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Film times & brief film reviews

Movie times are good from Friday, March 2 through Thursday, March 8 except where noted.


Times are subject to change, and we recommend calling ahead to confirm.


Cinema 12
Beaver Creek Shopping Center, off NC 55, Apex. 676-3456.

Call for shows and times.

Blue Ridge 14
600 Blue Ridge Rd, Raleigh. 282-9003.

Alpha Dog—1:30, 4:15, 7, 9:40. Apocalypto—1:10, 4:05, 7, 9:55. Casino Royale—1:15, 4:10, 7, 9:55. Children of Men—1:30, 4:30, 7:30, 10. Code Name: The Cleaner—1:10, 3:20, 5:30, 7:50, 10. DejaVu—1:10, 4, 7, 9:45. The Departed—1, 4, 7, 10. Eragon—1:45, 4:15, 7, 9:30. Freedom Writers—1, 4, 7, 9:55. The Good Shepherd—1, 4:30, 8. Rocky Balboa—1:15, 4:15, 7:05, 9:35. Saw 3—1:30, 4:15, 7, 9:30. Smokin' Aces—1:25, 4:25, 7:10, 9:50. Stomp the Yard—1:15, 4, 7:15, 9:50. Unaccompanied Minors—1, 3:10, 5:50, 7:30, 9:40. We are Marshall—1:20, 4:15, 7:10, 10.

Brier Creek Stadium 14
8611 Brier Creek Pkwy, Raleigh. 484-9994.

Call for shows and times.

Carmike Cinema
5501 Atlantic Springs Rd, Raleigh. 645-1111.

Abandoned—9:40. The Astronaut Farmer—7, 9:45. Black Snake Moan—1:30, 4:15, 7, 9:40. Breach—1:45, 4:30, 7:15, 9:45. Bridge to Terabithia—1:05, 3:20, 5:35, 7:45, 9:55. Catch and Release—1:20. Collier and Company—1:15, 4:10, 7, 9:45. Daddy's Little Girls—1, 3:15, 5:30, 7:45, 10. Epic Movie—1, 3:05, 5:15, 7:20, 9:30. Ghost Rider—1:30, 4:15, 7:9:30. Happy Feet—1:45, 4:20. Kidtoons Presents: Little Robots—Sat-Sun 1, 3. The Messengers—1, 3:10, 5:20, 7:30. Norbit—1:30, 4:15, 7, 9:30. The Number 23—1, 3:15, 5:30, 7:45, 10. The Pursuit of Happyness—4:10, 7:05, 9:45. Reno 911: Miami—1:20, 3:25, 5:30, 7:35, 9:40. Smokin' Aces—1:25, 4:20, 7:10, 9:50. Stomp the Yard—2 (No Sat-Sun), 4:45, 7:25, 9:50. Wild Hogs—12:45, 1, 3:05, 3:20, 5:25, 5:40, 7:45, 8, 10. Also Fri-Sat 10:20. Zodiac—12:45, 4, 7:15. Also Fri-Sat 10:30.

Colony Theatre
Colony Shopping Center, 5438 Six Forks Rd, Raleigh. 856-0111.

The Last King of Scotland—7:05. Also Fri-Sun 4:15. Letters from Iwo Jima—9:15. Also Fri-Sun 1. Little Children—9:25. Also Fri-Sun 1:30. The Queen—7. Also Fri-Sun 4:30.

Crossroads 20
501 Caitboo Ave, Crossroads Shopping Center, Cary. 226-2000.

Call for shows and times.

Galaxy Cinema
770 Cary Towne Blvd, Cary. 463-9989,

Eklavya-The Royal Guard—3:30. Also Fri-Sun 9:45. Honeymoon Travels Pvt. Ltd.—Fri 3; Fri-Sat 9:40; Sat-Sun 3, 9:40. The Last King of Scotland1:25, 4:15, 7:05, 9:35. Nehle Pe Dehla3:30, 9:45 (No Mon-Thu). Notes on a Scandal—1, 3:15, 7:10 (No Sun). Pan's Labyrinth—1:20, 4, 7, 9:20. The Queen—1:10, 3:20, 5:25, 7:30. Venus—1:05, 5:10, 9:10. Volver—1, 7:15.

Garner Towne Square
2600 Timber Dr, Garner. 779-2212.

The Astronaut Farmer, Black Snake Moan, Bridge to Terabithia, Daddy's Little Girls, Ghost Rider, Happy Feet, Norbit, The Number 23, Reno 911: Miami, Wild Hogs, Zodiac. Call for times.

IMAX Theatre at Exploris
201 E Hargett St, Raleigh. 834-4040.

Deep Sea 3D, Forces of Nature, Greatest Places, Happy Feet, Mystery of the Nile, Mystic India. Call for times.

Mission Valley Cinema
2109-124 Avent Ferry Rd, Raleigh. 834-2233.

The Abandoned—4:20, 9:35. Daddy's Little Girl—1:40, 7:25. Ghost Rider—1:15, 4:10, 7:20, 9:50. Music and Lyrics—1:25, 4:15, 7, 9:45. Reno 911: Miami—1:45, 4:15, 7:10, 9:50. Wild Hogs—1:30, 4, 7:15, 9:40.

Movies at North Hills 14
4150 Main at North Hills St, Raleigh. 786-4511.

Call for shows and times.

Park Place 16
9525 Chapel Hill Rd, Morrisville. 645-1111.

Abandoned—9:30. The Astronaut Farmer—1:15, 4:10, 7, 9:45. Black Snake Moan—1:30, 4:15, 7, 9:40. Breach—1:45, 4:30, 7:15, 9:45. Bridge to Terabithia—1:05, 3:20, 5:35, 7:45, 9:55. Catch and Release—1:20. Charlotte's Web—1 (No Sat-Sun), 3:15 (No Sat-Sun), 5:30, 7:45, 9:55. Children of Men—9:35. Collier and Company—1:15, 4:10, 7, 9:45. Ghost Rider—1:30, 4:15, 7, 9:30. Kidtoons Presents: My Little Pony—Sat-Sun 1, 3. Music and Lyrics—1, 4, 7, 9:45. Night at the Museum—2 (No Fri-Sat), 4:45, 7:35, 10:05. Norbit—1:30, 4:15, 7, 9:30. The Number 23—1, 3:15, 5:30, 7:45, 10. The Pursuit of Happyness—4:10, 7:05, 9:45. The Queen—1:35, 4:05, 7. Reno 911: Miami—1:20, 3:25, 5:30, 7:35, 9:40. Wild Hogs—12:45, 1, 3:05, 3:20, 5:25, 5:40, 7:45, 8, 10. Also Fri-Sat 10:20. Zodiac—12:45, 1:30, 4, 4:45, 7:15, 8. Also Fri-Sat 10:30.

The Raleigh Grande
Corner of Glenwood Ave and Lynn Rd, Raleigh. 226-2000.

Call for shows and times.

Raleighwood Cinema Grill
Falls Village Shopping Center, Raleigh. 847-0326.

Call for shows and times.

Rialto Theater
1620 Glenwood Ave, Raleigh. 856-0111.

Notes on a Scandal—7. Also Sat-Sun 2. Pan's Labyrinth—9:15. Also Sat-Sun 4:15. Rocky Horror Picture Show—Fri midnight.

Six Forks Station Cinema
9500 Forum Dr, Raleigh. 846-3904.

Breach—1:30, 4:15, 7:05, 9:30. Bridge to Terabithia—12:45, 2:55, 5:05, 7:15, 9:30. Ghost Rider—7:20, 9:45. Music and Lyrics—12:50, 2:50, 5, 7:20, 9:40. The Number 23—1, 3:05, 5:10, 7:25, 9:45. The Queen—1:15, 4. Wild Hogs—12:35, 2:45, 4:55, 7:10, 9:35.

White Oak Village
1205 Timber Dr East, Garner. 676-FILM.

The Astronaut Farmer—12:50 (Mon-Thu 1:25), 4:55, 7:40, 10:10. Because I Said So—2:10, 5:20, 7:50, 10:15. Black Snake Moan—12:30 (Mon-Thu 1), 3:20 (Mon-Thu 3:45), 6:50, 9:40. Breach—1:50, 5:05, 8:20. Bridge to Terabithia—Fri-Sun 12:40, 3:30, 6:05, 8:30; Mon-Thu 1:05, 3:30, 6:10, 8:35. Daddy's Little Girls—2, 4:45, 7:30, 9:55. Ghost Rider—1:40, 4:35, 7:15, 10. Music and Lyrics—1:10, 3:50, 6:25, 9. Night at the Museum—1:20, 4:10, 6:45, 9:20. Norbit—1 (Mon-Thu 1:35), 4, 6:35, 9:10. The Number 23—2:20, 5:35, 8, 10:25. Reno 911: Miami—2:30, 5:55, 6:10, 10:20. Wild Hogs—1:30, 4:20, 7, 9:25. Zodiac—Fri-Sun 12:15, 3:40, 7:05, 10:30; Mon-Thu 3, 6:40, 10:05.


Carolina Theatre
309 W Morgan St, Durham. 560-3030,

Call for shows and times.

Phoenix 10
1056 W Club Blvd, Durham. 286-1001,

The Astronaut Farmer—12:05, 2:30, 4:55, 7:20, 9:45. Black Snake Moan—11:30, 2:05, 4:45, 7:35, 10:15. Bridge to Terabithia—11:25, 1:50, 4:20, 6:50, 9:20. Daddy's Little Girls—12, 2:35, 5, 7:30, 10. Ghost Rider—11:35, 2:15, 4:50, 7:40, 10:10. Music and Lyrics—11:45, 1:55, 4:10, 7:05, 9:25. Norbit—11:55, 2:20, 4:40, 7:15, 9:40. The Number 23—11:50, 2:10, 4:35, 7, 9:30. Reno 911: Miami—12:30, 2:40, 5:05, 7:25, 9:50. Wild Hogs—11:40, 2, 4:25, 7:10, 9:35.

Southpoint Cinemas
8030 Renaissance Pkwy, Durham. 676-3456.

Amazing Grace—12:20 (Mon-Thu 12:50), 3:30, 6:15, 9 (Mon-Wed 8:55). The Astronaut Farmer—Fri-Sun 12:10, 3:45, 6:20, 9:05; Mon-Thu 1:20, 4, 6:20, 8:45 (No Thu). Because I Said So—1:25, 7. Black Snake Moan—Fri-Sat 1:40, 4:55, 7:45, 10:30; Sun-Thu 2 (Sun 1:40), 4:40, 7:20, 10. Breach—Fri-Sat 2, 4:35, 7:10, 9:45; Sun 1:55, 4:30, 7:05, 9:40; Mon-Thu 1:45, 4:20, 7:05, 9:50. Bridge to Terabithia—12:50 (Mon-Thu 1), 3:10 (Mon-Thu 3:20), 6:05, 8:25. Daddy's Little Girls—1:45, 4:15, 6:40, 9:15 (Sun-Thu 9:05). Dreamgirls—12:45 (Mon-Thu 1), 6:35 (Mon-Thu 6:30). Ghost Rider—1:10, 3:55, 7:15, 9:50. Hannibal Rising—4:10 (Mon-Sun 4:05), 9:55 (Sun-Mon 9:25). Music and Lyrics—1:30, 4:45, 7:25 (Sun-Thu 7:10), 10 (Sun-Thu 9:40). Norbit—12 (Mon-Thu 1:05), 2:30 (Mon-Thu 3:30), 6:05, 8:35 (Sun-Thu 8:30). The Number 23—12:35 (No Mon-Thu), 2:55 (Mon-Thu 1:20), 5:30 (Sun-Mon 5:15), 8 (Sun-Thu 7:40), 10:25 (Sun-Thu 10). Pan's Labyrinth—3:30 (Mon-Thu 3:45). Also Fri-Sat 9:35; Sun 9:20; Mon-Thu 9:15. Reno 911: Miami—12:30 (No Mon), 2:40, 5:10, 7:30, 10:10 (Sun-Thu 9:30). Wild Hogs—Fri-Sun 12:25, 1:20, 3, 4:05, 6:15 (Sun 6:10), 7 (Sun 6:55), 8:45 (Sun 8:40), 9:30 (Sun 9:25); Mon-Thu 12:50, 2:10, 3:15, 4:30, 6:10, 6:55, 8:40, 9:25. Zodiac—Fri-Sat 12, 3, 6:45, 10:15; Sun 3:10, 6:30, 9:50; Mon-Thu 2:25, 6:20, 9:40.

Starlite Drive-In
2523 E Club Blvd, Durham. 688-1037.

Call for shows and times.

1800 Martin Luther King Blvd, Durham. 489-9020.

Abandoned—9:30.The Astronaut Farmer—7:15, 10. Black Snake Moan—1:30, 4:15, 7, 9:40. Breach—1:45, 4:30, 7:15, 9:45. Also Fri-Sat 12:15. Bridge to Terabithia—1:05, 3:20, 5:35, 7:45, 9:55. Also Fri-Sat 12:10. Catch and Release1:20. Collier and Company—1:15, 4:10, 7, 9:45. Also Fri-Sat 12:30. Daddy's Little Girls—1, 3:15, 5:30, 5:45, 7:45,10. Also Fri-Sat 12:15. Epic Movie—1, 3:05, 5:15, 7:20, 9:30. Also Fri-Sat 11:40. Freedom Writers—1 (No Sat-Sun), 4 (No Sat-Sun), 7, 9:55. Ghost Rider—1:30, 4:15, 7, 9:30. Also Fri-Sat 12. Happy Feet—2 (No Fri-Sat), 4:35. Kidtoons Presents: My Little Pony—Sat-Sun 1, 3. Music and Lyrics—1, 4, 7, 9:45. Also Fri-Sat 12:30. Norbit—1:30, 4:15, 7, 9:30. Also Fri-Sat 12. The Number 23—1, 3:15, 5:30, 7:45, 10. Also Fri-Sat 12:15. Pan's Labyrinth—1:35, 4:20, 7. Also Fri-Sat 12:10. The Pursuit of Happyness—4:10, 7:05, 9:45. Also Fri-Sat 12:25. Reno 911: Miami—1:20, 3:25, 5:30, 7:35, 9:40. Also Fri-Sat 11:45. Wild Hogs—12:45, 1, 3:05, 3:20, 5:25, 5:40, 7:45, 8, 10. Also Fri-Sat 10:20, 12:15. Zodiac—12:45, 4, 7:15. Also Fri-Sat 10:30.

Chapel Hill

Timberlyne Village Mall, 1129 Weaver Dairy Rd, Chapel Hill. 968-3005.

Black Snake Moan—7, 9:30. Also Sat-Sun 2, 4:30. The Last King of Scotland—9:10. Also Sat-Sun 4:10. Notes on a Scandal—7:20. Also Sat-Sun 2:10. Pan's Labyrinth—9:20. Also Sat-Sun 4:20. Venus—7:10. Also Sat-Sun 2:20.

Southern Village, NC 15-501 South, Chapel Hill. 932-9000.

The Astronaut Farmer—1:15, 4, 7:05, 9:30. Bridge to Terabithia—12:35, 2:40, 4:45, 7:10, 9:30. Ghost Rider—7, 9:45. Music and Lyrics—12:45, 2:55, 5:05, 7:20, 9:35. Notes on a Scandal—1:30, 4:15. Wild Hogs—12:30, 2:45, 5, 7:15, 9:40.

Movies at Timberlyne
Timberlyne Shopping Center, 120 Banks Dr off Weaver Dairy Rd, Chapel Hill. 933-8600.

Call for shows and times.

123 E Franklin St, Chapel Hill. 967-8665.

Music and Lyrics—7:10, 9:20. Also Sat-Sun 2:10, 4:20. Zodiac—6:45, 9:40. Also Sat-Sun 1, 3:50.


Graham Cinema
119 N Main St, Graham. (336) 226-1488.

The Departed—7. Also Fri-Sat 9:45. Happy Feet—Sat-Sun 2:30, 4:45.


Palace Pointe
5050 Durham Rd, Roxboro. (336) 598-5050.

The Astronaut Farmer—4:30. Also Fri-Sat 9:15. Bridge to Terabithia—4:35, 7:05. Also Fri-Sat 9:25; Fri-Sun 2:10; Thu 1. Daddy's Little Girls—7. Also Fri-Sun, Wed 2:05; Thu 1. Ghost Rider—4:40, 7:10. Also Fri-Sat 9:40; Fri-Sun 2; Thu 1. Norbit—4:45, 7:15. Also Fri-Sat 9:35; Fri-Sun 2:15; Thu 1. The Number 23—4:35, 7:15. Also Fri-Sat 9:30; Fri-Sun 2:15; Thu 1. Reno 911: Miami—4:45, 7:20. Also Fri-Sat 9:25; Fri-Sun 2:20; Thu 1. Wild Hogs—4:40, 7:05. Also Fri-Sat 9:30; Fri-Sun 2:10; Thu 1. Zodiac—Fri-Sun, Wed 2; Fri-Sat 5, 8; Sun-Thu 6; Thu 1.

Special Showings

Chronological by date and time

The Power of Community: How Cuba Survived Peak Oil: Wed, Feb 28, 7 pm: Q&A by Stephen Hren of NC Powerdown will follow film. Colony Theater, 5438 Six Forks Road, Raleigh. 847-5677. Thu, Mar 1, time TBD: El Kilombo Intergalactica, 324/B Geer St, Durham.

The Civil War: Ken Burns' celebrated nine-part documentary from 1990. Thu, Mar 1, 6:30 pm: 1865—War is All Hell: The Final Offensives. Olivia Raney Local History Library, 4016 Carya Dr, Raleigh. 250-1196, Free.

NC State University Campus Cinema: Thu, Mar 1, 8 pm: Earthlings. Free. Witherspoon Student Center, NC State Campus, $1.50-2.50.

Daikaiju Gamera (Gamera, the Flying Turtle): Fri, Mar 2, 7 pm: Free. NC Museum of Natural Sciences, 11 W Jones St, Raleigh.

NC Museum of Art Winter Film Series: Fri, Mar 2, 8 pm: The China Syndrome. Fri, Mar 9, 8 pm: Network. 2110 Blue Ridge Rd, Raleigh. 839-6262, $5, $3.50 students.

Duke Screen/Society: Mon, Mar 5, 8 pm: Soldiers Speak Out + other shorts. Richard White Auditorium, Duke Campus. Tue, Mar 6, 8 pm: Bear Hug. Griffith. Wed, Mar 7, 7 pm: Munich. Griffith.

Film Capsules

Our rating system uses zero to four stars. If a movie has no rating, it has not been reviewed by Laura Boyes (LB), Godfrey Cheshire (GC), David Fellerath (DF), Kathy Justice (KJ), Neil Morris (NM) or Zack Smith (ZS).

Opening This Week

Christina Ricci and Justin Timberlake in Black Snake Moan
  • Christina Ricci and Justin Timberlake in Black Snake Moan
BLACK SNAKE MOAN—Craig Brewer, the Memphis-based auteur of Hustle & Flow, serves up another steaming slice of distinctive Southern cinema with a musical core: this time, the blues. Though wryly packaged like an Erskine Caldwell lust fantasy, Brewer's sin 'n' salvation parable has the brilliant Christina Ricci as a loose girl chained to a radiator by irate bluesman Samuel L. Jackson, who aims to cure her wickedness. Directed with Tarantino-like verve, the witty, heartfelt film also features strong supporting work by Justin Timberlake. Rated R. —GC

NEHLE PE DEHLA (ONE UP ON MY OPPONENTS)—A comedy about a couple of loveable con men (Sanjay Dutt and Saif Ali Khan) who help a comely hotel owner (Bipasha Basu) evade skullduggery. Familiar turf for Sanjay, but not when partnered with droll Saif. Directed by a protégé of '90s comedy whiz David Dhawan, this has slipped into release and may have been on the shelf a while.—LB

WILD HOGS—Not so much bad as painfully pointless, this diversion about a quartet of suburban biker wannabes battling emasculation and middle-age malaise who embark on a cross-country road trip will run afoul of anyone craving something beyond faded film stars submitting to slapstick and puerile homoerotic hijinks for the sake of a paycheck. While William H. Macy is irksome here, there is a verisimilitude to his midlife money-grab since wife Felicity Huffman golden parachuted into Wisteria Lane. The supporting turns range from creepy to vapid—poor Marisa Tomei looks as if she is making a hostage tape. Peter Fonda's walk-on as an aging biker godfather reinforces the phoniness of this uneasy ride. Rated PG-13. —NM

ZODIAC—Director David Fincher (Se7en) crafts a spellbinding dissection of the Zodiac serial murders that terrorized Northern California in the late 1960s. This atmospheric crime saga, adapted from author Robert Graysmith's bestseller, blends elements of a newsroom drama, exacting police procedural and psychological thriller in examining how the chase to catch the killer became an obsession for those caught in its web, from Graysmith (Jake Gyllenhaal) to a San Francisco flatfoot (Mark Ruffalo) to a newspaper reporter played by Robert Downey Jr. (in an awards-caliber performance). The methodical pacing and two and one-half hour running time make this potboiler more of a slow simmer. But the devoted cast and Fincher's atmospheric acumen holds the film together, particularly during wrenching re-creations of Zodiac's slayings that includes the most visceral cinematic stabbing since Psycho. Rated R. —NM

Current Releases

THE ABANDONED—What's with the scary movies from Spain? Here, a woman returns to the village of her childhood and begins making inquiries.... Rated R.

AMAZING GRACE—Director Michael Apted commemorates the 200th anniversary of the law banning the slave trade in the British Empire with a hagiography of abolitionist MP William Wilberforce (Ioan Gruffudd). Rated PG. —NM

THE ASTRONAUT FARMER—Another minimalist production from the Polish brothers (Northfork, Twin Falls Idaho) smacks of Field of Dreams meets October Sky, starring a farmer named Farmer (Billy Bob Thornton) who lives on Midwestern ranchland so nondescript the billboards read "Space Available." This double-entendre also refers to Farmer's single-minded fixation on constructing a rocket-ship and blasting himself into outer space, even to the detriment of his family's finances and the public perception of his sanity. Partly an ode to human ingenuity, there is also a wry commentary on the stifling of the American spirit. In contrast to a milieu once settled by westbound homesteaders, Farmer's can-do effort at postmodern trailblazing is fought by regulatory impediments, governmental territoriality and general malaise. Rated PG. —NM

BECAUSE I SAID SO—Clearly, director Michael Lehman's lost his taste for the bitch-fest grandeur of his 1989 Heathers debut and gone all squishy. Rated PG-13. —KJ

BREACH—This workmanlike film of the plan to catch real-life FBI agent turned traitor Robert Hanssen (Chris Cooper) is a suitably taut cat-and-mouse thriller. While the story is told from the point of view of Eric O'Neill (Ryan Phillippe), the greenhorn agent assigned by his handler (Laura Linney) to spy on Hanssen, it is Cooper who steals the show by effectively conveying the internal contradictions of a man whose reticent facade of devout Catholicism and conservative personal politics masks a psyche plagued by megalomania, sexual repression and daddy issues. Rated PG-13. —NM

THE BRIDGE TO TERABITHIA—It's a dog eat dog world for poor sensitive Jesse (Josh Hutcherson), whose big family is unimpressed by his woes. Then, a nervy new girl (AnnaSophia Robb) appears, with a no-nonsense attitude and a bizarrely hip wardrobe who leads him to the locus of fairy tale transformations, the Big Woods behind their houses. Terabithia seems a bit like Lord of the Rings Lite, a starter fantasy minus the carnage of those aimed at slightly older viewers. A desperately needed antidote to the vulgar comedies and product tie-in generators often targeting children, Bridge to Terabithia is nobly inoffensive and formulaic, and sadly, a tad dull. Rated PG. —LB

CHILDREN OF MEN— Charged with ferrying the world's only known pregnant girl to safety, Clive Owen's Theo Faron is part-Joseph, part-Noah in this post-modern nativity story set in a not-too-distant British dystopia in which women have mysteriously grown infertile and humankind stands at the brink of its gradual, seemingly inescapable extinction. Director Alfonso Cuaron conjures a masterwork of coincidental contradictions and quite simply the best directed film of 2006. Rated R. —NM

DADDY'S LITTLE GIRLS—Evidently Madea is back in the closet for now, as Tyler Perry instead stays behind the camera for a romantic comedy tracing the complications that ensue when Gabrielle Union's rich lawyer falls for a struggling auto mechanic. Rated PG-13.

DREAMGIRLS—A '60s girl group reaches the top, but only after fronting Deena (Beyoncé), a beauty with crossover appeal, and benching the raw sound and plump physique of the more talented Effie (Jennifer Hudson). This movie stars Beyoncé.  Does no one see the irony in this? The pastiche score of R&B, Motown and disco sounds is convincing, but devolves into one power ballad after another. American Idol confirms the public's insatiable thirst for these anthems, but enough already. Rated PG-13. —LB

EKLAVYA: THE ROYAL GUARD—At a majestic citadel in dusty Rajasthan, a noble heir (Saif Ali Khan) arrives during the apparent twilight of the gods. Palace intrigue has taken its toll: his mother has been murdered by his father, an act witnessed by his dotty sister. The family crumbles under the weight of greed and disdain for legal democracy. —LB

EPIC MOVIE—Aaron Seltzer and Jason Friedberg (Scary Movie, Date Movie) gunk up the big screen for the third time with this parody of Hollywood hit-makers. Rated PG-13. —KJ

GHOST RIDERDaredevil writer/director Mark Steven Johnson tops himself, and not in a good way, by adapting another B-list Marvel superhero into an overwritten, overwrought film. Rated PG-13. —ZS

HANNIBAL RISING—Here's a tip to all would-be "prequel" filmmakers: Great villains become less great when you explain away their mystique. Rated R. —ZS

HONEYMOON TRAVELS PVT. LTD.—Six newlywed couples travel by bus to their honeymoon destination, tropical Goa, in a comedy helmed by a first-time woman director. Along for the ride are cheeky character actor Boman Irani and '70s beauty Shabana Azmi, who share a scandalous on-screen kiss. Not rated. —LB

THE LAST KING OF SCOTLAND—A bravura performance by Forest Whitaker as Ugandan dictator Idi Amin anchors this smart, engrossing drama about a Third World country's nightmarish descent into tyranny and destruction. Seen through the eyes of a callow young Scottish doctor (an excellent James McAvoy), the film persuasively evokes the matter-of-fact surrealism that accompanies a shrewd, charismatic madman's rise and the payback he exacts for the humiliation of colonialism, a vengeance tragically visited on his own people. Rated R.—GC

THE MESSENGERS—Don't expect this new film to fill the creep-fest quotient its trailer suggests, even if it is helmed by Asian horror-meisters the Pang brothers (2002's The Eye). As it stands, the film offers up a veritable mish-mash of horror hooey (references to The Birds, Amityville Horror, The Shining and Poltergeist run amuck) and a grab bag of tired tricks (irremovable stains, blood pouring from a faucet, etc.). Add John Corbett as a deranged killer, a bevy of sunflower seeds and a tiny tot that can see dead people, and you get the picture. Rated PG-13.—KJ

MUSIC AND LYRICS—Written and directed by chick-flick mastermind Marc Lawrence (Two Weeks Notice, Miss Congeniality), the script is tried and true: '80s has-been pop artist Alex Fletcher (Hugh Grant) links up with Sophie Fisher (Drew Barrymore), a neurotic plant-waterer, poet and lyricist, to pen a hit song for a Shakira-esque pop tart. Although the two fall in love, then out of love, then in love again, the flirtatious banter between the actors tends to fizzle and pop into oblivion. Luckily, the film catches a wave of redemption through sarcastically self-referencing the music industry it caters to. Rated PG-13. —KJ

NORBIT—While Oscar-nominee Eddie Murphy (yep, it's true) does little here to diminish his status as a comic genius, the problems anchoring down this patchwork are even heavier than its central harridan. Rated PG-13. —NM

NOTES ON A SCANDAL—Judi Dench and Cate Blanchett give razor-sharp performances in this clever, impeccably mounted British drama about a spinster teacher who discovers that a younger, married colleague is having an affair with a 15-year-old student. Rated R. —GC

THE NUMBER 23—Which is scarier, having to watch a suspense thriller starring Jim Carrey or anything directed by Joel Schumacher? Rated R. —NM

PAN'S LABYRINTH—Guillermo Del Toro's (Hellboy) riveting dark fantasy contains brutal images that will haunt you in one of the best fantasy films of the last five years. Rated R. —ZS

THE PURSUIT OF HAPPYNESS—With its Reagan-era milieu, the best parts of this rags-to-riches biopic of struggling Chris Gardner (Will Smith) highlight the class and economic divide that often smothers even the most well-intentioned and hard-working among us. Rated PG-13.—NM

THE QUEEN—The seriocomic concept is undermined from the first by Peter Morgan's script, which has all the obviousness and banality of a TV production. Rated PG-13. —GC

RENO 911!: MIAMI—Naked boobs, toilet humor, masturbation jokes, a dozen F-bombs and Lt. Jim Dangle's hot-pants are the real stars of this film, and it's easy to see why. It's hard, if not impossible, for a TV show that typically times out at the 30-minute mark to develop a plot substantial enough to be stretched out over 84 minutes (even if said show is a Comedy Central cult favorite). And this proves to be the case as Reno 911's crass humor takes the driver's seat and the film's plot is left at a dirty gas station somewhere off of I-40. There are a few laughs here and there, but mostly it's a pipe dream for the writer/actor trio of Ben Garant, Thomas Lennon and Kerri Kenney who tried to make Cops and ended up with a dumbed-down Super-Troopers. Rated R. —KJ

VENUS—Peter O'Toole's presence and performance lend gravitas to this tale of an aging actor who enters into a relationship with his friend's young grandniece (Jodie Whittaker) that's equal parts unrequited lust and heartfelt mentorship. Rated R. ZS

VOLVER—Pedro Almodóvar explores the powerful generational bonds between mothers and daughters. Rated R. —LB

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