Movie Picks 

click to enlarge Gwyneth Paltrow and Aaron Eckhart in Possession
  • Gwyneth Paltrow and Aaron Eckhart in Possession

*Across the Sea of Time (NR)
Schmaltzy and sentimental, with a thin and barely coherent plot, this 3-D IMAX film is also visually stunning, even beautiful, consistently interesting and, occasionally, intensely moving. It's the story of a 10-year-old Russian boy and his family who have emigrated to the United States over a century. Nineteenth- and early 20th-century stereoscopic images are magically transferred to the IMAX format and the results are breathtaking. A must for anyone whose forebearers came to America during the great wave of immigration at the turn of the 19th/20th century; illuminating and moving for the rest of us. -- John Hazlehurst

Cinemark IMAX Theatre

Austin Powers in Goldmember (PG-13)
Labored and teeming with half-hearted jokes, this third installment in the Austin Powers franchise falls wide of the giddy mark that The Spy Who Shagged Me hit three years ago. Bottom line: Myers needs to be breaking molds rather than adhering to them. -- Cole Smithey

Carmike 10, Chapel Hills, Cinemark 16, Tinseltown

Blood Work (R)
Clint Eastwood's latest incarnation of his gruff, brilliant detective persona, this time as FBI profiler Terry McCaleb, pays homage to the actor's own aging process (he's 72). McCaleb is two months out following a heart transplant when he's asked to assist in finding the murderer of a young Latina woman. The film drags painfully in the first half and is badly edited overall, but picks up steam when McCaleb begins to put clues together linking his past career with the new case. Jeff Daniels gives a delightful turn as Buddy Noone, McCaleb's hapless, beer-swigging neighbor, but even his scenes can't save this generally bloodless work. -- Kathryn Eastburn


*Blue Crush (PG-13)
Loosely based on Susan Orlean's essay for Outside magazine, "Surf Girls of Maui," Blue Crush doesn't try to be anything it's not. It's a lightweight romance, a chick-buddy saga and a surfer flick, straight up. Director John Stockwell (crazy/beautiful) wisely gives us more water time than land time, and we can overlook the film's slower moments when we're treated to the overpowering and exhilarating surf scenes. -- Kathryn Eastburn

Chapel Hills, Cinemark 16, Tinseltown

*The Bourne Identity (PG-13)
Matt Damon more than compensates in his first attempt at a pure action role. He plays Jason Bourne, an American super spy who has forgotten his identity and attempts to hide out from government agents in various attractive European locations. The tension builds slowly, and when bullets begin to fly and car chases ensue, it's all nicely choreographed and not overblown. The plot is somewhat thin but the ride is rich with plenty of well-timed twists and turns and an enticing, prickly romance. -- Kathryn Eastburn

Cinemark 16, Tinseltown

Fear Dot Com (R)
Horror flick starring Stephen Dorff as a cocky police detective who hooks up with sexy researcher to investigate the mysterious deaths of four people, all of whom died 48 hours after visiting a Web site called Feardotcom. Also starring Natascha McElhone.

Carmike, Chapel Hills, Cinemark 16, Tinseltown

Full Frontal (R)
Steven Soderbergh latest featuring Julia Roberts as a magazine journalist; Blair Underwood as a TV star who has just gotten his big break; David Duchovny as a film producer; David Hyde Pierce as a Los Angeles Magazine writer who writes screenplays in his free time; Catherine Keener as his coldhearted wife, a HR vice president who terminates employees to relieve her marital stress; and so on. -- Not reviewed

Chapel Hills

Master of Disguise (PG)
Dana Carvey plays Pistachio Disguisey, the last in a long line of -- you guessed it -- masters of disguise, who must harness his innate gift in order to save the world. -- Not reviewed

Chapel Hills, Tinseltown

*Men in Black 2 (PG-13)
Although the newness of the Men in Black concept has worn off, there's plenty of slick and witty post-modern humor to savor in this eccentrically clever romp. And Will Smith brings a new level of charm and comic timing to the role of Agent Jay. -- Cole Smithey

Carmike 10, Chapel Hills, Cinemark 16, Tinseltown

*Minority Report (PG-13)
With a genius plot, and a budget to match, much of the thrill of Minority Report is in the art direction and special effects. They bring us every detail of a future-noir world where surveillance has become as much of a marketing tool as it is a form of policing. Hats off to Steven Spielberg for managing the ambiguities of the Philip Dick-inspired script with an uncanny dexterity, and to Tom Cruise, by gum, for playing it straight! -- Noel Black

Cinemark 16

*My Big Fat Greek Wedding (PG)
A delightful confection of a summer film. The pacing of the first half of the film is a little slow, but it picks up nicely when the whole crazy extended family gets into the act. Romantic comedies require a deft touch, and the writing of Nia Vardalos (who also plays the lead) provides it. -- Andrea Lucard

Kimball's Twin Peak Theater, Chapel Hills, Cinemark 16, Tinseltown

*The Road to Perdition (R)
This is not a neatly wrapped up father-and-son/growing-up tale but a highly stylized 1930s gangster film that explores the dark fate of those men and the time it recreates. Filmmaker/theater director Sam Mendes (American Beauty) is a master at setting a dramatic scene, artfully orchestrating the nervous pauses before the bullets begin to fly. The dark beauty created sticks with the viewer long after the film has ended. -- Kathryn Eastburn

Carmike 10, Chapel Hills

Serving Sara (PG-13)
Matthew Perry is a process server hired by Elizabeth Hurley to serve divorce papers to her husband in Texas. They embark together on a road trip from New York City to Texas and, duh, the server falls for his employer. -- Not reviewed

Carmike 10, Chapel Hills, Cinemark 16, Tinseltown

*Signs (PG-13)
A quiet, suspenseful and frequently thrilling romp through the chilling territory of the unknown. Mel Gibson delivers a refreshingly understated turn as a man sleepwalking through life following a spiritual crisis, and Joaquin Phoenix is sincere and effective as his loyal brother. Youngster Rory Culkin is most impressive as an asthmatic waif whose mental clarity regarding an alien invasion, and what it might mean, guides the family's actions. Signs falls into some clumsy dialogue when it tries to be philosophical, but altogether, it's a fun thriller that marks director M. Night Shyamalan's growing influence as a Hollywood filmmaker. -- Kathryn Eastburn

Carmike 10, Chapel Hills, Cinemark 16, Cinemark IMAX, Tinseltown

Simone (PG-13)
Poorly staged, badly written and, consequently, badly acted by two of Hollywood's best actors. Writer/director Andrew Niccol (The Truman Show) only succeeds at dragging himself and his cast down in the mud with those he hopes to satirize in this puzzling comic failure. -- Kathryn Eastburn

Chapel Hills, Cinemark 16, Tinseltown

Spider-Man (PG-13)
From the script to the editing and acting, Spider-Man is just ... just so enh. Computer effects have rendered the charming reality of human error obsolete, making the film feel just too sterile. There are some clever cameos and campy nods to film history, but unfortunately, overall Spider-Man just doesn't pack a punch. Pow. Bam. -- Noel Black

Carmike 10, Chapel Hills, Cinemark 16, Tinseltown

Undisputed (R)
Ving Rhames stars as a heavyweight champion charged with rape and jailed. An old gangster (Peter Falk) arranges a fight between him and the reigning prison champ, played by Wesley Snipes. -- Not reviewed

Carmike 10, Tinseltown

xXx (PG-13)
Starring buffed-up, head-shaven, tattooed Vin Diesel, this raucous summer hit is James Bond on steroids vs. post-Cold War Dr. Evil, set in Frankenstein's castle dungeon. Diesel is outlaw-turned-special-agent Xander Cage, sent by National Security Agent Augustus Gibbons (Samuel L. Jackson) to infiltrate the underground world of Anarchy 99, a group in Prague feverishly implementing chemical warfare in the basement of their spectacular castle, nestled in the mountains outside of the city. Despite its humor and abundant energy, xXx ultimately cannot decide whether it is a) a comic book-style adventure flick where all is not as it seems; b) a legitimate invention of a new breed of action-adventure hero; or c) all-out parody. It could have been good plain fun, but dies in explosive overkill and is doomed by its confounding identity crisis. -- Kathryn Eastburn

Carmike 10, Chapel Hills, Cinemark 16, Tinseltown


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