Here's the deal: The Pope died. As the cardinals go behind closed doors to blow smoke, someone kidnaps the four guys most likely to be tapped to wear the funny hat, threatening to kill one each hour before blowing up all of Vatican City with a stolen sample of antimatter. So, who gets called in? Harvard professor Robert Langdon (Tom Hanks, who's wisely lost the mullet he wore in the last movie). He's paired with a hot scientist (Ayelet Zurer) and the late Pope's right-hand man, the helicopter-flying priest Ewan McGregor, and faces off against the head of Vatican security (Stellan Skarsgård) and a powerful cardinal (Armin Mueller-Stahl), both of whom are scowly, angry religious types. All Langdon has to do is save the world by solving some ancient riddles.
So, yes, it's laughably stupid and painfully obvious. But happily, it isn't dull. Unlike The Da Vinci Code, Angels crackles along as Langdon solves every mystery and tries to stay out of the way of the weird hit-man with the Vatican City all-access pass. Of course, that can't make up for the fact that the entire film is predicated on a conspiracy that is so complex that it is ultimately based on luck, a conspiracy that's eventually broken and solved not through Langdon's knowledge and expertise but by the mighty wonder-twin powers of coincidence and security cameras. Hey, maybe there's room for faith and science after all.
Gigantic: Paul Dano, the sinful preacher from There Will Be Blood and the quiet guy from Little Miss Sunshine, is an aimless mattress salesman wooing Zooey Deschanel.
The Limits of Control: The new film from Jim Jarmusch is truly unlike anything else in theaters. Yes, it has a narrative, but the interpretation of what it's all about is intentionally left up to the viewer. Putting the “art” in art-house, it's beautiful and maddening, at times inspiring and at others tiresome.
Management: Proverbial sidekick Steve Zahn gets a leading role. He's Mike, an awkward man-child who grows up through an extended stalking of Jennifer Aniston.
Rudo y Cursi: Gael Garcia Bernal and Diego Luna reunite for the first time since they made Y Tu Mama Tambien, playing small-town brothers who find success playing soccer on the national level and also find themselves succumbing to all the temptations that come with fame.
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Along Came Polly: Ben Stiller is the straight-laced, utterly organized fool who falls for flighty Jennifer Aniston. Screens at 8 p.m. Wednesday, May 13, at The Pearl Hotel in Point Loma. Free.
Splash: This literal fish-out-of-water comedy marked the first time Tom Hanks teamed up with director Ron Howard. The restaurant offers a nice prix fixe movie-night special, and mermaid is not on the menu. Screens at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, May 14, at Sea Rocket Bistro in North Park. Free.
Salud: Documentary that looks at the battle for global health and how differing value systems both stifle and stimulate. Screens at 2 p.m. Sunday, May 16, at the Central Library, Downtown. Free.
Transsiberian: You know how you hang with random people in the Amtrak bar car? That doesn't work out so well for Woody Harrelson and Emily Mortimer, who are riding the rails from China to Moscow. CityBeat film editor Anders Wright introduces the movie, which screens at 2 p.m. Sunday, May 17, at the Central Library, Downtown. Free.
Run Lola Run: Mindbender about a young German woman who has just 20 minutes to come up with a chunk of money. Screens at 6:30 p.m. Sunday, May 17, at Café Libertalia in Hillcrest. Free.
Special: Michael Rappaport is hooked on comics. Which is fine, until he enrolls in a drug trial and gains superpowers. Or does he? Screens at 6:30 p.m. Monday, May 18, at the Central Library, Downtown. Free.
Terminator 2: It can't be bargained with. It can't be reasoned with. It doesn't feel pity, or remorse, or fear. And it absolutely will not stop, ever, until you are dead. Or it becomes governor. Screens at 8 p.m. Monday, May 18, at the Loft on the UCSD campus. Free.
Press Rewind '09: This marks the second time UCSD's ArtPower! Film has put together a collection of student films from now-famous directors. See how far folks like Tim Burton, Martin Scorsese, Alexander Payne, Wes Anderson, Jane Campion, Alfonso Quaron and Todd Solondz have come. Starts at 7 p.m. Tuesday, May 19, at The Loft at UCSD.
The World According to Monsanto: Takes a hard look at the multinational food corporation and its plans to rule the world. Factoid: Monsanto Green is people. Screens at 6 p.m. Wednesday, May 20, at the Central Library, Downtown. Free.
Office Space: Work sucks. Mike Judge knows. There's a reason this has become a pop-culture touchstone. Screens at 8 p.m. Wednesday, May 20, at The Pearl Hotel in Point Loma. Free.
The Big Lebowski: The summer film series at Stone kicks off with the Coen Brothers classic. Easily their cultiest cult film, Lebowski stars Jeff Bridges as The Dude, a serious stoner who shares his name with the wealthy husband of a kidnap victim. White Russians will flow at 9 p.m. Wednesday, May 20, at Stone Brewery and Bistro in Escondido. Free and 21-plus.
Star Trek: The JJ Abrams-directed franchise reboot boldly goes to the heart of the original show and makes it fun again. It's fun, fresh and exciting, the first badass Trek movie since The Wrath of Khan. Good for Trekkies, good for non-Trekkies and great for Trek.
Enlighten Up!: Filmmaker Kate Churchill pushes her buddy Nick Rosen to take yoga seriously—and then catches him on film as he tries to do so. No more Big Macs for you, buddy.
Every Little Step: Meta documentary about Broadway hopefuls auditioning for a revival of A Chorus Line, a musical about Broadway hopefuls auditioning for a Broadway musical.
Lemon Tree: A Palestinian widow stands up to the new Israeli defense minister—who's also her new neighbor—when security forces declare her lemon trees a threat to his security. Because, you know, lemons are sour. Starring Hiam Abbass (The Visitor), who won the Israeli version of the Best Actress Oscar.
Next Day Air: Crime comedy about two dudes who open a box filled with kilos of coke meant for the apartment across the hall. Stars Mike Epps, Mos Def and Wood Harris, the dude who played Avon Barksdale on The Wire.
Tyson: Documentary about “Iron” Mike Tyson that looks at his life and times through his eyes. It doesn't matter if you love him or hate him, just like when he's in the ring, you can't take your eyes off him. See our review on Page 28.
X-Men Origins: Wolverine: Critic-proof summer blockbuster that kicks off the entire season. Decent action sequences, sure, but we prefer our Wolverine to be a short, squat badass, not a brooding sex symbol.
Anvil! The Story of Anvil: The best reach-for-your-dreams film of the year is about aging Canadian metal-heads.
Ghosts of Girlfriends Past: Matthew McConaughey is confronted by the former loves of his life, A Christmas Carol style.
Is Anybody There?: Michael Caine is terrific and tragic as an aging magician forced to live in an old-people's home, where he befriends the young, lonely boy who lives there.
Earth: Gorgeous Disney documentary about the big blue marble you live on.
Fighting: Dito Martiel follows up his terrific debut, A Guide to Recognizing Your Saints, with a look at bare-knuckle underground fighting in New York City. Stars Channing Tatum and Terrence Howard.
Lymelife: Alec Baldwin is so good on 30 Rock that you probably forgot you used to hate him. But he's great in Lymelife as the philandering dad to Jimmy Bartlett (Kieren Culkin), who is coming of age just as the '70s turn into the '80s and lyme disease is all the rage.
Obsessed: Idris Elbra, aka The Wire's Stringer Bell, has a gorgeous wife in Beyonce and a gorgeous stalker in Ali Larter. Things could be worse.
The Soloist: Adaptation of Los Angeles Times writer Steve Lopez's book, about the talented homeless musician (Jamie Foxx) he befriended. Robert Downey Jr. plays Lopez.
17 Again: Teen heartthrob Zac Ephron is an old dude who suddenly gets young again. You know, like Benjamin Button.
Crank: High Voltage: Again, Jason Statham has to be like the bus in Speed. If he stops moving, his heart explodes.
State of Play: Russell Crowe is a D.C. reporter investigating the murder of Congressman Ben Affleck's mistress. Sounds cheesy, but it comes from the same U.K. team that wrote The Queen and The Deal.
Observe and Report: Seth Rogen's new mall-cop movie is darker than you expect it to be. But just as profane as you think it could be, too.
Hannah Montana: The Movie: This just makes us feel old. And we're not old.
Sin Nombre: Cary Fukunaga's first feature earned him this year's Best Director award at Sundance. It's a harrowing tale of two immigrants—one a Mexican gang member, the other a young Honduran girl—who find themselves connected through violence as they head north.
Fast and Furious: Vin Diesel and Paul Walker re-team for the fourth entry in the fast-car franchise.
Monsters vs. Aliens: Reese Witherspoon brings some life to this huge 3-D animated extravaganza, but the story is dwarfed by the special effects.
I Love You, Man: Judd Apatow's fingers are nowhere to be found on this bromance, which stars Paul Rudd and Jason Segal. But they might as well be.
Knowing: If you can buy Nic Cage as an MIT prof, you'll happily go with him uncovering a time capsule that predicts all the global catastrophes of the last 50 years—and the imminent end of the world.
Sunshine Cleaning: Almost a sequel to Little Miss Sunshine. Some of the same producers are on board, the film is also shot in New Mexico and Alan Arkin plays pretty much the same part. Still, it has that vibe that made LMS so appealing, as Amy Adams and Emily Blunt play sisters who start a business cleaning up violent crime scenes.
Watchmen: Zack Snyder follows up 300 with a big budget take on the legendary graphic novel about the tattered personal lives of superheroes in an alternate 1985, where Nixon is still president and the world is on the brink of nuclear armageddon. It looks terrific, but it simply doesn't live up to its own source material.
Taken: Liam Neeson is a former CIA man whose daughter gets kidnapped by white slavers in Paris. So he goes to the city of lights and kills everybody. Pierre Morel has crafted a brutally violent guilty pleasure.
Slumdog Millionaire: A young, uneducated Indian man is tortured by police who want to find how he knows all the questions he's gotten right on Who Wants to be a Millionaire? The answers are all in his life story, which is full of poverty, abuse, hopes for true love, and the crossroads between coincidence and destiny.
Reuben H. Fleet Science Center Space Theater: After undergoing significant renovations, the Fleet is re-opening its dome Imax theater, complete with a kick-ass new screen. Three films will run in rotation initially: Wild Ocean, Van Gogh: Brush with Genius and Animalopolis. Showtimes and prices can be found at www.rhfleet.org.
The Rocky Horror Picture Show: No, it's not a time warp—the love-it-or-hate-it camp classic continues its midnight run in its 37th year of release. When the lead character of the film is a transvestite scientist named Dr. Frank-N-Furter, you know you're in for some seriously trashy viewing. And, of course, this is the one movie where you want the audience shouting at the screen. Screens Fridays at midnight at La Paloma Theater in Encinitas.