Hugh Jackman in Van HelsingVAN HELSING

Stephen Sommers' action thriller Van Helsing, the first of 2004's torrent of summer blockbusters, is big, loud, frenetic, and almost no fun at all. For those who've missed the omnipresent previews, the film is a special-effects bonanza featuring Hugh Jackman as the titular character, a taciturn growler who spends 130 minutes attempting to rid his corner of Europe from a series of CGI-created monsters, and it's all treated with such solemnity that I wouldn't have been surprised to see Henrik Ibsen listed as a screenwriter.

Ben Affleck and Liv Tyler in Jersey GirlJERSEY GIRL

Theoretically, there's nothing wrong with Kevin Smith momentarily eschewing his predilection for what he terms "dick and fart jokes" in favor of more honest, heartwarming fare, but good God, don't we Smith fans deserve better than Jersey Girl? In previous films, Smith presented us with a woman who screws a dead man, the Almighty in the personage of Alanis Morissette, and a lesbian who switches teams for Ben Affleck, yet I found his latest work the least believable in his oeuvre, a movie so brazenly phony and audience-pandering that I wanted to hide my face.

Matt Damon in The Bourne IdentityTHE BOURNE IDENTITY

I have a lower threshold for international spy thrillers than most people, yet I must admit that I found The Bourne Identity, based on Robert Ludlam's 1980 bestseller, pretty damned enjoyable.

Penelope Cruz and Tom Cruise in Vanilla SkyVANILLA SKY

Vanilla Sky could be subtitled Jerry Maguire Climbs Jacob's Ladder to Reveal What Dreams May Come, and if that's not enough reason to run for the theatre's exits, the movie's actual presentation should be.

Sulley in Monsters, Inc.MONSTERS, INC.

Saying that Pixar's Monsters, Inc. is the weakest of its quartet of computer-animated feature films is like bitching that you got a Jaguar for Christmas when you really wanted a Porsche; instead of achieving the genius-level greatness of the Toy Story films and A Bug's Life, the studio's new work is just brilliantly designed, cleverly plotted, and funny as all get-out. What's to complain about?