Film Openings

Week of July 27, 2005

Murderball. (R) Reviewed in this issue.

Must Love Dogs. (PG-13) Reviewed in this issue.

Stealth. (PG-13) If the Navy is looking for splashy recruiting tools, it could do worse than this zillion-dollar action movie stuffed with futuristic jet fighters, glamorous carrier pilots (Josh Lucas, Jessica Biel and Jamie Foxx), and an overload of explosive, mostly digital derring-do. It's Top Gun revised and updated, complete with a new array of enemies -- swarthy Middle Eastern terrorists, nervous Russians, and hordes of North Korean infantrymen with murder in their hearts. Stealth is a patriotic revenge fantasy at nine bucks a ticket, popcorn not included. The gizmos include a high-tech drone aircraft that goes berserk, à la HAL in 2001: A Space Odyssey, and a tiny blue bikini filled with Ms. Biel's extraordinary fuselage. Want to bomb a terrorist meeting in Rangoon? Fine. How about a shipment of nukes in Tajikistan? Okay. Care for a daring rescue in Kim Jong Il's inhospitable homeland? You got it. All in a day's work, as Hollywood continues to fill our heads with fantastic nonsense. Directed by Rob Cohen, late of The Fast and the Furious and XXX. (Bill Gallo)

The Tunnel. (Not Rated) German TV movies are pretty much like U.S. TV movies -- expensively mounted and a bit meek where politics and social observation are concerned. So it is with these 153 minutes, an occasionally exciting but emotionally inert melodrama about a group of Germans who, in 1961, tunneled beneath the Berlin Wall to liberate friends and family. The hero of the piece is a former East German swimming champion and defector to the West named Harry Melchior (Heino Ferch), but Harry doesn't give us much in the way of intellectual fire or moral outrage, and director Roland Suso Richter comes up woefully short on the grim details of life in the divided city -- quantities still necessary even 15 years after the end of the Cold War. In a bizarre sidelight, we learn that NBC TV helped fund the tunnel in exchange for the right to film it. (Gallo)

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