Movie Picks 

*The Amityville Horror (R)
This is a movie that will make you grit your teeth and clutch your date's arm until the final frame -- the best standard for judging horror films.

A remake of the 1979 classic, Horror follows the story of the Lutz family that moves into a waterfront mansion on Long Island. Little does the family know that three years earlier a young man had murdered his family in the same house in a fit of psychotic rage. But the learning curve is steep in the haunted house as it takes only 28 days for mild-mannered George Lutz to transform himself into the same kind of rampaging demon. This movie has most of the hallmarks of the genre, including a wicked curse lurking in the basement and a mini-skirt wearing stoner babysitter who is predictably slain. While this is a far from perfect movie, with several cheesy strobe-light littered scenes of pandemonium, mediocre acting and screenplay, the same could be said of most horror films. Leave it up to Dimension, the company that makes blockbusters out of old comic books and action themes, to bring back this warhorse and do it well. -- Dan Wilcock

Carmike 10, Tinseltown

Are We There Yet? (PG)
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*The Aviator (PG-13)
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Beauty Shop (PG-13)
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Because of Winn-Dixie (PG)
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Crash (R)
The big collision here is between race and class in Los Angeles, personified by a group of barely interlinked characters who are brought into confrontation with one another through a series of inexplicably linked incidents and car crashes, all involving guns. The directorial debut of Milion Dollar Baby screenwriter Paul Haggis, Crash lingers at the edge of importance and greatness, but delivers straw people for characters and serendipity for fate. Anchoring the cast is the great Don Cheadle as a LAPD detective whose younger brother has taken to carjacking. Sandra Bullock is cast distinctly against type as a disaffected, angry housewife, and the rest of the cast, including Matt Dillon, Brendan Fraser and Terrence Howard, lend gravity to what feels like an underdeveloped concept. Essentially, the message is that racial and class divisions drive our dissatisfaction, frustrations and fears here in America, but that message is diverted by bland characterization and sidestepping that tends to offer justification for vicious behavior. Mark Isham's musical score intrudes with loud electronic chanting. Crash could have been a smash, but turns out to be a mere fenderbender. -- Kathryn Eastburn

Carmike 10, Chapel Hills 15, Tinseltown

*Downfall (R)
As played by Swiss-born character actor Bruno Ganz (Wings of Desire), Hitler is a faltering ideologue whose health is diminishing and whose ideas have become so twisted in their execution that he has turned against everyone, including the German people for being weak and his own generals for failing to conquer the world. Dictating his mission statement one moment and praising the ravioli served at dinner in another, the Fhrer erupts into screaming rages, usually directed at some poor fool whose life is on the line, fighting a battle that's sure to be lost. And, of course, there is the cursed Jewry. The only creatures for whom Hitler seems to have any affection are his dog, Blondi, and his secretary, Traudl Junge, played by Alexandra Maria Lara as a wide-eyed ingnue who comprehends little of what's going on around her. The battle scenes in Berlin's streets are teeth-rattling in their fierceness and sheer destructive power. The lasting effect of Downfall is terror -- at what happened then and at what could happen again given the human propensity for ideological absolutes and an unyielding leader to deliver them. -- Kathryn Eastburn

Kimball's Twin Peak

Fever Pitch (PG-13)
Jimmy Fallon plays a die-hard Red Sox fan who falls in love with Drew Barrymore's hard-working businesswoman character. As the Sox season picks up, they struggle to make their relationship work. -- Not reviewed

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Fighter Pilot: Operation Red Flag (NR)
Cinemark 16 IMAX

Forces of Nature (NR)
A National Geographic film showcasing earthquakes, volcanoes, severe storms and interviews with the scientists who study them. -- Not reviewed

Cinemark 16 IMAX

*The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy (PG)
This long-awaited film version of Douglas Adams' cult-classic book, presented by Walt Disney, contains much of the same stream-of-conscience lunacy that made Adams a god among geeks worldwide. The story traces the life of Arthur Dent, played by Martin Freeman (from the original British "The Office" TV series), a whiny Englishman who is rescued from the Earth's annihilation by Ford Prefect (rapper Mos Def), an amiable alien. Prefect explains that the planet is being destroyed in order to build an outerspace highway bypass and introduces Arthur to the Hitchhiker's Guide, stylishly animated as a funky computerized operating system for travel advice. For Hitchhiker's purists, the film pulls off some nice touches. By retaining most of Adams' vision, the film maintains the sense of giddy, surreal wonder the books are famous for. -- Dan Wilcock

Carmike 10, Chapel Hills 15, Cinemark 16, Tinseltown

Hitch (PG-13)
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House of Wax (R)
A group of college students experiences car trouble and wander into a wax museum overseen by two sadistic brothers who kill people and turn them into exhibits. Starring Elisha Cuthbert, Chad Michael Murray and Paris Hilton. -- Not reviewed

Carmike 10, Chapel Hills 15, Cinemark 16, Tinseltown

Ice Princess (G)
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The Interpreter (PG-13)
Directed by Sydney Pollack, this film follows an FBI agent (Sean Penn) who is assigned to protect an interpreter (Nicole Kidman) who overhears an assassination plot. -- Not reviewed

Chapel Hills 15, Cinemark 16, Tinseltown

Kicking and Screaming (PG)
Family man Phil Weston (Will Ferrell) coaches his kids' soccer team and learns how competitive he is. Also starring Robert Duvall and Mike Ditka. -- Not reviewed

Carmike 10, Chapel Hills 15, Cinemark 16, Tinseltown

Kingdom of Heaven (R)
During the Crusades, Balian of Ibelin (Orlando Bloom), a young blacksmith from Jerusalem, rises to protect his people from foreign invaders. Directed by Ridley Scott, also starring Liam Neeson. -- Not reviewed

Carmike 10, Chapel Hills 15, Cinemark 16, Tinseltown

Million Dollar Baby (PG-13)
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*Millions (PG)
That Millions, the heartwarming tale of a pair of motherless Irish brothers, is directed by grim meister Danny Boyle (Trainspotting, 28 Days Later) is a big surprise. The child actors, Alex Etel as Damian and Lewis McGibbon as Anthony, are natural and charming despite their eccentricities. They don't do cute; they merely are cute. Damian converses with saints and Anthony has an uncanny knack with finances, and when the two are unexpectedly gifted with a duffel bag full of cash, a series of adventures and misadventures are set in place. The film stumbles forward with a shifting focus, but enough endearing scenes to hold it together. The ending should have been dispensed in the cutting room, but it doesn't ruin the effect of having watched a sweet family heal itself with a little help from the spirit world. -- Kathryn Eastburn

Kimball's Twin Peak

Mindhunters (R)
Trainees in the FBI's psychological profiling division are forced to use what they are learning when a killer crops up in their midst. Starring Eion Baily, Clifton Collins Jr. and Val Kilmer. -- Not reviewed


Monster-in-Law (PG-13)
Charlotte Honeywell (Jennifer Lopez) has a disastrous dating life until she meets "the perfect man," Kevin Fields (Michael Vartan). However, his mother, Viola (Jane Fonda), is willing to go to great lengths to destroy their relationship. -- Not reviewed

Carmike 10, Chapel Hills 15, Cinemark 16, Tinseltown

National Treasure (PG)
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Racing Stripes (PG)
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The Ring Two (PG-13)
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Robots (PG)
Cinemark 16 IMAX

*Sahara (PG-13)
People who take the problems of Africa very seriously will either puke or die laughing when they see this movie, a big-budget slice of American beefcake motoring up the Niger River into the desert. Two parts action flick and one part Peace Corps-style quirky humor, Sahara is one of the most entertaining cross-border comedy adventures since Spies Like Us. Matthew McConaughey and Steve Zahn play a pair of treasure hunters searching for a Civil War-era ironclad ship they believe to have ended up in Africa. Penelope Cruz plays a doctor from the World Health Organization on the trail of a new plague that threatens to become an epidemic. Penelope and the boys join forces as they dodge gunships up the Niger River and camel-riding assassins in the desert. Shot in Morocco and Spain (doubling for Mali and Nigeria respectively), Sahara is pure fun -- international buffoonery, American style. -- Dan Wilcock

Chapel Hills 15, Cinemark 16, Tinseltown

Sharks 3-D (NR)
Jean-Michel Cousteau presents an up-close experience with a variety of shark species found around the world. -- Not reviewed

Cinemark 16 IMAX

*Star Wars: Episode III -- Revenge of the Sith (PG-13)
Despite more of the same lousy acting and poor character ideas that marred I and II (the prequels to the well-loved trilogy), Sith wins in the end due to its unrelenting dark vision. After all, this is what everybody has been waiting for: how Anakin Skywalker -- the boy foretold to unite the galaxy -- becomes a black-clad mass murderer named Darth. While sometimes the special effects are too much to grasp, they are nonetheless stunning. When it comes to commanding believable acting and penning good dramatic transitions, Lucas has a wooden heart. As for the showdown between Anakin and Obi-Wan, all there is to say is that it's worth seeing on the big screen. -- Dan WIlcock

Carmike 10, Chapel Hills 15, Cinemark 16, Tinseltown

Unleashed (R)
Danny (Jet Li) has lived as a human slave for his entire life under his owner and boss Bart (Bob Hoskins). After a car accident, Danny meets an elderly blind man (Morgan Freeman) who teaches him about the world and being human. -- Not reviewed

Carmike 10, Chapel Hills 15, Cinemark 16, Tinseltown

xXx: State of the Union (PG-13)
Ice Cube stars as Darius Stone, Augustus Gibbons' (Samuel L. Jackson) second xXx recruit. Stone is sent to the nation's capitol to track George Deckert's (Willem Dafoe) military splinter group slated to overthrow the U.S. government. -- Not reviewed

Cinemark 16, Tinseltown


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