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"The Cell," "Godzilla 2000," "The Original Kings of Comedy" and on video, "Ghost Dog: The Way of the Samurai"

Quick Flicks

!B! "The Cell"!B! "Godzilla 2000"!B! "The Original Kings of Comedy"

Now on Video"Ghost Dog: The Way of the Samurai"

"The Cell" — If looks could kill, this would be the best movie of the summer. But beneath the sumptuously surreal eye candy — most notably Jennifer Lopez as the world's most glamorous child therapist — "The Cell" is a pretty ugly variation on the overworked serial-killer genre. Vincent D'Onofrio plays Carl Stargher, a serial killer who suffers a seizure and then slips into a coma before an FBI agent (Vince Vaughan) can find out where his latest victim is. Enter empathetic Lopez, who uses a high-tech process to enter the comatose killer's mind.

Once inside the sadistic Stargher's mind, trendy video and commercial director Tarsem (he's dropped his surname) fills the screen with amazing visuals. Unfortunately, those visuals are wrapped in the warped context of Stargher's sadism. Creepy and horrific, these beautifully composed scenes deal with the torture of women. As stunning as these sequences are, they can't mask the hackneyed plot, the lugubrious pacing or the flat acting. That's the real torture here.

"Godzilla 2000" — Leapin' lizards, he's baaaaaack! Honestly though, who can blame the Japanese for wanting the last word when it comes to the sci-fi icon they invented? Especially after Roland Emmerich's dreadful, special effects-driven attempt to update their misguided monster in 1998's "Godzilla."

So, for the big guy's 23rd screen outing, it's back-to-his-roots time. In classic Godzilla style, the special effects are low-tech, the monster is really a stunt man in a big rubber suit, and the plot and dialogue are shamelessly bad. All that's missing are a few out-of-synch voiceovers. As always, after stomping through a Japanese city, Godzilla finds himself saving mankind in a no-holds-barred battle with another monster (this time an alien). If you like your monster movies with a retro-'50s feel, "Godzilla 2000" will have you howling.

"The Original Kings of Comedy" — True to its title, this Spike Lee concert documentary serves up near non-stop laughter along with more than a dash or two of biting social commentary. All courtesy of four of America's hottest black stand-up comics: D.L. Hughley, Steve Harvey, Bernie Mac and Cedric the Entertainer.

Shot over two nights last February in Charlotte, N.C., Lee more than captures the rousing communal emotion and energy of a live performance. Unapologetically adult in language and themes, these guys are hilarious. I can't remember when I've laughed so hard for so long.

"Ghost Dog: The Way of the Samurai" — Fans of excruciatingly cool filmmaker Jim Jarmusch, your wait is over! His latest movie — which never made it to town — is now out on video. As you might expect, this dark comedy about a black assassin who works for the Mafia but sees himself as a modern-day samurai warrior is hip, pretentious and highly entertaining. Forest Whitaker makes the most of Ghost Dog, creating a believably lovable, decent guy who just happens to kill for a living. While not without some serious flaws, the movie is filled with so many amusing, idiosyncratic flourishes and unexpectedly charming characters, you willingly overlook Jarmusch's excesses.

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