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Taken

** ( 2 STARS)

$24.7

million

$24.7 million

1 week

Rated: PG-13

Running time: 93 minutes

What it's about: An ex-CIA man (Liam Neeson, above) becomes an ear-witness, via cell phone, to the abduction of his daughter (Maggie Grace) from a Paris apartment; he proceeds to chop, stab and shoot his way through an underworld of shady Albanians in France.

Our take: This film isn't an enjoyable martial-arts extravaganza; Neeson may be in fighting trim, but the smackdowns are notable for their ferocity rather than their athleticism.

Paul Blart: Mall Cop

** ( 2 STARS)

$13.9

million

$83.2 million

3 weeks

Rated: PG

Running time: 87 minutes

What it's about: Kevin James (above) stars as a fat and clueless security guard who takes on goons that have overrun his New Jersey mall.

Our take: Sure, you'll laugh at times. But you'll feel guilty about it later.

The Uninvited

No stars

$10.3

million

$10.3 million

1 week

Rated: PG-13

Running time: 87 minutes

What it's about: A teen (Emily Browning, above) returns home after a stint in a mental institution to find a cruel stepmother and a vengeful ghost.

Our take: The Uninvited offers ironclad proof that Hollywood should give up the ghost already when it comes to remaking Asian horror movies.

Hotel for Dogs

* 1/2 ( 1 1/2 STARS)

$8.6

million

$48.2 million

3 weeks

Rated: PG

Running time: 100 minutes

What it's about: Thanks to some fairy dust or something, two kids turn an abandoned hotel into a home for every stray dog in town. Of course, the mean old adults want to close it down.

Our take: Save your money by not seeing Hotel for Dogs and buy a cute-dog calendar; it'll prove a lot more endearing, certainly a lot less cloying.

Gran Torino

* 1/2 ( 1 1/2 STARS)

$8.2

million

$110.2 million

8 weeks

Rated: R

Running time: 116 minutes

What it's about: An emotionally scarred and bitter Korean War veteran (Clint Eastwood, above) becomes the unlikely defender of the Hmong brother and sister (Bee Vang, Abney Her) who live next door.

Our take: Even for those who've been yearning to see Dirty Harry clean his hands, this movie delivers only the second- and third-hand goods.

Slumdog Millionaire

**** ( 4 STARS)

$7.6

million

$67.2 million

12 weeks

Rated: R

Running time: 120 minutes

What it's about: The unlikeliest epic hero ever: a ragamuffin (Dev Patel, above, with Freida Pinto) in Mumbai who becomes a contender on the Indian version of Who Wants to Be a Millionaire.

Our take: Director Danny Boyle outdoes himself with a blend of hair-raising social melodrama, earthy humor and mystic adventure. The result is a Dickensian extravaganza.

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