Movie Picks 

click to enlarge Watch Nicolas Cage, starring as Yuri Orlov (right), emote - like crazy in Lord of War.
  • Watch Nicolas Cage, starring as Yuri Orlov (right), emote like crazy in Lord of War.

Aliens of the Deep (G)
James Cameron teams up with NASA scientists to explore the Mid-Ocean Ridge, a submerged chain of mountains, and its ecosystems. In IMAX 3-D. -- Not reviewed

Cinemark 16 IMAX

*Batman Begins (PG-13)
Director Christopher Nolan (Memento, Insomnia) borrows from the Depression-era origins of the comic book superhero but relies more on the late '80s rebirth of the Dark Knight by Frank Miller. Christian Bale's Bruce/Batman is delightfully dark and tortured. The supporting performances are uniformly strong, including those of an almost unrecognizable Gary Oldman as Lt. James Gordon, and of Morgan Freeman as Lucius Fox. -- Kathryn Eastburn

Chapel Hills 15, Cinemark 16 IMAX, Picture Show

*The Brothers Grimm (PG-13)
Director Terry Gilliam's work most decidedly is a particular taste, and The Brothers Grimm may not be the kind of film to convert non-believers. Sets and costumes tend toward the dark and grungy. Supporting characters often are grotesque. And there are twisted bursts of visual invention. With whatever Gilliam sees in his head at night, be thankful you don't live there. -- Scott Renshaw

Carmike 10, Chapel Hills 15, Cinemark 16, Tinseltown

The Cave (PG-13)
Bloodthirsty creatures await a pack of divers who become trapped in an underwater network of caves. -- Not reviewed

Cinemark 16, Tinseltown

*Charlie & the Chocolate Factory (PG)
First understand: This is a revision, not a remake. Cast presumptive likenesses to 1971's Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory to the wind, and let the movies exist as separate entities. Director Tim Burton both remains true to Roald Dahl's book and departs wildly from it. Charlie's conclusion tosses some loops -- especially for Wonka -- to create what ultimately is a satisfying twist. Though Charlie isn't all cotton-candy fluff, it's mostly exciting, mindless fun. -- Kara Luger

Cinemark 16 IMAX

The Constant Gardener (R)
The problem with this film is that everything begins to feel redundant during the film's final hour. Everything of consequence there is to know about the players in the plot, we know; everything of consequence there is to know about Justin (Ralph Fiennes) and Tessa (Rachel Weisz), we know. While Fiennes' performance and Fernando Meirelles' stylish direction provide some distraction, eventually the repetition of the film's political message simply becomes wearying. -- Scott Renshaw

Chapel Hills 15, Cinemark 16, Kimball's Twin Peak

The Exorcism of Emily Rose (PG-13)
It shouldn't be difficult to make an exorcism scene scary, but director Scott Derrickson succeeds only in making it nearly impossible to follow what's going on. The priest is attacked by a housecat jumping at his throat. Also, a snake drops on his head. I only wish I were making that up. -- Scott Renshaw

Carmike 10, Chapel Hills 15, Cinemark 16, Tinseltown

Fantastic Four (PG-13)
A group of astronauts develops superpowers and proves that it is, indeed, clobbering time. -- Not reviewed

Picture Show

The 40-Year-Old Virgin (R)
It's unfortunate and ironic that Steve Carell's debut performance as a movie star, in a film he co-wrote, is lacking his comedic signature. Carell sedates his expressive face to play a kind of straight man among stooges, the butt of everyone's jokes because he's made it to age 40 without getting laid. And even though The 40-Year-Old Virgin packs a bevy of laughs, it is just another riff on an increasingly familiar Hollywood theme: Everyone secretly wants to be a frat boy. -- Dan Wilcock

Carmike 10, Chapel Hills 15, Cinemark 16, Tinseltown

Four Brothers (R)
When the Mercer boys reunite in Detroit for the funeral of Evelyn (Fionnula Flanagan), the woman who adopted them all, Bobby (Mark Wahlberg), Angel (Tyrese Gibson), Jeremiah (Andr Benjamin) and Jack (Garrett Hedlund) interact with the kind of coarse familiarity you'd expect from siblings. If anything else in Four Brothers had been as authentic as the fraternal sparring, director John Singleton might have had a truly exceptional character drama on his hands. But character quickly becomes an afterthought as the real plot kicks into gear. -- Scott Renshaw

Carmike 10, Cinemark 16, Tinseltown

The Great Raid (R)
Set in the Philippines in 1945, Lt. Col. Henry Mucci (Benjamin Bratt) leads the 6th Ranger Battalion on a daring rescue mission to liberate American prisoners of war. -- Not reviewed

Chapel Hills 15, Tinseltown

Herbie: Fully Loaded (G)
Picture Show

The Longest Yard (PG-13)
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Madagascar (PG)
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The Man (PG-13)
Samuel L. Jackson plays Special Agent Derrick Vann, who is on a mission to kill the man who murdered his partner. He becomes tangled up with Andy Fidler (played by Eugene Levy), a dental tools salesman who is caught in an illegal weapons deal. -- Not reviewed

Carmike 10, Chapel Hills 15, Cinemark 16, Tinseltown

*March of the Penguins (G)
French director Luc Jacquet and his cinematographers, Laurent Chalet and Jrme Maison, suffered minus-80-degree temperatures and violent winter windstorms to bring us this footage from a year in the lifecycle of the Emperor penguin. They have made a fascinating film that crossed into the mainstream of summer releases, a remarkable feat for a documentary of any kind. -- Kathryn Eastburn

Chapel Hills 15, Cinemark 16

*Mr. and Mrs. Smith (PG-13)
Though it's 30 minutes too long (at two hours) and more closely resembles a television miniseries than a movie, Mr. and Mrs. Smith is a snarky romantic comedy disguised as an ultra-violent action thriller. This is about the only kind of movie in which Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie could be well-cast together, a tongue-in-cheek wink at every suburbanite's secret dream to be James Bond or La Femme Nikita. -- Dan Wilcock

Picture Show

*Red Eye (PG-13)
Hollywood throws genre fare like this at us on a near-monthly basis, but it's really only when you see a cleanly constructed example like Red Eye that you realize how badly most movies botch it. This one starts with an easily embraceable protagonist -- Rachel McAdams (Wedding Crashers) -- and a great, challenging villain played by Cillian Murphy. Both characters are written smart and resourceful, which makes it so much more enjoyable when they do the little things that movie characters so rarely do -- like checking behind the shower curtain. -- Scott Renshaw

Carmike 10, Chapel Hills 15, Cinemark 16, Tinseltown

The Skeleton Key (PG-13)
Kate Hudson plays Caroline, who works as a hospice care aide who answers a job ad to care for a dying man. Ben, a wonderfully wrinkled and ruined John Hurt, and Violet, the great Gena Rowlands, appear innocent enough at first, but Caroline's doubts soon surface. Caroline comes to suspect that Violet wants Ben to die and that she's using hoodoo -- the tools of which reside behind a locked door in the attic -- to mess with his mind. -- Kathryn Eastburn

Cinemark 16, Tinseltown

Sky High (PG)
Will (Michael Angarano), the son of superheroes Captain Stronghold (Kurt Russell) and Josie Jetstream (Kelly Preston), tries to find a balance between being a normal teenager and an extraordinary superhero. -- Not reviewed

Chapel Hills 15, Tinseltown

*Star Wars: Episode III -- Revenge of the Sith (PG-13)
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Stealth (PG-13)
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Transporter 2 (PG-13)
Jason Statham stars in this action sequel about a high-stakes courier who moves human or other cargo with no questions asked. -- Not reviewed

Carmike 10, Chapel Hills 15, Cinemark 16, Tinseltown

Underclassman (PG-13)
A young detective goes undercover at an elite private school in order to bust an international car theft ring. -- Not reviewed

Carmike 10, Cinemark 16, Tinseltown

An Unfinished Life (PG-13)
A woman who is down on her luck (Jennifer Lopez) moves in with her father-in-law (Robert Redford), from whom she has been estranged. As time passes, they learn to forgive each other. Also starring Morgan Freeman, Josh Lucas and Camryn Manheim. -- Not reviewed


*Wedding Crashers (R)
Wedding Crashers' protagonists are John (Owen Wilson) and Jeremy (Vince Vaughn), a pair of best buddies in Washington D.C., who have learned the secret of picking up women by posing as party guests at weddings. The first half of Wedding Crashers is inspired enough that even its late loss of momentum can't completely spoil its pleasures, but it's disappointing to see yet another contender for the lowbrow throne brought down by its lack of resolve. -- Scott Renshaw

Chapel Hills 15, Cinemark 16, Tinseltown


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