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Director: Adam Shankman. With Vin Diesel, Lauren Graham, Brad Garrett. (91 min.)Skip to next paragraph
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Staff ** Hardened Navy commando Shane Wolf (Diesel) gets the most challenging assignment of his career: protecting the children of an assassinated scientist from agents seeking the top-secret program he was working on. Fortunately, the combination of the bodyguard's military discipline and hidden soft side give the family children the tough love they need. The Disney-like plotting is too predictable for most adults and teens, and violence puts it off-limits for young children, but 8- to 11-year-olds should find the slapstick amusing. By M.K. Terrell.
Director: Hideo Nakata. With Naomi Watts, Simon Baker, Sissy Spacek, David Dorfman. (111 min.)
Sterritt *** More about the insidious video that kills its viewers if they don't copy it and pass it to another victim. Subtler than "The Ring" and scarier than "Ringu," the Japanese thriller that started it all, this is sequel-spinning with a vengeance. Watts is wonderful, and the story's forsaken-child theme still has plenty of horrific power.
Director: Chris Wedge. With the voices of Ewan McGregor, Halle Berry, Mel Brooks, Jennifer Coolidge. (89 min.)
Sterritt ** The animated adventures of a young robot with big ambitions, and an old robot who's been kicked out of his own business by a profit-hungry upstart. The visuals are spectacular, but the screenplay is trite, intermittently vulgar, and not funny.
Director: Breck Eisner. With Matthew McConaughey, Steve Zahn, Penélope Cruz.. (120 min.)
Staff *** Dirk Pitt, the adventurous diver of Clive Cussler's bestselling novels, escorts a beautiful doctor (Cruz) to Mali. She's looking for the source of a mysterious plague. He's looking for a Naval ship from the Civil War believed to be shipwrecked in the desert (yes, you read that correctly.) "Sahara" should appeal to fans of "National Treasure," last year's hit blend of ersatz archaeology and adventure. The secret ingredient that makes this daft but handsome thriller so enjoyable is the chemistry between Pitt (Alpha-male McConaughey) and his sidekick Al Giordino (the ever zany Zahn). If the yarn careens around plot corners on one wheel at times, it manages to do so without losing its balance as a sleek thrill ride. By Stephen Humphries.
Directors: Frank Miller, Robert Rodriguez. With Bruce Willis, Rosario Dawson, Mickey Rourke, Jaime King. (126 min.)
Staff *** Interlocking stories of crime, revenge, and horror based on Miller's comic books and graphic novels. The cast is excellent and the computer-generated visuals are consistently stunning. Too bad the narration sounds like a string of clichés from creaky old detective novels, and that the movie never comes within hailing distance of a moral perspective on its material.
Director: Mike Binder. With Joan Allen, Kevin Costner, Evan Rachel Wood, Mike Binder. (118 min.)
Sterritt ** A mother and her four daughters cope with bitterness and confusion after her husband abruptly vanishes from the household. Allen and Costner give admirably understated performances as the woman and her eccentric next-door neighbor, but the story feels more cleverly contrived than deeply felt.