Short Subjectives 

Capsule reviews of films by CL critics

Page 4 of 4

SAHARA (PG-13) There is something about the cocky, thrill-seeking, globe-trotting adventurer Dirk Pitt with his ability to stamp out the world's problems in a single-blow that just seems, well, ill-timed considering the mounting crises of African genocide and the war in Iraq raging abroad. In this cartoonish adaptation of adventure novelist Clive Cussler's novel, Pitt is a former Navy SEAL turned international treasure hunter with the cool of James Bond and the chops of an army-of-one. He's in Africa hunting a long-lost Civil War battleship and helping a World Health Organization doctor (Penelope Cruz) find the source of a plague killing local villagers in this theme park ride of a movie, not surprisingly directed by outgoing Disney C.E.O. Michael Eisner's son Breck Eisner. - FF

SIN CITY (R) Based on Frank Miller's hard-boiled cult comic books of the same name, Sin City wallows unapologetically in violence, T&A and other preoccupations of adolescent boys of all ages. Co-directors Miller and Robert Rodriguez leer over interlocking tales of chivalrous antiheroes (led by a hulkingly charismatic Mickey Rourke) who take on a corrupt city's sadistic power brokers. Though the film's black-and-white images can sear your retinas, its repetitive plots, grisly slapstick and predictable misogyny can leave you embarrassed to be a geek. - CH

A TALE OF TWO PIZZAS (NR) A feud erupts between two tough New York families over who makes the best pizzas in this comedy directed by Vincent Sassone that stars "Sopranos" veterans Frank Vincent and Vincent "Big Pussy" Pastore. (Just imagine how many heads turned when someone shouted "Hey, Vinnie!" on the set.)

UNLEASHED (R) Who let Jet Li out? The martial arts star plays a nameless enforcer, conditioned by a Scottish mobster (Bob Hoskins) to be a ruthless fighter, only to discover his humanity when befriended by a blind piano tuner (Morgan Freeman). Written and produced by La Femme Nikita's Luc Besson.

WALK ON WATER (NR) While on assignment in Berlin, a ruthless, homophobic Israeli intelligence agent befriends the gay grandson of his target, a Nazi war criminal. With subtitles.

THE WILD PARROTS OF TELEGRAPH HILL (NR) Homeless musician Mark Bittner becomes caretaker to San Francisco's populace of brightly plumed wild parrots in this likable documentary. Practically on a first-name basis with the birds, Bittner identifies with the birds' "outsider" status and other surprisingly human personality traits. With the relaxed, ambling structure of a walk in the park, the documentary offers a kind of bird's-eye view of the misplaced priorities of modern life. - CH

XXX: STATE OF THE UNION (PG-13) With Vin Diesel branching out as the Pacifier, Ice Cube plays another "extreme" secret agent in this sequel to XXX, concerning militaristic crazies trying to take over the U.S. government. Sure, like that could ever happen.

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