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Movie Guide

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Director: Alejandro AmenĂ¡bar. With Nicole Kidman, Christopher Eccleston, Eric Sykes. (104 min.)

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Staff ** A war widow, her little boy, and their new servants dwell amid the mysteries of what may be a very haunted house. This is a subdued and sometimes subtle exercise in ghostly doings, going against the horror-movie grain by relying on understatement. Kidman is a bit stiff as the increasingly anxious matriarch, though, and AmenĂ¡bar's filmmaking is sadly short on surprises.

Planet of the Apes (PG-13)

Director: Tim Burton. With Mark Wahlberg, Helena Bonham Carter, Tim Roth, Michael Clarke Duncan. (119 min.)

Sterritt ** Wahlberg crash-lands his spaceship on a world where supersmart simians have all the power and human beings are their slaves. Burton is an imaginative director, but his originality is nowhere to be seen in this by-the-numbers retread of a science-fiction premise that seemed much fresher in 1968, when the original "Planet" was released. And what's the point of having gifted actors like Carter and Roth, when it's hard to savor their talents under all that monkey makeup?

Staff *1/2 One-dimensional, Burton succeeds again, never dull, terrific sets and makeup.

VS/N: 1 scene of innuendo. VV: 22 scenes, including gore. VP: 10 mild expressions. VD: 2 scenes with smoking, 2 scenes with drinking.

The Princess Diaries (G)

Director: Garry Marshall. With Julie Andrews, Anne Hathaway, Heather Matarazzo, Hector Elizondo. (114 min.)

Sterritt ** Andrews is excellent as the queen of an itsy-bitsy European principality who decides the nation's next ruler should be her granddaughter, a San Francisco teenager. With its leisurely pace and unfancy filmmaking, this is a likable throwback to an old tradition of family-friendly comedies from Disney, spinning its unpretentious yarn with a quiet but inventive sense of humor. The problem is that it goes on much too long.

Staff *** Benign, whimsical, endearing, bland.

VS/N: None. VV: None. VP: None. VD: 2 scenes with drinking.

Rush Hour 2 (PG-13)

Director: Bret Rattner. With Jackie Chan, Chris Tucker, Zhang Ziyi, Chris Penn, Don Cheadle. (88 min.)

Staff **1/2 Just put Jackie Chan and Chris Tucker together for 90 minutes, and you've got a hit movie. Here, the detectives chase Triad counterfeiters from Hong Kong to Las Vegas. Never mind that the sequel's stunts and fight-scene choreography aren't as impressive as that of the first movie - the amped-up comedy more than compensates to carry the day. By Matthew MacLean

Staff *** Flashy, nonsensical, simplistic, cocky.

VS/N: 4 scenes of innuendo. 3 scenes male posterior nudity. VV: 11 scenes, including martial arts. VP: 40 expressions, many harsh. VD: 3 scenes with alcohol, 3 scenes with smoking.

Out on Video
In Stores Aug. 21
Hannibal (R)

Director: Ridley Scott. With Anthony Hopkins, Julianne Moore, Ray Liotta, Giancarlo Giannini. (131 min.)

Sterritt*** Hopkins returns as Hannibal Lector, the brilliant psychiatrist with a sadistic personality, a weakness for cannibalism, and an odd affection for FBI agent Clarice Starling. Scott has directed the picture with his usual heavy touch, and much of the action is as ponderous as it is predictable. Lector fans will get their fill, but be warned that the menu contains scenes with over-the-top excesses that Hannibal himself might not want to swallow.

Staff **1/2 Extremely gory, good sequel, intelligent dialogue, opulent sets.

Say It Isn't So (R)

Director: J.B. Rodgers. With Heather Graham, Chris Klein, Richard Jenkins, Sally Field. (93 min.)

Staff DUD Gilly, an orphan in a small town (Klein), falls in love with Jo, the new girl in town (Graham), and they're due to be wed until their relationship hits a small snag. New information comes to light suggesting that the lovers are, in fact, siblings separated at birth. Of course, Gilly discovers that the information is inaccurate, but can he convince anyone else? The gags, many of which are surprisingly violent and in the poorest of taste, fail to work. By Stephen Humphries

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