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Short Subjectives

Capsule reviews of films by CL critics

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MILLION DOLLAR BABY (PG-13) While America's critics are busy hurting themselves trying to come up with more accolades for this "masterpiece" by American film "genius" Clint Eastwood, the rest of us scratch our heads in utter disbelief, wondering what all the fuss is about. This clich&233;-addicted boxing drama, lacquered with a feigned working class melancholy cribbed from previous pugilist pictures, depicts a spunky blue collar boxer (Hilary Swank) who lives out her daddy fantasies when a grizzled boxing trainer (Eastwood) overcomes his aversion to girl fighters and coaches her to victory. - FF

MILLIONS (PG) Danny Boyle (Trainspotting, 28 Days Later) applies his special effect-heavy hand to the story of 7-year-old Damian (a routinely adorable and freckled Alex Etel) whose imaginary friends are Catholic saints. When a bag stuffed with money falls from a passing train, Damian wants to give the windfall to charity and his older brother wants to invest it in real estate. But the saints and the spiritual dilemma of how to spend that money are just two of Boyle's many passing fancies. He is far more interested in doing visual loop-de-loops and imagining that childhood wonder is best evoked with gee-whiz effects. - FF

MISS CONGENIALITY 2: ARMED AND FABULOUS (PG-13) Sandra Bullock's FBI agent must thwart a pair of kidnappers with the help of her hostile new partner (Regina King) and an offensive gay caricature (Diedrich Bader). With no feel for characterization, dialogue or plot development, this is the sort of dull sequel that's sure to be politely dismissed as merely routine, when it's that very sense of rampaging mediocrity - of flagrant laziness and audience disregard oozing out of every blemished pore - that renders it all but unwatchable. - MB

THE PACIFIER (PG) Navy SEAL Lt. Shane Wolfe (Vin Diesel) is assigned to take care of the five out-of-control children of a missing scientist whose wife is sent on a secret mission. Every predictable single-guy-versus-child joke occurs - like changing a diaper with pliers - plus, a few twists that are just bizarre. As we learned in Kindergarten Cop, a tough guy is no match for unruly kids and unruly kids are not match for a tough guy's discipline. - HK

THE RING 2 (R) Naomi Watts faces more spooky goings-on surrounding a supernatural videotape with lethal ramifications to anyone who watches it. With Blockbuster no longer imposing late fees, who knows what horrors will be unleashed?

ROBOTS (PG) Robots is like the engine of a Honda Civic under the hood of a Cadillac Escalade. It offers a reliable ride in an otherwise fantastic physical world. Young Rodney Copperbottom (Ewan McGregor) is a poor, small-town robot made of hand-me-down parts who dreams of becoming an inventor in the big city. The bland plot is propped up with relatively amusing pop-culture reference, but not as seamlessly as Pixar's productions. - HK

SAHARA (PG-13) There is something about the cocky, thrill-seeking globe-trotting adventurer Dirk Pitt with his ability to stamp out the world's problems in a single-blow that just seems, well, ill-timed considering the mounting crises of African genocide and the war in Iraq raging abroad. In this cartoonish adaptation of adventure novelist Clive Cussler's novel, Pitt is a former Navy SEAL turned international treasure hunter with the cool of James Bond and the chops of an Army-of-one. He's in Africa hunting a long-lost Civil War battleship and helping a World Health Organization doctor (Penelope Cruz) find the source of a plague killing local villagers in this theme park ride of a movie, not surprisingly directed by outgoing Disney C.E.O. Michael Eisner's son Breck Eisner. - FF

SIN CITY (R) Based on Frank Miller's hard-boiled cult comic books of the same name, Sin City wallows unapologetically in violence, T&A and other preoccupations of adolescent boys of all ages. Co-directors Miller and Robert Rodriguez leer over interlocking tales of chivalrous antiheroes (led by a hulkingly charismatic Mickey Rourke) who take on a corrupt city's sadistic power brokers. Though the film's black-and-white images can sear your retinas, its repetitive plots, grisly slapstick and predictable misogyny can leave you embarrassed to be a geek. - CH

STATE PROPERTY 2: PHILLY STREETS No stars (R) There may be worse ways to spend your time, I just can't think of any. Hip hop mogul Damon Dash couldn't leave Abdul Malik Abbott's critically panned State Property alone, and so continues the gangsta franchise with this loathsome, nihilistic, brain cell-frying rock of cinematic crack. Drug dealer Beans (Beanie Sigel) is trying to keep control of his Philadelphia drug empire from prison. Every cartoonish gangsta clich&233; is offered up with a straight face - bitches ­n' hos, endless gunplay, mega-SUVs - in a film that mistakes regurgitated formula for a sense of humor. - FF

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