At the Movies
The Da Vinci Code
Based on the best-selling novel, the murder of a curator at the Louvre reveals a sinister plot to uncover a secret that has been protected since the days of Christ. Tom Hanks stars as the symbologist out to solve the murder. Audrey Tautou, Ian McKellan and Alfred Molina co-star in this much anticipated movie. Review on Page 4. (PG-13)
Don't Come Knocking
Playwright and screenwriter Sam Shepard reunites with the great German director Wim Wenders for a surreal story about a burnt-out star (a Clint Eastwood type) who embarks on an exploration of his past. Review in Thursday's Feature section. (R)
Over the Hedge
DreamWorks, the studio behind the "Shrek" movies, comes out with another computer animated feature, this time based on the popular newspaper comic strip (seen in its Sunday form in the Star-Bulletin). A group of woodland animals visit the strange new world of suburbia with the prompting of an opportunistic raccoon. Featuring the voices of Bruce Willis, Garry Shandling, Steve Carell, William Shatner and Avril Lavigne. Review on Page 21. (PG)
See No Evil
Wrestling star Kane plays a giant-sized serial killer hunting the delinquent teens who invade his hotel hideout. (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, with a soundtrack filled with original songs by Jack Johnson.
It's not "Madagascar Part II," but rather a computer-animated film about a New York City zoo lion (voiced by Kiefer Sutherland) who enlists his animal friends to escape and search for his cub, who was mistakenly shipped to the wild. Because the two movies are so similar structurally and thematically, and because they've been released so close to each other, "The Wild" comes off as a toothless retread.
PG - Parental guidance suggested.
Akeelah and the Bee
The innate talent of an 11-year-old inner-city black girl makes her a surprise contender for the national spelling bee. Keke Palmer steps into a lead role with poise, panache, a headstrong spirit and hearty humor. The movie manages to uplift without drowning in its own contrived sweetness. Laurence Fishburne and Angela Bassett are part of the sturdy supporting cast.
Paul Walker plays 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 will enthrall youngsters and warm the hearts of adult dog lovers.
Carl Hiaasen's award-winning children's book is adapted for the big screen. It's the story of an eighth-grader and his campaign to save a family of endangered owls from a real-estate developer in South Florida. The environmentally conscious family film is more of a twitter, however, as this lighthearted tale turns out to be more lightweight and bland.
Ice Age: The Meltdown
The cheery animated sequel might as well come with another subtitle: "Featuring Scrat!" The fanged little goof constantly upstages the top-billed talent with his manic antics to secure his precious acorn. The movie is right on par with the 2002 original: brisk, pleasant and loaded with slapstick that should keep young children giggling, though repetitive enough that parents at times may feel they're sitting through the first "Ice Age" all over again.
Robin Williams stars as a dad who rents a gigantic recreational vehicle to take his family on an adventure-filled vacation to Colorado. Lame jokes and sight gags are repeated so often you feel you're driving in circles. "RV" amounts to four flat tires and a busted radiator hose.
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. Kristin Davis, Danny Glover and Robert Downey Jr. co-star.
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 squirelly convict (Mos Def) from jail to court, but dangerous forces are out to stop them. This routine movie pushes Willis and Def through a ceaselessly exciting, though often outrageous, gauntlet of grit and grime.
An American Haunting
Sissy Spacek and Donald Sutherland star in this horror-chiller based on the legend of the Bell Witch, an unrelenting demon that has plagued a Tennessee family since the early 1800s. The family's descendants uncover the mystery and realize old ghost stories can come back to haunt them. While the movie feels like an affectionate re-creation of those atmospheric Gothic flicks of the 1960s, it still doesn't add up to much of a movie.
This is the classic example of a music video director (Chris Robinson) making the leap to feature films and emphasizing style over substance. He could've made more of his Atlanta-based coming-of-age story, and its complex issues of race, class, money and identity, but comes up short. Rapper T.I. (Tip Harris) makes his film debut.
Three grown-up dweebs form a barnstorming team seeking to lay the smackdown on full-rostered youth squads. The movie takes this inherently funny concept and frontloads its best gags to get you in a good mood, then plays small ball the rest of the way to maintain its dwindling lead.
Joyeux Noël (Merry Christmas)
Based on a true story, this impeccably crafted film recreates on Christmas night during World War I when enemies were able to lay aside their differences, visit each other's trenches and celebrate the holiday. Rarely rocked by violence, this is a moving reverie about humanity and compassion, whose only war is with destructive nationalism far from the front lines. Its story seems almost too good to be true, yet its truths are too precious to discount.
Just My Luck
19-year-old Lindsay Lohan eases out of the tween genre by playing a New York career woman, lucky in life, who exchanges a kiss -- and fortunes -- with a hapless stranger. It's a thin premise stretched paper thin into a feature-length romantic comedy, but it's harmless enough and targets its 'tween audience perfectly.
Larry the Cable Guy: Health Inspector
The comedian from the Blue Collar Tour stars as a workaday guy happy with his usual round of greasy spoon diners. His life is turned upside down, however, when he's assigned to investigate an outbreak of food poisonings at swanky restaurants. Simply put, this gross-out comedy fails to "git-r-done."
Mission: Impossible III
Tom Cruise's superspy series continues, this time helmed by "Lost" co-creator J.J. Abrams. Cruise's character Ethan Hunt goes against a dangerous international weapons and information dealer (Oscar winner Philip Seymour Hoffman) who places his girlfriend (Michelle Monaghan) in peril. It's basically a rote replay of some of Cruise's best-known hits, although some of the action sequences are jaw-droppingly thrilling.
A smart-mouthed, plus-sized, aspiring fashion designer (Mo 'Nique) tries to find love and acceptance in a world full of "hot-bodied" babes.
Disaster movie vet Wolfgang Petersen ("Das Boot," "The Perfect Storm") offers his big-budgeted take on the 1972 Irwin Allen movie about a rogue wave capsizing a luxury ocean liner in the north Atlantic Ocean. The surviving passengers who band together to try to reach the surface are played by Kurt Russell, Josh Lucas, Richard Dreyfuss, Emmy Rossum and Jacinda Barrett.
You'll need a bit of patience to sit through the numerous CGI effects and fight scenes in order to get to the emotional core of Chen Kaige's epic fantasy. A lowly slave, his proud general master and a coldly ruthless king vie for the love of a beautiful if imperious princess. Their complicated relationships are resolved by the film'sclimactic scene, but the action sequences leading up to it can be problematic at times.
Scary Movie 4
The latest sequel has sporadic flashes of comic greatness, but is separated by draggy repetitive sketches that make this movie feel longer than it should. It's basically a cross between parodies of "The Grudge" and "War of the Worlds." The details are done perfectly, but the gags are hit-and-miss, and regardless of their success, they categorically go on too long.
"24's" Kiefer Sutherland is protecting the president again, this time hunting down a suspected Secret Service mole (Michael Douglas), who claims he is being framed. The movie delivers modest action at best and the plot is silly. A decent episode of "24" packs more and better action sequences in less than half the movie's running time.
She's the Man
This movie takes a little bit of "Bend It Like Beckham" and a lot of Shakespeare's "Twelfth Night" and twists them into a cross-dressing teen farce with occasional forays onto the soccer field. A spunky Amanda Bynes pretends to be just one of the guys in this energetic but unspectacular comedy.
It's a retread of 2000's "Bring It On," only with gymnastics in place of cheerleading. While the movie trots out a cornucopia of sports-movie clichés, it's watchable for the performance of Missy Peregrym as the rebellious lead character. The Canadian actress is a perfect mix of beauty and tomboyish strength.
Take the Lead
Antonio Banderas stars as a former professional ballroom dancer who volunteers at a New York public school to teach dance, even though the hip-hop instincts of his students clash, at first, with his methods. With his gentlemanly, romantic manner, Banderas makes a predictable movie more tolerable than it should be.
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.
R - Restricted. Under 17 requires accompanying parent or adult guardian.
Art School Confidential
"Ghost World's" Terry Zwigoff and Daniel Clowes team up again to adapt Clowes' comic story about an arrogant freshman art student who, when he sees that a clueless jock is attracting the glory he feels is due him, hatches an all-or-nothing plan to hit it big in the art world and win the heart of the most beautiful girl in the school.
Ellen Page gives a riveting performance in this provocative and tense psychological thriller about a teenage girl's exacting revenge on a smooth-operating pedophile she first meets on the Internet. Sandra Oh ("Sideways," "Grey's Anatomy") has a small role in the film.
A tough detective matches wits with a bank robber as a dangerous cat-and-mouse game unfolds during a perfectly planned bank robbery. A power broker with a hidden agenda emerges to inject even more instability into an already volatile situation. This latest "joint" from director Spike Lee is consistently engaging and boasts fine performances from stars Denzel Washington, Clive Owen and especially Jodie Foster, her best in years.
Lucky Number Slevin
Part mistaken-identity thriller, part flimflam game, this film stars Josh Hartnett as Slevin, a sap caught in the middle of a mob war being plotted by a pair of New York's rival crime bosses (Morgan Freeman and Ben Kingsley). Slevin is also under constant surveillance by a relentless detective (Stanley Tucci) and an infamous assassin (Bruce Willis).
Yet another video game adaptation, this one features a woman (Radha Mitchell) looking for her missing daughter in an abandoned town inhabited by strange creatures from an alternate dimension. While the movie is compelling in a nightmarish way, at a little over two hours, it's way too long.
Residents of a small town are terrorized by an alien plague in the form of bloodthirsty slugs, whose bite transforms people into zombies and all forms of mutant monsters. Director James Gunn recycles parts of different horror movies to make a whole new one with lots of goo, lots of gore and quite a few intentional laughs. It's a B-movie delight.
Thank You For Smoking
This satirical comedy follows the machinations of Big Tobacco's chief spokesman, Nick Naylor (Aaron Eckhart), who spins on behalf of cigarettes while trying to remain a role model for his 12-year-old son.
Set amidst the sprawling Johannesburg township of Soweto, the winner of this year's Best Foreign Film Oscar traces six days in the life of a ruthless young gang leader who ends up caring for a baby accidentally kidnapped during a car-jacking. It's a solid, earnest drama of moral redemption that places old clichés in an unfamiliar setting.
A real-time drama about the fourth plane hijacked on 9/11. The story of the passengers who fought back is told with devastating realism, stirring up a fresh sense of horror and erasing five years' distance from the attacks. British writer-director Paul Greengrass ("The Bourne Supremacy") handles volatile material with tact, his detail-laced screenplay based on interviews with family members and reports from the 9/11 commission.
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 Notorious Bettie Page
Review on Page 22. (R) At 1, 4 and 7:30 p.m. Sunday; 1 and 7:30 p.m. May 23 and 24; and 1 p.m. May 25.
3566 Harding Ave.; $5, $4 members; reservations recommended due to limited seating (735-8771):
The Producers (2005)
At 12:30, 3, 5:30 and 8 p.m. Friday and May 22.
Crimson Tide (extended version)
At 12:30, 3, 5:30 and 8 p.m. Saturday.
At 2, 4, 6 and 8 p.m. Sunday.
At 2, 4, 6 and 8 p.m. May 25.