Thumbsucker (15)<br></br> Sophie Scholl: the Final Days (PG)<br></br> Ghost in the Shell 2: Innocence (15)<br></br> The Legend of Zorro (PG)<br></br> Saw II (18)

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The Independent Culture

For the first 30 minutes, I thought this was going to blossom into something rather extraordinary: a study of the shadow-line between youth and manhood, coupled with bleak satire. Alas, it doesn't live up to that early promise, slipping instead into a meanderingtale of high-school angst. As Justin, who finds purpose restored to his life by Ritalin, Lou Pucci is very good. And the rest of the casting is pretty much flawless, with Tilda Swinton as the smothering mom, and Keanu Reeves as a psycho-babble-spouting orthodontist.

Sophie Scholl: the Final Days (PG)

A tribute to one of Germany's few uncomplicated heroines of the Second World War: Sophie Scholl, a staunch anti-Nazi who in February 1943 was arrested and executed for distributing seditious leaflets in Munich. In theory, her story is inspiring; but despite a sparky performance from Julia Jentsch - the femme fatale in The Edukators - Marc Rothemund's treatment is oppressively dull and unimaginative.

Ghost in the Shell 2: Innocence (15)

Animated science-fiction noir, a sequel to Ghost in the Shell. As before, Blade Runnerish action is muddled up with philosophising about the relationship between mind and the material world; but this time, the balance has tipped too far towards the philosophy.

The Legend of Zorro (PG)

Antonio Banderas and Catherine Zeta-Jones return, older but no wiser, for another bout of swashbuckling. The plot, about a European conspiracy to throttle the nascent power of the United States, might have topical sting if it wasn't utterly contrived.

Saw II (18)

"There will be blood," announces the psychopathic murderer early on, and what do you know, he's right. Unfortunately, the lesson of this nasty little potboiler is that even large quantities of gore can't make up for a proper plot.

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