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Still in Release
The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe (PG)

Director: Andrew Adamson. With Tilda Swinton, Jim Broadbent. (140 min.)

Adamson, the director of the two "Shrek" films, has done a highly creditable job of visualizing C.S. Lewis's book about four children in the mythical land of Narnia where animals talk. The film works surprisingly well both as a boisterous fantasia and as the Christian fable that Lewis intended. Beneath all the special effects you can detect something recognizably, and cherishably, human. Grade: A-
- Peter Rainer

Electric Shadows (Unrated)

Director: Xiao Jiang. With Xiaotong Guan, Yihong Jiang, Wang Zhengjia. (93 min.)

There's no other way to say it - "Electric Shadows" is the "Cinema Paradiso" of China. And I don't mean by accident, either. This ode to movie love by first-time director Xiao Jiang seems directly patterned on that four-hankie homage to film. Now that China has opened itself up culturally to Western influence, does this mean we're going to be seeing more of these redos? Most of the film is taken up with the story of a young girl who fantasizes that her errant father is a movie star. Her childhood playmate, a grinning sprite wonderfully played by Wang Zhengjia, provides the movie's comic (and tragicomic) highpoints. Things take several turns for the worse as the story plays out, and the film loses much of its charm. But it's a fascinating artifact, and never more so than when it features clips from Chinese and, of all things, Albanian propaganda films.Grade: B
- P.R.

King Kong (PG-13)

Director: Peter Jackson. With Naomi Watts, Adrien Brody. (187 min.)

Ann Darrow (Watts), a struggling actress in Depression-era Manhattan, is picked by Carl Denham as a last-minute replacement to star in his jungle epic. Ultimately she finds herself, literally, in the palm of the giant ape's hands, and director Jackson wants us to feel their love. When she pours it out for Kong as he battles the biplanes atop the Empire State Building, you can almost believe that some day these two will have a rosy future together in some vast Valhalla. Grade: B+
- P.R.

The Ringer (PG-13)

Director: Barry Blaustein. With Johnny Knoxville, Brian Cox. (94 min.)

Too tenderhearted to fire the office custodian, Steve Barker (Knoxville) hires the man as his gardener, only to be stuck with a huge medical bill for an on-the-job injury. Barker's uncle, challenged by gambling debt, has a plan: Have Steve pose as a Special Olympics contestant and win big betting on him. Real-life Special Olympians in the cast prove "differently abled" to be more than a euphemism, but this lame-brained film, shot in 2003, lets them down. Grade: C-
- M.K. Terrell


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