Despite the controversy Film Forum mentioned last week, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone enchanted audiences and soared at the box office again this week. The film has earned $187 million as of Tuesday, but will not fulfill projections that it will outdo The Phantom Menace's record-time leap to the $200 million mark. Critics continued to offer ho-hum summations. Salon's Andrew O'Hehir, for example, calls it "a big and often sloppy Hollywood production with some bad computer graphics, a syrupy score from John Williams, and a focus on storybook adventure rather than Rowling's oddball characters."

Incidentally, there's an interesting feature in this week's Los Angeles Times regarding how some critics in the religious press, including Christianity Today's Douglas LeBlanc, were introduced to the film.

Meanwhile, an array of films with less hype opened this week, earning a similarly wide variety of 'bah humbugs' from critics.

Hot from the Oven

Movies and television have rediscovered spies. On television, ABC's new series Alias places an admirable heroine undercover as a double agent for the CIA and a sinister "splinter group" called SD-6. The show is impressive in that Sidney (multi-talented newcomer Jennifer Garner) is placed in seemingly inescapable dilemmas, and she emerges with her secrets—and more importantly, a solid sense of right and wrong—intact.

Good and evil are not so clear in this week's slick new big screen thriller, Spy Game.

Tony Scott, director of blockbuster action films like Top Gun, Crimson Tide, and Enemy of the State, has crafted another intelligent popcorn flick, and this one boasts the strongest lead talents of any film he's made so far. Robert Redford stars as Nathan Muir, a seasoned CIA professional readying ...

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