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"A Walk to Remember"; "The Count of Monte Cristo"; "Brotherhood of the Wolf"

Quick Flicks

"A Walk to Remember" — It may star a teen-age pop diva (Mandy Moore) and a teen-age heartthrob (Shane West), but this is Not Just Another Teen Movie. It chronicles the unlikely romance between quiet misfit Moore (nearly unrecognizable as a mousy brunette) and the rebellious leader (West) of the school's "in" clique. Based on a novella by romance purveyor du jour Nicholas Sparks, all the usual things happen: The two seniors fall in love, but his snooty friends don't understand it, nor does her father. Everyone but the lovers wants the relationship to end.

But just when you think "A Walk to Remember" really is just another in a seemingly endless rivulet of teen angst/young love flicks, it takes a serious turn. Suddenly it blossoms into a touching — albeit sappy — love story. Rated PG, this "Walk" is a pleasant alternative to the usual teen fare.

"The Count of Monte Cristo" — This latest, decidedly "popcorn-munching" take on the classic tale of revenge and betrayal will give Alexandre Dumas scholars apoplexy. But for the majority of moviegoers who rarely crack open a contemporary book, much less delve into a dusty old tome, the movie's air of goofiness and over-the-top performances will be applauded. As the wrongfully imprisoned Edmund Dantes, Jim Caviezel exudes a sleepy charm that eerily mutates into believable malevolence as he plots his revenge. As the object of that revenge, Guy Pearce as the disloyal Mondego delivers a watchable though less subtle performance.

Frequently entertaining and often lovely to look at, the best this redo offers is the soulful countenanced duo of Caviezel and Pearce. They're more than enough to buckle a few swashes.

"Brotherhood of the Wolf" — Tremendous fun, this epic French amalgamation of numerous movie genres teeters but never falls into out-and-out silliness or predictability. Although many audience members weren't sure they were supposed to laugh at much of the movie's hootable scenes or plot contrivances, those who jump in without such preconceived notions will come away entertained. It begins as a gritty 18th-century forensic thriller but quickly becomes something else entirely. As naturalist Gregoire de Fronsac (Samuel Le Bihan) and his silent Iroquois blood brother (Mark Dacascos) attempt to solve a series of mutilation murders, they also must battle ignorance, bigotry, superstition and political intrigue. Although the computer-generated monster disappoints, and much of the action registers as preposterous, the movie remains uniquely true to its goofy fantastical roots.

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