Director: Justin Lin. With James Franco, Tyrese Gibson, Donnie Wahlberg. (115 min.)
Jake Huard (Franco) is a local Maryland boy who works in the Annapolis shipyards. All his life he's been told he'll never amount to anything, which seems surprising since he's intelligent and personable and handsome and an expert boxer. But no matter. This is Hollywood. Jake makes it into the freshman class at the United States Naval Academy at Annapolis, where he is told by his superiors that he'll never amount to anything, even though we can see that he's intelligent and personable, etc., etc. His chief nemesis is the company commander, played by Tyrese Gibson with a jaw so steely that he's practically bionic. Any resemblance (except qualitatively) to "An Officer and A Gentleman" is strictly unaccidental. Grade: C
- Peter Rainer
Sex/Nudity: 3 instances of innuendo. Violence: 9 scenes, including fights. Profanity: 29 expressions. Smoking/Alcohol/Drugs: 1 scene of smoking. 5 scenes of drinking.
Director: Michael Winterbottom. With Steve Coogan, Ronni Ancona. (94 min.)
Laurence Sterne's novel "Tristram Shandy" has been deemed unfilmable so many times that it was inevitable someone would eventually film it. Director Michael Winterbottom cheats a bit, though: His "Tristram Shandy: A Cock and Bull Story" is just as much about the making of a movie of Sterne's book as it is about the book itself. The novel's digressions are mirrored by the director's - we are shuttled back and forth between the bewigged exploits of our eponymous gentleman-rake and the machinations of Steve Coogan playing himself playing Shandy. It's all a bit precious and preening, but Coogan is marvelous, almost as good as he was in Winterbottom's "24 Hour Party People." Grade: B
Sex/Nudity: 14 scenes including 2 sex scenes. Violence: 3 scenes. Profanity: 57 strong expressions. Smoking/Alcohol/Drugs: 1 scene of smoking. 14 scenes of drinking.
Director: Len Wiseman. With Kate Beckinsale, Scott Speedman. (105 min.)
Fittingly for a film about a war between werewolves and vampires, "Underworld: Evolution" has so many scenes set in darkness that one could watch it with night-vision goggles. In this sequel, a bedraggled and leatherclad Beckinsale returns as Selene, a vampire with a conscience who races around Eastern Europe in a bid to thwart an evolved vampire (he has bat wings!) from freeing his imprisoned brother, an evolved werewolf (he has bigger teeth!). The gun-toting Beckinsale barely cracks a smile - more vamp next time, please - but scores a perfect 10 for gymnastics and target shooting. For all the scenes of gory mayhem, you'll find more suspense watching the Winter Olympics curling event. Grade: C-
- Stephen Humphries
Sex/Nudity: 3 scenes, including a sex scene and nudity. Violence: 23 gory scenes. Profanity: 8 harsh expressions. Smoking/Alcohol/Drugs: 2 scenes of smoking. 1 scene of drinking.