The Dark Knight
The gist: You've been hearing a lot of hyperbole about this one. Visionary. Intense. Relentlessly violent. A Oscar-worthy performance by Heath Ledger. Awesome action sequences. Best comic book movie ever. It's all true. PG-13
Starring: Christian Bale, Heath Ledger, Aaron Eckhart, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Gary Oldman, Michael Caine and Morgan Freeman.
The buzz: More superlatives. "The Dark Knight is a blast of cinematic respectability for an underestimated genre, no less than The Godfather and Stagecoach offered in their eras to previously pulp species," the St. Pete Times raves. "... Come for the action, stay for the art."
The gist: Baby Boomers unwilling or unable to see Batman will delight in this big-screen version of the ABBA-filled exploits of a woman who was so loose back in the day that she doesn't know who the father of her daughter is. At least, that's what we got out of it. PG-13
Starring: Meryl Streep, Pierce Brosnan, Colin Firth, Stellan Skarsg?rd, Julie Walters, Dominic Cooper, Amanda Seyfried and Christine Baranski.
The buzz: Some critics love it (the St. Pete Times did), some absolutely hate it. We think there's probably a age-to-rating ratio that's pretty evenly matched. Says the Chicago Tribune: "It's funny what you buy completely on stage and resist completely, or nearly, on screen. Case in point: Mamma Mia!"
Flight of the Red Balloon
The gist: The 1956 classic, redux. Hint: It's not really about a red balloon at all. Not rated
Starring: Juliette Binoche, Hippolyte Girardot, Simon Iteanu and Fang Song.
The buzz: Hou Hsiao Hsien's remake does the improbable by improving on the Oscar-winning original. "A meditation on art, life, loneliness and the links between friends and strangers, the movie has a grace and humor that's wonderfully inviting," the Philadelphia Inquirer says.
The gist: You see the title; it's probably pretty clear. G
Starring: Voices of Andy Samberg, Cheryl Hines, Patrick Warburton, Kristin Chenoweth and Stanley Tucci.
The buzz: When the star is Andy Samberg, there's trouble ahead. "Sucks a whole lot of talented people into a wormhole of lousy," the Chicago Tribune says. "The film either needed to be a lot wittier to make up for the way it looks, or a lot better-looking to compensate for the funny it isn't."
— Joshua Gillin firstname.lastname@example.org