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Duma (PG)

Director: Carroll Ballard. With Alex Michaeletos, Campbell Scott. (100 min.)

Ballard ("The Black Stallion") has such a powerful feeling for the poetry of movement that I would have been content if this movie about a runaway boy and his pet cheetah, had simply shown us two hours of the cheetah. Ballard filmed across hundreds of miles of South African desert, and there are times when the whole throbbing universe seems to resound for him. Duma is ostensibly a children's movie, but adults will want to see it, too. (Opens in Los Angeles and New York.) Grade: A-
- Peter Rainer

Into the Blue (PG-13)

Director: John Stockwell. With Paul Walker, Jessica Alba, Scott Caan. (110 min.)

Four friends searching for a sunken shipwreck in the Bahamas get mixed up with a drug cartel. The film poses ethical dilemmas, but leaves the viewer annoyed when characters continually make foolish decisions. Full of scantily-clad women and gore, its only redeeming value is Sam's (Alba) sense of morality amid the corruption. Grade: C
- Jennifer Moeller

Mirrormask (PG)

Director: Dave McKean. With Stephanie Leonidas, Rob Brydon. (101 min.)

Helena (Leonidas) wishes she could run away from her family circus and "join real life." Like "Alice in Wonderland," her odyssey spirals her through a series of increasingly dark fantasias. Unlike Lewis Carroll's Alice, the wit and invention often flags. This hodgepodge of special and not-so-special effects is the brainchild of Neil Gaiman, the wildly successful comic-book writer and graphic novelist ("Sandman," "Violent Cases," "Coraline"), and multimedia artist David McKean, his frequent collaborator making his feature directing debut with this Jim Henson Company production. At best, Helena's wiggy adventures recall such Jean Cocteau films as "Orpheus" and "Blood of a Poet." At worst, they resemble the Vegas act of Cirque du Soleil. Grade: B
- P.R.

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