Parent Category: News
LARA CROFT, TOMB RAIDER: The Cradle Of Life: Speaking of pouty lips, here comes the divine Angelina Jolie, back again as tomb raider Lara Croft. The sequel is packed with more frenetic stunts than the 2001 edition, but there’s less Freudian angst. None of that messy father-figure mumbo jumbo. This is a movie that prides itself on your believing that an archaeologist and explorer can be so flawless in her vision and erudition that looting temples isn’t a bad thing. Croft ends up in an underwater locale that contains the mythical Pandora's Box, only to have it stolen from her by the leader of an Asian crime syndicate. He’s in cahoots with a villain named Jonathan Reiss who wants to use Pandora’s memories as a doomsday weapon. Racing breathlessly to save the day, crime fighter Lara battles all comers. Not particularly engaging, but definitely exhausting.

HOW TO DEAL: I know how to deal; skip this movie. A mother and daughter duo (Allison Janney and Mandy Moore) end up searching for love at the same time. And that folks is the crux of this melancholy teenage mopefest. One of the weird things about movies is that no matter how long Hollywood makes films, some things never change. The teenage weepy is one of them. When dad dumps mom for a hottie, the family is torn asunder, but the daughter’s puppy love might pull her out the dumps. Janney is very good and actually manages to create a character who breathes life. Parents hurt too. Moore is talented, but this is a “who cares” movie, and I didn’t care about her teen girlfriend’s pregnancy or her boyfriend’s possibilities. It all seemed so calculated.

BAD BOYS II: Of course, How To Deal doesn’t hold a candle to calculated when it comes to Bad Boys II, a sequel, as if one were needed, to the movie that made Will Smith and Martin Lawrence cover boys and future stars way back in 1995. The new caper is well-worn Hollywood territory. Narcotics cops Smith and Lawrence head up a task force investigating the flow of ecstasy into Florida. The movie is loud and violent and utterly worthless. In fact, it borders on grotesque and creepy. There clearly were no checks and balances at the studio when director Michael Bay was given free rein to do whatever he wanted to do with the material. Rough and tumble police work leads to a dangerous drug kingpin, who wants to control Miami’s drug traffic, which touches off a street war among rival gangs. How many cliches can you find in that sentence? The movie has a cruel streak that is dehumanizing and no performance in it deserves merit. Unless your brain already has turned to mush, avoid. By Michael Calleri ALT Movie Editor

PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN: The Curse Of The Black Pearl: Ah, Johnny Depp. Still one of the best and quirkiest actors of his generation. The fact of the matter is this: Depp is so richly and wonderfully over-the-top in this pirate adventure, that he is the reason to see the movie. Call him Long John Silver crossed with Keith Richards crossed with Richard Simmons and you’ve got a handle on the guy. This time around, Depp is Captain Jack Sparrow, a Caribbean pirate out to recapture his beloved ship The Black Pearl, which was taken from him by the dastardly Captain Barbossa (Geoffrey Rush, who tries hard, but can’t out-hoot Depp). The film is a mix of theme park ride (in fact, it is just that - a Disney theme park ride) and ghost movie (a la John Carpenter’s The Fog). How do you care about villains who are already dead? Not sure. Maybe you don’t have to, or shouldn’t. My niece and some nephews (ages 11 through 13) loved this thing. Must have been the fancy and endless swordplay, the damsel in distress, or Orlando Bloom’s androgynous heroics as the pouty-lipped nice guy at the watery party. You have every right to wonder if this movie is an action adventure or a goofy Monty Python parade.