Originally created 05/17/02

Mini reviews



THEATERS, RATINGS

Movies are listed with theater location for today through Thursday. Reviews without star ratings are from critics other than Roger Ebert. Listings are subject to change. Call theaters for times.

For an online movie guide, check out augusta.com/movies. The service provides theater locations and movie times.

JUST OUT

ABOUT A BOY (*** 1/2 , PG-13) Hugh Grant gives one of his best performances as a 38-year-old bachelor who's never held a job or had a relationship last longer than two months. He decides to specialize in single mothers because they are easier to date and easier to dump - but discovers that while he would make a lousy husband he might make a wonderful father. Nicholas Hoult co-stars as the young boy who adopts him; the prematurely wise boy and the eternally immature man learn a lot from each other, in one of the year's most entertaining movies. With Toni Collette and Rachel Weisz. Augusta Exchange.

STAR WARS: EPISODE II - ATTACK OF THE CLONES (**, PG) Way too much dialogue, which is often flat, formal and banal. A love story between Anakin Skywalker and Padme Amidala with more regret than chemistry. Epic images that do not look as clear and vibrant as they should in the film version, perhaps because the film was shot on digital video and lacks the depth and saturation to hold a big screen (it would probably look better on one of the 19 theaters showing it with digital projection).Aiken Mall, Augusta Exchange, Evans and Masters.

ONGOING

A BEAUTIFUL MIND (****, PG-13) Russell Crowe gives a brilliant performance in the story of John Forbes Nash Jr., a man who is one of the world's greatest mathematicians and a victim of schizophrenia. Augusta Village.

ALL ABOUT THE BENJAMINS (R) Ice Cube stars as Bucum Jackson, a risk-taking bounty hunter who finds himself in the middle of a serious scenario. Two-bit con artist Reginald Wright (Omar Epps) has jumped bail - again - and Bucum comes after him. Augusta Village.

BLADE 2 (**** 1/2 , R) Half-human, half-vampire Blade (Wesley Snipes) is recruited by the Vampire Nation to help them battle the Reapers, which attack humans AND vampires. Augusta Exchange.

CHANGING LANES (****, R) Ben Affleck and Samuel L. Jackson play two men with excellent reasons for wanting to get to court on time. They're involved in a fender-bender, which sets off a daylong duel of two angry wills. An exciting thriller situation develops into one of the year's best films. Aiken Mall, Augusta Exchange, Big Mo, Evans and Masters.

CLOCKSTOPPERS (** 1/2 , PG) Nickelodeon's twist on the time-travel movie: The characters don't travel through time so much as time stands still for everyone else while they whiz around. Jesse Bradford stars as a teen-ager who has to venture into hyperspace to rescue his inventor dad from the evil Michael Biehn. Fun for the Nickelodeon target audience, but with few consolations for parents and older siblings. Pal.

E.T. THE EXTRA-TERRESTRIAL: THE 20TH ANNIVERSARY (PG) This reissue of Steven Spielberg's 1982 sci-fi classic includes previously unseen footage and computer-generated enhancements. With Dee Wallace Stone, Peter Coyote, Drew Barrymore, Henry Thomas. Augusta Village.

HARRY POTTER AND THE SORCERER'S STONE (****, PG) A red-blooded adventure movie, dripping with atmosphere, filled with the gruesome and the sublime, and surprisingly faithful to the novel. The special effects don't spoil the magic with super realism, but look like illustrations from an exciting book. Scary, yes, but not too scary - just scary enough. Augusta Village.

HIGH CRIMES (***, PG-13) Ashley Judd plays a high-powered attorney whose former-Marine husband (James Caviezel) is charged with a long-ago crime. She's determined to defend the case herself in military court, and enlists the aid of a veteran lawyer (Morgan Freeman) who knows his way around military law but is trying to overcome alcoholism. Well made by Carl Franklin but a little too content to stay within generic expectations. Augusta Exchange and Evans.

ICE AGE (***, PG) A pleasure to look at and scarcely less fun as a story. A woolly mammoth, a saber-toothed tiger and a sloth team up to rescue a human baby and return it to its parents. The sly dialogue is well-delivered (by Ray Romano, John Leguizamo, Denis Leary) and the visuals are rich with character touches for the animals. Augusta Exchange.

JASON X ( 1/2 *, R) The frozen body of Jason is discovered centuries from now and taken onboard a spaceship, where it stars in a low-rent rip-off of the Alien pictures. Eviscerations, decapitations and skewerings, separated briefly by inane dialogue. Augusta Exchange and Masters.

JOHN Q (* 1/2 , PG-13) The kind of movie Mad magazine prays for - so earnest, overwrought and wildly implausible it begs to be parodied. Denzel Washington stars as a factory worker whose son needs a heart transplant. James Woods and Anne Heche are the hospital authorities who demand cash in advance; John Q. takes hostages and demands that his son go to the top of the recipients' list. Augusta Village.

MURDER BY NUMBERS (***, R) Sandra Bullock is a cop assigned to a grisly murder. Clues seem to point to an obvious suspect, and that's good enough for her partner (Ben Chaplin). But she's intrigued by two brainy high school kids (Ryan Gosling and Michael Pitt), who seem to be daring her to notice them. Augusta Exchange.

PANIC ROOM (***, R) Jodie Foster and her teen-age daughter (Kristen Stewart) move into a Manhattan brownstone with a "safe room" - a room that can be barricaded against home invaders. Their first night, invaders do arrive. The thriller, which doesn't cheat or have loopholes, becomes a deadly chess game in which the winner will be the better strategist. Augusta Exchange.

QUEEN OF THE DAMNED (**, R) The vampire Lestat (Stuart Townsend) awakens after a two-century nap and becomes a rock god in a goth band. This fascinates Jesse (Marguerite Moreau), a vampire researcher, and amuses Marius (Vincent Perez), the older vampire who converted Lestat in the first place. Augusta Village.

RESIDENT EVIL (*, R) A futuristic corporation turns the workers in its subterranean lab into vampire zombies, and four characters go down to see what happened. Lots of shootings, decapitations, eviscerations, squishy goo, drippy innards, festering wounds, and a monster with a nine-foot tongue. With Milla Jovovich, Michelle Rodriguez. Augusta Village.

SHOWTIME (**, PG-13) Robert De Niro and Eddie Murphy play cops recruited to star in a reality TV show. Mr. Murphy loves it, Mr. De Niro hates it, and they become bickering cop buddies in an ancient tradition. The movie starts out making fun of cop-buddy cliches and ends up trapped in them. Funny in the early scenes, before it goes on autopilot with action sequences. Augusta Village.

SNOW DOGS (PG) Cuba Gooding Jr. stars as a Florida dentist who goes to Alaska to collect an inheritance that turns out to be a mischievous team of sled dogs. Augusta Village.

SORORITY BOYS (R) Barry Watson, Harland Williams and Michael Rosenbaum play three deadbeats who doll themselves up to live cheaply in a sorority. Augusta Village.

SPIDER-MAN (**, PG-13) Imagine Superman with a Clark Kent more charismatic than the Man of Steel, and you'll understand how Spider-Man goes wrong. Tobey Maguire is pitch-perfect as the socially retarded Peter Parker, but when he becomes Spider-Man, the film turns to action sequences that zip along like perfunctory cartoons. Kirsten Dunst is effective as the conflicted Mary Jane, Willem Dafoe has fun with a Jekyll-and-Hyde character, but the action scenes are a disappointment. Aiken Mall, Augusta Exchange, Evans and Masters.

THE COUNT OF MONTE CRISTO (***, PG-13) James Caviezel portrays Edmond Dantes, a low-born 18th-century adventurer betrayed by his friend Fernand Mondego (Guy Pearce). Based on the Alexander Dumas classic, it's the kind of adventure picture the studios churned out in the Golden Age. Augusta Village.

THE LORD OF THE RINGS: THE FELLOWSHIP OF THE RING (***, PG-13) J.R.R. Tolkien's masterpiece has been transmuted into a modern sword-and-sorcery epic at the cost of the book's naive and guileless vision. Augusta Village.

THE NEW GUY (PG-13) There are smart movies and funny movies on the subject of white kids taking on a black "gangsta" pose as an identity in high school. This is neither. Every time it is about to reach a comic or intellectual epiphany, it sputters, wasting another perfectly good moment. It tallies up to a wasted 100 minutes. DJ Qualls, (Road Trip) stars. Aiken Mall, Augusta Exchange, Evans and Masters.

THE ROOKIE (**, G) Dennis Quaid stars as a West Texas high school baseball coach who never realized his dream of pitching in the big leagues. His team discovers he still has a mean fastball, and makes him promise to try out for the majors if they can get to the finals. After the setup, autopilot takes over. Aiken Mall, Augusta Exchange and Evans.

THE SCORPION KING (** 1/2 , PG-13) The Rock stars as a professional assassin hired to kill the Scorpion King, in a movie set long, long before The Rock himself became the Scorpion in The Mummy Returns. Special effects so carelessly exuberant you can grin at them. Pretty good at being exactly what it seems to be, an action movie that embraces its goofiness. Aiken Mall, Augusta Exchange, Big Mo, Evans, Masters and Pastime.

THE TIME MACHINE (* 1/2 , PG-13) A witless recycling of the H.G. Wells story from 1895, with Guy Pearce as a professor who invents a time machine, tries to change the course of history, and lands 800,000 years in the future in a world where humans have split into fearsome cavern-dwelling Morlocks and beautiful forest-dwelling Eloi, who are a food source. Augusta Village.

UNFAITHFUL (***, R) Diane Lane and Richard Gere play a happily married suburban couple - one child, big home. One windy day she drives into New York, is literally blown down on top of rare-book dealer Paul Martel (Olivier Martinez), and is invited upstairs for Band-Aids and a cup of tea. Soon she's having a passionate affair with this man, for no better reason than that she wants to. Augusta Exchange, Aiken Mall, Evans and Masters.

THEATERS

AIKEN MALL, 300 Eastgate Drive, (803) 641-0000

AUGUSTA EXCHANGE 20, Wheeler Road at Bobby Jones Expressway, 667-9713

AUGUSTA VILLAGE, 1323 Augusta West Parkway, 860-4990

BIG MO DRIVE-IN, U.S. Highway 1, Monetta, S.C., (803) 685-7949

EVANS 12 CINEMAS,Belair Road at Washington Road, 869-1269

MASTERS 7 CINEMAS,2824 Washington Road, 736-4444

PAL THEATER,134 W. Broad St., Louisville, Ga., (912) 625-9998

PASTIME THEATER,Sandersville, Ga., (478) 625-9998

THOMSON TWIN CINEMA, Main Street, (706) 595-7317