Dark Water. (PG-13) Based on a 2002 Japanese thriller directed by Hideo Nakata (author of The Ring), Dark Water has all the standard elements of a modern scarefest. Woman and child living alone? Check. Creepy, dilapidated house that seems to have a mind of its own? Check. But what might set this film apart from its ilk is a strong lead actress (Jennifer Connelly), an ace supporting cast (John C. Reilly, Tim Roth, Pete Postlethwaite) and a well-respected director (The Motorcycle Diaries' Walter Salles). (Not Reviewed) ARN, CGX, CW10, CC12, DP, EG, EQ, GL, J14, KEN, MR, NW, OF, SP, STCH, STCL, WO
Fantastic Four. (PG-13) You can't swing a sequined cape these days without hitting a comic-book movie. So here comes the Fantastic Four, directed by Tim Story (of Barbershop and, yipes, Taxi) and starring Michael Chiklis, Ioan Gruffud, Chris Evans and Jessica Alba (a quartet also known as "That Guy from The Shield," "Who?," "Who?" and "Oh, Her"). The four superheroes band together to fight Dr. Doom, each using his or her special powers of... aw, hell. Stan Lee's in it, and that's just awesome. (Not Reviewed) ARN, CGX, CC12, DP, EG, EQ, GL, J14, MR, NW, OF, RON, SP, STCH, STCL, WO
March of the Penguins. (G) Reviewed in this issue.
Undead. (R) Set in the small town of Berkeley, Australia, Undead initially seems like a pretty serious and melancholy movie, shot with cold blue and brown filters. Things liven up considerably when a shower of meteors hits, blowing gaping holes through people who then revive as snarling, white-contact-lens-wearing members of the living dead. Zombies alone would be bad enough, but there's also a sudden downpour of acid rain. And beams of light coming from the sky that occasionally levitate items upward into who knows where. Oh, and also some mysterious hooded figures who appear to be made entirely of bright light and are probably from another planet. The plot keeps you guessing and is constantly throwing the characters off track; only the camp factor keeps you from caring quite as much as you should. Initially artsy, then campy, then tense, it would have worked better if writer-directors Peter and Michael Spierig had kept everything serious and let the inherent absurdism of zombie attacks speak for itself without additional ironic comment. (Luke Y. Thompson) TV