At the Movies
A troubled New York cop (Bruce Willis) must escort a happy-go-lucky crook (Mos Def) from jail to court, but dangerous forces are out to stop them. Helmed by "Lethal Weapon" director Richard Donner. Review on Thursday's Entertainment page. (PG-13)
Based on Alice Hoffman's popular young adults' book, the story tells of two tweener girls who discover a mermaid living in the swimming pool at their neighborhood beach club. When the mermaid develops a crush on the club's lifeguard, the girls plot to retun her to the sea to save her life. Stars Emma Roberts, Joanna "JoJo" Levesque and Sara Paxton. Review on Page 27. (PG)
Dave Chappelle's Block Party
The popular comic presents his dream concert lineup (including Kanye West, Mos Def, Talib Kweli, Erykah Badu, Jill Scott, the Roots, Dead Prez and a reunited Fugees) and puts on a big ol' outdoor party in Brooklyn, N.Y. Director Michel Gondry ("Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind") documents the concert and the jubilant road trip that led up to it. Review on Page 26. (R)
Master horror director Takeshi Shimizu tells the disturbing tale of a voyeur wandering the streets of Tokyo who enters a bizarre underworld that holds a monstrous woman. Review in Thursday's Today section. (R)
Babelicious action actress Milla Jovovich stars in this futuristic action flick as a genetically altered woman with martial arts skills and chameleon-like abilities trying to protect a boy from a government out to kill him. (PG-13)
G - General audiences.
Disney's first totally computer-animated movie is a nice little trifle that's too chicken to do anything but play it safe. The story is a mishmash of pop-culture references woven into a not-so-irreverent tweaking of fairy-tale conventions.
Based on the popular children's books, the animated film follows an inquisitive monkey as he travels to the big city to find his human friend. The movie remains very much within its own candy-colored universe and stays true to the light-hearted spirit of the beloved books. It's ideal for kids ages 4 to 8, which may make it tedious at times for the parents sitting alongside them. Jack Johnson's songs are meant to be the "voice" of the cute lil' fella.
Originally a Franco-Anglo animated feature, and retitled, shortened and redubbed by American actor voices, a dog and his animal friends embark on a quest to find three magic diamonds in order to keep an evil sorcerer from deep-freezing their enchanted land forever. The animation is ugly and the incomprehensible American rewrite adds nothing.
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.
Paul Walker is a researcher in Antarctica who takes his small scientific expedition to recover their pack of sled dogs they left behind more than six months ago after they were caught in a storm. Charting the struggle for survival of the dogs, this movie represents achievements in directing (Frank Marshall), editing, cinematography and, most of all, animal training. It will enthrall youngsters and warm the hearts of adult dog lovers.
Howl's Moving Castle
Hayao Miyazaki's latest work is nominated for a Best Animated Feature Oscar. It's about a teenage girl whose life is thrown into turmoil when she meets a handsome-but-mysterious wizard and is transformed into an old woman by a vain and conniving witch.
The Pink Panther
Steve Martin plays Inspector Clouseau in this remake of the Peter Sellers 1960s original. The bumbling French detective takes on a mystery involving the death of a soccer coach, a missing diamond ring, and a femme fatale pop star (Beyoncé Knowles). The movie is sporadically funny, and Martin engages in his silliest screen behavior since "The Jerk."
PG-13 - Parents strongly cautioned. Some material may be inappropriate from children under age 13.
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.
Alyson Hannigan stars in a parody of modern romantic comedies from a couple of the writers of the successful "Scary Movie" series. The jokes come so fast and furious that part of the entertainment is merely keeping score. The movie works on the philosophy that if you didn't think the last joke was funny, wait 30 seconds and it'll find you a movie you were dying to make fun of.
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.
When his family is kidnapped by a ruthless criminal mastermind, a bank security specialist (Harrison Ford) is forced to find a flaw in his own system and steal $100 million. It's a great-looking movie, but this supposed thriller contains little suspense, and Ford, at age 63, is too old for his role.
Fun With Dick & Jane
Jim Carrey and Téa Leoni star as a materialistic couple who, when he loses his job in an Enron-like scandal, go on a crime spree to make ends meet. The movie's a light, likable distraction, and the two actors share a good comedic rapport.
Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire
This action-packed sequel 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.
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.
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.
States of Grace
Richard Dutcher follows up his 2000 movie "God's Army" -- touted as the birth of Mormon cinema -- with this story of how a drive-by shooting in Venice, Calif. changes the lives of a homeless street preacher, a gang banger, an aspiring actress, and two young missionaries. Review on Page 14.
Tyler Perry's Madea's Family Reunion
The writer/director/actor reprises his grandmother character from last year's surprise hit "Diary of a Mad Black Woman." This time, Perry's Southern matriarch tries to organize a family reunion while caring for a runaway and counseling her nieces through their relationship troubles. It's another helping of earnest but amateurish entertainment, an unwieldy hodgepodge of prayer, punchlines and "Mommie Dearest" histrionics.
Walk the Line
Joaquin Phoenix and Reese Witherspoon are deservedly up for Oscars for their portrayals of the late country music star Johnny Cash and his wife June Carter Cash. The movie follows the iconic figure's rise to fame, drug addiction and romance with his future wife. Phoenix inhabits his role fully, with a raw intensity and a blaze in his eyes, and Witherspoon is in the role she was born to play, with her radiance, charm and maturity showcased to perfection.
When a Stranger Calls
This slick remake of the 1979 horror-thriller is about a teenage baby sitter who is terrorized by a stranger's phone calls. The modern mansion's spacious design is so breathtaking that it's actually a distraction to the not-scary-at-all plot.
The White Countess
An epic love story between a blind American expatriate and a fallen Russian countess, set in Shanghai in the late 1930s. The final offering of the hugely successful Ismail Merchant-James Ivory film team, it's an immaculately produced period piece, set in an exotic location, with a cast full of classy actors led by Ralph Fiennes and Natasha Richardson.
The World's Fastest Indian
Anthony Hopkins in the true story of a New Zealand man who, at age 68, took his classic 1920 motorcycle to the Bonneville Salt Flats in Utah to try to break the world speed record. Hopkins has a ball with the role, playing a complete ingenious joy of a man with nothing left to lose.
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.)
Final Destination 3
A high school student who failed to stop a roller-coaster ride that killed several of her friends teams up with a schoolmate in a race against time to prevent the Grim Reaper from revisiting survivors of the first tragedy. The series aims for squeamish, appalled laughter as the teens die in grisly, elaborately choreographed death traps, mocking the conventions of the standard stalk-and-slash movie.
A working-class woman blames a black man for kidnapping her child, but a police detective doubts the truth of her story. The impending investigation ignites long-simmering racial tensions. Despite director Joe Roth being in over his head, his cast handles their characters well, particularly Julianne Moore, who gives a full and realized portrait of the downtrodden single mother.
Director Eli Roth takes an avant bloody cue from Asian cinema with this harrowing tale of three Eurotrip backpackers who wind up in a Slovakian hell house where obnoxious tourists are hacked to pieces. It's a clip reel of sicko tableaus. The torture scenes are inventively disgusting, but the narrative linking one murder to the next is sketchy. Genre fans, however, should appreciate the envelope-pushing carnage.
Imagine Me & You
It's a light, romantic comedy with a lesbian twist. Set in London, a bride-to-be is attracted to her wedding florist, and since her fiancé's friend has fallen for the florist, it allows the both of them to conveniently meet later. Piper Perabo, Lena Headley, and Matthew Goode star.
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.
Mrs. Henderson Presents
Oscar nominee Dame Judi Dench is the title character who buys a theater during wartime London and, with the help of her showman partner (Bob Hoskins), puts on a popular -- and scandalous -- revue with nude women in tableau settings. Dench makes the wealthy widow an adorable and appealing figure, and director Stephen Frears gives us a sweet, old-fashioned study of time and place and one unsinkable woman.
Paul Walker plays a low-level mobster who's told to recover and dispose of a gun used in the fatal shooting of a corrupt cop during a bungled drug buy. But when he ignores his bosses' instructions, he unwittingly puts his entire family in immediate danger. Writer-director Wayne Kramer loads up on gruesome carnage, flashy, hyperkinetic cuts and other camera techniques, deafening gunfire, bad New Jersey accents and enough profanity for a slew of Quentin Tarantino flicks.
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.
The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada
Actor Tommy Lee Jones directs this moralistic and non-linear tale of a Texan taking the corpse of his Mexican best friend across the border south to bury him, accompanied by the patrolman that killed the man. Barry Pepper, January Jones and Melissa Leo co-star.
Felicity Huffman received an Oscar nomination for Best Actress for her role as a pre-operative male-to-female transsexual who takes a cross-country road trip with her estranged teenage son. Huffman shows astounding range and grace in playing a battered soul, bruised by the conflict between inner longings and societal expectations. Her character is alternately detestable, empathetic, charming, cruel and disarming. The film is accessible and fun, while also deep and affecting.
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):
Life in the Pacific Film Series:
Big Waves & Tall Tales / Polynesian Power / Matto Saina-Ta As Hurao
At 1, 4 and 7:30 p.m. Friday.
Bubble / Caress (after Roland Barthes)
At 1 and 7:30 p.m. Saturday; 1, 4 and 7:30 p.m. Sunday; 7:30 p.m. March 6; 1 and 7:30 p.m. March 7 and 8; and 1 p.m. March 9.
3566 Harding Ave.; $5, $4 members; reservations recommended due to limited seating (735-8771):
At 2, 4, 6 and 8 p.m. Friday.
Pride & Prejudice
Oscar nominee for Best Actress (Keira Knightley), Art Direction, and Costume Design. At 12:30, 3, 5:30 and 8 p.m. Saturday.
Pardon My Sarong
At 12:30, 2:15 and 4 p.m. Sunday.
Walk the Line
At 12:30, 3, 5:30 and 8 p.m. March 6 and 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):
Qigong: Ancient Chinese Healing for the 21st Century
At 5 p.m. Sunday.
Touch the Sound
At 7 p.m. March 9.
Star-Bulletin staff & news wire services