The update of the 1979 zombie fest offers gore galore, creepy images, some wicked humor and impressive performances for a fright flick from Sarah Polley, Ving Rhames, Mekhi Phifer and their co-stars. Beyond a strong cast, though, the new “Dawn” lacks the bite of George Romero’s low-budget original, which served up real drama and sharp satire of American consumer culture.

Director Zack Snyder’s “Dawn” is mainly a run-of-the-mill action flick packed with loud gunfire and louder explosions. The remake piles on a bigger group of central characters, who take refuge in a shopping mall from the zombie masses. But you end up knowing and caring less about each person.

Rated: R for pervasive strong horror violence and gore, language and sexuality. Running time: 102 min. Rating: 2 out of 4 stars.

– David Germain, AP Movie Writer
‘Taking Lives’

This dark, suspenseful thriller presents Angelina Jolie at her best since her Academy Award-winning turn in 1999’s “Girl, Interrupted.” Jolie plays a dispassionate FBI profiler on loan to Montreal police tracking a serial killer who steals victims’ identities. Ethan Hawke has fine chemistry with Jolie as a suspect and potential victim who becomes her romantic interest. Gena Rowlands highlights the supporting cast with an imperious performance as a suspect’s mom, but Kiefer Sutherland is sadly underused as the prime suspect.

Director D.J. Caruso manages a nice blend of brooding ambiance and engaging action, and the film even musters a couple of twitch-in-your-seat scares.

Rated: R for strong violence including disturbing images, language and some sexuality. Running time: 103 min. Rating: 3 out of 4 stars.

– David Germain, AP Movie Writer
‘Secret Window’

Johnny Depp and John Turturro manage to lift this psychological thriller a bit above the morass of horror cliches in this latest Stephen King adaptation. Yet Depp’s manic tics and Turturro’s menace carry only so far. The secrets of “Secret Window” are obvious almost from the start, and the movie comes off as a retread of earlier King tales about writers wrestling evil doppelgangers or wacko readers.

Depp is an author with writer’s block snoozing his days away at a cabin in the woods. Turturro’s a redneck who accuses Depp of plagiarizing his story. Bad deeds ensue, with plot twists you’ll likely see coming a long way off.

Rated: PG-13 for violence/terror, sexual content and language. Running time: 97 min. Rating: 2 out of 4 stars. .

– David Germain, AP Movie Writer

Viggo Mortensen goes from ruling Middle-earth to racing across the Middle East in a movie that’s so retro, it’s almost quaint, especially compared to the nouveau computer-generated spectacle of the “Lord of the Rings” trilogy.

You’d think Mortensen would be tired of riding a horse by now, and sore, but he’s back in the saddle again, this time playing a real guy, cowboy Frank T. Hopkins.

A famed long-distance rider, Hopkins competed with his mustang, Hidalgo, in a 3,000-mile race across the Arabian desert in 1890.

His story has resulted in a big, beautiful film that could have come out 40 years ago. Mortensen has the rugged good looks and the quiet intensity for the role, but it’s hard not to be distracted by how derivative the film is.

Rated: PG-13 for adventure violence and some mild innuendo. Running time: 136 min. Rating: 2 1/2 out of 4 stars.

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