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Chick Flick Wins! 

In the battle of the bare-chested, McConaughey trumps Wolverine every time

Previews

Beam me up, Scotty! That's right ... It's time to contort your hands into those funny shaped "Vs" of salute, to don your Jordy LaForge glasses and to tell your closest pals, "Hey man, live long and prosper. All right?" Yes folks, Star Trek is back to the big screen as of this Friday. The film takes you back into both Kirk and Spock's early years and straight on through their bitter rivalry. Don't worry, the boys don't let their drama get entirely in the way of saving the Federation. Rated PG-13 for sci-fi action and violence and brief sexual content. 127m. At the Broadway, Mill Creek, the Minor and Fortuna.

We Journal-ites feel it is our cinematic duty to bring you news of our community's newest movies theater's openings. Therefore it is my honor to tell you about this weekend's midnight movie at the Arcata Theater Lounge, B.I.K.E. The film offers a peek into the realm of a Brooklyn-based rebellious, underground bicycle club, and it screens on Saturday, May 9, for 18 and up peeps.

Oh, but there's more. The Arcata Theater Lounge is also having three special Mother's Day screenings of His Girl Friday, a 1940 romantic comedy that's sure to make mom smile. Cary Grant plays a newspaper editor who does whatever he can to keep his ex-wife, played by Rosalind Russell, from remarrying. Aw, now that sounds fun. All the details for both the midnight movie and the Mom's Day screenings can be found at www.arcatatheater.com.

-- Emily Hobelmann

Reviews

X-Men Origins: Wolverine. This X-Men prequel traces the background of Logan, aka Wolverine. It's a great-looking, action-packed adventure weakened by a superficial script that ignores logic whenever it's inconvenient.

After more than a century of life, Logan (Hugh Jackman) and his equally ageless, invincible brother Victor (Liev Schreiber) go to work for the enigmatic William Stryker (Danny Huston). But a mission goes badly wrong, causing a rift between them. Six years later, Victor is stalking their super-powered colleagues (including Ryan Reynolds and Dominic Monaghan) while Stryker tries to get Logan to rejoin his cause. But things go badly wrong after Victor kills Logan's girlfriend (Lynn Collins), locking the brothers in a mortal feud. Or maybe someone else is pulling the strings.

Director Gavin Hood gives the film a terrific visual style that brings out the fantasy elements while keeping things dark and gritty and allowing Jackman and Schreiber to give full-bodied performances. The swooping cameras and digital trickery are a bit overdone, while some effects are ropey and attempts at humor can't balance out the bombastic action. This leaves the film feeling over serious even though it's not actually about anything beyond the next battle.

Screenwriters David Benioff and Skip Woods are great at stringing together tense sequences that build intrigue but, unlike the first two X-Men films, they never push anything beyond the surface. What's left is a fairly simplistic plot, major gaps in logic and jingoistic growling, grunting dialog. In this world, the answer to any problem is violence: a well-aimed punch, another slash of razor sharp claws or lots of automatic weapons shooting everywhere (but not hitting much). Strangely, for all the brutal violence, there's not much blood. Which is something only videogame fans will buy into.

Fortunately, the X-Men universe is populated by terrific characters, including Logan and Victor, aka Wolverine and Sabretooth. And the film is almost stolen by the charming Black Eyed Pea will.i.am (as teleporting Wraith), the edgy Monaghan (as sparky Bolt) and especially the charismatic Taylor Kitch (as cardshark Gambit). So it's a pity that the script never takes it to the next level, adding subtext that might make the characters identifiable or themes that might catch our imagination. In the end, it's difficult to care about these ill-defined people, no matter how much fun we have watching them fight each other. Rated PG-13 for intense sequences of violence and action, and some partial nudity. 107m. At the Broadway, Mill Creek, the Minor and Fortuna.

-- Rich Cline

Ghosts of Girlfriends Past. A watch-able pastiche of A Christmas Carol, this rom-com resorts to corny slapstick a bit too often but also manages to find moments of real resonance thanks to solid acting and directing.

Superstar photographer Connor Mead (Matthew McConaughey) is a cold-hearted womanizer heading home to support his brother Paul (Breckin Meyer) as he marries Sandra (Lacey Chabert), even though Connor thinks marriage is an archaic institution. He is visited by the ghost of his playboy uncle (Michael Douglas) and taken on a tour of his past, present and future, during which he realizes that he's always been in love with maid of honor Jenny (Jennifer Garner). But in the real world, he's doing his best to sabotage the wedding.

Director Mark Waters keeps the film snappy and bright, even though the script never develops any edge. For a story about a womanizer, Connor is strangely sexless, and the innuendo is of the broadest, silliest variety. The dialog is also full of speeches that stretch credibility, from Connor's early anti-marriage rants to a series of rambling, sappy monologues at the end. And worse than this is the script's desperate attempt to explain away Connor's bitterness through events in his past. This of course includes huge signposts to every detail of the conclusion.

It only works because Waters approaches it with such a steady hand. Except for a few terrible slapstick sequences, the film is centered on the extremely watch-able actors. McConaughey is perfect as the over-tanned ladies' man. Douglas is hilariously well cast as his lecherous uncle/mentor. Robert Forster and Anne Archer do more than we expect with their one-note stereotypes, while Meyer and Chabert have some terrific moments all their own. But the real heart of the film is Garner, who manages to convey a realistic combination of brittleness, strength and inner rage.

She so clearly reveals the truth that Jenny will never trust Connor that we don't really believe they can ever get together. Even with the big "Christmas morning" transformation sequence, we're not completely sure. But through a series of sentimental speeches and overwhelming cuteness, the film actually manages to tug on the heartstrings. Although in the end we realize that we choked back a tear more often than we laughed. Rated PG-13 for sexual content throughout, some language and a drug reference. 100m. At the Broadway, Mill Creek and Fortuna.

-- Rich Cline

Continuing

17 AGAIN. Middle-aged father wakes up one day as a 17-year-old, so he tries it on for size. Rated PG-13. 102m. At the Broadway and Mill Creek.

BATTLE FOR TERRA 3D. Animated intergalactic adventure follows rebellious alien teen that defends her home planet Terra against invading humans. Rated PG. 85m. At Fortuna.

CRANK HIGH VOLTAGE. Hitman Chev Chelios pursues a Chinese mobster that stole his nearly indestructible heart through city of Los Angeles. Rated R. 95m. At The Movies.

EARTH. Story of three animal families and their journey across the planet we all call home. Rated G. 95m. At the Broadway and Mill Creek.

FAST AND FURIOUS. Fugitive ex-con Dom Toretto returns to L.A. and to his feud with agent Brian O'Connor, all while pushing the limits of what's possible behind the wheel. Rated PG-13. 108m. At the Broadway.

FIGHTING. Small town boy meets scam artist on the streets of NYC; small town boy then discovers his inner street fighter. Rated PG-13. 104m. At Mill Creek and The Movies.

HANNAH MONTANA THE MOVIE. Hannah Montana's popularity reigns, so Miley takes a trip home to rediscover her roots. Rated G. 102m. At the Broadway.

HAUNTING IN CONNECTICUT. Family moves to Connecticut to have a nice place to treat their son for cancer, but too bad their new house is haunted. Rated PG-13. 92M. At The Movies.

I LOVE YOU MAN. Straight dude embarks on series of "man-dates" to find a suitable best man for his hetero wedding and ends up in a serious bromance. Rated R. 105m. At The Movies.

MONSTERS VS. ALIENS. Ragtag crew of monsters must combat an alien robot to save planet earth from imminent destruction. Rated PG. 94m. At the Broadway and Mill Creek.

OBSERVE AND REPORT. Head of mall security versus police detective in the race to crack the case of who's flashing people at the local mall. Rated R. 86m. At The Movies.

OBSESSED. Big-ballin' asset manager's life is all good until the super stalker temp worker gets hired on. Rated PG-13. 109m. At the Broadway and Mill Creek.

RACE TO WITCH MOUNTAIN. Vegas cabbie and UFO expert must save two teens with supernatural powers from exploitation by evil peeps/aliens. Rated PG. 99m. At The Movies.

SOLOIST. Journalist discovers former classical music prodigy living on the streets of Los Angeles; bonding ensues. Rated PG-13. 117m. At the Broadway.

STATE OF PLAY. U.S. Congressman Stephen Collins is the latest rage of his political party, until his research assistant's dead body turns up. Rated PG-13. 127m. At the Broadway and Fortuna.

SUNSHINE CLEANING. Mom starts biohazard removal/crime scene clean-up service to fund her son's private school education. Rated R. 92m. At the Minor.

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Rich Cline

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