Outtakes

Short reviews of movies playing throughout the Tampa Bay area.

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THE PRINCESS BLADE (R) The Princess Blade is a beautifully made but not particularly original blend of post-apocalyptic atmosphere, action and sentimentality. Former pop star Yumiko Shaku stars as an assassin who turns against her clan when she discovers they've betrayed her — a concept sounding a bit like Kill Bill, although Princess Blade handles it in a far more conventional manner, and reveals a surprisingly squishy center. Hong Kong action choreographer Donnie Yu was responsible for the graceful yet muscular sword-fighting sequences, but even that's not quite stellar enough to redeem the movie's tendency towards cliches and heartstring-tugging (beginning and ending with a love story that's pure corn). Also stars Hideaki Ito.

RADIO (PG) Apparently pitched very much in the same territory as The Rookie, this feel-good tale combines sports, soap opera and nostalgia for the kinder, gentler ways of small-town America, circa anytime but now. The same guy who wrote The Rookie supplied the story, in fact, which is based on the actual life of a mentally challenged man whose eternal optimism inspires the local high school football team. Stars Cuba Gooding, Ed Harris and Debra Winger. (Not Reviewed)

RUNAWAY JURY (PG-13) If Runaway Jury is remembered at all, it will be as the movie where longtime screen icons Gene Hackman and Dustin Hoffman finally appeared on screen together for the first time. Other than that, the film is competent and reasonably entertaining fare, but a far cry from remarkable. Hackman is the movie's heavy, an all-seeing but utterly amoral analyst (polite code for jury tamperer), for hire to the highest bidder — which in the case of the high-profile trial he's currently trying to sway, happens to be the gun industry. Hackman's counterpart is Dustin Hoffman, who plays a highly principled and incorruptible (no laughing now) lawyer trying to make the gun industry pay for years of getting away with murder. Hoffman must really believe in the movie's anti-gun message or must have received a truly staggering paycheck for his performance here (possibly both), because it's hard to fathom otherwise why he took on such a bland, underwritten role. The story — a series of trial-related double and triple crosses — is engaging enough and sometimes even modestly exciting, but almost never particularly memorable. Another classic empty-calorie thriller based on a John Grisham book. Also stars John Cusack and Rachel Weisz.

THE RUNDOWN (PG-13) A mission to rescue a wacky rich kid plops a "retrieval expert" (celebrity beefcake The Rock) in the middle of a mess involving a jungle dictator (Christopher Walken), a nefarious master plan, a bunch of sex-crazed monkeys and a very hot local (Rosario Dawson). Also stars Sean William Scott. (Not Reviewed)

SCARY MOVIE 3 (PG-13) The third installment of David Zucker's popular horror-spoof franchise arrives complete with obligatory raunchy-silly nods to Hollywood's latest crop of fright flicks. Expect the jokes to take on The Ring and Signs, among others. Stars Anna Faris, Charlie Sheen and Anthony Anderson. (Not Reviewed)

THE SCHOOL OF ROCK (PG-13) Rocker Jack Black (Tenacious D), in this new Richard Linklater film, is a harmless but not terribly talented slacker who wants to rock so hard it's practically heartbreaking, and pulls off a scam that allows him to get paid for secretly teaching "Smoke on the Water" to nerdy students at an elite prep school. In lesser hands this could have been Kindergarten Cop, but Linklater makes most of it work, albeit not in a laugh-out-loud Dazed and Confused sort of way. Also stars Joan Cusack, Sarah Silverman and Mike White (Chuck & Buck), who also wrote the script.

SEABISCUIT (PG-13) Seabiscuit chronicles the over achieving stallion that captured America's fancy during the height of the Great Depression. This sentimental drama focuses on the three diverse people in Seabiscuit's life, who team up to conquer long odds. Fire-blooded jockey Red Pollard (Tobey Maguire), eccentric trainer Tom Smith (Chris Cooper) and nice-guy owner Charles Howard (Jeff Bridges) work together to take the horse all the way to the top. The film's relatable characters and attention-grabbing race scenes prove that a historical sports drama can gallop ahead of other summer blockbusters. 1/2 —Chris Berger

SECONDHAND LIONS (PG) This instant family classic stars Haley Joel Osment as young Walter, who learns how to be a man as his eccentric and wealthy uncles (Michael Caine and Robert Duvall) learn how to care for a child. Abandoned at the old men's farm by his mother (Kyra Sedgwick), Walter develops a relationship with his uncles through their endless storytelling and encourages them to buy items from door-to-door salesmen, including a yacht, a lion and a plane. Caine and Duvall give unique performances, while Osment is a bit clueless and stiff in this humorous and definitely appropriate movie the entire family can appreciate. 1/2—Emily Anderson

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