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Staff ** Fans of Gail Carson Levine will find little of her charming book in this big-screen version of the Cinderella tale. What does remain is Levine's clever twist: a curse of obedience that requires Ella to do everything that's asked of her. In the book she uses her wits to save her from ogres and evil stepsisters; in the movie, a prince often does it for her. "Ella" has energy enough, and will probably appeal to tweens, but adds too many gimmicks - including musical numbers, and a medieval mall - to a story that had plenty going for it already. By Kim CampbellSkip to next paragraph
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Sex/Nudity: none. Violence: 13 mild instances. Profanity: 1 mild instance. Drugs: 1 scene with drinking.
Director: Luke Greenfield. With Emile Hirsch, Elisha Cuthbert, Timothy Olyphant, James Remar. (110 min.)
Sterritt ** A porn actress (Cuthbert) moves in next-door to a geeky high-school student (Hirsch) who needs to loosen up a bit, and after many misadventures they affect each other's lives for the better. Olyphant steals the show as a cheeky porn producer. The rest is gimmicky and predictable, except for a clever surprise near the end.
Director: Guillermo Del Toro. With Ron Perlman, Selma Blair, John Hurt, Jeffrey Tambor. (122 min.)
Sterritt *** Yet another troubled superhero fights the forces of darkness, and he's just right for the job, since humans snatched him from an evil dimension when he was a baby. The first half is high-tech action; the second hour has marvelous moments. The screenplay has flashes of real wit, and Perlman is perfect in the title role.
Sex/Nudity: None. Violence: 26 instances of intense violence. Profanity: 26 instances, mostly mild. Drugs: 12 instances.
Directors: Will Finn, John Sanford. With voices of Judi Dench, Roseanne Barr, Cuba Gooding Jr. (76 min.)
Sterritt *** A money-hungry villain wants to take over an old-fashioned dairy farm, and a nervy cow organizes fellow animals to save the day. Old-style animation slows down after a snappy start, but it's light and lively enough to keep little kids happy and older ones from fidgeting too much.
Staff *** Delightful, fresh, great songs.
Sex/Nudity: 2 mild instances. Violence: 10 scenes. Profanity: No instances. Drugs: 1 scene with drinking.
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. 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, excruciatingly 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.
Director: Martha Coolidge. With Julia Stiles, Luke Mably, Miranda Richardson, James Fox. (111 min.)
Sterritt *** An ordinary Midwestern student works at getting good grades and dreams of going to medical school - until she meets an enticing guy who's really the Prince of Denmark, visiting her college incognito. The story has a few telling twists, but its best asset is from-the-heart acting by a lively cast under Coolidge's cool, calm directing.