Movie Guide

Ratings and comments by David Sterritt and Monitor staff Staff comments reflect the sometimes diverse views of at least three other moviegoers. Information on violence, drugs, sex/nudity, and profanity is compiled by the Monitor panel.

STAR RATINGS MEANING

**** Excellent *** Good ** Fair * Poor DUD The Worst

New Releases

Atlantis: The Lost Empire (PG)

Directors: Gary Trousdale and Kirk Wise. With the voices of Michael J. Fox, James Garner, Claudia Christian. (96 min.)

Staff **1/2 Disney may have ditched the songs in "Atlantis," but did it have to throw out the quality of animation, too? "Atlantis" is an attempt at an action-adventure tale set in the early 1900s. Milo Thatch (voiced by Fox) is a nerdish academic invited to join a submarine mission to find the lost city of Atlantis. What Milo and his motley crew discover is an advanced civilization with mystical powers, but unforeseen dangers lurk for the intrepid adventurer. The material borrows too heavily from "Indiana Jones" and Jules Verne, and though it's fairly entertaining, it's not a classic Disney 'toon. By Stephen Humphries

Brigham City (PG)

Director: Richard Dutcher. With Richard Dutcher, Matthew A. Brown, Carrie Morgan, Wilford Brimley. (118 min.)

Sterritt ** A brutal crime is investigated by a Utah sheriff who's also a Mormon bishop. He wants to solve the case, but he cares as much about protecting the psychological serenity of his flock as ferreting out the evildoer, and there are signs that naivete may be blinding him to hard realities. Few movies have sought this particular blend of detective-story melodrama and religious sensitivity, but the result would be more impressive if its ideas matched its sincerity, and if Dutcher had cast a more compelling actor than himself as the crime-solving clergyman.

Everything Moves Alone (Not rated)

Director: Mike Aransky. With Philip Guerette, Thomas Edward Seymour, Mike Aransky. (100 min.)

Sterritt * A young man moves to a small town, makes a couple of unlikely friends, and finds himself involved in a bizarre quarrel between his new acquaintances. This comedy-drama means well, but it'll be a long time before you see more self-indulgent screenwriting and unpersuasive acting in a single movie.

Tomb Raider (PG-13)

Director: Simon West. With Angelina Jolie, Jon Voight, Daniel Craig, Iain Glenn. (80 min.)

Staff DUD Are Hollywood movies being dumbed down? On the evidence of "Tomb Raider," the answer would have to be in the affirmative. The plotline has young British archaeologist Lara Croft (Jolie) traversing the planet's ancient temples in search of keys that control time and space. The story stays true to the movie's video-game roots - but that's not a compliment. "Tomb Raider" isn't a story as much as it is a show reel of circus stunts inside elaborate sets. Jolie is charismatic and looks the part of the video-game heroine, but she does little more than fight robots and ancient mummies that come alive. (Yes, the movie is that derivative.) By Stephen Humphries

Sex/Nudity: 2 scenes of partial nudity - male and female. Violence: 11 scenes. Profanity: 10 mostly mild expressions. Drugs: 1 scene with smoking.

Currently in Release

Angel Eyes (R)

Director: Luis Mandoki. With Jennifer Lopez, Jim Caviezel, Sonia Braga, Shirley Knight. (104 min.)

Staff ** When a stranger (Caviezel) saves South Chicago cop (Lopez) from a dangerous situation, she thinks she may have met the perfect man. But relationship problems arise when she tries to find out about his past, including a fatal car accident which killed the man's wife and child. This unconventional love story captivates early on, but even Lopez's surprisingly good acting can't rescue this slow-paced yarn. By Joshua S. Burek

Staff ** Contrived, emotional, sweet moments.

Sex/Nudity: 1 mild sex scene. 3 instances of innuendo and several sexual references. Violence: 7 scenes, including a fistfight. Profanity: 62 often- harsh expressions. Drugs: 3 scenes of smoking, 3 scenes of drinking.

The Animal (PG-13)

Director: Luke Greenfield. With Rob Schneider, Colleen Haskell, Edward Asner, Cloris Leachman. (77 min.)

Staff *1/2 A nerdish clerk (Schneider) drives off a cliff, and the town's mad scientist reconstructs him with animal organs. Now he can live out his dream of being a police officer, if only he can control the primal urges that accompany his new agility and heightened senses. Schneider's physical comedy sometimes resembles that of a silent-era comedian, but his efforts are dragged down by tasteless scripting that Buster Keaton could never have imagined. Still the movie exhibits more restraint than most gross-out comedies, and some sequences are howlingly funny. By M.K. Terrell

Sex/Nudity: 7 scenes of innuendo. Violence: 13 scenes of comic violence. Profanity: 18 expressions. Drugs: 4 scenes with drinking, 2 with smoking.

Bridget Jones's Diary (R)

Director: Sharon Maguire. With Renee Zellweger, Hugh Grant, Colin Firth, Jim Broadbent. (94 min.)

Sterritt ** A romantic Englishwoman searches for a man who won't mind her slightly bulky figure and slightly dissolute habits. This lightweight comedy evidently sees itself as a Jane Austen spinoff in the "Clueless" vein, and fans of the genre will enjoy it if they're not distracted by trite plot twists and Zellweger's accent.

Staff ***1/2 Exaggerated, v.g. (very good).

Sex/Nudity: 3 sex scenes, no nudity; several sexual references. Violence: 1 scene with a fistfight. Profanity: 35 including many harsh expressions. Drugs: 15 scenes of smoking and drinking.

Evolution (PG-13)

Director: Ivan Reitman. With David Duchovny, Julianne Moore, Orlando Jones, Seann William Scott. (105 min.)

Sterritt *** Two crusading scholars from a Southwest community college discover a microscopic horde of newly arrived space aliens. Then they realize they're the only ones who can stop the menace once the cute little critters become ugly big critters thanks to their phenomenal rate of (you guessed it) evolution. At its best, this unevenly paced comedy is an amusing parody of monster movies from "Them!" to "Alien." At its worst, it's a gross-out farce aimed at inattentive popcorn-crunchers.

Staff ** Ghostbusters redux, pretty dumb, a retreads of Men In Black.

Sex/Nudity: 3 scenes of innuendo, 1 with partial male nudity. Violence: 7 scenes, intense and scary, but not too gory. Profanity: 40 mostly mild expressions. Drugs: 2 scenes with smoking, 2 with drinking.

A Knight's Tale (PG-13)

Director: Brian Helgeland. With Heath Ledger, Mark Addy, Alan Tudyk, Paul Bettany. (132 min.)

Staff **1/2 A kid from the wrong side of town (Ledger) makes his dream of becoming a knight a reality by posing as royalty. The only thing holding him back from winning the heart of a beautiful princess is his status in society. The blood and violence may be too intense for smaller kids, but this is fine family entertainment. By Heidi Wilson

Moulin Rouge (PG-13)

Director: Baz Luhrmann. With Nicole Kidman, Ewan McGregor, Jim Broadbent, John Leguizamo. (120 min.)

Sterritt *** The setting is Paris a century ago. The heroine is a can-can dancer caught between the love of a poor poet who adores her and the lust of a wealthy count who could help her career. Kidman and McGregor make a fetching couple, but the real star is Luhrmann's hyperactive filmmaking style. Some will find it exhilarating fun. Others will pine for the days when musicals cared more about singing and dancing than cinematic shenanigans for their own sake.

Staff **1/2 Visual delight, Uneven, good songs.

Sex/Nudity: None, but several scenes of innuendo. Violence:2 scenes, one with attempted rape. Profanity: None. Drugs: 8 scenes of cigar smoking, 11 with alcohol.

The Mummy Returns (PG-13)

Director: Stephen Sommers. With Brendan Fraser, Rachel Weisz, John Hannah. (125 min.)

Sterritt ** A handsome adventurer and his Egyptologist wife dash through an Indiana Jones-style story about the resurrection of a three-millennium-old nemesis. Writer-director Sommers serves up rousing visual effects and action. But there's more emphasis on computer-generated gimmickry than on persuasive acting and ideas.

Staff **1/2 Good romance, witty references to other films, over the top.

Sex/Nudity: None. Violence:16 scenes, intense and scary, but not too gory. Profanity: 6 very mild expressions. Drugs: None.

Pearl Harbor (PG-13)

Director: Michael Bay. With Ben Affleck, Kate Beckinsale, Cuba Gooding Jr., Josh Hartnett. (182 min.)

Sterritt * Two high-flying pilots and a spirited nurse are among the Americans whose lives and loves are disrupted by the Japanese air attack that brought the United States into World War II and shaped the rest of the 20th century. True to the tradition of director Bay and producer Jerry Bruckheimer, this complex historical subject is played entirely for action, romance, and spectacle, reducing cataclysmic world events to guts-and-glory cliches. Future anthropologists may find it a useful summary of Hollywood's skill at using fiction and fantasy to evade reflection on the world we actually live in.

Staff *** Disappointing, overlong, thrilling, engrossing, shallow harbor.

Sex/Nudity: 1 sex scene, 11 with partial nudity. Violence: 274 scenes. Profanity: 40 harsh expressions. Drugs: 5 scenes with cigarettes, 3 with alcohol.

Shrek (PG-13)

Directors: Andrew Adamson, Vicky Jenson. With voices of Mike Myers, Cameron Diaz, Eddie Murphy. (90 min.)

Sterritt *** An amiable ogre, a talkative donkey, and a domineering princess set off on a fairy-tale quest that brings out the hidden decency of the monster and the inner beauty of his royal companion. The story has rollicking moments and the visuals are amazingly realistic. Don't expect a cartoon on the level of "Toy Story," but animation fans will find a generous amount of fun.

Staff *** Irreverent, fairytale turned inside out.

Sex/Nudity: None. Violence: None. Profanity: 4 mild. Drugs: None.

Swordfish (R)

Director: Dominic Sena. With John Travolta. Hugh Jackman, Halle Berry, Don Cheadle, Vinnie Jones. (97 min.)

Stafft * This outlandish film starts with John Travolta's character offering a long speech on how bad Hollywood movies are. This opening scene aptly describes "Swordfish," which is an action-thriller of the car-chase/gunplay/misogynistic variety. Travolta plays the head of an organization of ruthless terrorists set up by the US government to fight international terrorists. (Huh?) Only a computer hacker (Jackman) can stop them from robbing a bank to fund their "international peacekeeping." (Huh?) And it all ends with a bus dangling precariously from a helicopter. (Don't ask!) By Stephen Humphries

Sex/Nudity: 2 scenes with nudity, 1 with sex, 4 with innuendo. Violence: 14 scenes, including bullet wounds. Profanity: 59 harsh expressions. Drugs: 11 scenes with smoking, 5 with drinking.

What's The Worst That Can Happen? (PG-13)

Director: Sam Weisman. With Danny DeVito, Martin Lawrence, John Leguizamo, Nora Dunn. (90 min.)

Staff ** Crooked millionaire Max Fairbanks (DeVito) catches Kevin Caffrey (Lawrence) burglarizing his beach front mansion. Max persuades the police that Kevin's "lucky" ring is his own. The rest of the movie charts Kevin's dogged attempts to retrieve his ring, and Max's obsession with keeping it. Crisp editing, a cast of likable oddballs, and great views of Boston keep things going for a while, but the filmmakers run out of ideas long before the final freeze frame. By M.K. Terrell

Sex/Nudity: 1 scene of implied sex, 10 with innuendo. Violence: 4 scenes of comic violence. Profanity: 86 expressions. Drugs: 6 scenes with drinking, 5 with smoking.

'Atlantis: The Lost Empire': Disney's foray into action-movie territory follows Milo Thatch (l.), an adventurer who joins a submarine mission to find Atlantis.

Walt Disney

Out on video in Stores June 19

The Pledge (R)

Director: Sean Penn. With Jack Nicholson, Helen Mirren, Benicio Del Toro, Robin Wright Penn. (123 min.)

Sterritt *** An aging cop postpones his retirement to find the murderer of a little girl. The acting is excellent, and Penn reconfirms his remarkable talent for muted, understated filmmaking that focuses on character and dialogue rather than spectacle and sensationalism. The film's weak point is the screenplay which lapses into cliches.

Staff ***1/2 Existential, slow-paced, taut.

Proof of Life (R)

Director: Taylor Hackford. With Meg Ryan, Russell Crowe, David Morse, David Caruso. (135 min.)

Staff ** No one does brooding stoicism like Russell Crowe. He's perfectly cast as Terry Thorne, an Australian mercenary hired by an American woman (Ryan) whose husband has been kidnapped in South America. The film works well as a thriller but subplots, a whiff of political commentary, character motivations, and relationships are all left dangling unsatisfactorily by the film's end. By Stephen Humphries

Staff *** Engaging, gritty, gripping, nail-biter.

Save the Last Dance (PG-13)

Director: Thomas Carter. With Julia Stiles, Sean Patrick Thomas, Vince Green, Terry Kinney. (110 min.)

Staff ** For Sara Johnson (Stiles), ballet is her life. But when her mom dies in a car accident, her life pirouettes out of control. Sara must move to a rough neighborhood where she meets a handsome black teen who inspires her to step back into the groove. It's a decent enough movie, but it tries to incorporate too many ideas at once - overcoming adversity, succeeding in ballet, an interracial relationship. By Lisa Leigh Parney

Staff *** Good values, credible characters.

(c) Copyright 2001. The Christian Science Monitor

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