At The Movies
We Are Marshall
Based on the true story of a tragic plane crash that decimated a West Virginia university's football program back in 1970, and how a young coach rebuilt the program and rejuvenated the spirit of the surrounding community. Matthew McConaughey and "Lost's" Matthew Fox star. (PG)
E.B. White's beloved children's book hits the big screen. It's a tale about a farm pig, the runt of the litter, who is destined for slaughter but is saved by the friendships of an idealistic girl and an erudite spider. Review on Page 27. (G)
Based on the bestselling book series about a young man thrust into an incredible world of magic and power through which he and his hatchling dragon must navigate. See review on Page 26. (PG)
The Pursuit of Happyness 1/2
Will Smith stars in the true story of a homeless single father who raised himself up to become a successful stock broker. See mini review on Page 19. (PG-13)
Sylvester Stallone's iconic rough 'n' tumble boxer steps out of retirement and back into the ring, pitting himself against a new rival (played by real-life boxer Antonio Tarver) decades after his initial glory. Milo Ventimiglia and Burt Young co-star. (PG)
The Santa Clause 3: The Escape Clause 1/2
Suiting up again as the title character, Tim Allen seems bored with his own franchise. This new sequel centers mainly on St. Nick's rivalry with Jack Frost (Martin Short), who plans to turn the North Pole into a tacky theme park.
Alex Rider: Operation Stormbreaker 1/2
Based on the popular tweener book series about an adolescent British spy, it's a fairly serious attempt at a genre thriller. The acting, however, is all over the place. Alex Pettyfer stars, with Mickey Rourke, Bill Nighy and Andy Serkis.
Deck the Halls 1/2
A well-organized Christmas enthusiast is challenged by a new neighbor who wants to create the biggest holiday display in the world. While the comedic talents of Matthew Broderick and Danny DeVito are too considerable for the movie to pass without some legitimately funny scenes, they're just too good for the mediocre material.
Flushed Away 1/2
A pampered British rat (voiced by Hugh Jackman) finds himself in an elaborate sewer-city recreation of a miniature London. His attempt to return to the surface world with a self-sufficient lady rat (Kate Winslet) is blocked by a royalist toad and his hench-rats. This great-looking CGI movie is only hampered by a constant hyperkinetic pace.
Happy Feet 1/2
The best animated film of the year. A young penguin named Mumble (voiced by Elijah Wood), searches for his mate. Unfortunately, he's incapable of belting out his own unique song to attract one ... but, boy, can he tap dance! The movie follows Mumble on a journey of discovery, of himself and the world, which can be both harrowing and thrilling.
The Nativity Story
The Biblical story chronicles the two-year period in the lives of Mary and Joseph that culminated in their leaving Nazareth and journeying 100 miles to Bethlehem for the birth of Jesus. Director Catherine Hardwicke has created a strikingly gritty but lifeless movie -- suffocatingly earnest and downright boring.
Open Season 1/2
An animated feature about a domesticated grizzly bear (voiced by Martin Lawrence) who gets deposited in the woods during hunting season. He and his pal, a one-antlered mule deer (Ashton Kutcher) rally the other forest animals to turn the tables of an evil poacher (Gary Sinise).
A rascally gang of kids, traveling alone, run wild while stranded at an airport during a Christmas Eve blizzard. The movie pretty much swipes the formula from every holiday-grouch story ever written, from "A Christmas Carol" to "How the Grinch Stole Christmas."
Casino Royale 1/2
Daniel Craig takes over the role of James Bond, in a movie about the secret agent's very first mission. While lighter in action scenes than its predecessors, what the movie has in those regards is riveting, clever and well-choreographed. The appeal lays much heavier on Bond as a person, on his development as one of cinema's deadliest killers and most heartless womanizers. Craig delivers one of the finest performances ever in a 007 flick.
Déjà Vu 1/2
Denzel Washington and director Tony Scott have made a smart and complex movie with powerful emotions and riveting suspense. Washington is superb as a battle-weary federal agent who suspects foul play behind a fatal accident in New Orleans.
Employee of the Month 1/2
Standup superstar Dane Cook and Dax Shepard face off as stock-boy slackers at a Costco-style store who compete for the love of a new checkout girl, played by Jessica Simpson. Except for the likable Cook, everyone else involved belongs in the unemployment line.
A tribute to the Lafayette Escadrille, American volunteers who flew for the French during World War I. While the high-altitude combat should satisfy aviation buffs, the characters are corny and the situations clichéd.
The Grudge 2 1/2
In this sequel to the popular remake of the Japanese horror hit, the curse of the haunted travels worldwide. There are a couple of good scares, but we've seen this all before. Amber Tamblyn takes over as the plucky heroine in distress.
Kevin Costner plays a Coast Guard rescue swimmer who's struggling with life on the water after losing his squad in an accident. He ends up being the mentor of a hotshot swimmer (Ashton Kutcher) training for his military unit.
The Holiday 1/2
Cameron Diaz and Kate Winslet star as women with similar man troubles who meet online and impulsively switch homes for the holiday. Jude Law and Jack Black co-star. Director Nancy Meyers has cultivated her own genre of comedy with a mix of laughs, romance and feminism.
While fine technical wizardry went into this period film set in early 20th-century Austria, it lacks the magic of romance, drama, longing and faith you think would be generated in a tale about a love triangle involving a magician (Edward Norton), a noblewoman (Jessica Biel) and the heir to the throne (Rufus Sewell).
Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest
Johnny Depp, Keira Knightley and Orlando Bloom reprise their roles in this swashbuckling sequel. This time, Capt. Jack Sparrow discovers he owes a bloody debt to the legendary Davy Jones. It's a darker tale than the first, but it's still a rollicking, well-paced yarn.
Stranger Than Fiction
Will Ferrell plays a man who discovers that an unseen narrator is chronicling the events of his life in a voice only he can hear. A literature professor (Dustin Hoffman) tells him he's gotten caught up in the work-in-progress of a British novelist (Emma Thompson). This movie is an engaging concoction, refreshing for its ability to create tension by keeping the audience guessing whether it's going to wind up as tragedy or comedy. And Ferrell gives his best performance yet.
Mel Gibson applies the same breathtaking production values and attention to detail of his previous films with this epic adventure set 600 years ago during the decline of the Mayan civilization and before the Spanish colonization of the Americas. The blood and gore become so extreme that they undermine a simple, stirring story of family devotion as a man races from vile captors to rescue his wife and son.
Alejandro González Iñárritu's latest film, with a cast featuring Brad Pitt, Cate Blanchett and Gael García Bernal, is a testament to the incommunicative species that is man, as four separate stories from around the world slowly reveal their inter-connectedness.
Leonardo DiCaprio stars as a South African mercenary who joins a Mende fisherman (Djimon Housou) on a quest to recover a rare pink diamond, amidst the chaos of 1990s Sierra Leone. Edward Zwick's movie tries to mix raw violence with displays of social conscience.
Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan 1/2
British satirist Sacha Baron Cohen portrays a clueless Eastern European "journalist" on a real-life, culture-clashing trip across the United States. The transgressive comedy is an instant classic -- crude and confrontational -- as Cohen stays in character as he interacts with real people. He has inflammatory fun with hypocrites and zealots on both sides of the political spectrum.
Hugh Jackman and Rachel Weisz star in Darren Aronofsky's densely garish fever dream on the subject of immortality. The visuals are dreamlike and textured, and the story is seemingly fractured and skips about in time and space.
Let's Go to Prison
The title of this movie aptly sums up the experience of watching it: 84 minutes of hard time. A criminal (Dax Shepard) finds himself sharing a cell with the son (Will Arnett) of the judge who sentenced him. He tries to make sure that his new buddy gets the full in-prison treatment, but his plans go awry.
Little Miss Sunshine
This hit indie film follows an oddball clan as they race across three states to get their 7-year-old daughter to a beauty pageant. It's a sunny charmer of a comedy, looking at the all-American obsession with winning.
Shut Up & Sing 1/2
A sympathetic documentary about how the lives of the female country trio the Dixie Chicks changed dramatically in the aftermath of an off-the-cuff remark singer Natalie Maines made at a 2003 London concert critical of President Bush on the eve of the American invasion of Iraq. It's a sometimes inspiring story of three entertainers who refused to lie down and be counted out.
A group of Samoan emigre buddies in Auckland, New Zealand, are challenged to find proper girlfriends to bring as dates to a wedding. What ensues is remarkably funny, thanks to the first-rate comedy of members of the comic troupe Naked Samoans.
Art House | Revival
DORIS DUKE THEATRE, HONOLULU ACADEMY OF ARTS
Closed for renovation through Dec. 31
3566 Harding Ave.; $5, $4 members; reservations recommended due to limited seating (735-8771):
At 2, 4, 6 and 8 p.m. Friday and Sunday.
Everyone Says I Love You
At 2, 4, 6 and 8 p.m. Saturday.
At 2, 4, 6 and 8 p.m. Monday.
The Gods Must Be Crazy
At 2, 4, 6 and 8 p.m. Dec. 21.