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Movie Guide

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Staff *** Lighthearted, fun, corny.

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Sex/Nudity: 19 instances. Violence: 10 scenes. Profanity: 18 instances, mostly mild. Drugs: 10 instances.

Hidalgo (PG-13)

Director: Joe Johnston. With Viggo Mortensen, Omar Sharif, Zuleikha Robinson, Louise Lombard. (136 min.)

Sterritt ** A rough-riding cowboy (Mortensen) leaves a Wild West show to enter himself and his mustang in a high-stakes race across the Middle Eastern sands, hindered and helped by a sheikh (Sharif) who has an interest in the outcome. The action is often gorgeous, but the screenplay is a collection of clich├ęs. You might expect "Seabiscuit" meets "Lawrence of Arabia," but overall, it's a big, beautiful bore.

Lord of the Rings: Return of the King (PG-13)

Director: Peter Jackson. With Viggo Mortensen, Ian McKellan, Elijah Wood, Sean Astin, Liv Tyler. (181 min.)

Sterritt **The hugely popular series comes to a close as Frodo and Sam struggle toward Mount Doom to destroy the One Ring in the fires where it was forged, while unwittingly paving the way for humans to replace hobbits as Middle-earth's lasting survivors. This is one of the rare times when a trilogy's third chapter is the best of the bunch.

Staff **** Incredible, stunning, built to last forever.

Sex/Nudity: None Violence: 97 scenes, including intense instances of battle gore. Profanity: None. Drugs: 2 scenes of drinking, 4 scenes with smoking.

The Passion of the Christ (R)

Director: Mel Gibson. With Jim Caviezel, Monica Bellucci, Sergio Rubini, Maia Morgenstern. (127 min.)

Sterritt ** An excruciatingly violent reenactment of Jesus' crucifixion. Gibson pays morbid attention to every gory detail, as if the suffering of the earthly Jesus were of central importance, rather than a precondition of his triumph over death. He also leaves the door open to anti-Semitic interpretations of the Jewish role in the death sentence, though Gibson has disavowed such interpretations. Technically, the picture is strong, thanks to Caleb Deschanel's camera work and Caviezel's relentlessly focused acting. In Aramaic, Hebrew, and Latin with English subtitles.

Staff **1/2 Brutal, excrutiatingly detailed violence.

Sex/Nudity: 1 instance of nudity. Violence: 24 scenes of intense violence that are inappropriate for children. Profanity: No instances. Drugs: 4 scenes with drinking wine.

Secret Window (PG-13)

Director: David Koepp. With Johnny Depp, Maria Bello, John Turturro, Charles S. Dutton. (97 min.)

Sterritt *** Once again, a thriller based on a Stephen King story focuses on a writer whose work gives him big trouble - in this case, sinister visits from a stranger who accuses him of plagiarizing a hack horror story. Depp gives a smart, subtle performance, and Turturro is terrific as a foe who's both exactly what he seems and exactly the opposite.

Staff **1/2 Foreboding, unmoving, but splendidly cast.

Sex/Nudity: 2 instances of innuendo. Violence: 15 scenes of violence, some of it in detail. Profanity: 18 instances. Drugs: 5 scenes of smoking, 3 with drinking.

Spartan (R)

Director: David Mamet. With Val Kilmer, Derek Luke, Kristen Bell, William H. Macy. (104 min.)

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