Chris Evans, Ioan Gruffudd, Jessica Alba, and Michael Chiklis in Fantastic FourFANTASTIC FOUR

Fantastic Four is the first comic-book adaptation in ages that doesn't seem ashamed to be a comic-book adaptation, for which I applaud it. No one could possibly argue that the film is better-made than something such as Batman Begins, but I, for one, certainly preferred it; given the choice between this obvious, goofy time-waster or Christopher Nolan's dour mope-fest, I'd go with Fantastic Four every time. What we might lose in subtext, technical precision, and performance quality is more than made up for in inspiration and good humor, and the film has a true sense of playfulness. Finally - screen superheroes who are actually enjoying themselves!

Sean Penn and Nicole Kidman in The InterpreterTHE INTERPRETER

Why do Sydney Pollack's movies so rarely have the snap and directness of his acting? Pollack doesn't appear onscreen nearly enough, and when he does, it's usually only for a scene or two. (His intellectual lout in Husbands & Wives was a rare, marvelous exception.) But these extended cameos - in Tootsie (which he also directed), Death Becomes Her, and Changing Lanes, especially - show Pollack the Actor to be a quick-witted utility player with focus and drive; without the slightest apparent effort, he can steal scenes from Dustin Hoffman or Tom Cruise, and any movie he's in gains in intensity and sharpness when he's around. Pollack the Director is another matter entirely. In the years since 1982's Tootsie, he has churned out one logy, shapeless, middlebrow time-waster after another: Havana, The Firm, Sabrina, Random Hearts ... they all wear their "prestige" on their sleeves, mistake inertia for depth, and are painfully overlong. (It's the Out of Africa Syndrome.)

Naomi Watts in The Ring TwoTHE RING TWO

After sitting through the lifeless horror sequel The Ring Two, the only thing I wanted - besides a major jolt of caffeine to wake me up - was a towel. What is up with all the freakin' water in this movie? With the exceptions of Ariel in The Little Mermaid and Esther Williams in anything, I can't think of a leading actress who spends as much screen time soaked as Naomi Watts does in this half-hearted follow-up to 2002's The Ring.

Marlee Matlin in What the Bleep Do We Know?WHAT THE BLEEP DO WE KNOW?

The ideas expressed in the New Age-y pseudo-doc What the Bleep Do We Know? are inherently intriguing and endlessly debatable. What a shame that the movie itself is such a spectacular mess.

Simon Pegg and Nick Frost in Shaun of the DeadSHAUN OF THE DEAD, THE GRUDGE, and SAW

Halloween has come and gone, but three horror flicks are currently in theaters and - surprise! - two of them are actually good.

Team America: World PoliceTEAM AMERICA: WORLD POLICE

There are so many satirical objects in Team America: World Police, and so many different levels of parody going on at once, that the movie was almost guaranteed to be a mess, and indeed, a few of its stances - particularly those against knee-jerk Hollywood liberals - come off as a little weak.

Morgan Spurlock in Super Size MeSUPER SIZE ME

At its best, Morgan Spurlock's hit documentary Super Size Me plays like an adaptation of Eric Schlosser's exposé Fast Food Nation: smart, funny, well-researched, and scary as hell.

President George W. Bush in Fahrenheit 9/11FAHRENHEIT 9/11

I have several friends, including professed liberals, who can't stand Michael Moore, and it's not hard to see why: Even if you're on-board with Moore's politics, his glibness, bullying tactics, self-promotion, relentless simplifying, and anything-for-a-laugh gags can get in the way of his Bigger Picture, to the point where his methods overcome his message.

The Day After TomorrowTHE DAY AFTER TOMORROW

Despite all the hullabaloo about the film re-opening vociferous debate about global warming and its possible effects, Roland Emmerich's disaster saga The Day After Tomorrow winds up begging exactly one question: Just how much stupidity are mass audiences willing to accept in their summer blockbusters? In any disaster movie, rolling your eyes at the ridiculous onscreen events comes with the territory, but the enjoyable ones temper that reaction with speed and laughs; Emmerich's cheeky, entertaining Independence Day managed the feat of making the end of the world look like an absolute hoot, and that film, within its sci-fi format, is probably the most sheerly pleasurable disaster flick of the past 20 years.

Brad Pitt in TroyTROY

About 100 minutes into Troy - director Wolfgang Petersen's and screenwriter David Benioff's very loose adaptation of Homer's The Iliad, which details the events leading up to and during The Trojan War - there's a battle sequence that gives the audience a true rush.

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