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Movie Guide

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Staff ***Smart, gripping, great cinematography

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Sex/Nudity: None. Violence: 11, including beatings and shooting. Profanity: 30 harsh expressions.

Scooby-Doo (PG)

Director: Raja Gosnell. With Freddy Prinze Jr., Sarah Michelle Gellar, Matthew Lillard, Linda Cardellini.

Staff *** The wild and droll canine Scooby-Doo and his villain-chasing friends reunite for a spooky adventure in this first live-action adaptation of the animated TV series. A theme-park owner calls on the Mystery gang to uncover the reason visitors are leaving the park as monster-possessed zombies. Numerous clues and outlandish happenings lead them through fun-house twists and turns as they seek the desperado behind it all. The characters are well portrayed and the ending is unexpected, but some scenes are clichés and others grotesque. The qualities that enable this quintet to succeed include adaptability and an appreciation of good friends. The story offers enough incentive for adults to stay and kids to watch – so give yourself a Scooby Snack! By Chase Clements (age 13)

Sex/Nudity: 2 scenes of provocative behavior. Violence: 18 instances of cartoonish violence. Profanity: 3 instances of mild profanity. Drugs: None.

Star Wars: Episode II – Attack of the Clones (PG)

Director: George Lucas. With Hayden Christensen, Natalie Portman Samuel L. Jackson. (136 min.)

Sterritt ** Anakin Skywalker is now a fledgling Jedi knight who helps Senator Padmé, his former Tatooine playmate, hide from assassins while Obi-Wan Kenobi probes a threat from Dark Side enemies. The film has a broader range of emotions and visual effects than any "Star Wars" installment since "The Empire Strikes Back," but the writing and acting are as stiff as R2-D2's metal torso. If clones are so scary, why does Lucas keep cloning pop-culture clichés he's latched onto from other films, including his own?

Staff **1/2 Cheesy dialogue, uninspired acting, technologically dazzling, Yoda is fantastic!

Sex/Nudity: Mild innuendo. Violence: 12 scenes, some long. Profanity: None. Drugs: 2 scenes with alcohol-like drinks.

The Sum of All Fears (PG-13)

Director: Phil Alden Robinson. With Ben Affleck, Morgan Freeman, James Cromwell, Liev Schreiber.

Staff **1/2 The fourth in Tom Clancy's Jack Ryan series to make it to the screen, this film imagines the US after a terrorist nuclear blast destroys Baltimore. The film arrived amid much speculation about America's readiness to see terrorism as entertainment, but the director chose to show little actual damage. More chilling may be the US President's calm willingness to deploy top government agents to assassinate the bad guys, rather than bring them to face the rule of law. By Gloria Goodale

Staff **1/2 Thrilling, gripping, unrealistic.

Sex/Nudity: 2 mild scenes. Violence: 13 scenes, including a hanging. Profanity: At least 7 harsh expressions. Drugs: 8 scenes with drinking, smoking.

13 Conversations About One Thing (R)

Director: Jill Sprecher. With Alan Arkin, Matthew McConaughey, Amy Irving, John Turturro. (94 min.)

Staff ***1/2 A series of related vignettes in the lives of several New Yorkers begins with a successful prosecutor (McConaughey) who is haunted by his own hidden crime. Arkin is especially poignant as an aging middle manager who finds his life crumbling around him. Some viewers may decide the film is about whether fortune or luck exists. Others may decide it shows that love and good deeds are the only things that give life meaning. The stories are both frustratingly and satisfyingly open-ended. By Gregory M. Lamb

Staff **1/2 Creative, maudlin dialogue, probing

Sex/Nudity: None. Violence: 5 instances. Profanity: 11 harsh expressions. Drugs: 3 scenes with drinking, 2 with smoking and 1 with illegal drugs.

Windtalkers (R)

Director: John Woo. With Nicolas Cage, Adam Beach, Christian Slater, Roger Willie, Peter Stormare. (134 min.)

Sterritt * A wounded-in-action marine sergeant is ordered to accompany a Navajo code talker into battle and protect him from harm – or kill him if there's a danger he'll be captured and tortured for information. The movie claims to celebrate native American contributions in World War II, but its main priority is to let Woo create lots of the choreographed violence he's built his career on. It doesn't help that Cage is the opposite of subtle, grimacing so much he seems to be acting with his teeth.