ALIEN VS. PREDATOR (PG-13, 100 minutes)
So these archaeologists run into an Aztec temple hidden under the Antarctic Circle, which happens to be a battle ground for those scary, squishy aliens from the movie "Alien" and a group of Predators from, you know, the movie "Predator." And they find themselves caught in the middle of a Fox franchise vs. franchise melee. Your friendly Weekend reviewer was shocked -- shocked! -- to learn that Twentieth Century Fox declined to screen this movie for critics. Area theaters.
-- Desson Thomson
FATHER AND SON (Unrated, 84 minutes)
Here was my question for most of this movie: Wha-? I was clueless. Did not understand. Count me among the stupid. Send me in shame to a multiplex where I can watch irony-free, no-thinking-needed blockbusters starring movie stars with big movie-star teeth and happy endings. I deserve no more. This one is by director Alexander Sokurov, who made the rather wondrous "Russian Ark," so there has to be a great movie in here somewhere. I'm just not the one to evoke it for you. I will say this: The images are mystical, dreamlike and wonderfully luminous. If you don't care to follow scriptwriter Sergei Potepalov's plot, such as it is, if you don't need a clear-eyed, no-questions ride through a drama, you could focus on the cinematography and see how far you go from there. An unnamed man (Andrey Schetinin) and his son Aleksey (Aleksey Neymyshev) live together in a rooftop apartment. They spend much of their time naked and rubbing against each other as they talk. (I have no idea what this is about. You tell me. Actually, please don't.) They speak of many things, but nothing you would expect among people who don't live in an art film. I know that Aleksei goes to military school. And that he has a girlfriend. And that his father likes to work out with dumbbells on the roof, with the goofiest heaven-directed smile I have ever seen on a non-institutionalized person. I could say more. Well, no. I couldn't. In Russian with subtitles. Contains mature themes. At Landmark's E Street Cinema.
-- Desson Thomson
YU-GI-OH! THE MOVIE (PG, 91 minutes)
There's nothing new about a Japanese anime trading card and television series phenomenon that takes its characters to the big screen to capitalize on its popularity. Well, almost nothing. "Yu-Gi-Oh! The Movie" introduces new cards just in case young collectors playing the Yugi card game together want the newest powerful tool to beat their opponents. Like all of the "Pokemon" movies, the film is an obvious ploy to keep kids' watching the animated series so that they continue to play the "Duel Monsters!" game and buy the merchandise. The producers don't waste time on subtlety or creative story lines in their quest for upholding their successful brand. They follow the winning formula of the television show, creating a supersize episode that centers its plot around Yugi Moto, a short, friendly, spiky-haired teenager who is the champion Duel Monsters! player. In case people do not how to play the game, the characters explain the rules as they lay out their cards, which unleash colorful monsters that possess unique powers. Yugi himself has always drawn his unbeatable strength from the power of Yugi's mysterious alter ego, an ancient Egyptian pharaoh who defeated the evil sorcerer Anubis 5,000 years ago. Somehow, though, Seto Kaiba, a mean teen out to topple Yugi's card-game reign, brings Anubis back to life, and Yugi and Seto become trapped in ancient Egypt as Anubis endeavors to destroy the world. Not only does Yugi have to defend himself from Seto, but he also has to save the universe. It's hard to believe a cartoon with a strange story that uses so much of its time showing characters playing a bizarre card game and pairs Japanese cartoon characters and ancient Egypt is such a hit among youngsters. At least the sea of weird beings that play a part in Yugi's movie debut are more engaging than its story. Though there is a strong theme that promotes loyalty to friends throughout the movie, there's nothing inspiring about "Yu-Gi-Oh! The Movie," unless you count the way it compels kids to continue to support the "Yu-Gi-Oh" franchise. Contains combat and monster images. Area theaters.
-- Sara Gebhardt
"Alien vs. Predator."