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STAR TREK 4 stars (PG-13) In the 23rd century, young James T. Kirk (Chris Pine), Spock (Zachary Quinto) and the rest of the Enterprise crew come together to stop a time-traveling Romulan (Eric Bana). Director J.J. Abrams takes an approach similar to his treatment of Mission: Impossible III, offering a Trek that's bigger, louder, younger and above all, faster than any previous model of the Enterprise. If conspicuously low on the humanism that originated with Gene Roddenberry and informed the rest of the films, the new, odd-numbered Star Trek provides superb escapist entertainment and will enlist the next generation of fans. — HolmanTHE STONING OF SORAYA M. (R) A drama set in 1986 Iran and centered on a man, Freidoune (James Caviezel), whose car breaks down in a remote village. He enters into a conversation with Zahra (Shohreh Aghdashloo), who relays to him the story about her niece, Soraya (Mozhan Marnò), whose arranged marriage to an abusive tyrant had a tragic ending.
THE TAKING OF PELHAM 1 2 3 2 stars (PG-13) A subway dispatcher under an ethics investigation (Denzel Washington) becomes an unexpected hostage negotiator when four heavily-armed jerks (led by John Travolta) hijack an NYC subway car. Ultra-stylish director Tony Scott would seem to be perfect for this material, but instead he weakens the ticking-clock suspense with breakneck editing and the overused, fake-slomo effect called speed ramping. Washington's immense talent shines through, but Travolta's ham-tastic overemoting goes completely off the rails. — Holman
TERMINATOR SALVATION 4 stars (PG-13) In 2018, rising resistance soldier John Connor (Christian Bale) questions the motives of an ass-kicking, well-intentioned stranger (Sam Worthington) who seems oddly ill-informed about all the killer robots trying to wipe out humanity. Salvation offers thin characterizations but does justice to the post-apocalyptic mythos that James Cameron hinted at in the first Terminator movies. Charlie's Angels director McG helms awesome action scenes that are like having metal stuff thrown at your head — in a good way. — Holman
TRANSFORMERS: REVENGE OF THE FALLEN (PG-13) The Autobots, those heroic space robots, must protect Sam Witwicky (Shia LeBeouf) from the evil Decepticons when the teen journeys from college campus to Egyptian desert to find an Earth-shaking artifact called the Matrix of Leadership. Bay’s original Transformers was hardly an exercise in subtlety, but at least it offered a sense of discovery and built some genuine suspense. At once sillier and more pompous, the sequel makes a chaotic hash of things from practically the first scene and draws out for two and a half deafening hours. If only it could transform into a movie that doesn’t suck. — HolmanTHE UGLY TRUTH (PG-13) In this rom-com from the director of Monster-in-Law, an unmarried morning TV show producer (“Gray’s Anatomy’s” Katherine Heigl) becomes reluctantly teamed with a boorish on-hair personality (300’s Gerard Butler) for a series on dating and relationships. I wonder if they’ll fall in love?
UP 5 stars (PG) An elderly widower (voiced by Ed Asner) uses zillions of balloons to take his house on airborne adventure, unwittingly bringing a pesky boy scout (Jordan Nagai) along for the ride. Monsters, Inc. director Pete Docter helms Pixar's latest masterpiece, which begins with an achingly lovely montage of a marriage and builds to a rousing adventure story that combines Jules Verne, Indiana Jones and some of the most hilarious dog jokes every put on film. Plus, the instantly-iconic image of the floating house accumulates considerable richness as a metaphor for life and memory. — Holman
WHATEVER WORKS (PG-13) In the latest film from writer/director Woody Allen, Larry David plays a curmudgeonly ex-physics professor and self-professed genius who shelters a young Southern runaway (Evan Rachel Wood) and marries her, despite their sharp personal differences. Dusting off a 30-year-old script written for the late Zero Mostel, Allen covers familiar territory while showing breathtaking condescension to women and Southerners. David has fun with some Groucho Marx-like put-downs, but his acting lacks the subtlety to flesh out the character. As a Southern matron transformed by New York, Patricia Clarkson steals the film, but it’s not really much of a theft. — Holman
YEAR ONE 3 stars (PG-13) This cavecore buddy comedy from director Harold Ramis and producer Judd Apatow pits hunter Zed (Jack Black) and gatherer Oh (Michael Cera) against the ancient world. After Zed tastes the fruit of the tree of knowledge (and inadvertently sets fire to his primitive village), the pair embarks on a quest to find the meaning of life, and rescue a couple of bangin' cave chicks. The film's replete with Old Testament references, from Cain and Abel (played by David Cross and Paul Rudd, respectively) to Sodom and Gomorrah, not to mention penis jokes and elaborate hair and wardrobe changes.
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