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Capsules by Michael Sragow and Chris Kaltenbach unless noted. Full reviews are at baltimore

Arctic Tale -- This visually resplendent documentary chronicles life cycles of polar bears and walruses in an age of global warming, but the movie is edited and, worse, narrated in condescending ways that sabotage the magic of the images and even undercut the movie's message that climate change will make all these animals endangered species. (M.S.) G 90 minutes C

The Bourne Ultimatum -- combines a dense and tingling atmosphere with headlong pacing and adventure as director Paul Greengrass takes the minimalist story line and snaps it like a whip. Using his camera to put you in Bourne's (Matt Damon) shoes or his sightlines, cutting with each shift of attention or slash of hand, foot and elbow, Greengrass lets you experience his hero's extreme sensations without overdosing on brutality. The swift, deft filmmaking and the authentic, in-your-eyeballs stunts pitch you at that giddy point of visceral enjoyment where you can't believe you're feeling what you're feeling - but, of course, you do. (M.S.) PG-13 111 minutes A-

Death at a Funeral -- is about a family's vain attempt to bury its patriarch with dignity at his suburban manse in the verdant English countryside. The movie is half-hilarious. It maintains its comical, rocky equilibrium as long as it sticks to domestic disasters and a Monty Python parody of Cat on a Hot Tin Roof; it lacks the dark soul for a real jet-black comedy. But Alan Tudyk, as a proper soul who inadvertently takes hallucinogens, is like a lyric physical poet of the whacked-out. (M.S.) R 90 minutes B

Hairspray -- In 1962 Baltimore, ebullient, obese teen Tracy Turnblad (Nikki Blonsky), who is gung-ho about romance, idealism and rock 'n' roll, helps integrate The Corny Collins Show. Director-choreographer Adam Shankman lets Tracy's jubilation as well as her conscience be his guide: Along with his all-star cast, he gives this musical a zest that gets audiences jumping. (M.S.) PG 117 minutes A

Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix -- Harry must fight the evil of Lord Voldemort and the creeping, insidious cruelties of small-minded bureaucrats. It's a vivid and surprisingly ticklish series entry that leaves you stoked for what comes next. (M.S.) PG-13 138 minutes B+

Hot Rod -- stars Andy Samberg as Rod, a would-be stuntman or stunt-manchild who's trying to raise money for his stepfather's critical heart operation. You may enjoy the way director Akiva Schaffer and Samberg prolong Rod's pratfalls to absurd length, but the pleasure fades because there's no skill to the slapstick, only glorified amateurism. (M.S.) PG-13 88 minutes D-

I Now Pronounce You Chuck & Larry -- Two New York City firefighters (Adam Sandler and Kevin James) "marry" so one can change the beneficiary on his retirement benefits. Blechhh! Sandler and James have no chemistry, and this comedy formula - be as offensive as possible, as long as you see the error of your ways in the end - is indefensible. (C.K.) PG-13 110 minutes D+

The Invasion -- Outer-space organisms once again hitchhike to Earth and take over our bodies and brains while destroying our emotional identities. This movie is too impatient and out of it to express either what makes humans individual or what makes them part of a community in the new millennium. It has nothing going for it except the smashing good looks of Nicole Kidman and Daniel Craig. (M.S.) R 90 minutes C-

My Best Friend -- follows a self-centered Parisian antiques dealer (Daniel Autheil) as he bets his business partner (Julie Gayet) that he can produce a best buddy in 10 days. The movie has a boundless source of emotional Super Glue in Dany Boon as the talkative, generous-to-a-fault cabby who becomes the antihero's instructor in friendship. (M.S.) PG-13 90 minutes B

The Nanny Diaries -- A would-be anthropologist (Scarlett Johansson) fantasizes that she can be a real-life Mary Poppins to an Upper East Side Manhattan tyke (Nicholas Art) and compensate for his abominable parents (Laura Linney and Paul Giamatti). It wants to be a "you'll laugh, you'll cry" kind of movie but is more like "you'll snicker, you'll doze." (M.S.) PG-13 107 minutes C

No End in Sight, -- the untold story of the Iraq war, turns out to be about many people who "tried to save a nation." The film introduces us to diplomats, statesmen, military personnel and scholars who struggled to avert disaster - but were unable to pierce the wall built around President Bush by Donald H. Rumsfeld, Dick Cheney and Paul Wolfowitz, with the assistance of Condoleezza Rice and L. Paul Bremer. If any movie can rid Americans of "Iraq war fatigue," it's this muscular documentary. It provokes potent new feelings of outrage and catalyzes fresh thoughts about the right way to run a government, especially ours. (M.S.) Unrated 102 minutes A+

No Reservations -- wastes its considerable resources, including a pair of formidable actresses - Catherine Zeta-Jones, lovely and commanding as ever, as Kate, a top chef at a fancy New York City restaurant who is too career-obsessed to enjoy life; and the effortlessly charming Abigail Breslin as the unfortunate niece forced to live with her. Too bad the people behind the camera are far too happy to follow well-trod romantic comedy paths when they could at least stretch the genre's boundaries. The result is a bland, forgettable film that goes down too easy for its own good. (C.K.) PG-13 106 minutes C

Ratatouille -- is a sublime dish of a movie: the piece de resistance among Pixar's animated cartoon features. A rat who is a gourmet genius teams with a kitchen cleanup-boy to save a legendary Parisian restaurant. Shakespeare said, "Music is the food of love," but in this movie food is the food of love. And, boy oh boy, does writer-director Brad Bird's play on, or, rather, cook away. This picture makes your eyes tear with laughter and emotion and your mouth water. (M.S.) G 110 minutes A+

Resurrecting the Champ -- A sports reporter (Josh Hartnett), frustrated on the job and aching in his private life, stumbles onto the surefire human-interest story of a homeless former prizefighter (Samuel L. Jackson). Jackson gives a great lost-cause performance as the ex-fighter in a delayed-coming-of-age drama that otherwise throws a weak one-two combination as a sports film and a newspaper movie. (M.S.) PG-13 111 minutes. B-

Rocket Science -- A forlorn teenager (Reece Daniel Thompson) falls hard for a debate-team queen (Anna Kendrick) who has convinced him that he can overcome a woeful stutter and become her power-partner on the highly competitive school squad. Fresh, funny and unfailingly observant, it's a mood-swinging movie about adolescence that lifts audiences' spirits even when its hero is down in the dumps. (M.S.) R 98 minutes A-

Rush Hour 3 -- once again stars Jackie Chan as sly Hong Kong-based Chief Inspector Lee and Chris Tucker as motormouthed, exhibitionist L.A. cop James Carter; this time they travel to Paris so they can crack open the deadly Chinese Triads. The only thing that's up-to-date is the way that 53-year-old Chan demonstrates how a martial artist can segue into pure entertainer with a little help from his friends: he's more willing than ever to detonate a visual punch line by actually getting punched or by helping Tucker prove (or improve) his slapstick strength. (M.S.) PG-13 87 minutes C

The Simpsons Movie -- is the marshmallow on top of an honorable, infectious franchise: It's not just a spinoff but a wised-up family comedy that's spirited and inventive. It retains the farcical belligerence of the TV comedy but also heightens the series' oddball warmth and expands on its Hellzapoppin' slapstick. (M.S.) PG-13 87 minutes A

Stardust -- is named for a glittering celestial body who falls to Earth in the equally beautiful form of Claire Danes and rivets the attention of several major rivals including a decrepit witch-queen (Michelle Pfeiffer), an ambitious prince (Mark Strong) and a moony stripling (Charlie Cox), who promises to catch this fallen star for a vain and uppity town beauty (Sienna Miller). It's a burnished trident of a chase film that's also an appealing and often uproarious series of riffs on transformation: everyone gets the fate (and face) they deserve. Pfeiffer is wonderfully strong and self-satirical, and Robert De Niro is robust and spirited as a pirate with a secret. (M.S.) PG-13 128 minutes B+

Superbad -- Chubby, urgently ebullient Seth (Jonah Hill) and gangly Evan (Michael Cera), uncoordinated and croak-voiced, try to supply the liquor for a party thrown by Seth's dream girl and also attended by Evan's. These two actors and characters are hilarious and persuasive at demonstrating that at the tail end of senior year, two 180-degree-different adolescent males may reach a peak of friendship - or "break up." (M.S.) R 114 minutes B

Transformers, -- an action flick about good vs. bad alien robots carrying their squabble to Earth, has so much going for it - namely, the supremely cool spectacle of watching cars and trucks rearrange themselves into giant robots - that its very real problems are easy to overlook. It stars a game Shia LaBeouf, working overtime to pump personality into his role as the Earthling who unknowingly holds the key to everything. (C.K.) PG-13 140 minutes B

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