Capsule reviews of recently released movies

Shrek the Third, 28 Weeks Later, Hot Fuzz

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SHREK THE THIRD (PG) The saga of everybody's favorite bile-hued ogre continues, with Mike Myers, Eddie Murphy and Cameron Diaz all reporting for duty once again. There are supposed to be some flying monkeys in this one, and Justin Timberlake's in here too, although you may need a scorecard to tell them apart. Also featuring the voices of Antonio Banderas, Julie Andrews, John Cleese and Rupert Everett. Opens May 18 at local theaters. (Not Reviewed)


28 WEEKS LATER (R) 28 Weeks Later is largely headache-inducing stuff — frenetic, synapse-shredding, strobe-light-and-amyl-nitrate horror. The movie picks up some months after its predecessor (28 Days Later), with the zombie-inducing epidemic of the original film apparently contained and American-led NATO forces moving in to help rebuild a devastated Britain. Everything soon enough goes to hell, of course, and the bulk of the film is pure chaos, as masses of frightened human survivors and infected, flesh-craving zombies run amok through the streets of London, and confused U.S. soldiers stand at a distance firing blindly into the crowds, unable to tell friends from foes. The movie's scenario practically demands a parallel or three with Iraq, but there's very little shape or nuance to what happens here, and what 28 Weeks Later mainly has going for it is some pretty extreme and ugly nihilism (the person we presume to be the hero even runs out on his loved ones in the first scene and, in a particularly dubious bit of pop psychology, later becomes a monstrous daddy-zombie stalking his own children). There are some clever turns here, but the movie mainly just tosses out a series of faceless characters for its zombies to chow down on, all set to a combination of aggressive metal and dreamy, discordant rock of the sort that used to be called alternative. Not much of a beat, but I suppose you could dance to it if you tried. Stars Robert Carlyle, Rose Byrne, Jeremy Renner, Catherine McCormack, Imogen Poots, Makintosh Muggleton and Idris Elba. 2.5 stars

BLIND DATING (PG-13) Did you hear the one about the incredibly handsome, capable blind guy (with basketball skills that make Daredevil and Zatoichi look like klutzes) who also happened to be a 20-something-ish virgin? Well, here it is, in all its well-meaning, pathetically inept anti-glory. Chris Pine stars as Danny, the blind hunk whose raging stereotype of an Italian goomba brother sets him up on a series of, you guessed it, blind dates, each of which turns out to be more predictably awful than the last. Even more awful are our hero's periodic attempts to pass as a "normal" sighted stud, a set-up for some astonishingly embarrassing slapstick and an even more embarrassing turn by Jane Seymour as a therapist who can't seem to keep her clothes on. Wafting through the proceedings is a culture-clash romance in which Danny falls for an Indian girl who's expected to marry one of her own and a melodramatic subplot involving the protagonist volunteering for a dangerous experimental operation to restore his sight. Pine is passable in the lead role, and Anjali Jay is a likeable enough object of desire, but virtually everything else about Blind Dating is too bogus to be believed. Also stars Eddie Kaye Thomas, Stephen Tobolowsky and Pooch Hall. 1.5 stars

FRACTURE (R) Although this is basically just a pumped-up version of one of those old Alfred Hitchcock Presents TV episodes about trying to get away with the perfect crime, Fracture works best when it's pretending to be The Silence of the Lambs, minus the fava beans and tasty liver. Ryan Gosling takes the Jodie Foster role (complete with down-home accent and humble beginnings), a law-abiding golden boy playing, and mostly losing at, a game of wits with a brilliant psychopath — portrayed by none other than Anthony Hopkins. Hopkins hams it up in fine, Lecter-ish style, right down to the creepy little facial ticks and reptilian stare (accented by ghoulish low-key lighting straight out of Silence). In fact, the Lecterisms are so in-your-face that at times the movie seems to be emulating The Freshman's postmodern hat trick with Brando's tongue-in-cheek reprise of his iconic Godfather role. There's ultimately nothing remotely postmodern or self-reflective about Fracture, however, and it soon becomes clear that the movie is simply cashing in on a registered trademark. That said, you could do worse. It's so entertaining watching Hopkins oozing his creepy charisma that we hardly notice all the plot holes and lack of gravitas around him. Also stars Rosamund Pike, Embeth Davidtz, Billy Burke and David Straithairn. 3 stars

GEORGIA RULE (R) Two of the actresses you love to hate — Lindsay Lohan and Jane Fonda — are among the three featured female leads here. That, along with the fact that the high-testosterone Spider-Man 3 is the only other game in town this week, should insure this movie attracts an audience of sorts, whether it be those seeking a car crash or a chick flick. As it happens, Georgia Rule is a bit of both. Felicity Huffman makes up the final third of the movie's female triad, playing a boozy Californian who sends her out-of-control teenaged daughter (Lohan) to spend the summer in Nowheresville, Idaho, with Huffman's estranged, iron-willed mother (Fonda). Director Garry Marshall (Pretty Woman, Runaway Bride) mercilessly milks the shtick resulting from three generations of feuding mothers and daughters, but the conflicts are mostly too tidy, the personalities too rigid, and every other gesture over-enunciated, like a so-so play, stiffly executed and slapped up on the screen. The movie begins by throwing out streams of strident humor (much of it rooted in the promiscuity of Lohan's character), then abruptly shifts gears to heavy drama without having much of a handle on either. It's like randomly channel surfing from Steel Magnolias to Porky's to some faceless Lifetime Movie of the Week, and rest assured that there will be hugs all around if you wait long enough for them. Also stars Dermot Mulroney, Garrett Hedlund and Cary Elwes. 2 stars

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