"Ladder 49" (PG-13). Not reviewed. Joaquin Phoenix and John Travolta star in this drama about a firefighter stuck in a burning building reflecting on his life. Jay Russell directs; filming was done in Baltimore. Opens Oct. 1.
"Shark Tale" (PG). Not reviewed. Will Smith, Robert De Niro, Renee Zellweger, Angelina Jolie and Jack Black provide voices for this animated DreamWorks mafia comedy which is set underwater. Eric Bergeron directs. Opens Oct. 1.
"Woman Thou Art Loosed" (R). This sincere if clumsy drama concerns a young female inmate on death row (Kimberly Elise) and the family circumstances that played a role in her being there. The young woman's mother (Loretta Devine) was so determined to hold onto her own boyfriend that she basically looked the other way when this man sexually abused her daughter years before. Director Michael Schultz has an awkward handle on the flashback structure and overall staging, but its heart is certainly in the right place. Grade: B- Opens Friday, Oct. 1.
"Cellular" (PG-13). Kim Basinger plays a kidnapped science teacher who randomly makes a phone call to a beach bum played by Chris Evans, who decides to do something with his life by trying to save hers. The plot has ridiculous twists and turns, which makes it fun to watch in a B-movie sort of way. Grade: C+ Snowden Square 14, AMC Columbia Mall 14
"A Dirty Shame" (NC-17). Baltimore director John Waters lives up to his bad taste reputation with this raunchy comedy about sex addicts living along Harford Road in northeastern Baltimore. Although the movie's premise is funny and a few of the outrageous jokes make quite an impression, the story doesn't develop so much as repeat itself. Still, you can't deny it boasts a lot of amusing local color, of a sort. Grade: B Senator Theatre
"First Daughter" (PG). Katie Holmes portrays the college-age daughter of a president in a strained comedy that doesn't work at all on a realistic level, but it may please very young female viewers eager to indulge in the romantic fantasy it spins. Grade: C+ Snowden Square 14, AMC Columbia Mall 14
"The Forgotten" (PG-13). When Julianne Moore is told that the dead son she mourns never actually existed, this drama gets off to a promising start. However, what could have been an intriguing psychological thriller degenerates into science fiction nonsense. Even the usually admirable Moore gives a mediocre performance here. Grade: C+ Snowden Square 14, AMC Columbia Mall 14
"Garden State" (R). This comedy written and directed by Zach Braff, who also stars, treats suburban New Jersey as the most eccentric place on the planet. Although the script's goofier aspects seem forced, there is enough to smile about in what amounts to an early 21st century variation on "The Graduate." The appealing cast includes Ian Holm, Ron Liebman, Method Man, Natalie Portman, Denis O'Hare and Peter Sarsgaard. Grade: B- Snowden Square 14, AMC Columbia 14
"Hero" (PG-13). The masterful Chinese director Zhang Yimou has some absolutely gorgeous images of martial arts combat in a revenge drama whose emotional coolness makes it difficult to care as much as you should about the assassination-related intrigue at the court of the first Chinese emperor. Grade: B Snowden Square 14, AMC Columbia Mall 14
"Mr. 3000" (PG-13). Bernie Mac's agreeable screen presence carries this formulaic sports comedy about a retired baseball player who returns to the game in order to elevate his career hit total from 2,997 to 3,000. Although it will never achieve the Hall of Fame status that the player seeks, this comedy qualifies as easygoing fun. Grade: C+ Snowden Square 14, AMC Columbia Mall 14, Muvico Egyptian 24
"Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow" (PG). Jude Law, Gwyneth Paltrow and Angelina Jolie star in a technically impressive if emotionally cool adventure set in a 1930s New York that owes its inspiration to comic books and other pop cultural sources. Only the human actors and a few props are real here, with everything else the product of computer-generated imagery. It's all visually engaging, but less so in terms of character and story. Grade: B Snowden Square 14, AMC Columbia Mall 14
"Vanity Fair" (PG-13). Director Mira Nair's sumptuously dressed if narratively bumpy version of the William Makepeace Thackeray novel features a lively if misguided central performance by Reese Witherspoon as an ambitious orphan determined to socially climb in early 19th-century England. Grade: B Snowden Square 14, AMC Columbia Mall 14
"Wimbledon" (PG-13). Although love means everything in this fluffy romantic comedy, according to tennis rules love means nothing. A miscast Kirsten Dunst portrays a rising young American tennis star and a more convincing Paul Bettany portrays a fading English tennis player who meet cute, date cute, fight cute, play tennis cute and do everything else cute in a mediocre movie that considers itself utterly adorable. Grade: C Snowden Square 14, AMC Columbia Mall 14
All capsule reviews and grades by Mike Giuliano unless otherwise noted. Bookings change on Friday. For showtimes and to confirm listings, call the phone number in Screen Scene or follow the local movie prompts at www.howardcountytimes.com.
AMC Columbia Mall 14 Columbia Town Center, Columbia, 410-423-0520
Snowden Square Stadium 14 9161 Commerce Center Drive, Columbia, 410-872-0670
Charles Theatre 1711 N. Charles St., Baltimore, 410-727-FILM
Maryland Science Center IMAX Theater 601 Light St., Baltimore, 410-685-5225
Muvico Egyptian 24 Arundel Mills Boulevard at Route 100, Hanover, 443-755-8992
West Nursery 14 1591 W. Nursery Road, Linthicum, 410-850-8999