Movie Picks 

*Billy Elliot (R)

The plot of this film is nothing really new, clichd even: young-child-overcomes-parental-disapproval-to-follow-his-true-dreams-to-the-point-of-melodrama. But Billy Elliot manages to really shine through some tough spots with a combination of fine acting, terrific cinematography and a deep respect for the inner lives of the mute masculine characters. Jamie Bell, who plays Billy, is a somewhat gangly child on the cusp of adolescence. Opposite him are a cast of adults whose lives have all turned out for the worse, and in each, the actors convey the sorrow and the panic of adult lives out of control. This is, in large part, a film about class, about how a middle-class woman helps a working-class boy get out of his tough situation, about how working-class men are forced to cope with their lives, about the redemption of masculinity through work and art. A must-see. See full review.-- AL

Kimball's Twin Peak

*Bring It On (PG-13)

With one foot firmly planted in the sexed-up teen genre, Bring It On is a perky and often hilarious take on the world of competitive cheerleading. Adorable dimpled blonde Kirsten Dunst is Torrance, the head cheerleader of the Toros -- five-time national cheerleading champions whose prized routines have been ripped off from an inner-city squad from L.A., the fabulous Clovers. Coming up with a new routine in time for the nationals provides the central conflict of the movie, but the peculiar brand of adolescent sexiness native to cheerleaders dominates the film. The cheering is terrific, the teen-speak dialogue relentless, the camera moves supple and graceful, and the climax is sweet and satisfying. See full review.-- KCE

Silver Cinemas

Charlie's Angels (PG-13)

A strange and oddly enjoyable hybrid directed by a video director named McG, this Charlie's Angels is no television throwback, but a tongue-in-cheek, over-the-top female martial arts fantasy in which every uttered word is a sexual innuendo -- and a funny one at that. Cameron Diaz, Lucy Liu and Drew Barrymore are utterly engaging as three gorgeous chicks with all the usual hangups who just happen to also be secret agents capable of dismantling the high-tech world's most sophisticated security system. Don't worry about the plot; it doesn't matter. All that matters is the pace and the ass-kicking which are both non-stop, cleverly filmed and arresting in a very Jackie Chan-ish manner. Diaz, in particular, shows terrific comic flair. -- KCE

Tinseltown; Cinemark 16

*Chicken Run (G)

Peter Lord and Nick Park, creators of Wallace and Gromit, have crafted a devilishly clever clay animation feature film that is as thoroughly British in its humor as it is enjoyable to watch. A band of hyperkinetic European chickens, imprisoned in a stalag-type egg farm run by a tyrannical husband and wife team, struggle to escape with the questionable aid of a cocky American Rooster named Rocky (voice by Mel Gibson). It's easy to take for granted the painstaking process of frame-at-a-time filmmaking that clay animation requires when watching the film because the filmmakers have done such a superb job of seamlessly blending flawless set and figure design with story and character. Chicken Run is every bit as ridiculous as the title suggests and carries with it a look and style that, while referencing a tradition of escape movies, surprises the audience with its ingenuity and cheeky brand of British satire. See full review.-- Cole Smithey

Silver Cinemas

*The Contender (R)

One-time film critic Rod Lurie wrote his political thriller specifically for Joan Allen (Nixon, Pleasantville) because he thinks she's "the best actress in the world." You'd be hard-pressed to argue because of Allen's pitch-perfect characterization of Democratic vice president nominee Laine Hanson. The Contender is a clarion call that challenges what is and isn't appropriate in the political process. If that sounds dry and boring, The Contender is exactly the opposite. There are more bitterly biting and cleverly funny scenes in this movie than in The Parallax View and The Manchurian Candidate put together. A political movie that shows how far the genre can go in fleshing out ethics and principles while spinning suspense every step of the way. See full review.-- Cole Smithey

Silver Cinemas

*Extreme (not rated)

Most of us have that one friend who brags about skiing double black diamonds in Vail or climbing the rock faces in Garden of the Gods without a rope. After seeing Extreme in Imax I now know what they are talking about and why it must be such a rush. This is not a 3D film, so you won't go home feeling like you were strapped to a surfboard riding 30-foot waves, but the stunts featured are indeed extreme. World class surfers, skiers, snowboarders and climbers fill the giant screen, taking the viewer into the world of daredevil sports and into the minds of the people that perform them. Arial views and extreme close-ups are narrated with voiceovers by the athletes, and backed up by a killer soundtrack from Soulfood featuring everything from world music to hip hop. The end credits are fascinating, showing how some of this stuff was filmed. -- John Lindsay

Cinemark 16 IMAX

Family Man

The Family Man is a perfectly acceptable takeoff of the Frank Capra/ Jimmy Stewart film It's a Wonderful Life, although it is missing virtually all of the magic. In this version, Nicholas Cage plays a fabulously successful investor who does a good deed, and is rewarded with what his angel (Don Cheadle) calls "a glimpse" into what might have been if he had stayed with his college sweetheart Kate (Ta Leoni). But alas, The Family Man is remarkably ignorant of economic realities. Screenwriters David Diamond and David Weissman have conflated all social classes below the richest of the rich into one giant mush. What is missing is all the substance of its great predecessor: the sense of uplifting spirit, of connection, of community, of dignity and reward in self-sacrifice. Having lost their grasp of economic reality and community life from too long a stint in Hollywood, the creators of The Family Man have in turn lost the essence of one of the great modern Christmas tales. -- AL

Carmike 10; Chapel Hills; Tinseltown; Cinemark 16

The Little Vampire (PG)

The Little Vampire is based on a popular series of children's books by Angela Sommer-Bodenburg. The real fun of the movie comes from some of its unexpected twists -- like the fact that the vampires are good and the vampire catchers bad -- as well as from nice atmospherics that seem to hit just the right note of scary-but-not-too-scary. Little ones will probably get a great kick out of the gags like the cows that become afraid of the light and start hiding out in dark barns after their vampire encounters. If The Little Vampire doesn't have the coherence or overall interest to make it a great children's classic, it is sufficiently cute to compensate. -- AL

Silver Cinemas

*Men of Honor (PG-13)

Finally, after a long stretch of mediocre comedies, Robert DeNiro returns to dramatic acting as Billy Sunday, a racist master chief Navy diver in charge of training Navy salvage mates at a facility in Bayonne, N.J. Academy Award-winner Cuba Gooding Jr. (Jerry Maguire) gives a solid performance as Carl Brashear, the first African American to be accepted into diving program in the newly integrated 1950s Navy. Loosely based on the story of Carl Brashear's life, Men of Honor overshoots its mark, working harder than it needs in making a point of Brashear's tireless diligence and sense of honor. Much of the dramatic impact that drives the film is due to director of photography Anthony Richmond's work. Both DeNiro and Gooding are intensely captivating in the way they use their bodies as thinking extensions of Navy men, completely focused on opposing goals. A well-rounded family film. -- Cole Smithey

Tinseltown; Cinemark 16

Proof of Life (R)

Despite what should have been a compelling plot, based on an exciting premise and set in an exotic location, the movement in this film is slow, stumbling and repetitive. The fundamental problem is director Taylor Hackford's resolve to focus on the simmering romance between stars Meg Ryan and Russell Crowe instead of on the business at hand -- the kidnapping of an American executive (David Morse) in South America and the efforts by K&R (kidnap and ransom) experts (Crowe and David Caruso) to have him released. Ryan is miscast as the executive's wife, Alice, a hippie of sorts who dislikes being a corporate wife. The role would have been better inhabited by someone who can make an audience believe she has a serious social conscience and a backbone. Crowe's best moments occur in the company of his macho compadre, fellow K&R expert Dino, played with flavor by David Caruso. And Morse gives an excellent performance as the kidnappee. But what is worthwhile in Proof of Life -- the fabulous cinematography, a potentially intriguing and thrilling plot -- is lost in the film's refusal to just tell the story. See full review.-- KCE

Carmike 10; Tinseltown; Cinemark 16

Remember the Titans (PG)

Remember the Titans glorifies youth, manhood and the pursuit of football as the best avenues for social justice. The field of justice is, in this case, an Alexandria, Va., high school ordered to desegregate in 1971, where the school board hires a black man, Coach Boone (Denzel Washington) to coach their successful Titans football team. As usual, Washington manages to hit just the right note throughout the film, helping to redeem a fairly cheeseball script and bring out its nobility. It helps if you're willing to believe that the struggle against racism is best fought by men on the model of a war. Whether the male/war model contributes to lasting change is questionable. But war makes for good un-nuanced drama, and Remember the Titans takes full advantage of that. See full review.-- AL

Silver Cinemas

Space Cowboys (PG-13)

A macho adventure about four Air Force men grounded by a commander (James Cromwell) during the heyday of NASA. Forty years later, when a Russian communications satellite goes kaflooey, head man Frank Corvin (Clint Eastwood) is called out of retirement to fix a problem so obsolete that only senior citizens can solve it. The glacial pacing of the first third is almost compensated by the last, but the technical mumbo-jumbo almost kills that. Overall, it's an acceptable Hollywood movie, with some cool special effects. The only big revelation is that the male fantasy of drinking-swearing-fighting-and-getting-all-the-babes only gets more ridiculous with old age. See full review.-- AL

Silver Cinemas

*T-Rex: Back to the Cretaceous (not rated)

Making its 3D Imax debut in Colorado Springs at the new Cinemark theatre is T-Rex. The story revolves around a paleontologist (Peter Horton of thirtysomething fame), his daughter, a museum and a mysterious dinosaur egg that transports the audience back to the day of the dinosaurs. The plot is dull and predictable (and contains way too many close-ups of our lead) but, who cares? We are here to see the dinosaurs. Unfortunately, they don't see as much screen time as one would hope -- Jurassic Park this ain't. That aside, when the big guys do appear, the 3D effects will have you jumping in your seat. The 3D effects, augmented by the huge sound system, are stunning. You may even forget that you are wearing special 3D glasses. (Don't worry. These are much better then the flimsy cardboard ones.) Some scenes may be a little intense for younger kids, but overall this should be a great family moviegoing experience. Colorado Springs now has the only 3D Imax in the state and T-Rex makes great use of the technology. -- John Lindsay

Cinemark 16 IMAX

Unbreakable (PG-13)

Bruce Willis is David Dunn, a Philadelphia security guard who mysteriously emerges unscathed from the derailment of a train that kills every other passenger. He is pursued by Elijah (Samuel L. Jackson), an erudite gallery owner and comic book collector who tries to convince the survivor that he possesses superhuman powers that explain his invincibility. Director M. Night Shyamalan's visual style is certainly compelling, but Unbreakable, lovely as it may be, is doomed by its bizarre script. Shyamalan's purported theme is this: "These are mediocre times, and it's hard for people to believe there's something extraordinary inside themselves." David discovers what is extraordinary about himself, but there is no triumphant relief from the leaden discomfort he feels about himself and his place in the world, and the viewer is stuck, too, with no dramatic shift. If the above were the only problems with Unbreakable, it might have been palatable. But the film is plagued with a cheap-shot ending that is not just distasteful but downright inedible. The result is a complete derailment, and not even Dunn survives.

Chapel Hills; Carmike 10; Tinseltown; Cinemark 16

Vertical Limit (PG-13)

While the film promises a sophisticated thrill-ride, Vertical Limit succumbs to the same hackneyed ideas that weighed down other mountain-climbing movies like Cliffhanger and K2. By the time the fifth nitro-fueled explosion occurs, you may well ask yourself if it was the actors or the audience that the writers were mocking when they wrote the script. Vertical Limit was undoubtedly a very difficult film to shoot, and stands as a technical achievement of sorts. The movie was shot at 10,000 feet above sea level in the Southern Alps of New Zealand, and does a very convincing job for the most part of placing an audience smack in the middle of cold, high-altitude terrain. But all of the well-observed details in the world can't redeem Vertical Limit for its penchant for explosions. I dare say that if the screenwriters had done away with any and all of them, it would have improved the movie by 50 percent. -- Cole Smithey

Chapel Hills; Carmike 10; Tinseltown; Cinemark 16


All the Pretty Horses (PG-13)

Billy Bob Thornton directs this story of a young rancher (Matt Damon) forced to leave his home and search out a new existence. Based on the Colman McCarthy novel. Also starring Penelope Cruz.

Chapel Hills

Cast Away (PG-13)

After living for four years on a desert island after a shipwreck, a man (Tom Hanks) finally makes his way back to civilization and tries to regain his life and his relationship with his wife (Helen Hunt).

Kimball's Twin Peak; Carmike 10; Chapel Hills; Tinseltown; Cinemark 16

Dracula 2000 (R)

Director Wes Craven picks up where the 1897 Bram Stoker horror classic leaves off, with a modern spin on the vampire tale.

Carmike 10; Chapel Hills; Tinseltown; Cinemark 16

Miss Congeniality (PG-13)

When the FBI needs a female agent to infiltrate the Miss United States pageant, they pick a very unlikely subject -- uncoordinated, boyish loose cannon Gracie Hart (Sandra Bullock).

Chapel Hills; Tinseltown; Carmike 10; Gold Hill Theaters; Cinemark 16

What Women Want (PG-13)

See full review, page 58.

Chapel Hills; Carmike 10; Tinseltown; Cinemark 16


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