Film Openings

Week of November 10, 2004

After the Sunset Brett Ratner. (PG-13) The witless inanity of this failed caper-comedy is so numbing that the only reason to see it is to behold beautiful Salma Hayek in a relentless succession of thongs, sarongs, diaphanous cocktail frocks and all-but-nonexistent bathing suits selected to arouse corporal envy in women and sheer lust among men. Set on a sunsplashed Caribbean resort island, this mess gives us a pair of glamorous jewel thieves (Hayek and popular Bondsman Pierce Brosnan, sporting three days' worth of carefree vacation stubble) who've pulled their last job in LA and retired to paradise -- albeit with a bumbling FBI agent (Woody Harrelson) in hot pursuit. Of course, another diamond the size of a kaiser roll pops up on a cruise ship, provoking temptation on the beach. Part buddy movie, part romantic comedy, part heist thriller, it fails all of its badly mangled genres in equal measure -- thanks to Rush Hour director Brett Ratner and his baffled screenwriters, Paul Zbyszewski and Craig Rosenberg. Don Cheadle and Naomie Harris play locals entangled in an extraneous subplot. Opens Friday, November 12, at multiple locations. (Bill Gallo)

Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason Beeban Kidron. (R) It would be wholly inaccurate to call this an adaptation of Helen Fielding's 1999 best-seller; mutilation's more like it, since this sitcomic version is bereft of the wit, charm, insight and politics of the book. Director Beeban Kidron and the screenwriters (Fielding among them) have excised all the book's interesting bits and amplified all the dimmer ones. They've chosen slapstick over satire and rendered a clumsy woman more than a little dumb. Bridget, again played by Renée Zellweger, isn't even very likable the second time around; the screenwriters have stripped her of charm, of the combustible concoction of confidence tinged with ungainliness that made her a relatable, sympathetic heroine. (Also returning are Colin Firth and Hugh Grant as the men vying for her affection.) Bridget Jones's Diary felt a wee bit authentic; the audiences who adored it did so because they recognized a bit of Bridget in themselves, the lack of will power and self-control commingling with the desire to sex it up and work it out. But The Edge of Reason is too daft and dim to register. Opens Friday, November 12, at multiple locations. (Robert Wilonsky)

The Polar Express Robert Zemeckis. (G) Much as the Lord of the Rings character Gollum was digitally mapped and reproduced via CGI, so too is Tom Hanks computer-generated here as a bald train conductor who looks like Tom Hanks. But he has also been digitally mapped to create a performance for Santa Claus. And a ten-year-old boy. Yet the boy is voiced by Daryl Sabara, and some of his movements are based not on Hanks, but on Josh Hutcherson. It's a lot to take in, but it mostly works. Chris Van Allsburg's book about a train ride to see Santa Claus is used as a source for the beginning and for the final twenty minutes. In between, director Robert Zemeckis has created an action movie for kids, in which our main characters find themselves either hanging off the side of the train or trying to stop it from running too fast in the wrong direction. The climax is a bit sappy, but if you're lucky enough to see the film in 3-D IMAX, those objections are easily ignored. Opens today at multiple locations. (Luke Y. Thompson)

Seed of Chucky Don Mancini. (R) More schlock, campy humor and killin' dolls, this time courtesy of newbie director Don Mancini. The plot (tee hee) centers around Chucky, his ladyfriend Tiffany (the titular Bride of Chucky) and their new addition: a violent, cranky doll-child named Glen. Sound like your cup of ketchup-based blood? Get thee to the multiplex. Opens Friday, November 12, at multiple locations. NR

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