The low-down on this week's premieres
What would a year at the movies be without at least one modern war epic set in an era we've only read about in history books? In Kingdom of Heaven, three-time Academy Award-nominated director Ridley Scott (Gladiator) leads his own army through the early 12th-century Crusades (the battle between Muslims and Christians over the Holy Land). Transformed from a lowly blacksmith to a knight, Balian (Orlando Bloom) is a lost soul who is hoping to find religious and personal growth after tragedy strikes his family. He turns to Godfrey (Liam Neeson), the father he has never known, and sets off to keep the peace in Jerusalem. Kingdom also stars two-time Oscar nominee Edward Norton (American History X) as a masked King Baldwin IV, Oscar winner Jeremy Irons (Reversal of Fortune) as the king's military advisor Tiberias, and Eva Green (The Dreamers) as Balian's love interest Princess Sibylla.
Set in California, Crash follows the intersecting lives of a group of Los Angeles residents as they face racial turmoil. Written and directed by Academy Award-nominated screenwriter Paul Haggis (Million Dollar Baby), Crash stars Sandra Bullock (Miss Congeniality), Don Cheadle (Hotel Rwanda), Matt Dillon (Wild Things), Jennifer Espositio (Made), Ryan Phillippe (Cruel Intentions), and Chris "Ludacris" Bridges (2 Fast 2 Furious).
Elisah Cuthbert (The Girl Next Door) and Paris Hilton (Raising Helen) get a little sticky and slippery in House of Wax, a teenage slasher flick, which, according to the film's website, is "re-imagining" Warner Brothers' 1953 horror classic. When their car breaks down in the middle of nowhere, a group of kids enter a wax museum and discover that the insane curator's wax figures are real people. Someone get a wick; that's what I call a candle.