The Adventures of Pluto Nash (PG-13) The worst movie of the summer, for sure, and quite possibly the stinkiest thang of the whole year. Everything you've heard about Pluto Nash is true. Ostensibly a comedy, there's barely one healthy laugh in the entire mess, which plays out like the most boring, unimaginative sci-fi action movie you might ever be unlucky enough to see. Eddie Murphy stars as an interstellar night club owner on the run from a shadowy underworld figure. Also stars Randy Quaid and Rosario Dawson.
Austin Powers in Goldmember (PG-13) The least fabulous of all the Powers entries to date but still good, disposable fun. Goldmember is really just a loosely connected series of gags, routines and set pieces (not that the other two movies weren't) with much of the humor coming off as more raunchy and obsessively screwier than ever. As usual, Dr. Evil and Mini-Me steal the show, although Myers gets off a few good licks with the latest addition to his roster of villains, the revolting and thoroughly irritating title character. Highlights include a brief trip back in time to 1975, a quick visit to swingin' Tokyo and, best of all, a series of cameos that begin and end the film on such a high note that everything else feels just a little flat. Stars Mike Myers, Beyonce Knowles, Michael York and Seth Green.
Australia: Land Beyond Time (PG) The film takes us Down Under to the flattest, driest continent on earth, immerses us in parched, otherworldly landscapes and introduces us to tons of incredibly odd and supremely adaptable animals — from cute koalas and feisty dingoes, to an endless variety of bizarrely shaped lizards, to the amazing and little-understood kangaroo. Animal lovers will want to pounce on this one.
Blood Work (R) Clint Eastwood's latest is a workmanlike and wholly unremarkable thriller about a retired FBI agent with a brand new heart transplant and a serial killer on his tail. Eastwood stars and directs and, as in almost all of his films, there are some nicely detailed, low-key moments here. Most of the movie is far too predictable and very close to being an outright bore, however, and there are several dramatic moments that wind up seeming unintentionally funny (one being old Clint's lovemaking scene with yet another starlet 30 years his junior). Also starring Jeff Daniels, Anjelica Huston, Wanda De Jesus and Tina Lifford.
Blue Crush (PG-13) For all its faults, this is one surf movie that takes its cue more from Bruce Brown's Endless Summer than from Baywatch. Offering a glimpse into the lives of a group of young female surfers in Oahu, Blue Crush is a fairly interesting movie when it's just following its characters around. When the film attempts to tell us a story — something about finding love, regaining your confidence and becoming the best darned surfer in the word — it's predictable, shallow and not very good. The movie is unusually watchable, though, for such a lame narrative. It pays consistently close, respectful attention to the ins and outs of surf culture, from the beauty and sheer power of the sport to the particulars of the young, Twinkie-gobbling high school dropouts who are its devotees. Stars Kate Bosworth, Michelle Rodriguez, Matthew Davis and Sanoe Lake.
The Bourne Identity (PG-13) Matt Damon plays an amnesiac who also just happens to be a world-class fighter, linguist, escape artist — in fact, he pretty much possesses all the skills of a top-notch spy/sleuth/assassin. Complicating matters is the fact that, even as he tries to reclaim his memory, Damon's being hunted by the ultimate bad guys who appear to be his old bosses — our old pals, the CIA. The Bourne Identity is basically an action movie, but it's an overly murky one that lacks a real sense of urgency or purpose.
City by the Sea (PG-13) Coincidences and emotional baggage are piled on to predictably numbing effect in City by the Sea, director Michael Caton-Jones workmanlike tale of crime, urban decay and familial dysfunction. Robert De Niro stars as a Manhattan cop who moved away from the now deteriorating community of Long Beach when his marriage went bad. Now, many years later, De Niro's character is emotionally distant to his current girlfriend (Frances McDormand) and investigating a murder in which it just so happens the primary suspect is none other than his estranged, junkie son (James Franco). The movie is populated by characters with names like Snake and Spider, and full of images of ruined buildings and other physical signifiers of the various wasted lives on display (De Niro keeps remarking, This place used to be so bee-yoo-tiful). The plot moves along in an overly transparent, slightly clunky manner, and, outside of Franco, none of the actors turn in particularly memorable performances. De Niro isn't bad here but, frankly, his performance is mostly just another reminder that this is a man who stopped caring a long time ago about being a great actor. On the other hand, there's not much room for greatness here. De Niro's role in City by the Sea isn't one that really demands much beyond just showing up and facing the camera. Also stars Eliza Dushku. Opens Sept. 6 at local theaters.