Malcolm McDowell, Dr. Seuss and more

New and current releases

OPENING THIS WEEK

DOOMSDAY (R) The new film from talented writer-director Neil Marshall (The Descent, Dog Soldiers) arrives without much buzz or even a chance for critics to review it, but we'll ignore the danger signs and hope for the best. This one's an action thriller set in a future where humankind faces imminent disaster. Stars Rhona Mitra, Chris Robson, Bob Hoskins and Malcolm McDowell. Opens March 14 at local theaters. (Not Reviewed)

FUNNY GAMES (R) Read Lance Goldenberg's review.

HORTON HEARS A WHO! (G) Dr. Seuss is in the house again, with a feature-length adaptation of his tale about a very large elephant who gets in trouble when he pledges himself to protect a very tiny group of fellow creatures. Don't look between the lines for political allegories, and you might have a swell time. Featuring the voices of Jim Carrey, Steve Carell, Will Arnett, Carol Burnett, Isla Fisher, Amy Poehler, Jaime Pressly and Seth Rogan. Opens March 14 at local theaters. (Not Reviewed)

YOUTH WITHOUT YOUTH (R) Read Lance Goldenberg's review.

RECENT RELEASES

10,000 B.C. (PG-13) 10,000 B.C. is the latest movie from Roland Emmerich, the man responsible for bombast-fests such as Independence Day, Godzilla and The Day After Tomorrow, which should give you a fairly good idea of what to expect. Steven Strait and Camilla Belle play early humans running around in animal furs chasing and being chased by saber tooth tigers, wooly mammoths and other big, scary CGI creatures. There are some appealingly bizarre flourishes toward the end involving possible extraterrestrial influences on a quasi-Mayan/Egyptian civilization, but the movie is mainly just dull, silly (although not enough to be truly amusing) and a bit pretentious. Inexplicably, our grimy, dreadlocked heroes speak a stilted, prosaic English from a time when contractions apparently had not yet been invented. Also stars Cliff Curtis, Joel Fry, Tim Barlow and Nathanael Baring.

ALVIN AND THE CHIPMUNKS (PG) You might expect that Dave Seville's singing rodents would have to be dragged kicking and screaming into the 21st century, but they make the transition fairly painlessly thanks to this sweet and occasionally amusing big-screen outing. Jason Lee stars as the aspiring songwriter who learns about family and responsibility (and all the other things people are supposed to learn in movies like this) when a trio of talking chipmunks moves into his house and turns his world upside down. The CGI is fairly high quality, and the fart and poop jokes are held to a blessed minimum, but even at not-quite 90 minutes, the movie feels padded, and the last act drags on for what seems like forever. On the up side, the hip-hop beat grafted onto "Witchdoctor" isn't quite as ridiculous as you might imagine. Also stars David Cross, Cameron Richardson, Jane Lynch and Ross Bagdasarian. 2.5 stars

THE BANK JOB (R) Although it's neither as engagingly moody as Layer Cake nor as cleverly stylish as Guy Ritchie's output, The Bank Job makes for a nice addition to the current crop of British crime dramas. Jason Statham (Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels) stars as Terry, a small-time thief who's talked into pulling off the titular heist by a former girlfriend (Saffron Burrows) with a suitcase full of ulterior motives. What Terry and his crew of East End bumblers don't know is that, in addition to the millions of pounds stored in the bank they're targeting, the safe deposit boxes contain blackmail photos of highly ranked Brits that a number of shadowy figures are all too ready to kill for. Based on a series of actual events that took place in the early '70s, The Bank Job captures the feel of the period nicely, but is curiously workmanlike in the way it lays out the details of its fascinating and somewhat convoluted story. Seductions and betrayals pile up steadily but without much fanfare for much of the movie's running time, and it's only in its final act, as the violence approaches Tarantino-esque levels, that The Bank Job begins to fully come alive. Also stars Stephen Campbell Moore, Peter De Jersey, Daniel Mays, James Faulkner and Alki David. 3 stars

BE KIND REWIND (PG-13) The latest movie from Michel Gondry, director of The Science of Sleep and Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, largely avoids the provocative, in-your-face artistry of those earlier films, but it's a uniquely entertaining project that only Gondry could have made. Filled with charmingly cheesy special effects that reveal an abiding affection for the raw, the retro and all the dusty, unloved relics of pop culture, Be Kind Rewind takes place, naturally enough, in a video rental store, where all the tapes have been inadvertently erased. This leads to a harebrained scheme where Mos Def and Jack Black replace all of the store's videos with their own homegrown, shot-on-the-fly versions — super-amateurish but heartfelt productions that become inexplicably popular with everyone who sees them. Be Kind Rewind rails against big, formulaic Hollywood movies in a way that's as clever as it is subtle, and it takes the piss out of movies with "heart" while eventually becoming one itself. Gondry has made better films before, but he's never made one so sweet and simply enjoyable we barely notice how truly subversive it is. Also stars Danny Glover, Mia Farrow, Melonie Diaz and Sigourney Weaver. 3.5 stars

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