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October 27, 2006|By Michael Sragow and Chris Kaltenbach | Michael Sragow and Chris Kaltenbach,Sun Movie Critics

Capsules by Michael Sragow and Chris Kaltenbach. Full reviews at baltimoresun.com/movies.

Alex Rider: Operation Stormbreaker, -- the adventures of a teen spy created by British novelist Anthony Horowitz, is about as clunky as a movie gets. Newcomer Alex Pettyfer, reportedly plucked from a gaggle of some 500 teen heartthrob wannabes, plays Rider, a heretofore carefree high schooler who's recruited into Britain's top-secret MI6 after the murder of his super-spy uncle (Ewan McGregor, displaying more charisma during his brief time onscreen than the rest of the cast combined). Stormbreaker is less a movie than a patchwork quilt. Even when the chase is on, which happens repeatedly, there's little energy to the film, just the nagging feeling that director Geoffrey Sax (White Noise) should move on already. (C.K.) PG 93 minutes D

The Departed -- illuminates, with a blowtorch, the tangled roots of urban corruption when a Boston Irish kingpin (Jack Nicholson) puts a mole (Matt Damon) in the State Police and the cops put a mole (Leonardo DiCaprio) in the mob. The direction (Martin Scorsese) and the writing (William Monahan) burst with exposed-wire energy; so does the ensemble, including the scene-stealing Mark Wahlberg as a police sergeant. (M.S.) R 149 minutes A

Flags of Our Fathers -- purports to tell the story of Marines raising Old Glory on Iwo Jima and the iconic photo that was snapped during the battle to take the island during World War II. The film has all the coherence and lucidity of a fragmentation bomb. It spews out cliches about the ambiguous nature of heroism - failed cliches, at that - and they fatally wound any authentic character or artistic notion that it has. (M.S.) R. 132 minutes. C-

Flyboys -- are red-blooded young Americans who become members of France's Lafayette Escadrille to fight the Germans in the air before the United States enters World War I. But the movie is a passionless and attenuated spectacle: The characters are like stick figures from a game of hangman - you just wait for them to prove themselves or die - or both. (M.S.) PG-13 139 minutes D+

Hamilton -- is a slice-of-life drama that follows two young unmarrieds (local actors Stephanie Vizzi and Chris Myers) as they drift through a hot summer day in Northeast Baltimore. The film offers few insights, but many opportunities for audiences to fill in the blanks in the characters' lives. It also offers film lovers a chance to revel in this first effort by a director - Baltimore native Matthew Porterfield - more interested in observing life than sensationalizing it. (C.K.) Unrated 64 minutes B+

Jesus Camp -- is a hypnotic, upsetting and bleakly humorous documentary about evangelical children raised in churches and camps that emphasize ecstatic connections to God while blurring the line between church and state. (M.S.) PG-13 87 minutes B+

Jet Li's Fearless, -- according to its star, is his final martial-arts film. If that's true, Li is leaving the genre in glorious style with this magnificent ode to honor, friendship, responsibility, dedication, grace and about a dozen other virtues. Oh, yeah, and at 43, Li can still kick it. (C.K.) PG-13 103 minutes A-

Infamous -- is the musical-comedy version of the story of Truman Capote writing In Cold Blood. It tries and fails to be a high farce that turns into high tragedy; it comes complete with Gwyneth Paltrow doing a Peggy Lee imitation on a Cole Porter song, a Greek chorus of high-society gals (including Sigourney Weaver) and a Capote (Toby Jones) who reincarnates the boldly fey showman of the talk-show circuit. (M.S.) R 110 minutes C

The Last King of Scotland -- is actually Idi Amin, the Scot-loving Ugandan dictator who staged a coup d'etat in 1971, promised national unity and progress, and descended into barbarism. Forest Whitaker gives a performance huge in size and spirit and terrifying in its downward-spiraling momentum as Amin, and James McAvoy has a giddy self-awareness as the film's co-antihero, a reckless Scottish doctor who becomes Amin's personal physician. (M.S.) R 121 minutes A-

Man of the Year -- is about a Jon Stewart-like comedian (Robin Williams) who wins the presidency because of a voting-software malfunction. Although clunky moments crowd magical ones, it's different and better than its trailers: a piquant political comedy-drama with a superb leading lady (Laura Linney) and a funny supporting cast (Lewis Black, Christopher Walken).(M.S.) PG-13 101 minutes B

Marie Antoinette -- is high-caloric art-house moviemaking, full of pastry-coated, sugar-swirled ideas and historical moments dipped in candy. They are consumed entirely in the watching of the movie. They leave no aftertaste - no troubling thought, no haunting emotion, except, perhaps, a smile and a tear for Kirsten Dunst's cheerful valor in the title role. (M.S.) PG-13 118 minutes C+

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