Outtakes

Short reviews of movies playing throughout the Tampa Bay area.

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CRADLE 2 THE GRAVE (R) A slick, stylish but basically silly and sub-generic heist/kidnap movie that teams up rapper-turned-"actor" DMX with Asian action icon Jet Li. The chemistry of the pairing is less than zero (which also sums up DMX's screen presence), but Li — when he's in motion, kicking out the kung fu jams — continues to be a thing of super-cool beauty, never breaking a sweat and hardly ever cracking a smile. A problematic command of the English language is still the main reason Li's not a bigger star, though, not that anything he says in this forgettable effort is remotely important. You know a movie's in trouble when Tom Arnold shows up and all but steals the show. Also stars Mark Dacascos and Gabrielle Union. Opens Feb. 28 at local theaters. 1/2

DAREDEVIL (PG-13) The latest Marvel superhero to hit the big screen is by far the most dour and exquisitely tormented of them all. "I'm not the bad guy," Daredevil tells us (and himself), but that's debatable, considering how much he obviously relishes inflicting pain upon the scummy law-breakers scurrying through the city. A blind lawyer by day, a costumed, super-power vigilante by night, Daredevil has a thirst for justice that borders on the pathological, so that our vicious, crime-fighting hero often seems to have crossed the line from self-doubting neurotic (a la Spider-Man) to full-blown nutcase. Daredevil is a violent, relentlessly downbeat and dark movie on almost every level (amazingly, it wasn't rated "R"), often coming across like Death Wish crossed with vintage film noir, with just a bit of extreme sports thrown in the mix. Ben Affleck is surprisingly effective as the tortured title character, and he's surrounded by a well-cast ensemble including Jon Favreau, Michael Clarke Duncan and Colin Farrell. Only a handful of overly cartoon-y moments and a generic soundtrack mar the final effect. Also stars Jennifer Garner. 1/2

DARK BLUE (R) Ron Shelton sets his new thriller at the time of the Rodney King trial, and the movie's tale of police corruption and racial divisions dovetails neatly (a little too neatly) with that very public event. Kurt Russell stars as a hardboiled Los Angeles cop battling his inner demons while tracking down some killers and getting sucked deeper and deeper into the messy politics of the LAPD. The movie gets the details right, painting the various black, white, Korean and Mexican L.A. subcultures in vivid colors, but fails to supply a script that offers much in the way of surprises or originality. The overly broad strokes used to depict the shady process by which cops, judges and lawyers do things may well be accurate, but the lack of narrative subtlety drags the movie down. Also stars Ving Rhames, Scott Speedman and Brendan Gleeson.

DARKNESS FALLS (PG-13) As a child, Kyle (Cheney Kley) has a brush with the curse of Darkness Falls, a creature that kills anyone who sees its face and that can only attack in the dark. He returns to the town years later when his childhood friend Caitlin (Emma Caulfield) asks him to help her brother Michael (Lee Cormie), who has suddenly become deathly afraid of the dark. The story is fast-paced, creepy and original, and the special effects, mainly brief glimpses of the creature and the sounds of its sighs and wails, round out a well-crafted movie. Darkness Falls is enough to make anyone at least a teensy bit scared of the dark. —Ana Lopez

DELIVER US FROM EVA (R) LL Cool J stars as a ladies' man hired by three frustrated brothers to romance their domineering, bad-tempered sister-in-law (Gabrielle Union). The movie is not unlike one of those dumb, contemporary romantic comedies for white teenagers, reconfigured for a somewhat older, African-American target audience. Most of Deliver Us From Eva happens on one note — loud, predictable and shallow — so that it's actually shocking in those rare moments when the movie calms down and shows us its characters' sensitive sides. Also stars Essence Atkins, Robinne Lee and Meagan Good.

DIE ANOTHER DAY (PG-13) It's a long way from Once Were Warriors for director Lee Tamahori, who helms this latest Bond blowout in which 007 tracks traitors and terrorists from North Korea to Cuba to Iceland. The plot's pretty convoluted (as all the recent Bonds have been), some of the CGI effects are awfully cheesy, and the movie overstays its welcome by a good 20 minutes. Stars Pierce Brosnan, Halle Berry, Rosamund Pike and Stephen Yune. 1/2

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