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Sterritt ** Documentary about the mating and chick-raising routines of Emperor Penguins, whose Antarctic habitat makes almost every activity hazardous to their health and even their lives. As a zoological spectacle the movie is riveting. But the narration tries to make us think of these adorable animals as if they saw the world in human terms, which they obviously don't, and the images have been enhanced by digital effects, as if they wouldn't be impressive enough on their own.Skip to next paragraph
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Sex/Nudity: None. Violence: None. Profanity: None. Drugs: None.
Director: Doug Liman. With Brad Pitt, Angelina Jolie, Vince Vaughn, Kerry Washington. (120 min.)
Sterritt * Pitt and Jolie play secret agents who don't know each other's line of work when they get married, then become rivals and eventually partners in the licensed-to-kill game. The movie is a mish-mash of action-adventure clichés, book-ended with lame attempts at psychological interest.
Staff ** Charmingly cast, surprisingly slow, poorly edited.
Sex/Nudity: 5 scenes with innuendos, 2 sex scenes. Violence: 16 scenes. Profanity: 29 strong profanities. Drugs: 12 scenes with drinking, 3 scenes with smoking.
Director: George Lucas. With Ewan McGregor, Natalie Portman, Ian McDiarmid, Hayden Christensen. (142 min.)
Sterritt *** Lucas wraps up his second "Star Wars" trilogy, centering on Anakin Skywalker's temptation to use the Dark Side of the Force for personal gain. As spectacle this stands with the best.
Staff *** Fitting finale, poorly written, dark, violent.
Sex/Nudity: 2 instances of mild innuendo. Violence: 26 scenes, often grisly. Profanity: None. Drugs: None.
Director: Steven Spielberg. With Tom Cruise, Dakota Fanning, Tim Robbins, Justin Chatwin. (117 min.)
Sterritt *** Earthlings battle alien invaders who wreak deadly havoc until they're stymied by ... you know what, if you've read H.G. Wells's influential 1898 novel. Spielberg gives the story his full high-tech treatment, building great scariness with help from first-class music and camera work. The picture gets repetitive, though, since its terrors are pretty much the same from start to finish. Cruise is in good form and Fanning is still the best child actress around.
Staff **1/2 Believably acted, made for TV, wait for the video.
Sex/Nudity: None. Violence: 27 scenes. Profanity: 27 mild expressions. Drugs: 1 instance of drinking.
Director: Jia Zhangke. With Chen Taisheng, Zhao Tao, Jing Jue, Jiang Zhong-wei. (139 min.)
Sterritt **** The place is the World Park entertainment center in Beijing, which contains scaled-down versions of international landmarks. The characters are people who've come from all over China to work there. The themes are the globalization and homogenization of Eastern and Western cultures. Brilliant, from the sensitively filmed dramatic scenes to the atmospheric animated sequences that fill the screen whenever someone's cell phone receives a text message. In Mandarin and Shanxi dialect with subtitles.
Director: Shona Auerbach. With Emily Mortimer, Jack Elhoune, Gerard Butler, Sharon Small. (105 min.)
Sterritt *** A single mother secretly writes letters to her deaf son, posing as the boy's estranged father who lives at sea. But when the actual ship unexpectedly docks at port, the mother must hire someone to pose as the paternal scribe. The film is thought-provoking, and the brilliant actors portray strength, even in the victimized characters. DVD features, especially on the making of the film, add insight and richness. By Chelsea Waugaman