A Beautiful Mind (PG-13) A Russell Crowe performance that has Oscar written all over it is the main reason to see this atypically twisty Ron Howard production about an emotionally fragile genius whose life spins out of control in all sorts of unexpected ways. The movie's later sections feel a little too close for comfort to a disease-of-the-week movie, and the whole thing could be shortened by at least 20 minutes, but A Beautiful Mind is still rarely less than engaging
Beauty and the Beast (G) The modern Disney classic is alive with great scenes, songs and characters, and features a script by turns clever and emotionally resonant, and stripped down the essence of its timeless tale. Playing at IMAX Dome Theater and at Channelside Cinemas IMAX. Call theaters to confirm.
Big Trouble (PG-13) Barry Sonnenfeld's latest throws together a bullying, neo-conservative foot fetishist, his extremely dissatisfied wife, a recently divorced dad, a pair of squabbling cops, two bumbling scumbags who wind up accidentally stealing a nuclear bomb (thereby kicking into high gear whatever passes for plot here), a large toad who causes more than one of the movie's characters to experience psychedelic visions involving Martha Stewart, and a couple of teens whose speech and general demeanor are so deadpan they make the kids from Ghost World seem like Robin Williams on crystal meth. Oh, and did we mention the hit men? As with so many professional killers in movies like Big Trouble, these guys possess an absurdly elevated knowledge of trivia, and say and do the last things we would expect them to. Sonnenfeld's zany, dark-ish ensemble comedy is very much in the tradition of the director's Get Shorty, and most of the writing is generally very funny, in a relentlessly quirky sort of way (just as you'd expect from a project closely based on a Dave Barry book). All of the sundry characters bounce around merrily during the movie's blessedly brief 80-some minute running time, with their life paths occasionally intersecting and eventually colliding en masse at the film's point of no return. Stars Tim Allen, Dennis Farina, Janeane Garofalo, Jason Lee, Rene Russo, Tom Sizemore, Stanley Tucci and Patrick Warburton.(
Blade II (R) Wesley Snipes returns as Marvel Comics' hybrid human-vampire super-hero in a sequel that's decidedly scarier — and gorier — than the original. The movie's vampiric villains are an arresting mix of classic Eastern European bloodsuckers and neo-Cronenberg-ian walking biological horrors, the Prague locations drip atmosphere, and the story, while not exactly elaborate, boasts an interesting enough premise: Blade enters into an uneasy alliance with his arch foes in order to eliminate a deadly new mutant strain of uber-vampires. (
Changing Lanes (R) The almost-always interesting Michael Tolkin (The Rapture, The New Age) is one of the screenwriters behind this project, which makes it all the more frustrating that the studio didn't screen it in time for Weekly Planet deadlines. Ben Affleck and Samuel L. Jackson star as two very different types of men who wind up literally crashing into each other in a fender bender that escalates into a cat and mouse game where each seeks nothing less than the other's destruction. Opens April 12 at local theaters.
Clockstoppers (PG) Take the girls and boys after an afternoon at Limited II and the arcade to see this youthful entertainment; however, we're not saying for sure if you, the parents/babysitter/sucker, will enjoy it. The Nickelodeon film centers on teenager Zak (Jesse Bradford) who inadvertently freezes time. Also stars Paula Garces, Jonathan Frakes, French Stewart, Michael Biehn and Julia Sweeney.
Death to Smoochy (R) Danny DeVito's noisy and very dark comedy stars Edward Norton as a new age-y rube with a fetish for ethics, who dons a fuschia rhino suit and becomes a popular kiddie TV show host so sweetly innocuous he makes Barney look dangerous. Norton finds himself swimming upstream in a sea of corruption and nastiness, from the deranged former kiddie show host who's stalking him (Robin Williams) to his double-dealing agent (DeVito) and bitchy producer (Catherine Keener), to a charitable foundation for kids that recalls al-Qaida on a bad day. The film is cleverly cast (Norton is spot-on and Williams' overacting actually makes sense in this context) and there are quite a few genuinely funny moments, but the story feels like an early draft that could have used some more work tying all the elements together. (
The Devil's Backbone (R) A densely textured, elaborately imagined ghost story in which the most resonant horrors turn out to be not just of supernatural (although they're in there as well), but also psychological and social: greed, murder, betrayal and a whole gamut of human ills associated with the plague of war. The Devil's Backbone takes place during the final days of the Spanish Civil War, in an isolated orphanage populated by the children of dead rebels, and haunted by a restless spirit as poignant as it is creepy. The writer and director of The Devil's Backbone is the talented Mexican-born filmmaker Guillermo Del Toro, and this is his most personal and best film since Cronos. (