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Reviews

Special Screenings

Special screenings

Animation Under the Stars

A program of animated short films from the CineVegas archives. The District, 2240 Village Walk Drive, Henderson, 564-8595. 4/21, 7:30 pm, free.

DCI Classic Countdown

Countdown featuring eight of the world’s greatest competitive drum and bugle corps performances of all time, as voted by fans. Regal Cinemas Village Square, 9400 W. Sahara Ave., 221-2283. Regal Cinemas Sunset Station, 1301 W. Sunset Road, 221-2283. 4/26, 7:30 pm, $12.50. Info: www.fathomevents.com.

A Feast at Midnight

Freddie Findlay, Aled Roberts, Christopher Lee. Directed by Justin Hardy. 105 minutes. Rated PG.

A new student at a British public school forms a secret society centered around cooking and midnight feasting. Screening preceded by appetizers. Winchester Cultural Center, 3130 S. McLeod Drive, 455-7340. 4/19, 7 pm, $3.

Harper

Paul Newman, Lauren Bacall, Julie Harris. Directed by Jack Smight. 121 minutes. Not rated.

Lew Harper, a cool private investigator, is hired by a wealthy California matron to locate her kidnapped husband. Clark County Library, 1401 E. Flamingo Road, 507-3400. 4/24, 1 pm, free.

IMAX Theatre

Deep Sea 3D, Fighter Pilot, Mystery of the Nile, Lions 3D: Roar of the Kalahari

Call for showtimes. $11.99 each show.

Luxor, 3900 Las Vegas Blvd. S., 262-4629.

My Summer of Love

Nathalie Press, Emily Blunt, Paddy Considine. Directed by Pawel Pawlikowski. 86 minutes. Rated R.

In the Yorkshire countryside, working-class tomboy Mona (Press) meets the exotic, pampered Tamsin (Blunt). Over the summer, the two young women discover they have much to teach one another, and much to explore together. Clark County Library, 1401 E. Flamingo Road, 507-3400. 4/24, 7 pm, free.

Over the Hedge

Voices of Bruce Willis, Garry Shandling, Steve Carell. Directed by Tim Johnson and Karey Kirkpatrick. 83 minutes. Rated PG.

A scheming raccoon fools a mismatched family of forest creatures into helping him invade the new suburban sprawl that popped up while they were hibernating. The District, 2240 Village Walk Drive, Henderson, 564-8595. 4/20, 7:30 pm, free.

Road to Perdition

Tom Hanks, Tyler Hoechlin, Jude Law. Directed by Sam Mendes. 117 minutes. Rated R.

Bonds of loyalty are put to the test when a hitman’s son witnesses what his father does for a living. Whitney Library, 5175 E. Tropicana Ave., 507-4010. 4/22, 11:30 am, free.

The Rocky Horror Picture Show

Susan Sarandon, Barry Bostwick, Tim Curry. Directed by Jim Sharman. 100 minutes. Rated R.

The perennial 1975 cult classic is a mix of horror, comedy and musical, featuring sex, transvestites and the Time Warp. Augmented by a live cast and audience participation. Onyx Theater inside The Rack in Commercial Center, 953 E. Sahara Ave., #101. First & third Sat of month, 11:30 pm, $7. Info: 953-0682 or www.divinedecadence.org. Outdoor Theatre, Boulder Plaza & 1st St. Third Sat of month, 7:30 pm, free. Info: www.rhpsvegas.com.

Simply Irresistible

Sarah Michelle Gellar, Sean Patrick Flanery, Patricia Clarkson. Directed by Mark Tarlov. 94 minutes. Rated PG-13.

Gellar plays a clumsy chef who inherits her mother’s fledgling restaurant, which she believes has been suddenly adorned with magic to create miraculous recipes. Flanery plays a retail executive who tries to resist Gellar and her creations. Screening preceded by appetizers. Winchester Cultural Center, 3130 S. McLeod Drive, 455-7340. 4/26, 7 pm, $3.

New this week

Fracture **1/2

Anthony Hopkins, Ryan Gosling, Rosamund Pike. Directed by Gregory Hoblit. 112 minutes. Rated R.

See review Page 43.

The Holy Mountain **

Alejandro Jodorowsky, Horácio Salinas, Zamira Saunders. Directed by Alejandro Jodorowsky. 114 minutes. Rated R.

See review Page 44.

Hot Fuzz ****

Simon Pegg, Nick Frost, Jim Broadbent. Directed by Edgar Wright. 121 minutes. Rated R.

See review Page 42.

In the Land of Women (Not reviewed)

Adam Brody, Kristen Stewart, Meg Ryan. Directed by Jon Kasdan. 97 minutes. Rated PG-13.

His world in complete disorder after a break-up with a famous actress, a young TV writer goes to suburban Detroit to care for his sickly grandmother and heal his broken heart. Along the way he forms a special bond with the family that lives across from his grandma.

Tears of the Black Tiger ***

Chartchai Ngamsan, Arawat Ruangvuth, Stella Malucchi. Directed by Wisit Sasanatieng. 110 minutes. Not rated.

See review Page 43.

The Tripper (Not reviewed)

Balthazar Getty, Lukas Haas, Jaime King. Directed by David Arquette. Rated R.

A Ronald Reagan-obsessed serial killer targets a bunch of hippies who are heading to a weekend-long concert.

Vacancy (Not reviewed)

Luke Wilson, Kate Beckinsale, Frank Whaley. Directed by Nimrod Antal. 80 minutes. Rated R.

A young married couple becomes stranded at an isolated motel and finds hidden video cameras in their room. They realize that unless they escape, they’ll be the next victims of a snuff film.

Now playing

300 **

Gerard Butler, David Wenham, Lena Headey, Vincent Regan. Directed by Zack Snyder. 117 minutes. Rated R.

The film is about the battle of Thermopylae in 480 B.C. Thanks to the whiny indecision of corrupt religious leaders and spineless bureaucrats, Spartan King Leonidas (Butler) is unable to take his full army to meet the massive Persian forces, and must make do with only 300 of his best soldiers, acting as his personal retinue. It’s brutal, it’s painful, it’s mind-numbing and, most disturbingly, it’s a rallying cry for the testosterone-heavy that posits “no mercy” as the most noble sentiment in the world. –JB

Amazing Grace ***1/2

Ioan Gruffudd, Albert Finney, Ciaran Hinds. Directed by Michael Apted. 111 minutes. Rated PG.

 The story tells of how young activist William Wilberforce (Gruffudd) fought for decades in the House of Commons to abolish the slave trade. Where the film succeeds is in its portrait of naïve optimism and relentless compassion combating the self-interests of stuffy legislators. The best scenes take place in the House of Commons, where grown men hurl accusations and insults at each other like schoolyard children, until the one voice of reason is literally drowned out in the bureaucratic cacophony. –MSH

Aqua Teen Hunger Force Colon Movie Film for Theaters ***

Voices of Dana Snyder, Dave Willis, Carey Means. Directed by Matt Maiellaro and Dave Willis. 86 minutes. Rated R.

If you’re already a fan of Adult Swim’s flagship experiment in surrealist animated pseudo-comedy, odds are you’ll enjoy this movie, which is exactly like the TV show except six times as long. As expected, co-creators Maiellaro and Willis have made no concessions whatsoever to mainstream accessibility. Beloved supporting characters pop up throughout with neither explanation nor context, and the ratio of random nonsense to narrative coherence remains roughly 10:1. Even the animation is as defiantly crappy as ever. It’s hard to think of another pop-culture phenomenon with such indescribable appeal. –MD

Are We Done Yet? *

Ice Cube, Nia Long, John C. McGinley. Directed by Steve Carr. 92 minutes. Rated PG.

Nick (Cube) has softened since Are We There Yet?; he’s married and living with Suzanne (Long) and the kids in his cramped apartment. Nick moves the entire brood, plus a set of twins on the way, to a house in the country. A slick real estate agent, Chuck (McGinley), sells Nick the money pit, then turns up again as the town’s contractor, electrician and inspector. If the movie had simply placed the streetwise Cube in the country and told a fish-out-of-water story, it might have had something, but instead it follows a tired, family-film formula, grinding along on worn-out gears. –JMA

Blades of Glory **

Will Ferrell, Jon Heder, Will Arnett, Amy Poehler. Directed by Josh Gordon and Will Speck. 93 minutes. Rated PG-13.

Ferrell’s macho, womanizing and buffoonish blowhard, perfected in Anchorman and Talladega Nights, shows up again as Chazz Michael Michaels, a renegade figure skater with a sex addiction and a fondness for leather. He’s acting opposite Heder, a one-note actor if ever there was one, as Jimmy MacElroy, Chazz’s fey rival-turned-partner thanks to a skating-bylaws loophole that allows them to compete as a pair even after they’ve been banned from singles competition after a nasty fistfight. So it’s Ricky Bobby and Napoleon Dynamite on skates, with exactly one joke for the whole movie: Figure skating sure is gay, isn’t it? –JB

Disturbia ***

Shia LaBoeuf, Sarah Roemer, Carrie-Anne Moss. Directed by D.J. Caruso. 104 minutes. Rated PG-13.

 Kale Brecht (LaBeouf) is confined to his house. His only visitors are his friend Ronnie and love interest Ashley (Roemer). His life is quickly reduced to a vicarious existence as he spends his time looking out the window at his neighbors. Paranoia sets in and he begins to suspect one of them could be a killer. Our protagonist is on house arrest, complete with alarm on his ankle. This is both a strength and a weakness. As remakes of Hitchcock masterpieces (Rear Window) go, this one is actually pretty good, at least until the climax devolves into a slasher flick. –BS

Firehouse Dog (Not reviewed)

Josh Hutcherson, Bruce Greenwood, Bill Nunn. Directed by Todd Holland. 111 minutes. Rated PG.

Rexxx, Hollywood’s top canine star, gets lost and is adopted into a shabby firehouse. He teams up with a young kid (Hutcherson) to get the station back on its feet.

Ghost Rider **1/2

Nicolas Cage, Eva Mendes, Wes Bentley, Peter Fonda. Directed by Mark Steven Johnson. 114 minutes. Rated PG-13.Motorcycle stuntman Johnny Blaze (Cage) sells his soul to the devil and turns into a fiery spirit of vengeance. Cage cannot help but bring his twitchy Nicolas Cage-ness, which is probably entirely inappropriate for the character but nevertheless adds a weird layer of existential dread. But the plot really fails in the villain department. Bentley looks like a cast-off from Good Charlotte, and is more whiny than menacing, and defeated way too easily. The effects when Cage changes into Ghost Rider look silly, and it doesn’t help that he then speaks in a voice that sounds like Dr. Claw from Inspector Gadget. –JB

Grindhouse ****

Rose McGowan, Kurt Russell, Freddy Rodriguez, Rosario Dawson. Directed by Robert Rodriguez and Quentin Tarantino. 191 minutes. Rated R.

This three-hour double feature lovingly re-creates a moribund moviegoing experience, providing younger audiences—anyone under 40, pretty much—with a simulacrum of Z-grade escapism from the era before home video. Both Rodriguez and Tarantino have turned in excellent work, films several orders of magnitude more sophisticated and accomplished than anything you’d likely have found at the drive-in. Planet Terror, Rodriguez’s zombie flick, superficially resembles a routine Romero knockoff. But the plainspoken yet eccentric characters feel like refugees from an early John Carpenter film, and Rodriguez augments the homage by borrowing Carpenter’s vivid and muscular compositional style. Death Proof, featuring Russell as a homicidal stunt-car driver who targets young women, may be the most structurally audacious movie since ... well, I can’t say which all-time classic, as that would spoil the surprise. Suffice it to say that no actual grindhouse film has ever been remotely this ambitious, nor toyed as masterfully with an audience’s expectations. –MD

The Hills Have Eyes 2 (Not reviewed)

Michael McMillian, Jessica Stroup, Daniella Alonso. Directed by Martin Weisz. 89 minutes. Rated R.

A group of National Guard trainees find themselves battling against a vicious group of mutants on their last day of training in the desert.

The Hoax ***

Richard Gere, Alfred Molina, Marcia Gay Harden, Hope Davis. Directed by Lasse Hallstrom. 115 minutes. Rated R.

Gere exudes a sort of manic desperation as Clifford Irving, the mildly successful author who in the early 1970s, after seeing his latest novel rejected by his publisher, concocts from thin air the notion that he has been selected as Howard Hughes’ official biographer. Along with his trusty sidekick and researcher (Molina), Irving sets out to learn everything he can about Hughes, all in the name of propping up his increasingly untenable charade. Hallstrom strikes the right balance between humor and introspection, delving into Irving’s simultaneous narcissism and self-loathing while keeping the absurdity of the situation constantly apparent. –JB

The Last Mimzy ***1/2

Chris O’Neil, Rhiannon Leigh Wryn, Joely Richardson, Timothy Hutton. Directed by Robert Shaye. 94 minutes. Rated PG.

 A mimzy is a tattered, plush bunny stuffed with cotton and an alien nervous system that gives the doll artificial intelligence. Scientists from a dying future teleport the last of these rabbits to a Seattle beach in our present day, where precocious siblings Noah (O’Neil) and Emma Wilder (Wryn) scoop the toy up and bring it home. So begins Shaye’s pleasant adventure, which should do for sci-fi exploration what Robert Rodriguez’s Spy Kids did for family espionage. –SO

The Lookout ****

Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Jeff Daniels, Matthew Goode. Directed by Scott Frank. 99 minutes. Rated R.

 Once a promising high school hockey player and a popular, well-liked guy, Chris (Gordon-Levitt) sustained a massive head injury in a car accident and now has trouble accomplishing basic daily tasks. His life shattered, he works as a janitor at a small-town bank. It’s only because we understand and care about Chris so much that we can see just how tragic it is when local bad boy Gary (Goode) enters his life. Gary really has no respect for his so-called friend, and his only interest is in the access Chris can provide to the bank. Even when the film picks up steam and heads toward its tense climax, Chris’ internal conflict and emotional turmoil are at its core. –JB

Meet the Robinsons ***1/2

Voices of Angela Bassett, Jordan Fry, Wesley Singerman. Directed by Stephen Anderson. 93 minutes. Rated G.

 This animated time-travel adventure tells the story of a young inventor and orphan named Lewis. Lewis’ entry in the science fair is sabotaged by a mysterious villain in a bowler hat. As it turns out, Bowler Hat Guy has come from the future to steal Lewis’ invention and pass it off as his own. But an ally has traveled back in time to help—young Wilbur Robinson. Together, Lewis and Wilbur travel back to the future. There are enough funny gags and visual delights to keep adults interested, and kids are sure to enjoy the fast-paced madness of it all. –MSH

Music and Lyrics **1/2

Hugh Grant, Drew Barrymore, Haley Bennett. Directed by Marc Lawrence. 96 minutes. Rated PG-13.

Washed-up ’80s pop star Alex Fletcher (Grant) hasn’t been relevant in years. He’s busy playing state fairs and amusement parks and enduring pitches for reality shows when a Britney-esque pop star (Bennett) commissions him to write her a song. There’s virtually no tension between Alex and his romantic foil, flighty Sophie Fisher (Barrymore), who comes to water Alex’s plants and shows a surprising flair for writing lyrics. Barrymore and Grant have played these parts countless times, and for good reason: They know what they’re doing, even if they just keep doing it over and over again. It’s all rather nauseatingly pleasant, hard to find offensive but easy to get sick of—sort of like an insipid pop song. –JB

The Namesake ***

Kal Penn, Irfan Khan, Tabu. Directed by Mira Nair. 122 minutes. Rated PG-13.

Nair follows the Ganguli family from Calcutta to Queens in the late 1970s with surprising thoroughness and attention to detail. Ashoke (Khan), a quiet, young engineering student who survives a horrific accident, and beautiful aspiring singer Ashima (Tabu) embark on an arranged marriage and subsequent move to New York City. The middle third of The Namesake shifts focus to the Gangulis’ oldest child (Penn). Wholly Yankified and borderline surly, adolescent Gogol grapples with his own demons. Generally well-observed and more contemplative than Nair’s previous works, The Namesake nevertheless has its deficits. –MH

Nomad *

Kuno Becker, Jason Scott Lee, Jay Hernandez, Ayana Yesmagambetova. Directed by Ivan Passer and Sergei Bodrov. 112 minutes. Rated R.

Nomad focuses on the historical events that united the disparate Kazakh tribes to fend off the invading Jungar hordes in the early 18th century. Meant to be sweeping and inspirational, the film is instead lurching and laughable, with terrible writing, awkward acting and clueless direction. There is a bit of unintentional humor here and there, but mostly the speeches are bland and flat when they should be rousing, and the characters are pretty much interchangeable. –JB

Pathfinder (Not reviewed)

Karl Urban, Russell Means, Moon Bloodgood. Directed by Marcus Nispel. 88 minutes. Rated R.

A Viking boy is left behind after his clan battles a Native American tribe. Raised within the tribe, he ultimately becomes their savior in a fight against the Norsemen.

Perfect Stranger *1/2

Halle Berry, Bruce Willis, Giovanni Ribisi. Directed by James Foley. 109 minutes. Rated R.

Berry is journalist Rowena Price. An old friend of hers turns up dead, and Rowena suspects a slick ad executive (Willis), so she goes undercover as a temp to seduce him and gather evidence—rather than, say, alerting the police. This is exactly the kind of movie that Ashley Judd would have starred in five years ago, only Judd usually managed to retain some shred of dignity in her woman-in-peril thrillers. Not so Berry, who flails and wails and ultimately fails as Rowena. The requisite twist ending is completely nonsensical, but by the time you get there, things have gotten so absurd that the only proper response is to laugh it off. –JB

Premonition *1/2

Sandra Bullock, Julian McMahon, Shyann McClure. Directed by Mennan Yapo. 110 minutes. Rated PG-13.

After her husband’s death in a car accident, Linda (Bullock) travels through time every time she nods off. She’ll go to sleep and wake up to find her husband dead, but after a night’s rest, she’ll awaken to find him alive again. Her initial inability to consult a calendar to discover the nature of her problem is borderline infuriating. Once she realizes that she’s inexplicably traveling through time, it gets worse. There’s nothing wrong with unexplained time travel, per se. It doesn’t have to make sense as long as it obeys the rules it sets, but Premonition is plagued with irritating inconsistencies. –MSH

The Reaping *1/2

Hilary Swank, David Morrissey, Idris Elba. Directed by Stephen Hopkins. 96 minutes. Rated R.

Swank plays Katherine Winter, a fallen minister, who—after the death of her husband and child—now goes about scientifically debunking “miracles” all over the world. When the river near a small town called Haven turns blood red, Katherine and her faithful sidekick, Ben (Elba), heed the call. A river of blood, it turns out, is the first of the legendary 10 Plagues. From there, the film turns into a convoluted mess, chucking any kind of logical flow in favor of cheap thrills. –JMA

Redline (Not reviewed)

Nadia Bjorlin, Angus Macfadyen, Eddie Griffin. Directed by Andy Cheng. 95 minutes. Rated PG-13.

A young automobile fanatic finds herself caught up in illegal drag-racing competitions organized for the pleasure of bored billionaires.

Reign Over Me **1/2

Adam Sandler, Don Cheadle, Liv Tyler, Jada Pinkett Smith. Directed by Mike Binder. 124 minutes. Rated R.

Sandler is Charlie Fineman, a widower whose wife and three daughters were killed in one of the planes on 9/11. Charlie has retreated into an isolated world of video games, classic rock and the endless remodeling of his kitchen when he runs into his old college roommate, Alan Johnson (Cheadle). Alan reaches out to Charlie, Charlie resists at first, and slowly the two forge a strong bond that helps them both come to terms with their issues. Binder doesn’t have much of note to say about grief, and Sandler doesn’t help with his irritating man-child histrionics, but Binder does have a decent understanding of male friendship that shines through in some of the film’s quieter moments. –JB

Shooter *1/2

Mark Wahlberg, Michael Peña, Danny Glover, Kate Mara. Directed by Antoine Fuqua. 120 minutes. Rated R.

Living in seclusion high in the mountains following a bungled mission in Ethiopia, former gunnery sergeant Bob Lee Swagger (Wahlberg) is approached by a trio of government operatives who say their intelligence indicates that a sniper intends to assassinate the U.S. president in a few weeks. Could he possibly provide them with a detailed blueprint for such an attempt? Swagger is soon running for his life, assisted only by the widow of his former spotter (Mara) and a rookie FBI agent (Peña). Fuqua seems unsure whether he’s making a caustic examination of real-world corruption and duplicity or a black-and-white Nietzschean fantasy, and winds up with a preposterous thriller that further insults your intelligence by purporting to address hard and unpleasant truths about the world we live in. –MD

Slow Burn (Not reviewed)

Ray Liotta, LL Cool J, Jolene Blaylock. Directed by Wayne Beach. 93 minutes. Rated R.

A district attorney (Liotta) is involved in a 24-hour showdown with a gang leader (LL Cool J) and is at the same time being manipulated by an attractive assistant district attorney (Blalock).

TMNT **1/2

Voices of James Arnold Taylor, Nolan North, Sarah Michelle Gellar, Chris Evans. Directed by Kevin Munroe. 89 minutes. Rated PG.

Munroe wisely sidesteps a reiteration of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles’ origin, but he also dispatches with archvillain Shredder in a prologue, leaving the four heroes (Leonardo, Michelangelo, Donatello, Raphael) to fight a poorly defined supernatural threat, headed by an industrialist voiced by Patrick Stewart. It’s a Saturday-morning-quality take on the characters at best, with unremarkable CGI and a pedestrian, often boring story. –JB

Wild Hogs ***

John Travolta, Martin Lawrence, Tim Allen, William H. Macy. Directed by Walt Becker. 99 minutes. Rated PG-13.

 Wild Hogs is about four guys who set off on a motorcycle trip across America. The road trip is inspired by the midlife crises of the four friends. The plot works methodically to solve these problems as soon as they’re introduced, without the slightest touch of subtlety. So the film’s intro, with its predictable dialogue drowning in the overly sentimental score, doesn’t bode well. But something wondrous happens. As soon as their hogs hit the highway, the movie becomes consistently funny. –MSH

JMA Jeffrey M. Anderson; JB Josh Bell; MD Mike D’Angelo; MH Mark Holcomb; MSH Matthew Scott Hunter; SO Sean O’Connell; BS Benjamin Spacek

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