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3:10 to Yuma (1957)

A- | ***½ | +2| Teens & Up

Although not as nerve-wracking as High Noon, 3:10 to Yuma is even more claustrophobic — the heart of the film is the verbal sparring between Evans and Wade in a second-story hotel room — and the two-character drama is more intriguing than High Noon’s protagonist standing alone. Read More >

3:10 to Yuma (2007)

D | **½ | -3| Adults*

There’s no spiritual duel, no earned respect and debt of honor. There is just a broken man and a capricious one: one harboring hopeless dreams of being a man again in the eyes of his wife and son but no hope of achieving it; the other larger than life, an implacable force of nature able to kill men and seduce women essentially at will, and who never has any reason to honor or respect the other man, but could conceivably take pity on him and go along with him, if it strikes his fancy. Read More >

The Dark Crystal (1982)

C | **½ | -2| Teens & Up*

Imaginatively ambitious and often visually engaging, The Dark Crystal resolutely remains a distant, uninvolving experience. The filmmakers’ attention seems occupied by the technical challenges of bringing this fictional world to life; characters and emotions, even by the archetypal standards of high fantasy, never come to life, and the overarching mythology seems too self-consciously contrived rather than taking on a mythic reality of its own. Read More >

Labyrinth (1986)

C | **½ | -1| Kids & Up*

Despite some imaginative visuals, such as the Escher-inspired omnidirectional castle at the finale, Labyrinth suffers from a distinct lack of charm, with poorly thought-out characters, limp plotting and a limp climax. Although positioned as a coming-of-age tale, Labyrinth indulges rather than challenges Sarah’s heroic-princess fantasies, with a made-to-order adversary whose whole world, for no very obvious reason, seems to revolve around Sarah. Read More >

Arctic Tale (2007)

B- | **½ | +0| Kids & Up

Arctic Tale is co-presented by National Geographic Films, which released March of the Penguins, and Paramount Classics, which released An Inconvenient Truth, and when it grows up Arctic Tale would like to be both of those films. Read More >

Rush Hour 3 (2007)

C+ | **½ | -2| Teens & Up*

Rush Hour 3 is a half-hour of brilliance, preceded by an hour of dreck. That’s a roughly comparable dreck-to-brilliance ratio to the first two Rush Hour movies, I guess, and par for the course for Jackie Chan’s Hollywood films (and a fair number of his Asian ones). It’s just that the earlier Rush Hour movies are hit-and-miss throughout, whereas Rush Hour 3 is basically non-stop missing for an hour, saving all its hits for the end. Read More >

The Bourne Ultimatum (2007)

A- | ***½ | +2| Adults

With The Bourne Ultimatum the eponymous hero has accomplished something rare indeed: Jason Bourne has gone the distance for three straight films. With The Bourne Identity and The Bourne Supremacy, The Bourne Ultimatum seals the achievement of a rare action franchise for thinking adults, combining gripping entertainment with an undercurrent of moral seriousness. Read More >

Sunshine (2007)

B- | *** | -1| Adults

For an hour or so it threatens to be one of the best movies of the year, but in the end, despite sci‑fi razzle-dazzle and some undeniably powerful images, Sunshine ultimately settles for puzzling rather than mysterious. Read More >

The Mormons [The American Experience/Frontline] (2007)

B | *** | -1| Teens & Up*

Directed by Helen Whitney (“John Paul II – The Millennial Pope”), “The Mormons” is at once as scrupulously respectful and sympathetic as any religious adherent might hope for in such a treatment, while also dealing directly and fairly with thorny subjects from Joseph Smith’s evolving accounts of his religious experiences to the Mountain Meadow Massacre of 120 travelers by Utah Mormons and the subsequent church cover-up. Read More >

Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (2007)

B | *** | +1-1| Teens & Up

The level of magical eye candy is noticeably lower than previous installments… On the other hand, Ron and Hermione, though probably short-changed compared to the book, are better used here than in the previous film. Best of all is Harry’s leading role in Dumbledore’s Army, marking a major advance in proactive engagement from a protagonist who for too much of the first four chapters has been largely passive. Read More >

Ratatouille (2007)

A- | ***½ | +2| Kids & Up*

Ratatouille is a revelation — a delightfully surprising discovery in a genre that seldom surprises even savvy youngsters, a warm and winsome confection that will be treasured by viewers young and old long after the mediocrities of summer 2007 have been justly forgotten. Read More >

Live Free or Die Hard (2007)

B | *** | -1| Teens & Up*

Wisely, Live Free doesn’t try to replicate the paranoia or intimidation of the first film. Twenty years later, battered by life, John can no longer be that panicky, brash cop, and Live Free shrewdly uses his history to advantage, establishing him as a dogged, world-weary old warrior who may still get mad and even desperate, but can’t really get all that frightened any more. Read More >

Evan Almighty (2007)

C+ | ** | +1| Kids & Up

Harmless, diverting, very mildly uplifting, Evan Almighty offers passable family entertainment meant to appeal equally to Bible-believing conservatives and left-leaning environmentalists. Read More >

Longford (2006)

A | ***½ | +3| Teens & Up*

Though thematically similar to Dead Man Walking, Longford grapples more directly and thoughtfully with religious themes, and doesn’t glorify its eccentric, somewhat tragic protagonist the way Dead Man Walking extols Sister Préjean. Read More >

Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer (2007)

C | ** | -1| Teens & Up

Perhaps this is what is most fundamentally wrong with the Fantastic Four franchise: None of these allegedly “fantastic” heroes has any gravitas, any actual heroic weight or depth of character. There’s nothing particularly noble, compelling or even interesting about them. Far from inspiring admiration, they don’t rise even to the level of thinking, acting and relating like grown-ups. Read More >

Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End (2007)

C- | ** | +0| Teens & Up

If Dead Man’s Chest was inspiration gone amok, At World’s End is more — much, much, much more — of the same, only without the inspiration. In every respect it outdoes its predecessor, except in charm, entertainment and fun. Add Pirates of the Caribbean to the roster of franchises foundering on the rocks the third time out. Read More >

Shrek the Third (2007)

C | ** | -1| Kids & Up*

Shrek the Third continues the deliberate bad taste that is the franchise’s hallmark, with the usual hit-and-miss results… What’s missing is the heart that leavened the first two films. Read More >

Spider-Man 3 (2007)

A- | ***½ | +1| Teens & Up

Spider‑Man 3 is a movie stuffed to bursting — with action, plotlines, characters, humor, energy, moods, spectacle and certainly inspiration. Like its web-headed hero careening crazily through the canyons of Manhattan at the end of a web-line, the film swings breathlessly and without warning from one thing to another, from breakneck excitement to outrageous silliness to comic-book morals about responsibility, sacrifice and now even vengeance and forgiveness. Read More >

Happy Feet (2006)

C- | *** | -2| Kids & Up*

No, it wouldn’t be entirely accurate to call the CGI cartoon Happy Feet an effort to claim penguins for the other side of the culture wars. But it wouldn’t be wholly wrong either. Read More >

Children of Men (2006)

B | *** | +1-2| Adults*

It is a truism that every childbirth is a miracle. Children of Men sets that truism in sharp relief, envisioning a world in which a single ordinary conception, pregnancy and childbirth seems almost as miraculous — and portentous — as a virgin birth. Read More >

Bridge to Terabithia (2007)

B- | **½ | +1| Kids & Up*

As with Walden’s recent Charlotte’s Web, the key points of the book are here, for the most part, but hampered by irrelevant “family film” clutter — in this case unmagical fantasy sequences jarringly at odds with the story’s most significant plot point. Read More >

The Namesake (2007)

B | *** | +1-2| Teens & Up*

At the end of its 122 minutes, perhaps, few if any of the story’s various partial threads have really been resolved. Open-ended and somewhat scattered, The Namesake is generally engaging but feels elusively incomplete. One could say it is about the journey rather than the destination. A more disciplined approach to the screenplay might have distilled Lahiri’s 300-page novel into something more satisfyingly focused. Instead, frequent Nair collaborator Sooni Taraporevala chooses to sketch in and gesture at as much of the book as possible, trusting viewers to supply the rest. Read More >

Fires on the Plain (1959)

B+ | ***½ | +1| Teens & Up*

Unlike Ichikawa’s The Burmese Harp, which preserved the overt Buddhist milieu of the original book, the film version of Fires on the Plain eliminates the religious, in this case Christian, dimension of its source material. While both films may be called “anti-war” or “pacifist,” The Burmese Harp has a larger humanistic perspective on the riddle of suffering and the place of human values amid inhuman circumstances that goes far beyond a simple deploring of war. Fires on the Plain doesn’t transcend the “war is hell” genre in the same way, though the aesthetic rigor of its descent into hell is about as exacting and definitive as such a thing can be. Read More >

Beyond the Gates (2005)

B | **½ | +2| Teens & Up

Beyond the Gates is most worth seeing for its uncompromising portrait of a more representative episode in the Rwandan genocide than the events depicted in Hotel Rwanda. At the same time, it offers little insight into the Hutu or Tutsi experience. Read More >

Captain Horatio Hornblower (1951)

B+ | ***½ | +0| Kids & Up*

Directed by Raoul Walsh (The Thief of Bagdad) from a screenplay adapted by Forester himself from his first three novels, the film deftly balances some of the best age-of-sail sea battles ever filmed with a love-interest storyline in which Hornblower finds himself unexpectedly taking on a female passenger, Lady Barbara Wellesley (Virginia Mayo). Read More >

The Astronaut Farmer (2007)

B- | **½ | +1-1| Kids & Up*

Like the full-sized rocket in Charlie’s barn, the Polishes’ film looks every inch what it seems to be. It’s been compared to a Frank Capra film, though it lacks the dark undercurrent and comedic edge that give Capra’s films their heft and stature. Read More >

Ghost Rider (2007)

C- | ** | -2| Teens & Up*

For all their evident interest and affinity for the material, though, the filmmakers haven’t made a very good movie. They’ve figured out how to get Blaze (Cage), the motorcycle-riding hellion who makes a deal with the devil, into the same picture as Carter Slade (Sam Elliott), the originally unconnected (and not even supernatural) Ghost Rider of the Old West. But they haven’t figured out either who Johnny Blaze is as a character, or what the Ghost Rider is all about. Read More >

Into Great Silence (2005)

A+ | **** | +4| Kids & Up

Ultimately, Into Great Silence reveals itself to be about nothing less than the presence of God. So many spiritually aware films — The Seventh Seal, Crimes and Misdemeanors — are about God’s absence or silence. Here is a film that dares to explore the possibility of finding God, of a God who is there for those who seek him with their whole hearts. Read More >

Green for Danger (1946)

A- | ***½ | +0| Teens & Up

Sidney Gilliat’s Green For Danger is an overlooked gem that transplants the trappings of a droll British murder mystery in an unexpected WWII context, with Nazi air raids and an emergency wartime hospital set up in a rural manor home outside London. Read More >

Riding Alone for Thousands of Miles (2005)

B+ | *** | +1| Kids & Up*

The themes are timeless and humane, and if the film isn’t always entirely persuasive, it earns enough viewer goodwill to make up the difference. Funny, visually sumptuous, and bittersweet, Riding Alone movingly suggests that it’s better not to. Read More >

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