AT THE MOVIES
In "Annapolis," James Franco plays a youth who faces the grueling challenges of the Naval Academy. Jordana Brewster also stars.
Paul Walker plays a researcher in Antarctica who struggles to recover his eight sled dogs left behind in a disaster. (PG)
Mrs. Henderson Presents
Oscar nominee Judi Dench is the widowed title character who buys a theater during wartime London and, with the help of her showman partner (Bob Hoskins), puts on a popular revue with nude women placed in tableau settings. Review on Page 23. (R)
This interracial romantic comedy stars Sanaa Lathan as a Los Angeles career woman who falls for a handsome and free-spirited landscape architect, played by Simon Baker. Review on Page 22. (PG-13)
When a Stranger Calls
This remake of the 1979 horror-thriller is about a teenage baby sitter who is terrorized by a stranger who calls, asking "Have you checked the children lately?" And when she notifies the police, they tell her that the calls are coming from inside the house. (PG-13)
G - General audiences.
Emma Thompson stars as a magical but tough nanny who shapes up a family with seven badly behaved children. Thompson and director Kirk Jones' twisted, dryly British sense of humor often makes the movie surprisingly funny. Unfortunately, the visual effects look jarringly cheesy.
PG - Parental guidance suggested.
The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe
Based on C.S. Lewis' classic fantasy novel, the story follows four siblings in World War II England who enter the world of Narnia through a magical wardrobe. There they join a noble and mystical ruler, the lion Aslan, in fighting the evil White Witch, Jadis. The visual overload is impressive, Tilda Swinton is positively insane as the witch, and the young actors give winsome performances. (The film is nominated for three technical Oscars.)
Kate Beckinsale battles deadly creatures in "Underworld: Evolution."
The true story of the underdog Texas Western college basketball team, with history's first all African American starting lineup, and their surprising championship win in the 1966 NCAA tournament. The performances are understated but since this is a Jerry Bruckheimer production, the story is amped up with an overbearing score, along with hyperactive camerawork and jumpy edits that obscure the action at some of the most crucial spots.
Good Night, and Good Luck
George Clooney directed this multiple Oscar-nominated docudrama that recounts the events of the mid-1950s leading up to acclaimed CBS journalist Edward R. Murrow's decision to stand up against the reckless, red-baiting Sen. Joseph McCarthy.
Detectives try to unravel the mystery at Granny's house in a new satirical, animated take on "Little Red Riding Hood." Kids might be entertained by the colorful aesthetics and nonstop energy, but adults, clearly the movie's real target, will see the film for what it really is: hackneyed, inferior and irrelevant.
The Legend of Zorro
Antonio Banderas and Catherine Zeta-Jones return in this sequel to the 1998 hit. It's a decade later and they have a young son. When plans for California statehood are undermined by land barons and businessmen, the masked swashbuckler comes out of retirement.
Yours, Mine & Ours
Dennis Quaid and Rene Russo gamely play a newly married couple with two completely different life philosophies -- and 18 children between them -- in this pedestrian family comedy.
PG-13 - Parents strongly cautioned. Some material may be inappropriate from children under age 13.
This is in the dubious tradition of Halle Berry's "Catwoman." Charlize Theron plays a top rebel operative out to avenge the death of his sister caused by government agents in this inscrutable, laughably bad sci-fi adventure. The character is a flatliner in the personality department, staring blankly as she fights foes with Rockette kicks and berserker yoga poses.
A dream comes true for a young man from the wrong side of the tracks when he is accepted into the Naval Academy. But once there, he's not sure he measures up against the best and the brightest. Starring James Franco, the movie is pretty to look at, but heavy and boring.
Big Momma's House 2
Martin Lawrence goes back undercover in his disguise as a grandmother built like a brick house, this time to be a nanny for the three kids of a suspected killer. You get just about every fat joke ever made in the movie, and the plot doesn't hold much interest. But if you're a fan of Lawrence's manic comedy, this is for you.
End of the Spear
Based on a true story, five Christian missionaries are killed by a primitive tribe of Ecuadorian Indians, but the Church's work goes on to make its conversions. It's an earnest film made by true believers, and while faith is no impediment to vital filmmaking, it's the simple lack of talent that keeps this movie from being truly transformative in a religious sense.
The Family Stone
It's a matriarchal twist on "Meet the Parents," as we follow a tightly wound career woman (Sarah Jessica Parker) on a yuletide jaunt to visit her boyfriend's neo-hippie kin. It's sad to see such a talented cast (Diane Keaton, Rachel McAdams and Luke Wilson included) wasted on such an insipid enterprise.
Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire
This action-packed sequel -- a Best Art Direction Oscar nominee -- chronicles the teenaged Harry's participation in the TriWizard Tournament, while simultaneously unraveling a sinister conspiracy, discovering girls, and later confronting a grotesquely reborn Lord Voldemort. British director Mike Newell has crafted a film full of images that are vast and wondrous, but strangely detached and obviously artificial.
In the Mix
Pop star Usher stars as a deejay who saves the life of a mob boss and is then assigned to protect his hottie daughter whom he, of course, falls for. The movie is a lightweight yet leaden crime caper/romantic comedy.
Nola Rice (Scarlett Johansson) and Chris Wilton (Jonathan Rhys Meyers) have a secret tryst in Woody Allen's latest film "Match Point."
A successful music executive is reminded of his high school loser past when he reconnects with a woman he had a crush on back then. Starring Ryan Reynolds and Amy Smart, this is a surprisingly observant comedy, with an insane, propulsive energy that keeps it endearing even when the movie threatens to spiral out of control toward the end.
Peter Jackson's latest fantasy masterpiece is an eye-popping remake of the 1933 original. While the special effects and action sequences are first-rate, the film's greatest achievement is the tenderness with which it conveys the love and longing between the gorilla and the actress. Naomi Watts, Adrien Brody, Jack Black and Andy Serkis (who works his motion-capture magic again as the Great Ape) star. (The film has four technical Oscar nominations.)
Queen Latifah stars as a shy woman diagnosed with a fatal illness who decides to let loose on a European vacation. Unabashedly feel-good and life-affirming, the movie turns ridiculous towards the end but mostly manages to avoid being completely maudlin thanks to the luminous Latifah.
Memoirs of a Geisha
Based on the bestselling novel, a poor girl (Ziyi Zhang) is taken from her penniless family in the years before World War II and trained to be a geisha who becomes the legendary Sayuri.
It's the rare work of art, an American film with the lush, languid look of Chinese cinema, with six Oscar nominations. Director Rob Marshall layers the story's despair with an easy grace and sensuality.
The New World
Director Terrence Malick settles in and takes his time telling the story of the settlement of Jamestown, Va., in particular his interpretation of the classic tale of Pocahontas and her relationships with adventurer John Smith and aristocrat John Rolfe. While the film is beautiful to look at -- the recipient of a Best Cinematography Oscar nomination -- it's also lacking in narrative drive and character development, almost defiantly so. But your perseverance will be rewarded.
Director Chris Columbus delivers an elaborately constructed yet unimaginative rendering of the Broadway musical smash about New York bohemian lovers and friends coping with poverty, AIDS and addiction.
Johnny Knoxville stars in this comedy produced by the Farrelly brothers. A con man hatches a scheme to pose as an "intellectually challenged" contestant in the Special Olympics to fix the games. It's surprisingly funny and, yes, inspirational.
R - Restricted. Under 17 requires accompanying parent or adult guardian.
Ang Lee's epic love story between a ranch hand and a rodeo cowboy should be seen not for its hot-button topicality or its cultural cachet but simply that it's a very good movie, with a staggeringly fine performance by Heath Ledger, His portrayal of Ennis Del Mar is both ennobled and shamed by feelings for Jack Twist (Jake Gyllenhaal) he doesn't possess words to describe. Ledger turns the classic iconography of the Western male into protective coloring. (The film has garnered eight Oscar nominations.)
Philip Seymour Hoffman's Oscar-nominated central performance guides a well-constructed retelling of the most significant period of author Truman Capote's life -- namely his research into and writing of "In Cold Blood" -- that ultimately led to the New York sophisticate's downward spiral. (The film is also nominated for four Oscars.)
A married man (Clive Owen) and his mistress (Jennifer Aniston) try to turn the tables on the violent criminal trying to blackmail them. A nasty little thriller, the film is smart enough to take the time to set up its characters before introducing that fatal-mistake setup common to all film noir.
An interminably flat, one-joke comedy about a slacker and video game tester who moves in with his grandmother and two elderly roommates, telling his friends that he's living with "hot babes."
Kiss Kiss Bang Bang
A petty thief (Robert Downey Jr.), posing as an actor, is brought to Los Angeles for an unlikely audition and finds himself in the middle of a murder investigation with a gay detective (Val Kilmer) who's been training him for his upcoming role. Downey and Kilmer bounce off each other with the ease and comfort of an old comedy team.
Pierce Brosnan stars as a cynical, washed-up, irresistible cad of a hit man, who befriends an optimistic, straight-laced businessman (Greg Kinnear) in a Mexico City hotel bar while on a job. It's a breezy, stylish, darkly funny thriller that transcends the clichés of the mismatched-buddy movie genre.
Woody Allen's latest film (a Best Original Screenplay Oscar nominee) is the story of a former tennis pro who climbs into the world of the British upper class through his engagement to one of his wealthy tennis students. But then he falls for a sexy American actress who is dating his future brother-in-law. Jonathan Rhys-Meyers and Scarlett Johansson star in this cool, watchful, and ultimately overcautious moral tale.
Steven Spielberg directs the true story of a secret Israeli squad assigned to track down and kill the Palestinians behind the '72 Olympic attacks. It's a morally complex story about morally agonizing matters, with both sides' characters evoking both compassion and repugnance, and Spielberg deftly recreates the gritty, menacing look of 1970s thrillers. (The movie is nominated for five Oscars.)
The sequel to 2004's creepshow of a hit. This time, the maniacal killer Jigsaw lures eight strangers into a fun house decorated with high-concept death traps. The movie has a few memorably gory moments and a clever twist ending, but it cannot match the impact of the original.
The Squid and the Whale
Oscar-nominated writer-director Noah Baumbach reworks his own memories as a child of divorce into a small, sharply observed period piece, set in an upscale, intellectual area of Brooklyn in 1986. Two brothers take up separate sides with their writer-parents, their marriage on the rocks due to her infidelity and his arrogance. The performances of Jeff Daniels and Laura Linney, in particular, are exquisite to watch.
From the writer/director of "Traffic," Oscar nominee George Clooney stars in this political thriller about a CIA agent who uncovers the dark secrets behind the oil industry. Stephen Gaghan's film weaves powerful moments of pathos, compassion, and cross-cultural insight into its lesson on the realities of greed in international commerce.
This sequel starring Kate Beckinsale and Scott Speedman continues the centuries-old feud between vampires and lycans. It features the same green-gray color scheme, the same metallic tinge, the same self-serious characters over-emoting while running around in black leather dusters, trying to destroy each other.
ART HOUSE | REVIVAL
THE DORIS DUKE THEATRE, HONOLULU ACADEMY OF ARTS
900 S. Beretania St.; $7 general; $6 seniors, students and military; $5 Academy members (532-8768):
The Untold Story of Emmett Louis Till
At 1, 4 and 7:30 p.m. Friday and Sunday, and 1 and 7:40 p.m. Saturday.
At 1 and 7:30 p.m. Feb. 7 and 8, and 1 p.m. Feb. 9.
3566 Harding Ave.; $5, $4 members; reservations recommended due to limited seating (735-8771):
Thumbsucker / Seven Plus 7
At 1, 4, and 7 p.m. Friday and Feb. 6.
In Her Shoes
At 12:30, 3, 5:30 and 8 p.m. Saturday.
At 12:30, 4, and 7:30 p.m. Sunday.
Just Like Heaven
At 2, 4, 6 and 8 p.m. Feb. 9.
"THE HEALING WORLD" FILM SERIES
Spalding Hall Auditorium, University of Hawaii-Manoa,; $5 general and $3 for UH students, faculty and staff (223-0130):
Dances of Ecstasy
At 5 p.m. Sunday.
Journey to the West: Chinese Medicine Today
At 7 p.m. Feb. 9.