Johnny Depp and Orlando Bloom in Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black PearlPIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN: THE CURSE OF THE BLACK PEARL

Throw a rock at the annual slate of summer movies and you'll hit one with state-of-the-art CGI effects, but finding one with imaginative effects can be an exercise in futility.

Harrison Ford in K-19: The WidowmakerK-19: THE WIDOWMAKER

Most movie trailers make the film in question look much better than it actually is; the previews for K-19: The Widowmaker don't give any indication how good it actually is.

Henry Cavill, Dagmara Dominczyk, James Caviezel, and Luis Guzman in The Count of Monte CristoTHE COUNT OF MONTE CRISTO

The best reason to see the latest remake of The Count of Monte Cristo is the source material. You can easily shrug off the movie's unimaginative staging, corny laugh lines, and obtrusive score for the chance to enjoy an opulently designed adaptation of Alexandre Dumas' audience-grabbing tale; it's the sort of story that was once called "a ripping good yarn."

Jennifer Aniston and Mark Wahlberg in Rock StarROCK STAR and THE MUSKETEER

If you were to guess based solely on their previews, you'd probably imagine Stephen Herek's Rock Star to be a kitschy, affectionate look at heavy metal in the '80s - like This Is Spinal Tap played straight - and Peter Hyams' The Musketeer to be a brisk reinterpretation of the Alexandre Dumas classic with a martial-arts bent - Crouching Tiger, Hidden D'Artagnan.

ShrekSHREK

Let's face it: Kids are gonna love Shrek, Dreamworks' comedic, computer-animated fairy tale. They'll get a kick out of the loud, outsize characters and superb visuals, and they'll probably laugh a lot. No one under 12 will want to miss it.

As for the rest of us ... .

Guy Pearce and Carrie-Anne Moss in MementoMEMENTO

It has taken quite a while, and an especially long while here in the Quad Cities, but the first unequivocally great movie of 2001 has finally appeared: writer-director Christopher Nolan's crime thriller Memento. And its greatness is of a very particular kind - you want all of your friends to see it immediately, so you can share your excitement with them and work out passages of the film that you're almost sure you understood. (Getting to review works like Memento is the absolute best thing about being a published film critic.) Like The Truman Show, Memento is so clever, so smart, so full-to-brimming with detail and wit and filmmaking passion that it feels miraculous, and within its genre, it just might be a new classic.

Tom Hanks in Cast AwayCAST AWAY

In Cast Away, Robert Zemeckis' most fully satisfying work in ages, Tom Hanks stars as Chuck Noland, a FedEx engineer for whom the world can't move fast enough; he's obsessed with time-saving, whether it be with associates in Moscow or friends at home. Before boarding a plane for a business conference, he even goes so far as to give his girlfriend (Helen Hunt) a wrapped engagement ring, instructing her to open it when he returns. (He saves lead-in time on its actual presentation.) But somewhere over the Pacific, the plane crashes (in one of cinema's most terrifying airplane disasters), and Chuck is washed up on a deserted island with little hope of escape or rescue; suddenly, he has all the time in the world, and the film, which had previously been lightning quick, slows down to a crawl.

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