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IRON MAN 4 stars (PG-13) After being kidnapped in Afghanistan, industrialist Tony Stark (an exceptional Robert Downey Jr.) uses a flying metal suit to right the wrongs of his company's munitions wing. Marvel Studios builds a better superhero movie by taking such radical innovations as smart writing, rich acting and a recognizable, real-world setting. Enjoying spectacular special effects without relying on them, Iron Man feels more like an American James Bond film than a wannabe Batman or Spider-Man franchise. -- Holman
JOURNEY TO THE CENTER OF THE EARTH 3-D 2 stars (PG) Brendan Fraser plays a scientist who uses Jules Verne's novel Journey to the Center of the Earth as a guide to a prehistoric underground realm. The plot resembles those tame family comedies like Honey, I Shrunk the Kids, but if you've never seen a 3-D film before, you can enjoy the way the characters and filmmakers shove stuff at the audience. Last fall's Beowulf film had more impressive 3-D, though. -- Holman
KIT KITTREDGE: AN AMERICAN GIRL 3 stars (G) This big-screen extension of the American Girl line of dolls and merchandise depicts a plucky would-be reporter (Little Miss Sunshine's Abigail Breslin) and the challenges she faces when her family tries to weather the Great Depression. Parents will appreciate the film's lack of vulgar humor and scary intensity, although it ventures into some unexpectedly grim (and unfortunately timely) themes of the toll of economic downturns on family life. -- Holman
KUNG FU PANDA 4 stars (PG) In fairy-tale, talking-animal China, a fat panda named Po (voiced by Jack Black) is improbably chosen to be the all-powerful "Dragon Warrior." The studio that gave us the Shrek movies downplays the pop references and body-function humor for a satisfying CGI action/comedy that features a splendid visual design and surprisingly exciting fight scenes, including a chopstick fight between Po and his diminutive teacher (voiced by Dustin Hoffman). -- Holman
THE LOVE GURU (PG-13) Raised by Indian gurus, American "love guru" Pitka (Mike Myers) must reunite a star hockey player with his wife and impress the team's owner (Jessica Alba).
MAMMA MIA! 3 stars (PG-13) The songs of 1970s Swedish supergroup ABBA inspire this musical, which trades sequins and disco for the sun and sand of a gorgeous Greek isle. A bride-to-be (Amanda Seyfried) invites the three men who may be her father (Pierce Brosnan, Colin Firth and Stellan Skarsgård) to her wedding, without the knowledge of her single mother (Meryl Streep). The dads can't sing at all, and choreography is practically nonexistent, but the catchy melodies and Streep's upbeat portrayal should give the film plenty of appeal to women of a certain age. Christine Baranski steals the show with a saucy rendition of "Does Your Mother Know." -- Holman
MEET THE BROWNS (PG-13) Writer/director/actor Tyler Perry (Diary of a Mad Black Woman, Madea's Family Reunion) returns with his latest film, based on the stage production of the same name. Brenda (Angela Bassett), a single mother in need of support, moves her family to Georgia to attend the funeral of the father whom she never met and ends up becoming a part of his fun-loving family.
MEET DAVE (PG) Eddie Murphy and Norbit director Brian Robbins come together again in this sci-fi comedy in which a crew of tiny aliens travels to Earth inside Dave (Murphy), their human spacecraft.
MONGOL 4 stars (R) Russian director Sergei Bodrov traces the rise of Temudgin (Japanese actor Tadanobu Asano), better known to history as Genghis Khan, in this sweeping, exciting period piece nominated for a Best Foreign Language Film Academy Award. Not a particularly complex story (it slightly resembles the plot of Conan the Barbarian), Mongol presents the kind of old-school, epic cinema virtues you almost never get to see any more, including starkly beautiful scenery and panoramic battle scenes with hundreds of actors and horses. As he pursues his beloved wife Boorte (Khulan Chuluun) Temudgin displays progressive attitudes toward love and law that make him a Mongol ahead of his time, as well as an ass kicker with a sword. -- Holman
POLAR OPPOSITES (PG-13) Scientists David (Charles Shaughnessy) and Martin (Ken Barnett) are enlisted to help save the world when Iranian nuclear tests cause a rise in solar radiation and earthquake activity. Part of the Everyday Gay Heroes series.
SEX AND THE CITY 2 stars (R) The long-awaited and much-anticipated reunion of Carrie (Sarah Jessica Parker), Miranda (Cynthia Nixon), Samantha (Kim Cattrall) and Charlotte (Kristen Davis) feels too little, too late. After nearly two-and-a-half hours of fashion, complaining and subplots that seem to go nowhere fast, the things that made the show fun don't seem quite so endearing on the big screen. -- Simmons
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