DIE ANOTHER DAY (PG-13, 132 minutes)
James Bond dives into deeper, darker waters in "Die Another Day," but the patina of realpolitik doesn't always blend with the devil-may-care 007 mystique. Teens may find the action sequences repetitive and the dialogue, despite all the usual sexual innuendo, a little tedious. Judi Dench as British intelligence boss M and John Cleese as gadget guru Q sparkle, but the villains aren't memorable. The movie edges near R range with steamy, though non-explicit, sexual situations, scantily clad women and violence, including explosions, satellite laser attacks, hovercraft chases, shootings, swordplay and fistfights.
During the prologue, Bond (Pierce Brosnan, still aces), on a mission in North Korea, encounters rogue North Korean Col. Zao (Rick Yune). Bond and a female agent are captured and he is tortured with scorpions and near-drowning -- in a jazzy, sexualized montage that exemplifies the movie's dual nature. He's traded back to the British, but his agent status is rescinded because they fear he gave up secrets. He takes off on his own to find his betrayer. The trail leads to Havana and a foxy mystery woman (Halle Berry) on the beach, then to Iceland.
THE EMPEROR'S CLUB (PG-13, 110 minutes)
The rare bookish teen with a 1940s-era taste in films may like the prim, slow-paced literary style of "The Emperor's Club" but most other teen audiences will be underwhelmed. Any movie about a great teacher, love of ancient history and classic texts, and the importance of ethics in real life ought to be cause for celebration. Alas, this one, based on a short story, "The Palace Thief" by Ethan Canin, unfolds in ponderous, predictable style as directed by Michael Hoffman. The PG-13 reflects verbal sexual innuendo and a scene in which a boy shows his stash of sexy magazines.
Kevin Kline tamps down his natural charisma as an American Mr. Chips, the classics instructor at an exclusive boys' prep school in the 1970s. Every year he holds the Mr. Julius Caesar contest, in which three boys compete in a high-profile quiz about ancient Rome. Feeling sorry for the rebellious, neglected son (Emile Hirsch) of a senator, the teacher makes a well-intentioned mistake and its fallout is unsurprising, sad and not terribly interesting.
FRIDAY AFTER NEXT (R, 85 minutes)
Rap and film star Ice Cube is back in the 'hood with a third installment of his "Friday" comedies, and the bawdy franchise still coaxes out belly laughs. The movie bristles with adult language and sexual innuendo inappropriate for kids under 17, though many will want to see it. At least "Friday After Next" is as droll and a good bit less violent than its predecessors ("Friday" and "Next Friday"). It does, however, include racial and misogynistic slurs, ethnic stereotypes, crude jokes about everything from wife-beating to homosexual behavior in prison, and toilet humor.
Written by the star and nimbly directed by Marcus Raboy, "Friday After Next" finds ne'er-do-well cousins Craig (Cube) and Day-Day (Mike Epps) sharing an inner-city apartment when a masked Santa Claus breaks in and robs them the day before Christmas. To pay the rent, they take jobs as security guards at a strip mall and encounter their own bickering fathers (John Witherspoon and Don "DC" Curry) running a barbecue place, plus a host of crazy locals, all affectionately portrayed.