By Alan Scherstuhl
By Mark Holcombe
By Scott Foundas
By Nick Pinkerton
By Michael Atkinson
By Scott Foundas
By Keith Phipps
By Alan Scherstuhl
Starring: Jet Li, Nakamura Shidou, and Betty Sun
Directed by: Ronny Yu (Freddy vs. Jason)
Written by: There doesn't seem to be a credited screenwriter. But Yuen Woo-ping is the fight choreographer, which is what matters most
What it's about: Jet Li kicks some ass. Then a tragedy happens, and he doesn't want to kick any further ass, so he goes into seclusion, where he learns the true way of the warrior. The claim is that this will be Li's last martial-arts epic.
Why you should see it: Sigh. If you know your Hong Kong films, you'd have no doubt that Jet Li and Ronny Yu and Yuen Woo-ping teaming up can only be awesome.
Why you should not: Steer clear if action isn't your thing.
Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby
Starring: Will Ferrell, John C. Reilly, and Sacha Baron Cohen
Directed by: Adam McKay (Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy)
Written by: Will Ferrell and Adam McKay
What it's about: NASCAR champeen Ricky Bobby (Ferrell) finds his title being usurped by a French rival played by Ali G., a'ight?
Why you should see it:Anchorman had some brilliant moments.
Why you should not:Anchorman had some brilliant moments only if you were really, really high.
Starring: Justin Long (Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story), Adam Herschman, and Jonah Hill
Directed by: First-timer Steve Pink
Written by: Bill Collage, Adam Cooper, and Mark Perez
What it's about: A slack senior (Long) finds out that he's failed to get into college. So, of course, he and his similarly unmotivated pals fool their parents by inventing their own fraud of a university, which suddenly becomes crowded with similar rejects. Hey, it couldn't be any more worthless than your liberal arts degree, right?
Why you should see it: If a fake frat was funny (as it was in Old School), an entire fake university has to be a knee-slapper, right?
Why you should not: Of course not. Old School was only funny because it had Will Ferrell and Vince Vaughn in it. No similar heavyweights present here.
World Trade Center
Starring: Nicolas Cage, Michael Pena, and Maggie Gyllenhaal
Directed by: Oliver Stone (JFK, The Doors)
Written by: Andrea Berloff
What it's about: Cage and Pena play real-life Port Authority cops who made it out of the World Trade Center alive after the terror attack of September 11, 2001. Word is this isn't the work of a paranoid Ollie Stone, but a sober, down-to-the-details docudramatization of the events of the day, already seen this year in United 93.
Why you should see it: Cage is at his best when playing an everyman stuck in a horrific, real-life situation (his portrayal of an EMT in Martin Scorsese's Bringing Out the Dead remains among his career highlights, even if no one saw it).
Why you should not: Oliver Stone's a real hit-or-miss moviemaker; pray this is closer to Platoon and Salvador than Alexander or Any Given Sunday. Or Natural Born Killers. Or U-Turn. Or Nixon.
Starring: Tim Allen, Courteney Cox Arquette, and Chevy Chase
Directed by: Peter Hewitt (Garfield)
Written by: David Berenbaum (Elf)
What it's about: Remember that Disney movie Sky High, about a retired superhero and the superschool his kids attend? This is pretty much the same thing, but with a bigger budget. And it's based on an actual comic book, Zoom's Academy for the Super-Gifted.
Why you should see it:Sky High was fun...
Why you should not: ...but do we need another version? Tim Allen instead of Kurt Russell isn't exactly what you'd call trading up.
Brothers of the Head
Starring: Harry and Luke Treadaway, Will Kemp, and Ken Russell
Directed by: Keith Fulton and Louis Pepe (Lost in La Mancha)
Written by: Tony Grisoni (In This World), based on the novel by Brian Aldiss
What it's about: Conjoined twins (Harry and Luke Treadaway) under the control of an unscrupulous music promoter become a rock and roll success story in the '70s. Loosely based on a true story.
Why you should see it: The directors and screenwriter have worked with Terry Gilliam a fair amount, so one might imagine they've picked up a thing or two.
Why you should not: Fulton and Pepe are documentarians, and this is their first narrative feature. The transition doesn't always work (remember Michael Moore's Canadian Bacon?).
The Night Listener
Starring: Robin Williams, Toni Collette, and Rory Culkin
Directed by: Patrick Stettner (The Business of Strangers)
Written by: Armistead Maupin & Terry Anderson (The Young Graduates) and Stettner, based on the novel by Maupin
What it's about: Williams plays a Garrison Keillor-like public radio host who tells embellished stories of his life and friends, but when he receives the manuscript of a memoir from an abused child (Culkin), he doesn't realize that it may be equally embellished.
Why you should see it: Stettner deftly dealt with similar issues of deceit in The Business of Strangers; Williams can certainly be as annoying as your typical talk radio host.
Why you should not: When it comes to drama, Williams is either spot-on (One Hour Photo) or insufferably mawkish (What Dreams May Come). His character here is a gay man whose lover has battled AIDS, which may mean lots of hugging, tears, and Williams doing that grinning thing that's supposed to make him look sad but really doesn't.
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