Capsule reviews of films opening this week:

"The Fall" _ This whacked-out fairy tale for grown-ups is as stunning in its beauty as it is in its lack of logic. Indian writer-director Tarsem Singh, who just goes by the name Tarsem, knows how to create some sumptuous visuals, as he did with his similarly gorgeous but pretentious 2000 thriller "The Cell" starring Jennifer Lopez and Vincent D'Onofrio. He has quite an imagination, all right, as you would imagine from a commercial and music-video veteran. (Tarsem's best known work is still the clip for R.E.M.'s "Losing My Religion," and that was back in 1991.) You just wonder where he's going with it. Too often the images, shot over several years in countries including Bali, Fiji, South Africa and Italy, seem to exist because they're cool-looking and weird, and for no other reason. The convoluted story, which Tarsem co-scripted with Dan Gilroy and Nico Soultanakis, follows the friendship that forms between an injured stuntman (Lee Pace) and a little girl with a broken collar bone (Romanian newcomer Catinca Untaru). Both are stuck in a hospital in 1915 Los Angeles. Every day, Untaru's cherubic Alexandria visits Pace's bedridden Roy and hears pieces of an increasingly wild tale, details of which he draws from his own life. Roy hopes that by charming her, he can talk her into stealing enough morphine so that he can kill himself. (We warned you this wasn't meant for kids.) Pace, the Golden Globe-nominated star of ABC's "Pushing Daisies," would seem to have the right charismatic presence for the job, but it's sometimes tough to tell under the elaborate costumes and fantasies his character has concocted. R for some violent images. 116 min. Two stars out of four.

_ Christy Lemire, AP Movie Critic

___

"Speed Racer" _ The Wachowski brothers have tumbled into a matrix of their own this time, one which has rendered them completely out of touch with the outside world. In adapting the 1960s Japanese anime television series, writer-directors Larry and Andy Wachowski have created a noisy, overlong, mind-numbing extravaganza that seems tailor-made for nobody but themselves and their twisted sensibilities. Their longtime producing partner Joel Silver insists in the production notes (which are almost as lengthy as the movie itself): "`Speed Racer' is for everybody." Seriously? At two hours and 15 minutes, it's way too long for little kids, the only ones for whom this explosion at a crayon factory would seem even vaguely entertaining. Adults seeking the nostalgia of their own childhood will just be disappointed, because "Speed Racer" the movie bears little resemblance to "Speed Racer" the TV cartoon. And even racing fans will have trouble following the races, because they're edited in such a way that it's impossible to tell who's in the lead, who's gaining and where the finish line is (not to mention that the Wachowskis have obliterated the laws of gravity and physics, therefore negating the sport's innate logic). It's also a waste of the talents of people who truly can act and are capable of far more than functioning as cogs within such candy-coated chaos. Emile Hirsch stars as Speed Racer, who likes to race and still misses his brother, who died suspiciously in competition. That's about all we know about him. Christina Ricci appears in the inert, thankless role of Speed's girlfriend, Trixie, with Susan Sarandon and John Goodman as Mom and Pops Racer. The story has something to do with a corrupt corporate mogul (Roger Allam) who fixes races and wants to drag Speed over to the dark side of the sport. Kids will love that. PG for sequences of action, some violence, language and brief smoking. 135 min. One star out of four.

_ Christy Lemire, AP Movie Critic

___

"What Happens in Vegas" _ Come on, now. You already know what happens in Vegas. You've undoubtedly seen the ubiquitous television commercials in which Cameron Diaz and Ashton Kutcher bicker and beat each other black-and-blue but, secretly, seethe with lust. And you already know that they'll end up softening their stances and falling for each other in the end _ it's pretty standard stuff by now. One does not go to a romantic comedy for the Shyamalan-style plot twists. Director Tom Vaughan's film strives desperately to harken to those classic screwball comedies of yore while including the kind of gross-out humor (Kutcher peeing on dirty dishes in the kitchen sink, etc.) that has, unfortunately, become de rigueur for modern-day incarnations of the genre. What happens in "Vegas" is exactly would you expect: It's formulaic, slapsticky, silly and loud, until it goes all gooey in the end. But still, Diaz and Kutcher have enough charisma individually and enough spark together to make this otherwise forgettable movie from screenwriter Dana Fox ("The Wedding Date") vaguely tolerable. And Lake Bell and Rob Corddry as their respective wisecracking best pals steal some scenes of their own. Diaz and Kutcher co-star as opposites who meet in Las Vegas and get married after a night of drunken debauchery. The next morning, he hits a $3 million jackpot on a slot machine with one of her quarters. A judge who's militant about marriage (Dennis Miller) forces them to make it work before either of them can get their hands on a cent. PG-13 for some sexual and crude content, and language, including a drug reference. 98 min. Two stars out of four.

_ Christy Lemire, AP Movie Critic