A ugust is just around the corner. The summer movie season is beginning to wind down. This is typically a time when fewer blockbusters are released, and that is, for the most part, a good thing. August can bring some pleasant surprises, and I'm expecting "The Brothers Grimm" and "The 40-Year-Old Virgin" to turn some heads.



'Mystery of the Nile'

As far as recent films go, I just caught the latest offering at the OmniDome Theater in Oklahoma City, "Mystery of the Nile," from MacGillivray Freeman Films. This documentary concerns a group of adventurers, led by Pasquale Scaturro and Gordon Brown, who recently became the first expedition in history to complete the 3,260-mile journey down the "Blue Nile" from its source in Ethiopia all the way to the Mediterranean Sea.

"Mystery of the Nile" is a noble effort with some interesting moments. However, the nature of this vast undertaking prevents some of the most exciting moments from being filmed. As a result, we get several reenactments or voiceovers that are rather ho-hum. Not bad, but certainly not one of my favorite large screen format films.

Rating: C+



'Wedding Crashers'

I was completely surprised by my reaction to "Wedding Crashers," starring Owen Wilson, Vince Vaughn and Rachel McAdams. I expected the film to be stupid with some big laughs along the way ? just another comedy about pathetic guys attempting to score.

The laughs are certainly there, but the film is actually much smarter than its overly familiar plot suggests. The screenplay is twisted, in a good "There's Something About Mary" sort of way, and it deals effectively with the issue of friendship between the male leads. The closing scenes are disappointing, but the stars (especially McAdams) have long since won you over by that time. Look for a great cameo by Will Ferrell.

Rating: B+



'War of the Worlds'

Beyond that, I finally caught Tom Cruise in Steven Spielberg's "War of the Worlds," which was, in my opinion, a complete disappointment.

Yes, the film is visually stunning, but it fails to connect emotionally with its audience. Cruise plays a tough guy who rips his shirt off and grimaces at how difficult it is to be a divorced father. But his performance is unconvincing, perhaps due to his gag-inducing over-familiarity. We see the monsters approaching, but with no one in the film to love, they might as well be squashing cockroaches.

Rating: C-

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