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Reviews

Short takes

King Lines plays as part of the Reel Rock Film Tour

October 5 at the Clark County Library.

SPECIAL SCREENINGS

Cover Girl

Rita Hayworth, Gene Kelly, Lee Bowman. Directed by Charles Vidor. 107 minutes. Not rated.

Rusty Parker (Hayworth) wins a contest and becomes a celebrated cover girl; this endangers her romance with dancing mentor Danny (Kelly). Clark County Library, 1401 E. Flamingo Road, 507-3400. 10/9, 1 pm, free.

The Grapes of Wrath

Henry Fonda, Jane Darwell, John Carradine. Directed by John Ford. 128 minutes. Not rated.

A poor Midwestern family is forced off of their land. They travel to California, suffering the misfortunes of the homeless in the Great Depression. Whitney Library, 5175 E. Tropicana Ave., 507-4010. 10/7, 11:30 am, free.

IMAX Theatre

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

Call for showtimes. $11.99 each show.

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

Lemming

Laurent Lucas, Charlotte Gainsbourg, Charlotte Rampling. Directed by Dominik Moll. 129 minutes. Not rated. In French with English subtitles.

Tech inventor Alain (Lucas) and his sweet-natured wife (Gainsbourg) invite the former’s boss and his frigid partner over for dinner. When Alain finds a dead rodent in a drain pipe, the unpleasant discovery portends a series of startling revelations. Clark County Library, 1401 E. Flamingo Road, 507-3400. 10/9, 7 pm, free.

Monster House

Voices of Mitchel Musso, Sam Lerner, Spencer Locke. Directed by Gil Kenan. 91 minutes. Rated PG.

Three teens discover that their neighbor’s house is really a living, breathing monster. The District at Green Valley Ranch, 2300 Paseo Verde Parkway, Henderson, 564-8595. 10/5, 7 pm, free.

The Mummy

Brendan Fraser, Rachel Weisz, Arnold Vosloo. Directed by Stephen Sommers. 124 minutes. Rated PG-13.

Fraser plays an American serving in the French Foreign Legion who, on an archaeological dig at the ancient city of Hamunaptra, accidentally awakens the Mummy. The District at Green Valley Ranch, 2300 Paseo Verde Parkway, Henderson, 564-8595. 10/6, 7 pm, free.

Poltergeist

Craig T. Nelson, Jobeth Williams, Heather O’Rourke. Directed by Tobe Hooper. 114 minutes. Rated PG.

A family’s home is haunted by ghosts. Restored print followed by 15-minute documentary on real-life poltergeists. Regal Cinemas Village Square, Colonnade, 221-2283. 10/4, 7:30 pm, $10. Info: www.fathomevents.com.

Reel Rock Film Tour

Showcase of films related to climbing and the outdoors, including King Lines, featuring climber Chris Sharma. Clark County Library, 1401 E. Flamingo Road, 507-3400. 10/5, 7 pm, 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.

Spookley the Square Pumpkin

Directed by Bernie Denk. 45 minutes. Rated G.

A square pumpkin is treated as an outcast until a storm offers him a chance to save the day. Galaxy Cannery, 2121 E. Craig Road, 639-9779. Thru 10/31, noon, $3.

NEW THIS WEEK

Feel the Noise (Not reviewed)

Omarion Grandberry, Giancarlo Esposito, Victor Rasuk. Directed by Alejandro Chomski. 86 minutes. Rated PG-13.

After a run-in with local thugs, aspiring Harlem rapper Rob (Grandberry) flees to a place and father (Esposito) he never knew, and finds his salvation in reggaeton music. Puerto Rico, the spiritual home of reggaeton, inspires Rob and his half-brother Javi (Rasuk) to pursue their dream of becoming reggaeton stars.

The Heartbreak Kid ** 1/2

Ben Stiller, Michelle Monaghan, Malin Akerman. Directed by Peter Farrelly and Bobby Farrelly. 115 minutes. Rated R.

See review.

The Jane Austen Book Club ***

Maria Bello, Emily Blunt, Kathy Baker, Amy Brenneman. Directed by Robin Swicord. 105 minutes. Rated PG-13.

See review.

The Seeker: The Dark Is Rising (Not reviewed)

Alexander Ludwig, Ian McShane, Frances Conroy. Directed by David L. Cunningham. 94 minutes. Rated PG.

An 11-year-old boy (Ludwig) learns that he is the last of a group of immortal warriors who have defended the Earth from evil forces throughout history.

NOW PLAYING

2 Days in Paris *** 1/2

Julie Delpy, Adam Goldberg. Directed by Julie Delpy. 96 minutes. Rated R.

Right from the start, Marion (Delpy) and her boyfriend of two years, Jack (Goldberg), are less than wholly sympathetic. New Yorkers who’ve just completed a whirlwind tour of Venice, they’re making a quick stop in Paris so that Jack can meet Marion’s family for the first time. There’s a fine line, obviously, between endearingly neurotic and insufferably self-absorbed, but 2 Days in Paris manages to spend most of its time on the more pleasant side, while at the same time acknowledging Jack and Marion’s less amusing idiosyncrasies. –MD

3:10 to Yuma *** 1/2

Christian Bale, Russell Crowe, Logan Lerman. Directed by James Mangold. 117 minutes. Rated R.

Crowe plays bandit Ben Wade as an alluring commander of men. His “pack of dogs” follow him anywhere, but at the same time, he looks about ready to retire. When Wade is captured, the debt-ridden farmer Dan Evans (Bale) agrees—for a substantial reward—to escort him to the train bound for Yuma Prison, with Wade’s men hot on their trail. Mangold directs with a B-movie energy and a minimum of fuss. The characters, far from white-hatted good guys and mustached bad guys, dwell in uncomfortable gray areas, constantly asking themselves complex moral questions. –JMA

Balls of Fury ** 1/2

Dan Fogler, Christopher Walken, George Lopez. Directed by Robert Ben Garant. 90 minutes. Rated PG-13.

The film focuses on a mysterious ping-pong tournament, led by nefarious underworld figure Master Feng (Walken, in full-on self-parody mode). Years ago, Feng killed the father of former ping-pong champion Randy Daytona (Fogler), and now Randy has teamed up with FBI agent Ernie Rodriguez (Lopez) to infiltrate the tournament and bring down Feng’s criminal empire. By the end, Garant loses even the pretense of coherence, and what could have been a surreal and, yes, ballsy satire turns out to be just another dumb, lowbrow comedy. –JB

Becoming Jane ** 1/2

Anne Hathaway, James McAvoy, Julie Walters. Directed by Julian Jarrold. 120 minutes. Rated PG.

Jane Austen fans, be warned: Becoming Jane is highly unlikely to teach you anything new about your favorite English novelist of manners; in fact, it may drive you a little bit nuts, since the filmmakers take a rather freewheeling approach to the groundbreaking female author, extrapolating an entire life-altering romance from a few lines in some of Austen’s letters that survived after her death. By reducing Austen’s talent to a somewhat crude cause-and-effect relationship between her writing and her brief courtship with roguish lawyer Tom Lefroy (McAvoy), they do a disservice to Austen’s legacy, as well as to the legions of writers and admirers who look up to her. Mostly, though, they just tell a second-rate Jane Austen story. –JB

The Bourne Ultimatum *** 1/2

Matt Damon, David Strathairn, Joan Allen, Julia Stiles. Directed by Paul Greengrass. 115 minutes. Rated PG-13.

Everything that Jason Bourne (Damon) does is in pursuit of his single goal: to discover who he was and how he became the ruthless government super-agent he no longer wishes to be. In the last movie, Bourne’s girlfriend was killed, and he was framed for the murder of two U.S. agents; after extracting a confession for those crimes from a high-ranking CIA official at the end of The Bourne Supremacy, Bourne is still on the run from the U.S. government, determined to track down the people responsible for his training. Ultimatum is a smart, exciting and stylish mix of 1970s conspiracy thrillers, modern over-the-top action movies and new-world-order espionage like TV’s 24. –JB

The Brave One ***

Jodie Foster, Terrence Howard, Naveen Andrews. Directed by Neil Jordan. 119 minutes. Rated R.

Erica Bain (Foster) is victimized as she walks, blissfully happy, through Central Park with her perfect dog and her perfect fiancé (Andrews). A gang of thugs appears at the dark end of a tunnel, steals the dog and beats both lovers senseless. Erica wakes up in the hospital, but her husband-to-be is gone. She buys a gun and begins to exact her own revenge. Lucky for her, wherever she goes, violence rears its ugly head, and she is able to use her new weapon to punish it. The highly skilled Jordan relies on two very strong performances and their interesting chemistry, as well as a feel for the big city. He presents the material with intelligence. –JMA

The Brothers Solomon (Not reviewed)

Will Arnett, Will Forte, Kristen Wiig. Directed by Bob Odenkirk. 91 minutes. Rated R.

John and Dean Solomon (Arnett, Forte) are kind but lovelorn siblings whose social ineptness stems from childhood years spent in a frozen wasteland. Upon learning that their father’s dying wish is to have a grandchild, the brothers set out to find wives and start families.

Dragon Wars (Not reviewed)

Jason Behr, Robert Forster, Amanda Brooks. Directed by Shim Hyung Rae. 107 minutes. Rated PG-13.

A reporter and a girl stricken with a mysterious illness team to stop the return of ancient evil monsters.

Eastern Promises ***

Viggo Mortensen, Naomi Watts, Vincent Cassel. Directed by David Cronenberg. 100 minutes. Rated R.

Nikolai (Mortensen), a chauffeur and prodigiously tattooed enforcer for the Russian mafia, crosses paths with an English midwife of Russian descent, Anna (Watts), when she begins to investigate the paternity of a baby girl she delivered. The director’s sedate, meticulous aestheticism keeps the story’s inflammatory subject matter—the global sex trade—from tipping over into unpleasant exploitation, while the screenplay’s conscience-driven specificity gives Cronenberg something new with which to work (and helps rein in his more outre impulses). –MH

Feast of Love ***

Morgan Freeman, Greg Kinnear, Radha Mitchell, Billy Burke. Directed by Robert Benton. 102 minutes. Rated R.

All the characters are connected, and each coupling represents another facet of that crazy fool thing the French call l’amour. Adapted from the novel by Charles Baxter, Benton’s latest effort is a 10-course meal that most viewers will quickly come to wish had been served up smorgasbord-style, allowing them to grab the fresh, tasty items and leave the spoiled, rancid ones behind. I can’t remember when I last saw a movie so maddeningly inconsistent, with incisive observations and credible behavior pressed right up next to material so stupid it practically drools. –MD

The Game Plan *

Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, Madison Pettis, Roselyn Sanchez, Kyra Sedgwick. Directed by Andy Fickman. 110 minutes. Rated PG.

Johnson (slowly phasing out his pro-wrestling nickname) gets stuck in the Disney production The Game Plan, doing his best to smile his way through the story of star football player Joe Kingman, who is suddenly saddled with a daughter he never knew he had. Everything that follows is right out of the proverbial playbook, as the two antagonize each other at first and then of course form a strong bond, while both becoming better people. Director Fickman and the three screenwriters drag this inevitability out for close to two hours, with a tiresome back-and-forth of conflicts and reconciliations. –JB

Good Luck Chuck (Not reviewed)

Dane Cook, Jessica Alba, Dan Fogler. Directed by Mark Helfrich. 96 minutes. Rated R.

In order to keep the woman of his dreams (Alba) from falling for another guy, Charlie Logan (Cook) has to break the curse that has made him wildly popular with single women: Sleep with Charlie once, and the next man you meet will be your true love.

Hairspray *** 1/2

Nikki Blonsky, John Travolta, Amanda Bynes, Zac Efron. Directed by Adam Shankman. 117 minutes. Rated PG.

It’s been nearly 20 years since cult filmmaker John Waters cleaned up his act long enough to make Hairspray, the tale of pleasantly plump ’60s teen Tracy Turnblad, who fights to get on a local TV dance show and subsequently fights to desegregate the program. Since then, the beloved cult classic has inspired a hit Broadway musical, which has now inspired another silver-screen treatment, which has inspired John Travolta to dress in heavy latex drag. The songs are quick, catchy and frequent. But while they initially push the narrative forward at a satisfying speed, they eventually slow things down to give everyone some time in the spotlight. –MSH

Halloween ** 1/2

Scout Taylor-Compton, Tyler Mane, Malcolm McDowell. Directed by Rob Zombie. 109 minutes. Rated R.

The primary difference, plot-wise, between Zombie’s new remake of the horror classic Halloween and John Carpenter’s 1978 original is that while Carpenter’s film was a story about suburban babysitter Laurie Strode, Zombie’s film is a story about serial killer Michael Myers. Unfortunately, what makes Michael tick doesn’t turn out to be all that interesting, even though Zombie devotes fully half of his film to teasing it out (Laurie doesn’t show up until almost an hour into the movie). By the time we cut to 15 years later and get introduced to high-schooler Laurie (Taylor-Compton), Michael’s forthcoming actions have been explained so thoroughly that they almost seem beside the point. –JB

Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix ***

Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson, Rupert Grint. Directed by David Yates. 138 minutes. Rated PG-13.

There are at least a few significant things going on in Phoenix, which once again finds Harry (Radcliffe) at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, facing the imminent threat of Voldemort (Ralph Fiennes). When you have a film series that’s seven installments long, eventually you are going to get to the placeholder chapter, and that’s where the Harry Potter series has ended up with its fifth big-screen outing. Longtime Potter fans will probably be eager to forgive Phoenix’s flaws, and even casual viewers will still find plenty to like, but the feeling of marking time, of nothing especially momentous going on in the latest incremental step toward Harry’s final showdown with evil wizard Voldemort, is fairly hard to shake. –JB

In the Valley of Elah ** 1/2

Tommy Lee Jones, Charlize Theron, Susan Sarandon. Directed by Paul Haggis. 121 minutes. Rated R.

A career military man, Hank Deerfield (Jones), gets a call that his soldier son has returned to the U.S. from Iraq but has disappeared. Hank decides to conduct his own investigation, with the help of a lowly but spunky young police detective, Emily Sanders (Theron). The mystery itself is not particularly inspired; it suffers from too many false conclusions. The beautiful cinematography makes the film look professional, but it doesn’t disguise the fact that Haggis isn’t a particularly inspired or visual director. –JMA

The Kingdom *** 1/2

Jamie Foxx, Jennifer Garner, Chris Cooper, Jason Bateman, Ashraf Barhoum. Directed by Peter Berg. 110 minutes. Rated R.

The movie focuses on the aftermath of the bombing of a compound for American workers in Riyadh. Although it takes place in such a volatile area and does address the issue of the American presence in the Middle East, this is not an issue film nearly as much as it is a thriller. Director Berg approaches the events more like something out of a Jack Ryan movie than a sober drama, and rather than seeming annoyingly glib, this technique immediately draws you into the story, putting you right in the shoes of the characters who are left to pick up the pieces. –JB

Ladron Que Roba a Ladron *** 1/2

Fernando Colunga, Miguel Varoni, Julie Gonzalo. Directed by Joe Menendez. 98 minutes. Rated PG-13. In Spanish with English subtitles.

The heist plot revolves around Alejandro (Colunga) and Emilio (Varoni), two honest thieves who decide to rob another thief—infomercial guru Moctesuma Valdez (Saul Lisazo), who has violated some sort of honest thieves’ ethic by selling snakewater to poor, desperate Latino immigrants. The problem is that Alejandro and Emilio are having trouble finding qualified cons to crew their operation. So rather than finding criminals to portray Latino laborers in their scam, they decide to recruit actual Latino laborers to become criminals. The plot structure, style and even music of the film are uncannily similar to Ocean’s Eleven, but as in that movie, it’s a lot of fun watching the various cons and scams play off of and enhance each other until you gradually realize what the grand design is. –MSH

Mr. Bean’s Holiday (Not reviewed)

Rowan Atkinson, Emma de Caunes, Max Baldry. Directed by Steve Bendelack. 90 minutes. Rated PG.

The bumbling Mr. Bean wins a trip to Cannes where he unwittingly separates a young boy from his father and must help the two come back together.

Mr. Woodcock (Not reviewed)

Billy Bob Thornton, Seann William Scott, Susan Sarandon. Directed by Craig Gillespie. 87 minutes. Rated PG-13.

John Farley (Scott), author of a best-selling self-help book about letting go of the past, learns to his horror that his widowed mother (Sarandon) is engaged to be married to none other than Mr. Woodcock (Thornton), the gym teacher whose sadistic exploits were the bane of John’s youth.

The Nanny Diaries ** 1/2

Scarlett Johansson, Laura Linney, Nicholas Art, Alicia Keys. Directed by Shari Springer Berman and Robert Pulcini. 106 minutes. Rated PG-13.

Annie Braddock (Johansson) is a confused college grad with an interest (and a minor) in anthropology. She imagines her subjects as frozen mannequins in a museum, and Berman and Pulcini indulge her fantasies with nifty bits of CGI. By accident, Annie meets her main test subject, Mrs. X (Linney), in Central Park and agrees to be nanny to her son, Grayer (Art). Annie documents the entire experience like a study, although, all too obviously, she becomes too emotionally involved to retain her sense of credibility. Annie’s museum installations and cutting narration eventually dwindle as she learns about everyone’s good, soft center. –JMA

No Reservations ** 1/2

Catherine Zeta-Jones, Aaron Eckhart, Abigail Breslin. Directed by Scott Hicks. 104 minutes. Rated PG.

No Reservations stars Zeta-Jones as New York City chef Kate Armstrong, a no-nonsense taskmaster at work whose personal life is (surprise!) not nearly as focused or together. Off-screen tragedy dumps a little bundle of lesson-learning in her lap, in the form of niece Zoe (Breslin), whose single mother dies in a car accident. Kate also has to contend with her new sous-chef, Nick (Eckhart), a free spirit who likes to play opera CDs while cooking and to whom Zoe takes an instant liking. Will Kate, too, fall for Nick? Only every single person watching the movie knows for sure. Rather than attacking a familiar formula with gusto, No Reservations moves sluggishly from plot point to plot point. –JB

Ratatouille ***

Voices of Patton Oswalt, Lou Romano, Brad Garrett, Janeane Garofalo. Directed by Brad Bird. 110 minutes. Rated G.

It’s a cute and well-animated movie about a Parisian rat named Remy (Oswalt) who has a taste for gourmet food and idolizes a rotund celebrity restaurateur named Gusteau (Garrett). Gusteau’s gone to the great kitchen in the sky, and his eponymous eatery has been taken over by his money-grubbing sous-chef. When Remy finds himself by chance in the restaurant’s kitchen, he inadvertently helps busboy Alfredo Linguini (Romano) create a marvelous dish and becomes a sort of culinary Cyrano de Bergerac to the nervous young man. The plot moves along familiar beats, setting up its conflicts simply and resolving them the same way. –JB

Resident Evil: Extinction (Not reviewed)

Milla Jovovich, Ali Larter, Oded Fehr. Directed by Russell Mulcahy. 95 minutes. Rated R.

Alice (Jovovich), now in hiding in the Nevada desert, once again joins forces with Carlos Olivera and L.J., along with new survivors Claire, K-Mart and Nurse Betty, to try to eliminate the deadly virus that threatens to make every human being undead.

Return With Honor: A Missionary Homecoming (Not reviewed)

Javen Tanner, Joey Jalalian, Tracy Garner. Directed by Michael Amundsen. 105 minutes. Rated PG.

A returning Mormon missionary (Tanner) anxious to reunite with his long time sweetheart (Jalalian), awakens from a near-fatal accident with the new priority of saving his wayward mother.

Rush Hour 3 *

Chris Tucker, Jackie Chan, Yvan Attal. Directed by Brett Ratner. 91 minutes. Rated PG-13.

At the start of this inept, brain-dead new sequel, Tucker’s detective James Carter has been understandably demoted to directing traffic, while Chief Inspector Lee (Chan) has been assigned to protect a Chinese ambassador, who in turn is assigned to bring down the Triads. Of course, the ambassador is murdered, and Carter and Lee find themselves flying to Paris to find a secret list that contains the names of the top 13 Triad leaders. If you can’t make the connection between an assassinated Chinese ambassador and Paris, neither can writer Jeff Nathanson, who leaves plot holes big enough for the Eiffel Tower to pass through. Nathanson and director Ratner’s biggest crime, however, is their inability to combine comedy and action, to say nothing of their ineptitude at each element by itself. –JMA

Shoot ’Em Up * 1/2

Clive Owen, Paul Giamatti, Monica Bellucci. Directed by Michael Davis. 80 minutes. Rated R.

Less than five minutes into Shoot ’Em Up, Owen’s uber-badass hero without a name kills a guy by jamming a carrot through the back of his skull, and then quips, “Eat your vegetables.” If you think that sounds like the awesomest thing ever, then you’ll probably love Shoot ’Em Up, a vulgar, smug and willfully stupid movie that’s both a lazy pseudo-parody of action films and a particularly egregious example of the genre itself. –JB

The Simpsons Movie ***

Voices of Dan Castellaneta, Julie Kavner, Nancy Cartwright, Yeardley Smith. Directed by David Silverman. 87 minutes. Rated PG-13.

There are plenty of laughs in the beginning of the film, which in typical Simpsons fashion takes a circuitous route to the actual plot, and the movie showcases many of the show’s best features, including clever voice cameos (Green Day, Tom Hanks), incisive political satire and hilariously oddball references to obscure bits of culture. Things slow a little as soon as the story kicks into gear, with Simpson patriarch Homer inadvertently sparking an environmental disaster that causes the government to lower a giant dome over Springfield. This feature-length version of the TV show has some snazzier animation but otherwise amounts to a decent oversized episode. –JB

Stardust ** 1/2

Charlie Cox, Claire Danes, Michelle Pfeiffer. Directed by Matthew Vaughn. 128 minutes. Rated PG-13.

The English village Wall is aptly named as it borders a wall beyond which is the mystical realm Stormhold. Residents are forbidden to cross this wall, but an enterprising young man does so anyway, and while on the other side he has a dalliance with a young woman who claims to be an imprisoned princess. Cut to 18 years later, and the product of their union is now the awkward young man Tristan (Cox), your standard peasant boy who is secretly of royal blood. Promising the haughty object of his affection that he will catch her a fallen star, he too jumps the wall and tracks down said star, which in this realm takes the convenient form of a beautiful woman named Yvaine (Danes). There are just too many ill-advised digressions for Stardust to completely work. –JB

Superbad ***

Jonah Hill, Michael Cera, Christopher Mintz-Plasse. Directed by Greg Mottola. 114 minutes. Rated R.

It’s a major coup when high-school losers Seth (Hill) and Evan (Cera), scant days before graduation, score an invitation to a honest-to-goodness party—the kind with cute girls. Except that Seth, desperate to impress, has volunteered to supply the booze, and neither he nor Evan has ever bothered to secure a fake ID. Enter Fogell (Mintz-Plasse), the school überdork, who’s just secured a driver’s license that proclaims him to be of drinking age. While there are a few deliberately outrageous set pieces, Superbad has a shambling, discursive sensibility that closely approximates the semistructured world of the fumbling adolescent. And the comedy isn’t cheap, even when it’s crass. –MD

Sydney White (Not reviewed)

Amanda Bynes, Sara Paxton, Matt Long. Directed by Joe Nussbaum. 90 minutes. Rated PG-13.

College freshman Sydney White (Bynes) is determined to pledge her late mother’s sorority. Unfortunately, she finds that the sisterhood has changed since her parent’s day. Banished to a condemned house, Sydney joins forces with seven outcasts to take over the student government and win equal rights for nerd and noted alike.

The Ten ** 1/2

Paul Rudd, Famke Janssen, Ken Marino, Winona Ryder. Directed by David Wain. 95 minutes. Rated R.

Former members of the comedy troupe The State, Wain and Marino return to their sketch-comedy roots with The Ten, an intermittently funny anthology film very loosely based on the Ten Commandments. Written by Wain and Marino and directed by Wain, The Ten features many of the strengths that marked the brief but fondly remembered run of The State TV show, including a healthy sense of the absurd and an anything-goes enthusiasm. But like too many of the myriad projects from various combinations of State alums, it also lacks focus and relies on perceived shock value over genuine cleverness. –JB

Transformers **

Shia LaBeouf, Megan Fox, Jon Voight, Josh Duhamel. Directed by Michael Bay. 140 minutes. Rated PG-13.

Giant robots that beat each other up are inherently exciting, so it’s frustrating to see the filmmakers behind this behemoth actually turn such a premise into something tedious and boring, stretched out to nearly two-and-a-half hours and saddled with a tone too somber for camp and too silly to be taken seriously. Basically, there’s this thing that’s really important, and both the good guys and the bad guys are after it. Given the relative simplicity of the story and fans’ desire to see as much hot robot-on-robot action as possible, it’s baffling that Bay and his writers pace the movie so slowly, with numerous diversions and dull sidetracks delaying the inevitable Autobot/Decepticon showdown. –JB

Underdog (Not reviewed)

Peter Dinklage, Patrick Warburton, voices of Jason Lee, Amy Adams.

Directed by Frederik Du Chau. 84 minutes. Rated PG.

A lab accident gives a hound named Shoeshine super powers—a secret that the dog eventually shares with the young boy who becomes his owner and friend.

War (Not reviewed)

Jet Li, Jason Statham, John Lone. Directed by Philip G. Atwell. 103 minutes. Rated R.

An FBI Agent seeks vengeance on a mysterious assassin known as “Rogue” who murdered his partner.

JMA Jeffrey M. Anderson; JB Josh Bell; MD Mike D’Angelo; MH Mark Holcomb; MSH Matthew Scott Hunter

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