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August 10, 2007|By Michael Sragow and Chris Kaltenbach | Michael Sragow and Chris Kaltenbach,Sun Movie Critics

Capsules by Michael Sragow and Chris Kaltenbach unless noted. Full reviews are at baltimore sun.com/movies.

The Bourne Ultimatum -- combines a dense and tingling atmosphere with the headlong pacing and adventure as director Paul Greengrass takes the minimalist story line and snaps it like a whip. Using his camera to put you in Bourne's (Matt Damon) shoes or his sightlines, cutting with each shift of attention or slash of hand, foot and elbow, Greengrass lets you experience his hero's extreme sensations without overdosing on brutality. The swift, deft filmmaking and the authentic, in-your-eyeballs stunts pitch you at that giddy point of visceral enjoyment where you can't believe you're feeling what you're feeling -- but, of course, you do. (M.S.) PG-13 111 minutes A-

Bratz -- For a formulaic comedy about shallow, shopping-obsessed teenagers, it's about twice as good as it has any right to be. And aside from the "shop shop shop" consumerism of the girls, Bratz is endearingly tame and harmless. (Orlando Sentinel) PG 97 minutes C

Hairspray -- In 1962 Baltimore, ebullient, obese teen Tracy Turn- blad (Nikki Blonsky), who is gung-ho about romance, idealism and rock 'n' roll, helps integrate The Corny Collins Show. Director-choreographer Adam Shankman lets Tracy's jubilation as well as her conscience be his guide: Along with his all-star cast, he gives this musical a zest that gets audiences jumping. (M.S.) PG 117 minutes A

Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix -- Harry must fight both the evil of Lord Voldemort and the creeping, insidious cruelties of small-minded bureaucrats. It's a vivid and surprisingly ticklish series entry that leaves you stoked for what comes next. (M.S.) PG-13 138 minutes B+

Hot Rod -- stars Andy Samberg as Rod, a would-be stuntman or stun-manchild who's trying to raise money for his stepfather's critical heart operation. You may enjoy the way director Akiva Schaffer and Samberg prolong Rod's pratfalls to absurd length, but the pleasure fades because there's no skill to the slapstick, only glorified amateurism. (M.S.) PG-13 88 minutes D-

I Now Pronounce You Chuck & Larry -- Two New York City firefighters (Adam Sandler and Kevin James) "marry" so one can change the beneficiary on his retirement benefits. Blechhh! Sand- ler and James have no chemistry, and this comedy formula -- be as offensive as possible, as long as you see the error of your ways in the end -- is indefensible. (C.K.) PG-13 110 minutes D+

No Reservations -- wastes its considerable resources, including a pair of formidable actresses -- Catherine Zeta-Jones, lovely and commanding as ever, as Kate, a top chef at a fancy New York City restaurant who is too career-obsessed to enjoy life; and the effortlessly charming Abigail Breslin as the unfortunate niece forced to live with her. Too bad the people behind the camera are far too happy to follow well-trod romantic comedy paths when they could at least stretch the genre's boundaries. The result is a bland, forgettable film that goes down too easy for its own good. (C.K.) PG-13 106 minutes C

Ratatouille -- is a sublime dish of a movie: the piece de resistance among Pixar's animated cartoon features. A rat who is a gourmet genius teams with a kitchen cleanup-boy to save a legendary Parisian restaurant. Shakespeare said, "Music is the food of love," but in this movie food is the food of love. And, boy oh boy, does writer-director Brad Bird's play on, or, rather, cook away. This picture makes your eyes tear with laughter and emotion and your mouth water. (M.S.) G 110 minutes A+

Sicko -- Michael Moore's documentary attack on the American health care industry is infuriating and funny, forging a disturbing diagram from the avarice and chaos of a slapdash, heartless system. For once, Moore's anarchic comic bent and his political sympathies appear to be completely in sync. Even his most far-out salvos hit the bulls-eye. (M.S.) PG-13 123 minutes A-

The Simpsons Movie -- is the marshmallow on top of an honorable, infectious franchise: It's not just a spinoff but a wised-up family comedy that's spirited and inventive. It retains the farcical belligerence of the TV comedy but also heightens the series' oddball warmth and expands on its Hellzapoppin' slapstick. (M.S.) PG-13. 87 minutes A

Transformers, -- an action flick about good vs. bad alien robots carrying their squabble to Earth, has so much going for it -- namely, the supremely cool spectacle of watching cars and trucks rearrange themselves into giant robots -- that its very real problems are easy to overlook. It stars a game Shia LaBeouf, working overtime to pump personality into his role as the Earthling who unknowingly holds the key to everything. (C.K.) PG-13 140 minutes B

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