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Movie Picks


*Chicken Run (G)

Peter Lord and Nick Park, creators of Wallace and Gromit, have crafted a devilishly clever clay animation feature film that is as thoroughly British in its humor as it is enjoyable to watch. A band of hyperkinetic European chickens, imprisoned in a stalag-type egg farm run by a tyrannical husband and wife team, struggle to escape with the questionable aid of a cocky American Rooster named Rocky (voice by Mel Gibson). Chicken Run is a classy melding of story ideas from movies like The Great Escape, Cool Hand Luke, Stalag 17 and even Charlie Chaplin's Modern Times. It's easy to take for granted the painstaking process of frame-at-a-time filmmaking that clay animation requires when watching the film because the filmmakers have done such a superb job of seamlessly blending flawless set and figure design with story and character. Chicken Run is every bit as ridiculous as the title suggests and carries with it a look and style that, while referencing a tradition of escape movies, surprises the audience with its ingenuity and cheeky brand of British satire. See full review.-- Cole Smithey

Tinseltown; Chapel Hills; Academy Station 6; Citadel Terrace

Frequency (PG-13)

Director Gregory Hoblit knows how to create tension, and succeeds here with dark lighting, a cast of compelling characters and the magnetic charm of late 1960s New York summer nights. Unfortunately, Hoblit was swayed somewhere in the production process, and gradually the threads of the story he set out to tell begin to unravel as he throws in too much new stuff -- like cheap special effects in the climactic scene -- and succumbs, finally, to a completely illogical and smarmy happy, happy and totally implausible ending. See full review.-- KCE

Tiffany Square

*Gladiator (R)

Russell Crowe (The Insider) acts up a righteous storm in his Roman get-up, proving once and for all that his versatility as an actor matches his prowess. Though director Ridley Scott would like you to think Gladiator is about strength, honor, duty, democracy and the danger of mob rule, in truth, it is an old-fashioned revenge drama -- and a pretty good one at that. Crowe as Maximus, beloved general of Roman troops turned slave, then gladiator, and Joaquin Phoenix as Commodus, insecure usurper to the throne, make marvelous foes. Unfortunately, Scott is so enamored of his production team's ability to show heads, hands and other body parts being severed, that the fight scenes become clamorous and redundant.See full review. -- KCE

Chapel Hills; Tinseltown

*Keeping the Faith (PG-13)

Gifted young actor and now director Edward Norton comes forward with a sweet Gen-X piece in which three childhood best friends -- Brian (Norton), now a Catholic priest; Jake (Ben Stiller), now a rabbi; and Anna (Jenna Elfman) -- are reunited at the crest of real adulthood, just as they turn 30. When Anna returns to New York City, Jake and Brian hook back up with her, and both of them immediately fall hopelessly in love. The resulting complications echo classic screwball romances of the 1940s. The three young actors maintain a believable, warm rapport throughout the film, and their story is absolutely endearing. See full review.-- KCE

Silver Cinemas

*M: I-2 (Mission: Impossible 2) (PG-13)

Mission: Impossible 2 revels in the seductiveness of masculine super action with all the bells and whistles of techno-gadgets, fast cars and explosions attached. It's more romantic than anything in a James Bond movie and boasts better Kung Fu scenes than The Matrix. Director John Woo keeps similarities to director Brian De Palma's 1996 Mission Impossible to a minimum in this very dissimilar sequel by incorporating his signature slow motion, ballet-of-bullets action sequences against the taut resolve of Tom Cruise's most ambitious action performance to date. Cruise performed his own stunts, much to the chagrin of Paramount studio execs. The film's realism of danger allows it to operate on a higher level of believability and determination. See full review.-- Cole Smithey

Tinseltown; Citadel Terrace; Chapel Hills

My Dog Skip (PG)

There isn't really much that holds this film together besides a rather ponderous narration that says, "Skip helped me turn from a child to a boy," or "Skip helped me turn from a boy into a man." There are some good performances by Kevin Bacon who plays Willie's dour and over-protective father and Willie himself, played by funny-faced young actor Frankie Muniz. Most compelling of all are the dogs who play Skip -- the wizards of Hollywood animal training are able to teach these dogs to do great things on command, from climbing into a toilet to running wide choreographed circles to disrupt a baseball game. By all accounts, Skip really was a remarkable animal.See full review. -- AL


The Patriot (R)

A concept movie surprisingly similar to director Ridley Scott's Gladiator. Both films run over two-and-a-half hours long and carry a tried-and-true formula: national freedom by way of revenge over brutally murdered family members. Clunky script devices continually squeak and rattle throughout the movie. And the film's pitiful attempt at black and white race relations revisionism is glaring. By watching this film for historical context, an audience gets no sense of the tensions that sent this country into civil war not so long after the end of the Revolutionary War. The Patriot is a Mel Gibson movie. Screenwriter Robert Rodat bows reverently to his leading character with radiant attention, and Gibson is a perfect choice for Rodat's amalgamated war hero because he embodies a Humphrey Bogart style of acting craftsmanship that obscures things like any inkling that he could hail from the south. Gibson can perfectly walk a tightrope over any dramatic context with artless skill. The Patriot is an uncomfortably smooth ride over mixed terrain of emotional posturing, flashy action sequences and cultural misrepresentation. See full review.-- Cole Smithey

Chapel Hills, Tinseltown, Kimball's Twin Peak, Academy Station 6; Carmike 10;

*The Perfect Storm (PG-13)

Kimball's Twin Peak, Carmike 10, Tinseltown; Chapel Hills, Academy Station 6

*Return to Me (PG)

Bob Rueland (David Duchovny) is madly in love with his wife, who dies suddenly in a car crash. Her heart is donated to an anonymous recipient, who turns out to be Grace Briggs (Minnie Driver). Grace works in an Irish-Italian restaurant owned by her grandfather (Carroll O'Connor). Duchovny happens to end up there one day and some miraculous force immediately attracts the two. Despite this silly premise, Return to Me really is a perfectly fine romantic comedy. Like a decent marriage in its middle years, Return to Me is mostly predictable and formulaic, and comforting in its solidity. See full review.-- AL

Silver Cinemas

Titan A.E. (PG-13)

Billing itself as the "first animated science fiction film," Titan A.E. (After Earth) threatens to forever condemn the genre because of its insipid storyline, pathetically cheesy rock soundtrack, and half-assed blending of 2-D and 3-D animation. Touting a cast of voice-over talent that includes Jeneane Garofalo, Bill Pullman, Drew Barrymore, John Leguizamo, and Matt Damon as Cale,Titan A.E. limps and lurches in dialogue. The a to b to c plot is as thoroughly boring as its soundtrack is vomit inducing. The colorful and exotic animation spectacle may be fascinating to look at for the first 20 minutes, but the movie would fare far better if it consisted only of background action without the encumbrance of silly characters and pandering dialogue. See full review.-- Cole Smithey

Tinseltown; Chapel Hills

28 Days (PG-13)

Pretty, feisty Sandra Bullock is Gwen, a New York party girl and writer (one of those who is fabulously successful despite the rare appearance of any work in her life), whose drinking and drugging lifestyle eventually lead her to a court-enforced stay in a rehab center. Once there, Gwen falls in with an eccentric cast of inmates who spend the bulk of the movie intoning the tenets of addiction treatment programs while looking like the cast of Friends. This kind of dark comedy is hard to pull off, and director Betty Thomas' interpretation of Susannah Grant's script is merely functional -- it gets the point across, but loses any memorable characterizations in its predictability. Eminently watchable, but strangely lightweight. -- KCE

Silver Cinemas


Casablanca (not rated)

The classic WWII romance starring Humphrey Bogart, Ingrid Bergman and Peter Lorre. Followed by a discussion with G film critic Warren Epstein.

PPCC downtown campus, 100 W. Pikes Peak, 540-7224. Part of the Love at the Movies series. $20 for all 3 films or $10 each. Reservations required. Thurs., July 6, 1:30 p.m.

*Disney's The Kid (PG)

Citadel Terrace; Tinseltown; Chapel Hills

On the Town (not rated)

Frank Sinatra and Gene Kelly are swingin', singin' sailors looking for love on leave in New York City. Highly entertaining Academy Award winner.

Fine Arts Center, 30 W. Dale St. $2.75, 634-5583. Tues., July 11, 7:30 p.m.

Scary Movie (R)

A parody of recent horror films, including the Screamtrilogy and The Sixth Sense. Starring Marlon and Shawn Wayans and Cheri Oteri.

Tiffany Square; Academy Station 6; Carmike 10; Tinseltown

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