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HANCOCK 3 stars (PG-13) Will Smith plays hilariously against his slick megastar image as John Hancock, a superhero with Kryptonian powers who's nevertheless a drunken, surly jerk who causes more problems than he alleviates. The first hour or so of Hancock has a great deal of fun with its premise, which satirizes superheroes and misbehaving celebrities, and gives Hancock an amusing foil in Jason Bateman's idealistic publicist (now there's a contradiction in terms). The last section throws logic, humor and audience goodwill out the window, and no one catches the movie when it falls. -- Holman
THE HAPPENING 2 stars (R) An unexplained toxic event causes people to commit suicide en masse, beginning in Central Park and spreading throughout the Northeast. The question is, what happened to Sixth Sense writer/director M. Night Shyamalan? He presents a few eerie sequences in this unsatisfying "Twilight Zone"-type horror tale with heavy-handed riffs on 9/11 and environmentalism. Alas, he seems to have completely lost the ability to write or direct human beings we can care about and misuses such actors as Mark Wahlberg and Zooey Deschanel. -- Holman
HELLBOY II: THE GOLDEN ARMY 3 stars (PG-13) Wisecracking outcast demon Hellboy (Ron Perlman) and his ghostbusting pals try to stop a pissed-off prince (Luke Goss) of mystical beings from waging war on the human race. Pan's Labyrinth director Guillermo del Toro may be a visionary filmmaker, but isn't much of a juggler, and here he takes on more themes, subplots and running gags than he can handle. With Hellboy II, he'll have to settle for offering one of the most outlandishly stylish screen fantasies ever made. -- Holman
HELL RIDE (R) Quentin Tarantino presents writer/director/actor Larry Bishop's spaghetti-Western-style action thriller about the Victors -- a group of vengeful bikers -- and their rival gang, the 666ers.
HENRY POOLE IS HERE (PG) Luke Wilson plays Henry Poole, a disillusioned man attempting to live his life as a recluse in a suburban society that just won’t leave him alone.
THE INCREDIBLE HULK 3 stars (PG-13) In this snappy do-over sequel to Ang Lee's sluggish, overthought Hulk in 2003, fugitive scientist Bruce Banner (Edward Norton) seeks a cure for the anger-management condition that turns him into raging green giant. Transporter 2 director Louis Leterrier not only sets a fast pace and crafts plenty of CGI mayhem, he and the cast (including Liv Tyler, Tim Roth and William Hurt) find the soap-operatic heart of the story. All comic book movies should be at least this good. -- Holman
INDIANA JONES AND THE KINGDOM OF THE CRYSTAL SKULL 3 stars (PG-13) The latest Indy flick embraces the franchise's nostalgia for itself, but the sentimental streak seems justifiable given the 19-year interim between chapters. It isn't exactly a fresh film adventure -- an automotive chase through the jungle feels like an undisguised retread of Raiders of the Lost Ark's truck chase. But Crystal Skull comes across not as lazy, but laid-back, as though the filmmakers have too much confidence to panic about trying to top the earlier films, or compete with their younger selves. -- Holman
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
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
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
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