At the Movies
She's the Man
In this fluffy teen version of Shakespeare's "Twelfth Night," Amanda Bynes does the drag thing and poses as her twin brother to take his place at a prep boarding school. She then falls for her hunky roommate, who falls for another girl, who falls for Bynes' faux-male character. And then the real twin brother shows up. Review on Page 23. (PG-13)
V for Vendetta
Natalie Portman stars as a young British woman enlisted by a masked revolutionary to help fight against the totalitarian government in this thriller set in the near future. Produced by the makers of "The Matrix" trilogy. Review on Page 22. (R)
G - General audiences.
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.
PG - Parental guidance suggested.
Two teenage girls try to help a mermaid capture the heart of a hunky lifeguard at their neighborhood beach club. Heartfelt but clunky, this mermaid-out-of-water story offers enough female-positive messages to make it worthwhile viewing for 'tween girls.
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.
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.
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."
The Shaggy Dog
Another remake, this time of the 1959 Disney classic. A top-secret serum turns a high-powered district attorney (Tim Allen) into a pooch. Before he can become human again, he must stop the evil forces behind the serum. This is a well-intentioned but forgettable mutt without any new tricks, the gags harmlessly predictable.
PG-13 - Parents strongly cautioned. Some material may be inappropriate from children under age 13.
A troubled New York cop (Bruce Willis) must escort a squirrelly convict (Mos Def) from jail to court, but dangerous forces are out to stop them. Helmed by "Lethal Weapon" director Richard Donner, this routine movie pushes Willis and Def through a ceaselessly exciting, though often outrageous, gauntlet of grit and grime.
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.
Failure to Launch
Matthew McConaughey plays a 30-something slacker who still lives with his parents. They hire a professional motivator (Sarah Jessica Parker) to lure him out of the nest. The movie has something of a TV sitcom-y shine to it as it gets started, but it contains some surprises, such as quirky and appealing characters played by its talented cast, sly and hilarious dialogue, and slapstick magic realism.
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 spress to make ends meet. The movie's a light, likable distraction, and the two actors share a good comedic rapport.
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 lush, languid look of Chinese cinema. 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, it's also lacking in narrative drive and character development, almost defiantly so. But your perseverance will be rewarded.
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.
Milla Jovovich stars 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. The movie wants desperately to be a provocative, high-concept futuristic action thriller, but it's overstyled, deafening and incoherent.
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 stars 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.
Oscar-winning director Ang Lee's epic love story between a ranch hand and a rodeo cowboy should be seen not for its hot-button topicality, but simply because it's a 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 clothing.
Dave Chappelle's Block Party
This kinetic documentary, part concert film, part impromptu comedy show, is as friendly and down-home as the title suggests. Chappelle proves that his comic allure cuts naturally across racial and generational lines. The musical highlights include thunderous performances from Kanye West, a reformed Fugees, Dead Prez, and the Roots.
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.
The Hills Have Eyes
A remake of Wes Craven's 1977 cult flick about a family stalked by a group of mutant killers. The script by director Alexandre Aja and Gregory Levasseur makes this remake more like a GOP pro-gun platform plank than a mindless horror thriller, and Aja aims to splatter, impale and eviscerate as many people as possible for as long as he thinks viewers can stand it.
Johnny Depp tops this 17th-century English drama about the rise and fall of writer John Wilmot, a k a the Second Earl of Rochester, whose thirst for debauchery led to an early death. The movie is an oppressive experience and would be worth viewing if the film's characters came to life or its stylized moral observations went more than pockmarked-skin deep.
Woody Allen's latest film 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 directed this true story of a secret Israeli squad assigned to track down and kill the Palestinians behind the '72 Summer Olympics village attacks. It's a morally complex story about morally agonizing matters, with both sides' characters evoking both compassion and repugnance.
Set in contemporary Moscow, an uneasy truce dating back to medieval times between the supernatural forces of light and darkness is threatened by a powerful Other that may tip the balance and plunge the world into a renewed war. Imagine "The Matrix" with vampires, or "Blade" with subtitles, and you get the idea of this narratively confused if visually robust film.
A look at love through the lives of three Los Angelenos, as they search for an emotional connection. Based on Steve Martin's novella, it stars Martin, Claire Danes and Jason Schwartzman. The film blandishes with pretty things and convincing emotion even as it shies away from committing. Danes, however, is consistently wonderful.
The Squid and the Whale
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 plays 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):
Why We Fight
Review on Thursday's Entertainment page. (PG-13) At 1, 4 and 7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday; 4 and 7:30 p.m. Sunday; and 1 p.m. March 23.
3566 Harding Ave.; $5, $4 members; reservations recommended due to limited seating (735-8771):
Escape From New York
At 2, 4, 6 and 8 p.m. Friday.
A History of Violence
At 2, 4, 6 and 8 p.m. Saturday.
Hell's Half Acre
At 3, 4:45, 6:30 and 8:15 p.m. Sunday.
At 2, 4, 6 and 8 p.m. March 20.
My Secret Cache (Himitsu no Hanazono)
At 2, 4, 6 and 8 p.m. March 23.
"The Healing World" Film Series
Spalding Hall Auditorium, University of Hawaii-Manoa,; $5 general and $3 for UH students, faculty and staff (223-0130):
Healing Spirit / The Laughing Club of India
At 5 p.m. Sunday.
Ram Dass: Fierce Grace
At 7 p.m. March 23.