pleasing documentary about a New York City public-school dance program, in which a diverse gang of fifth-graders compete in the foxtrot, the tango and the merengue. An unabashed celebration of many of the things that make New York a great city, and of the pluck and smarts of some of its 11-year-old residents. PG (adult themes) _ Stephen Rea. MUST LOVE DOGS 2 stars. The appealing Diane Lane and simpatico John Cusack star as neurotic singletons in this charmless comedy about the dating game. PG-13 (sexual content) _ Carrie Rickey. MY DATE WITH DREW 2 ½ stars. Slight, if sweet, chronicle of an unemployed filmmaker`s attempts to meet Drew Barrymore. 1 hr. 30 PG (mild language) _ Carrie Rickey. RED EYE 3 stars. Rachel McAdams stars as a plucky everygirl caught in a sticky situation on a late-night flight: the guy sitting next to her is some freelance terrorist who's threatening to kill her dad unless she does what he says. Wes Craven, that old hand at menace and mayhem, directs. PG-13 (violence, profanity, adult themes) _ Steven Rea. RIZE 3 stars. A buoyant documentary about the hip-hop dance movement known as krumping, its roots in African tribal culture and party clown antics, and its booming popularity in the black enclaves of Los Angeles. PG-13 (profanity, drugs) _ Steven Rea. THE SKELETON KEY 2 ½ stars. Kate Hudson stars as a plucky hospice worker in this stylishly spooky, Southern gothic thriller. Featuring a hammy, cigarette-sucking performance from Gena Rowlands, the pic offers a rich gumbo of menace, mystery and magic _ and then lets it go cold and mushy with the usual Hollywood haunted house huggermugger. PG-13 (violence, scares, adult themes) _ Steven Rea. SKY HIGH 2 ½ stars. A freshman at a high school for superheroes worries that he lacks superpowers. Diverting family comedy with Kurt Russell and Kelly Preston. PG (action violence, strong language) _ Carrie Rickey. STEALTH 1 ½ stars. In this empty action film, the Navy phases in a computerized warplane, which doesn't sit well with elite pilots Josh Lucas, Jessica Biel and Jamie Foxx. Wait for the DVD. PG-13 (violence, profanity) _ David Hiltbrand. UNDISCOVERED 2 ½ stars. An enjoyably cheesy teen melodrama with a touch of indie edge, about a struggling songwriter and the model-turned-actress who isn't sure she can handle it if he makes it big. Steven Strait and Pell James are the lovestruck twosome, Ashlee Simpson is the best friend, and Carrie Fisher, Fisher Stevens and Peter Weller play the grownups. PG-13 (profanity, drugs, adult themes) _ Steven Rea. WAR OF THE WORLDS 3 stars. Steven Spielberg`s feverishly involving update of the 1898 H.G. Wells classic starring an uncommonly fine Tom Cruise and Dakota Fanning as an father and estranged daughter fleeing invading aliens. PG-13 (intense violence and gore) _ Carrie Rickey. THE WILD PARROTS OF TELEGRAPH HILL 2 ½ stars. A loving, dopey documentary about the bird man of a place with a view of Alcatraz, a guy with no visible means of support who took it upon himself to nurture a pandemonium of squawking blue-and cherry-headed conures that he named Mingus, Picasso, Pushkin and the like. G (nothing offensive) _ Steven Rea. ___ RATINGS: 4 stars: Excellent; 3 stars: Good; 2 stars: Fair; 1 star: Poor ___ © 2005, The Philadelphia Inquirer. Visit Philadelphia Online, the Inquirer's World Wide Web site, at http://www.philly.com Distributed by Knight Ridder/Tribune Information Services.