At The Movies
The Curse of the Golden Flower
Director Zhang Yimou reunites with actress Gong Li in this opulent costume drama of intrigue concerning the volatile balance of power between a king, his queen and their three sons. Chow Yun Fat co-stars. Review on Page 17. (R)
The Good Shepherd
Robert De Niro directs the story of the covert beginnings of the Central Intelligence Agency as seen through the eyes of its co-founder, agent Edward Wilson (Matt Damon). Review on Page 27. (R)
The History Boys
The Tony award-winning drama is the story of an unruly class of bright students in pursuit of an undergraduate place at Oxford or Cambridge. While trying to pass the daunting admissions process, the young men are bounced between their maverick English teacher, a young and shrewd professor hired to up their test scores, a grossly out-numbered history teacher, and a headmaster obsessed with results. Review on Page 18. (R)
Night at the Museum 1/2
When a good-hearted dreamer accepts a job as a graveyard-shift security guard at a museum of natural history, extraordinary things begin to occur on his watch. As the place literally comes alive, our hero tries to stop a nefarious plot and save the museum. Ben Stiller, Owen Wilson and Robin Williams star. Review on Monday's Entertainment page. (PG)
We Are Marshall
Based on the true story of a tragic plane crash that decimated a West Virginia university's football program in 1970, and how a young coach rebuilt the program and rejuvenated the spirit of the community. Matthew McConaughey and Matthew Fox star. Review on Friday's Entertainment page. (PG)
A remake of the 1974 slasher classic about a psycho terrorizing a sorority house during the holidays. (R)
Children of Men
Director Alfonso Cuarón ("Y Tu Mamá También," "Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban") loosely adapts the sci-fi novel set in a near-future in England, where women inexplicably lose the ability to become pregnant. A small group of resisters tries to fight a world that has fallen into chaos, as humankind faces the threat of its own extinction. Clive Owen, Julianne Moore and Michael Caine star. (R)
A musical set in the 1960s about a ruthless talent manager who discovers a promising female R&B trio and tries to reshape them into a more lucrative pop act. The resulting money, fame and adulation, however, don't bring them happiness. Bill Condon adapts the hit Broadway musical for the screen, and stars Jamie Foxx, Eddie Murphy, and Beyoncé Knowles, Jennifer Hudson and Anika Noni Rose as the Dreamettes. Review on Page 16. (PG-13)
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 the smokehouse but is saved by the friendships of an idealistic girl and an erudite spider. While handsomely produced, the movie, unfortunately, is an unremarkable collection of cute kids, talking animals and syrupy sentiment.
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. The movie panders to every demographic with a fail-safe yuletide mix of puns, slapstick and platitudes.
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. The movie works as an unintended comedy, filled with awful acting and long-winded exposition.
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 visuals can be both intimate and breathtakingly grand, and they support a story that has real meaning and can be deeply poignant.
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 with a didactic tone, and just 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 scrawny, one-antlered mule deer (Ashton Kutcher) rally all the other forest animals to turn the tables of an evil poacher (Gary Sinise). It has three strong funny scenes, and the rest is filler, good moments to take the kids to the restroom and the concession stand.
Rocky Balboa 1/2
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. The movie is a tired retread and is padded out with flashback scenes of the previous "Rocky" movies.
Daniel Craig takes over the iconic role of James Bond, in a movie about the secret agent's very first mission. While a bit lighter in action scenes compared to its predecessors, what the movie has in those regards is riveting, clever and well-choreographed. The appeal this time 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.
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. This is a miserably idiotic movie, excessively long with a succession of empty-headed jokes and pranks.
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 elite military unit. Though the movie has its potent action moments, it basically drags on like a slow boat ride.
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. The two-hour-plus movie has its highs and lulls, but the charismatic cast offsets flawed storytelling.
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).
Marie Antoinette 1/2
Kirsten Dunst plays the title role of the young queen of 18th-century France who became a symbol for the wanton extravagance of the monarchy that incited a revolution. Director Sofia Coppola has created a mash-up of knowing self-reference and careless anachronism, as the silly, self-pitying film staggers from moment to mood, only to finally end on the way to the guillotine.
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.
A mystery-drama about the rivalry between two turn-of-the-20th-century stage magicians, one a brilliant showman (Hugh Jackman), the other a brilliant technician (Christian Bale), and the beautiful assistant (Scarlett Johansson) they both desire. By film's end, the notion of a rational and satisfying climax has hopelessly disappeared in a silly spiral of one-upmanship.
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. Smith plays a real-life hero, as his character's persistence and faith pays off in making a better life for himself and his child, played by Smith's young son Jaden. Italian director Gabriele Muccino does fine work here as well, knowing the difference between sentimentality and sentiment.
The Queen 1/2
Helen Mirren gives an Oscar-worthy performance as Queen Elizabeth II, during the time of the tragic death of Princess Diana. Mirren gives the role a restrained soulfulness and sense of duty that reinvents the monarch.
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 underminea simple, stirring story of family devotion as a man races from vile captors to return home and rescue his pregnant wife and their son.
Leonardo DiCaprio stars a South African mercenary who joins a Mende fisherman (Djimon Housou) on a quest to recover a rare pink diamond that can transform their lives, amid the chaos of 1990s Sierra Leone. Edward Zwick's movie tries to mix raw violence with displays of social conscience. It's hard-core moviemaking with a tortured soul.
Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan 1/2
British satirist Sacha Baron Cohen portrays an absurdly clueless Eastern European "journalist" on a real-life, culture-clashing cross-country trip across the United States. The 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.
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 of revenge don't go as planned. This is a dopey movie made by smart people who should know better.
It's "Hostel" in South America. A bus accident leaves a group of backpackers marooned in a Brazilian jungle that holds an ominous secret. This bloody exploitation flick doesn't have much going for it beyond its xenophobic subtext about trusting, young Americans and crude and crafty foreigners.
Originally titled "Sione's Wedding," the movie's about a group of Samoan emigre buddies in Auckland, New Zealand, who 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
THE DORIS DUKE THEATRE, HONOLULU ACADEMY OF ARTS
900 S. Beretania St.; $7 general; $6 seniors, students and military; $5 Academy members (532-8768):
Closed for renovation through Dec. 31
3566 Harding Ave.; $5, $4 members; reservations recommended due to limited seating (735-8771):
Supermarket Woman (Supah No Onna)
At 12:30, 3, 5:30 and 8 p.m. Friday.
At 12:30, 3, 5:30 and 8 p.m. Saturday.
Wee Geordie / A Christmas Carol
At 12:30, 4 and 7:30 p.m. Dec. 24.
C.R.A.Z.Y. (Hawaii Premiere)
At 12:30, 3, 5:30 and 8 p.m. Dec. 28.