Based on Neil Gaiman's international best-selling book, "Coraline" is the story of a young girl (voiced by Dakota Fanning) who unlocks a mysterious door in her new home, and enters into an adventure in a parallel reality. On the surface, this other world eerily mimics her own life -- though much more fantastical. In it, Coraline encounters such off-kilter inhabitants as the morbidly funny Miss Forcible and Miss Spink. But when the adventure turns dangerous, and her counterfeit parents (including Other Mother) try to keep her forever, Coraline must count on her resourcefulness, determination, and bravery to get back home. First stop-motion animated feature originally produced in stereoscopic 3-D.
Director: Henry Selick. Voices: Dakota Fanning, Teri Hatcher, John Hodgman, Jennifer Saunders, Dawn French, Keith David, Robert Bailey Jr., Ian McShane. 2008, CC, MPAA rating: PG, 100 min., Animated, Box office gross: $75.195 million, Universal. Available: 7/21.
DRAGONBALL EVOLUTION: Z EDITION
Adapted from the manga created by Akira Toriyama. Based on one of the most popular Japanese manga series of all time, "Dragonball: Evolution" follows a young warrior on an epic adventure to discover his destiny ... and save the world from the forces of darkness. For his 18th birthday, mild-mannered humanoid alien Goku is given a mystical Dragonball, one of only seven in existence, which combine to grant a perfect wish to whoever possesses them. But an ancient warlord named Piccolo has escaped eternal imprisonment and is on his own quest to gather the Dragonballs. Goku must enlist the help of his friends -- and the power of his evolving martial arts skills -- to defeat Piccolo before it's too late.
Director: James Wong. Stars: Justin Chatwin, James Marsters, Jamie Chung, Emmy Rossum, Eriko Tamura, Joon Park, Chow Yun-Fat, Texas Battle, Ernie Hudson. 2009, CC, MPAA rating: PG, 84 min., Fantasy Action, Box office gross: $9.313 million, Fox. Available: 7/28.
FAST & FURIOUS
Vin Diesel and Paul Walker reteam for the ultimate chapter of the blockbuster street racing franchise. Heading back to the streets where it all began, they rejoin Michelle Rodriguez and Jordana Brewster, blasting through Los Angeles and into the Mexican desert in muscle, tuner and exotic cars. When tragedy returns fugitive ex-con Dom Toretto (Diesel) to Los Angeles, his long dormant feud with FBI agent Brian O'Conner (Walker) threatens to reignite -- until they discover a common enemy: a heroin drug lord moving goods through the Southland. Dom and Brian declare a precarious truce as they try to outmaneuver their adversary and exact revenge. From convoy heists to precision tunnel crawls across international lines, the two men push the limits of what is possible behind the wheel as they live for speed, drive for the rush and break all the rules.
Director: Justin Lin. Stars: Vin Diesel, Paul Walker, Jordana Brewster, Michelle Rodriguez, John Ortiz, Laz Alonso, Sung Kang, Tego Calderon, Don Omar. 2009, CC, MPAA rating: PG-13, 107 min. Action, Box office gross: $154.882 million, Universal. Available: 7/28.
HAUNTING IN CONNECTICUT, THE
Based on a chilling true story, "The Haunting in Connecticut" charts one family's terrifying, real-life encounter with the dark forces of the supernatural. When the Campbell family moves to upstate Connecticut, they soon learn that their charming Victorian home has a disturbing history: Not only was the house a transformed funeral parlor where inconceivable acts occurred, but the owner's clairvoyant son Jonah served as a demonic messenger, providing a gateway for spiritual entities to crossover. Now unspeakable terror awaits when Jonah, the boy who communicated with the powerful dark forces of the supernatural, returns to unleash a new kind of horror on the innocent and unsuspecting family.
Director: Peter Cornwell. Stars: Virginia Madsen, Kyle Gallner, Martin Donovan, Elias Koteas, Amanda Crew. 2009, CC, MPAA rating: PG-13, 92 min., Horror, Box office gross: $55.030 million, Lionsgate. Available: 7/14.
Nicolas Cage stars in this sci-fi outing about a professor who stumbles on terrifying predictions about the future -- and sets out to prevent them from coming true. In 1958, as part of the dedication ceremony for a new elementary school, a group of students is asked to draw pictures to be stored in a time capsule. But one mysterious girl fills her sheet of paper with rows of apparently random numbers instead. Fifty years later, a new generation of students examines the capsule's contents and the girl's cryptic message ends up in the hands of young Caleb Koestler. But it is Caleb's father, professor John Koestler (Cage), who makes the startling discovery that the encoded message predicts with pinpoint accuracy the dates, death tolls and coordinates of every major disaster of the past 50 years. As John further unravels the document's chilling secrets, he realizes the document foretells three additional events -- the last of which hints at destruction on a global scale and seems to somehow involve John and his son. When John's attempts to alert the authorities fall on deaf ears, he takes it upon himself to try to prevent more destruction from taking place. With the reluctant help of Diana Wayland (Rose Byrne) and Abby Wayland, the daughter and granddaughter of the now-deceased author of the prophecies, John's increasingly desperate efforts take him on a heart-pounding race against time until he finds himself facing the ultimate disaster -- and the ultimate sacrifice.
Director: Alex Proyas. Stars: Nicolas Cage, Rose Byrne, Chandler Canterbury. 2009, CC, MPAA rating: PG-13, 115 min., Science Fiction, Box office gross: $79.395 million, Summit Entertainment. Available: 7/7.
Seeking to end their virginity, Eugene and his girlfriend Cindi plan to have sex on prom night, but Eugene falls down a flight of stairs and lands in the hospital in a coma. He wakes up four years later to discover that his once innocent high school sweetheart has become a Playboy Playmate. Together with his best friend Tucker, the hapless virgin embarks on a cross-country road trip to win back his ex by crashing a party at the legendary Playboy Mansion.
Director: Zach Cregger, Trevor Moore. Stars: Zach Cregger, Trevor Moore, Raquel Alessi, Molly Stanton, Holly Hindman, Craig Robinson, Alexis Raben, Tanjareen Martin2009, CC, MPAA rating: R, 89 min., Comedy, Box office gross: $4.542 million, Fox. Available: 7/28.
Sci-fi action-thriller about the world of psychic espionage where artificially enhanced paranormal operatives have the ability to move objects with their minds, see the future, create new realities and kill without ever touching their victims. Against this setting, a young man and a teenage girl take on a clandestine agency in a race against time that will determine the future of civilization. The Division, a shadowy government agency, is genetically transforming citizens into an army of psychic warriors -- and brutally disposing of those unwilling to participate. Nick Gant (Chris Evans), a second-generation telekinetic or "mover," has been in hiding since the Division murdered his father more than a decade earlier. But he's forced out of hiding when Cassie Holmes (Dakota Fanning), a 13-year-old clairvoyant or "watcher," seeks his help in finding Kira, (Camilla Belle), an escaped "pusher" who may hold the key to ending the Division's program. Pushers possess the most dangerous of all psychic powers: the ability to influence others' actions by implanting thoughts in their minds. But Cassie's presence soon attracts the attention of the Division's human bloodhounds, forcing Nick and Cassie to flee for their lives.
Director: Paul McGuigan. Stars: Chris Evans, Dakota Fanning, Camilla Belle, Djimon Hounsou, Maggie Siff, Scott Michael Campbell. 2009, CC, MPAA rating: PG-13, 111 min., Science Fiction, Box office gross: $31.730 million, Summit Entertainment. Available: 7/7.
Sometimes the soul of a dead person has been so tainted with evil that it is denied entrance to heaven. It must endlessly wander the borderlands between worlds, desperately searching for a new body to inhabit. And sometimes it actually succeeds. Casey Beldon hated her mother for leaving her as a child. But when inexplicable things start to happen, Casey begins to understand why she left. Plagued by merciless dreams and a tortured ghost that haunts her waking hours, she must turn to the only spiritual advisor, Sendak, who can make it stop. With Sendak's help, Casey uncovers the source of a family curse dating back to Nazi Germany -- a creature with the ability to inhabit anyone or anything that is getting stronger with each possession. With the curse unleashed, her only chance at survival is to shut a doorway from beyond our world that has been pried open by someone who was never born.
Director: David Goyer. Stars: Odette Yustman, Gary Oldman, Meagan Good, Cam Gigandet, James Remar, Atticus Shaffer, Jane Alexander, Idris Elba. 2009, CC, MPAA rating: PG-13, 83 min., Horror, Box office gross: 42.638 million, Universal. Available: 7/7.
WATCHMEN DIRECTOR'S CUT
A complex, multi-layered mystery adventure, "Watchmen" is set in an alternate 1985 America in which costumed superheroes are part of the fabric of everyday society, and the "Doomsday Clock" -- which charts the U.S.A.'s tension with the Soviet Union -- is permanently set at five minutes to midnight. When one of his former colleagues is murdered, the washed-up but no less determined masked vigilante Rorschach sets out to uncover a plot to kill and discredit all past and present superheroes. As he reconnects with his former crime-fighting legion -- a ragtag group of retired superheroes, only one of whom has true powers -- Rorschach glimpses a wide-ranging and disturbing conspiracy with links to their shared past and catastrophic consequences for the future. Their mission is to watch over humanity ... but who is watching the watchmen? Based on the 12-part DC Comics series written by Alan Moore and featuring art by Dave Gibbons.
Director: Zack Snyder. Stars: Patrick Wilson, Jackie Earle Haley, Matthew Goode, Billy Crudup, Jeffrey Dean Morgan, Malin Akerman, Carla Gugino, Stephen McHattie, Matt Frewer. 2008, CC, MPAA rating: R, 161 min., Action, Box office gross: $107.061 million, Warner. Available: 7/21.
All DVDs and Blu-rays are screened on a reference system consisting of an Oppo BDP-83 Universal Blu-ray Player, a Rotel RSX-972 Surround Sound Receiver, and Phase Technology 1.1 (front), 33.1 (center), and 50 (rear) speakers and Power 10 subwoofer.
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July 1, 2009