Capsule reviews of recently released movies


PULSE (PG-13) Japanese horror movies are still hot, so here's the latest Hollywood remake. Kristen Bell and Ian Somerhalder suspect they may have stumbled upon a supernatural website in this remake of a 1991 film by Asian auteur Kiyoshi Kurosawa (Cure). Also stars Christina Milian. Opens Aug. 11 at local theaters. (Not Reviewed)

ZOOM (PG) Tim Allen is an over-the-hill, super-powered teacher at a school for budding young superheroes. No, it's not Sky High and it's certainly not an X-Men movie. It only seems that way. Also stars Courteney Cox, Rip Torn and Chevy Chase. Opens Aug. 11 at local theaters. (Not Reviewed)

STEP-UP (PG-13) A poor, tough Baltimore boy (Channing Tatum) hooks up with a rich ballet dancer (Jenna Dewan) and sparks, as if you couldn't guess, fly. Also stars Rachel Griffiths and Heavy D. Opens Aug. 11 at local theaters. (Not Reviewed)


THE ANT BULLY (PG) If Antz was Ayn Rand's The Fountainhead tweaked as kiddie animation, then The Ant Bully might just be Das Kapital for tykes. Both movies put us up close and personal with a colony of plucky, stylized ants, but the inevitable life lessons learned seem to point in different (albeit equally warm and fuzzy) directions. Antz celebrated heroic individualism; the somewhat blander The Ant Bully extols the virtues of collective teamwork, but both movies culminate in group hugs and are cut from pretty much the same generic cloth. The story here concerns Lucas (Zack Tyler Eisen), a 10-year-old boy who takes out his frustrations on an ant hill, gets shrunk down to ant-size by a bug wizard (Nicolas Cage), and then must live among the colony until he proves to its six-legged inhabitants that he's got the right stuff. Exciting adventures ensue involving ominous wasps and hungry bullfrogs, sprinkled periodically with touchy-feely moments, uplifting speeches, and culminating in a life-or-death showdown with an obsessed exterminator (Paul Giamatti). Featuring the voices of Nicolas Cage, Julia Roberts, Meryl Streep, Paul Giamatti and Zack Tyler Eisen. 3 stars

BARNYARD (PG) Can't get enough of those computer-generated animated movies about cute, talking animals? Here's this week's — although the writer-director here is Steve Oedekerk (Ace Ventura, Kung Pow), which might indicate something's going on just a tad bit more subversive than the norm, if you squint hard enough. Featuring the voices of Courteney Cox, Kevin James and Danny Glover. (Not Reviewed)

CARS (G) As animated opuses go, this one doesn't quite scale the heights of the Toy Story movies, Monsters, Inc., The Incredibles or Nemo, but — and of course you knew this was coming — even the least of Pixar's efforts is better than 99 percent of the competition. The story here — of an ambitious, self-centered racecar who learns to slow down and smell the diesel — hits all the right emotional notes, but feels a bit scattered and long-winded in the telling, and there are lengthy stretches where not much of anything seems to be happening. The animation is up to Pixar's exalted standards and then some, but the film's style doesn't leap out at you like the company's other efforts, and the anthropomorphic autos, while readymade for marketing tie-ins, seem a touch or two less endearing and enduring than what we've come to expect from the guys who gave us Toy Story. Pound for pound, there's still some solid family entertainment to be had in Cars, but the movie's nearly two-hour running time may have you checking your watch more than once. Features the voices of Owen Wilson, Paul Newman, Bonnie Hunt, Larry the Cable Guy and Cheech Marin. 3 stars

CLERKS II While it doesn't pack the fresh creative punch Kevin Smith's original low-budget classic, Clerks II is still a reasonably funny follow-up to a movie that was pretty darn good standing all on its own. Picking up more than a decade after Clerks, the movie opens with sardonic store clerk Dante Hicks (Brian O'Halloran) discovering that the Quick Stop where he works has met a most unfortunate end. All this is punctuated by the wall-leaning antics of Jay (Jason Mewes) and Silent Bob (Smith), who are still dealing drugs but loving Jesus and practicing sobriety in the midst of various entertaining dance sequences, the best being a Silence of the Lambs homage that you really have to see to appreciate. Also stars Rosario Dawson and Trever Fehrmann. 3.5 stars

CLICK (PG-13) Another cosmic comedy from the creators of Bruce Almighty, that movie where Jim Carrey acquired divine power. Some similar magic is worked here with Adam Sandler, who gets his hands on a remote control that can manipulate the fabric of reality itself. Why wade through those arguments with your significant other, goes the movie's big joke, when you can fast forward straight to the make-up sex? A few major life lessons are certain to be in store at one point or another. Also stars Kate Beckinsale and Christopher Walken. (Not Reviewed)