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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: Guillermo Del Toro. With Ron Perlman, Selma Blair, John Hurt, Jeffrey Tambor. (122 min.)
Sterritt *** A 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 and raised him as an ally. The first half is high-tech action; the second hour has marvelous moments, especially when the lumbering hero moons over his ambivalent girlfriend and undertakes a dangerous mission with a government agent who does not like him one bit. 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: Christopher Erskin. With Cedric the Entertainer, Lil' Bow Wow, Shannon Elizabeth, Steve Harvey. (97 min.)
Staff ** To have any hope of winning the Family of the Year award, Nate Johnson (Cedric the Entertainer) must make peace with his estranged wife and pack everybody up for a three-day drive to the family reunion. "Family of Five in Search of a Script" might be a better title, but this road picture gets better as it goes along, and the upbeat ending redeems it considerably. By M. K. Terrell
Sex/Nudity: 6 instances of innuendo. Violence: 8 mild scenes. Profanity: 4 mild expressions. Drugs: 2 instances.
Director: Quentin Tarantino. With Uma Thurman, David Carradine. (96 min.)
Sterritt ***The vengeful heroine wiped out most of the people who massacred her wedding party in the first portion of the "Kill Bill" saga, and the second shows her going after instigator Bill himself. Although it has plenty of raging kung-fu violence, Vol. 2 is driven far more by character and dialogue, and eventually unveils gentle (!) and even endearing (!!) scenes of a sort not usually associated with Tarantino's imagination. Marvelous acting and large doses of ingenious style make this one of his most engrossing essays in pulp-fiction filmmaking. Definitely not for the squeamish, though.
Staff *** Inventive, exhilarating, much better than Vol. 1
Sex/Nudity: None. Violence: 13 scenes with extreme violence. Profanity: 32 instances, mostly harsh. Drugs: 9 instances of smoking, 5 with drinking, 1 with drugs.
Director: Mel Gibson. With Jim Caviezel, Monica Bellucci, Sergio Rubini, Maia Morgenstern. (127 min.)