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Short Subjectives 

Capsule reviews of films by CL critics

Page 5 of 6

THE PRINCE & ME (PG) A pampered Danish prince (Luke Mably) falls for a no-nonsense pre-med student (Julia Stiles) in this rom-com that derives equally from The Prince and the Pauper and Cinderella. Stiles shows more charm than usual, and her discomfort in the Danish court makes up a bit for the sluggish, prince-out-of-water scenes in America. The film almost challenges the storybook princess fantasy fetishized in recent teen films, but chickens out at the last minute. --CH

THE PUNISHER (R) Based on the Marvel Comics character, The Punisher hides the heart of a cheap action movie underneath its designer knockoffs. An undercover FBI agent (Thomas Jane) participates in a bust that kills the son of a crime lord (John Travolta), who takes vengeance on the agent's entire family. Jane doesn't officially become The Punisher until the end of the movie, but he gives and receives plenty of punishment on the way to his Othello-inspired revenge. --SW

THE RETURN (NR) After an absence of 12 year, an enigmatic father revisits the teenaged sons he's never known and drags them on an increasingly-fraught fishing trip. First-time director Andrei Zvyagintsev emulates the eerie, icy formalism of Stanley Kubrick as power struggles play out until the shocking climax. With a grim but gripping story rich with allegory, The Return does for father-son bonding what Animal Farm did for agriculture. Landmark Midtown Art Cinema. --CH

RHINOCEROS EYES (R) What might have made for an interesting short film becomes a stretched-beyond-its-capablities feature about a shy, shut-in gopher in a movie prop house Chep (Michael Pitt) who will go to any lengths to secure the odd prop requests made by the beautiful Fran (Paige Turco). Director Aaron Woodley (David Cronenberg's nephew) is clearly inspired by the fantastic worlds of Jan Svankmajer and Marc Caro and Jean-Pierre Jeunet. But his imagination seems to begins and end with the set design and the story fizzles early on. At Madstone Theaters Parkside. --FF

SACRED PLANET (G) Exceptionally beautiful, even by Imax standards, Sacred Planet takes a visit to "some of the last pristine places on Earth" -- or as they're known in some circles, undeveloped real estate. Narrated by Robert Redford, segments filmed on three continents provide similar ecological messages from people who "live in harmony with their natural surroundings" through methods independently thousands of miles apart at a time before long-distance travel or communication. If this doesn't make you hug a tree, nothing will. At Regal's Mall of Georgia Imax Cinema. --SW

SCOOBY DOO 2: MONSTERS UNLEASHED (PG) Those meddling kids and their mangy mutt return for another bout of ghostbusting. This time the sleuthing teens face an uber-evil nemesis -- "The Evil Masked Figure" -- hell-bent on re-animating the ghosts and villains of cartoons past to wreak havoc on the citizens of Coolsville, as well as the gang's spotless reputation. A series of cameos (Alicia Silverstone, Seth Green and Peter Boyle) does little to distract from the film's lame plot, poor casting and even worse digital animation: Hollywood, step away from your computers. --KK

13 GOING ON 30 (PG-13) Jenna Rink is a sweet but awkward teen circa 1980s who only wants the simple things in life -- a date with Rick Springfield, boundless popularity and to skip adolescence and be 30 already. With the aid of a birthday wish, the 13-year-old wakes up to find herself in 2004 as 30-year-old Jennifer Garner, a sexy, successful magazine editor in New York. The territory is familiar (thinkBig or Freaky Friday), but Garner keeps things interesting. --KK

THE TRIPLETS OF BELLEVILLE (PG-13) An elderly Frenchwoman and her obese dog face harrowing yet ridiculous obstacles to rescue her bicyclist grandson from French mobsters. Like a Gallic "Wallace & Gromit," this French cartoon feature superbly embraces silent movie-style slapstick and deadpan character animation. The film's bouncy, haunting music have justly earned it a Best Song Oscar nomination. --CH

VAN HELSING (PG-13) Bram Stoker's elderly vampire hunter becomes a buff, gadget-toting action figure (played by Hugh Jackman). Writer-director Stephen Sommers blows a fortune in computer effects to desecrate our memories of Dracula, The Wolf Man and the Frankenstein monster. Overblown and dimwitted in every respect, Van Helsing unintentionally reaches heights of comedy and camp undreamed of by The Rocky Horror Picture Show. --CH

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