Stephen Gaghan's sprawling arms-trade potboiler Syriana (Warner Bros.) is more a magazine article than a movie, though fine performances by George Clooney, Matt Damon, and Jeffrey Wright—coupled with Gaghan's ambitious, globe-hopping plot—give the film a sense of weight and scope that belies its flat wonkery. Syriana is the heir to the topical epics of Otto Preminger, and like a lot of Preminger's work, it'll still be valuable as a social document decades hence…

Former CIA analyst Robert Baer, the Middle East specialist who inspired Clooney's Syriana character, currently writes books decrying the feckless official response to the terrorist threat. In the no-budget documentary The Cult Of The Suicide Bomber (Disinformation Company), Baer pokes his nose around the region in search of the origins and future of what he views as a viral outbreak in jihadi self-sacrifice. His conclusions are frightening, though they're muted considerably by the production's total lack of dynamism…

Few phrases in the lexicon of American cinema are less promising than "Paul Walker vehicle," but Disney's Eight Below (Disney) charmed audiences and critics alike with its agreeably old-fashioned tale of adorable animals in peril. Longtime Steven Spielberg collaborator Frank Marshall wisely focuses on the eight sled dogs abandoned by Antarctic explorers, rather than sticking with blandly handsome dog-lover Walker and his thwarted attempts to retrieve them. If only Walker possessed half the magnetism or charisma of his four-legged co-stars…

Advertisement

Alexandre Aja's The Hills Have Eyes (Fox) boasts more ambition and craft than most of the recent plague of '70s horror remakes. But it's still an ugly, unnecessary retread that lingers fetishistically on gore and sexual violence, which may befit a film that inexplicably turns into an extended Straw Dogs homage in its second half…

The Russian international science-fiction hit Night Watch (Fox) arrived in the states as a ready-made cult movie, complete with merchandising spin-offs, an insanely convoluted mythology involving vampires and various other beasties, and two sequels on the way. But the exposition and grunt work of establishing the series' extensive rules and conventions overwhelm the film itself.