8 Mile (4 Gus heads)

By Gus Bode

Eminem makes a respectable acting debut in this excellent offering that is, granted, loosely based on the controversial rapper’s own life. Eminem stars as Jimmy “Bunny Rabbit” Smith, a put-upon Detroit boy who can’t find his real life between driving around with his friends and going home to his trailer-trash mother (Kim Basinger), Em’s movie thrives on a distinct visual look, an excellent supporting tier of players (Mekhi Phifer is included in this number) and the fluent direction of Curtis Hanson. All in all, a class act. Rated R, 1 hour, 51 minutes. Playing at Varsity Theater.

Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (2 1/2 Gus heads)

Harry and crew return for a second year at Hogwarts, this time with a new professor of the dark arts (Kenneth Branagh) and a dark secret that is leaving students of the school petrified. Of course, it’s up to Harry et al to provide the answers. Is Potter-mania worth it this time around? Not really. While “Chamber of Secrets” boasts some exciting action scenes and some terrifying sequences, it’s bland compared to last year’s superior “Sorceror’s Stone.” Be sure to check out the final performance by the late Richard Harris. Rated PG, 2 hours, 41 minutes. Playing at University Place 8.


The Ring (3 1/2 Gus heads)

Kudos go to director Gore Verbinski for making a horror film that still manages to engage even after the frills of its high-concept plot have long left the building. Based on the premise of a creepy video tape that leaves its viewer dead precisely seven days after they see it, “The Ring” is full of legitimate chills that are woven into a technically excellent film, but still, a reliance on the clich drags the whole package down a bit. Plus, it may be a few minutes too long. Rated PG-13, 1 hour, 55 minutes. Playing at University Place 8.

Sure, Pierce Brosnan’s “Die Another Day” may be a respectable entry in the never-ending Bond franchise, but no 007 flick has been able to capture the sheer adrenaline exuded by this third and ultimately crowning installment in the famous spy series. With the ultimate Bond, Sean Connery, at the helm, “Goldfinger” sears on a foundation of sensual girls, tripped-out Aston Martins, perhaps the best villain ever and the image of a woman covered in gold paint. Plus, the wit of Goldfinger’s scheme is a good match for 007. It’s a class act, and they just don’t make them like they used to.