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

Jin-Roh: The Wolf Brigade (Not rated)

Director: Hiroyuki Okiura. With voices of Michael Dobson, Moneca Stori, Doug Abrahams, Colin Murdock. (102 min.)

Sterritt ** What if World War II had pitted Japan against Germany, and the Nazis had won? This offbeat animation in Japan's colorful "anime" style takes place a decade after such a conflict, depicting the sometimes violent adventures of a policeman and a young woman in a Tokyo torn by fighting between cultlike terrorists and high-tech security forces. The story's emphasis is on action, but there are some sensitive moments and interesting ideas along the way.

Life and Debt (Not rated)

Director: Stephanie Black. With Belinda Becker, Michael Manley, various residents of Jamaica. (82 min.)

Sterritt *** A nonfiction look at poverty and inequality in Jamaica, and at globalized forces that drive and sustain these hardships, often for the benefit of privileged people in faraway places. The documentary blends compassion for individuals with explanations of the socioenonomic factors that influence them, never forgetting that historical forces are anything but abstract when they manifest themselves in people's lives.

The Princess and the Warrior (R)

Director: Tom Tykwer. With Franka Potente, Benno Furmann, Marita Breuer, Joachim Krol. (130 min.)

Sterritt *** When she's hit by a speeding truck, a reserved young nurse is saved from perishing by a stranger who vanishes as soon as the crisis is over - only to reappear later when she happens to be in a bank he's decided to rob. Are these events just coincidence, or is there some larger destiny that wants their lives to intertwine? This dramatic look at questions of time and fate is less explosive than Tykwer's explosive "Run Lola Run," but it offers much food for thought.

In German with English subtitles

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 until she tries to find out about his past. 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.)

Sterritt * After a car crash, a mad doctor patches up a bumbling young man with spare parts from animals, and the unwary patient starts reacting to human situations (including sexual impulses) with unrestrained bursts of beastly behavior. This comic fantasy has amusing bits of social satire, but they're crowded out of the stable by lots of bathroom and barnyard humor.

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

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

Evolution (PG-13)

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

Sterritt *** Two scholars from a community college discover a microscopic horde of newly arrived aliens. 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 scary scenes, 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.)

Sterritt **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

Staff **1/2 Gorgeous costumes, Not quite Shakespeare, alarming at times.

Sex/Nudity: 2 scenes of partial male nudity. Violence: 28 scenes, but no blood or gore. Profanity: 14 mild expressions. Drugs: 2 scenes with drinking.

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 and the lust of a wealthy count who could help her career. Kidman and McGregor make a fetching couple and 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: Several scenes of innuendo. Violence: 2 scenes, one with attempted rape. Profanity: None. Drugs: 8 scenes of 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. True to the tradition of director Bay and producer Jerry Bruckheimer, this complex historical subject is played entirely for action, romance, and spectacle. 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.

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. (97 min.)

Staff * "Swordfish" 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

Staff * Mindless, ridiculous plot, weak dialogue.

Sex/Nudity: 2 scenes with nudity, 1 with sex, 4 with innuendo. Violence: 14 scenes, including bullet wounds. Profanity: 61 harsh expressions. Drugs: 11 scenes with smoking, 5 scenes with drinking.

The Man Who Cried (R)

Directed By Sally Potter. With Johnny Depp, Christina Ricci, Cate Blanchett, John Tuturro. (99 min.)

Staff **1/2 Stalinist troops arrest a little girl's grandmother and burn their shtetl. Escaping to England, she grows up in foster care as "Suzie," always longing to find her father in America. Grown Suzie (Ricci) joins a Paris cabaret act to raise boat fare and learns about life from a passionate gypsy (Depp), just as Hitler invades. Tuturro plays a vain tenor who sings gloriously, but turns out to be a facist buffoon. The film never quite gels, but the music (Verdi and Purcell) and Paris night views sometimes make it an aural and visual treat. By M.K. Terrell

Sex/Nudity: 4 brief sex scenes. Violence: 7 scenes. Profanity: 3 mild expressions. Drugs: 1 scene with cigarettes, 5 with alcohol.

Tomb Raider (PG-13)

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

Staff DUD 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.

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

Sterritt ** 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, but the filmmakers run out of ideas long before the final freeze frame. By M.K. Terrell

Staff * Unoriginal, poorly written, loses its way.

Out on Video in Stores june 26

Unbreakable (PG-13)

Director: M. Night Shyamalan. With Bruce Willis, Samuel L. Jackson, Robin Wright Penn. (110 min.)

Sterritt ** How did an ordinary man survive a train crash that killed everyone around him? The plot has a fascinating premise, and Shyamalan's visual style is even more insinuating than in "The Sixth Sense," his previous picture. But the story grows sillier as it goes along, culminating in a final switcheroo that's about as deep as the comic-book ideas that inspired the plot.

Staff **1/2 Unpredictable, half-baked, slow.

You Can Count on Me (R)

Director: Kenneth Lonergan. With Laura Linney, Mark Ruffalo, Matthew Broderick. (109 min.)

Sterritt *** This deftly directed comedy-drama focuses on the emotional relations between a grown-up brother and sister - in this case, a successful businesswoman and an immature drifter whose lives take on new complexity when he wanders back to where they grew up. Wittily written and deliciously acted, Lonergan's debut film is a cut above the average.

Coming Soon ... (In stores July 2)

Head Over Heels (PG-13)

Director: Mark Waters. With Monica Potter, Freddie Prinze Jr., Brendan Beiser, Sarah O'Hare. (127 min.)

Staff DUD An art-restoration expert (Potter) moves into an apartment and soon develops a crush on her neighbor, Jim (Prinze) until, in a "Rear Window"-ish twist, she thinks she sees him commit a murder. This romantic comedy is so awfully misjudged and ineptly executed, that this critic was dabbing tears of laughter from his eyes. By Stephen Humphries

Staff * Juvenile, a bit crass, cutesy.

(c) Copyright 2001. The Christian Science Monitor

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