At The Movies
Children of Men
Director Alfonso Cuarón helped adapt this heavy, provocative tale for the screen. In the near future, a flu pandemic results in complete infertility in women. A former English activist is recruited by an old flame into smuggling a young immigrant who may be fertile out of the country. The thriller, a desolate but thoughtful study of humankind's resilience, is carried by the sturdy performaces of Clive Owen, Julianne Moore, Michael Caine and newcomer Clare-Hope Ashitey. See mini-review on Page 19. (R)
Code Name: The Cleaner
Cedric the Entertainer plays an amnesiac janitor who is duped into thinking he's an undercover agent and is subconsciously carrying a dangerous secret that can link the FBI with an arms scandal. Lucy Liu and Nicollette Sheridan co-star. (PG-13)
Co-producer Hilary Swank stars as a dedicated teacher who finds a way to inspire and unify her disadvantaged and racially divided students, partly by having them keep journals about their troubled lives. See review on Page 18. (PG-13)
Happily N'Ever After
When the wizard in charge of Fairy Tale World goes on holiday, Cinderella's wicked stepmother takes over the land. Sigourney Weaver, Sarah Michelle Gellar, Freddie Prinze Jr., Patrick Warburton and Andy Dick head the voice cast for this animated feature. (PG)
Little Children 1/2
In a suburban town full of "perfect" parents devoted to rearing their children for Ivy League futures, a stay-at-home mom has an affair with an ex-jock stay-at-home dad who rebels against his wife's wishes that he become a big-bucks lawyer. Director Todd Field follows up on his heralded debut "In the Bedroom" with a cast that stars Kate Winslet, Jennifer Connelly and Patrick Wilson. See review on Page 14. (R)
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. Dakota Fanning stars.
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.
Deck the Halls
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 given to them here.
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 2006. 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 support a story that has real meaning and can be deeply poignant.
Night at the Museum 1/2
Ben Stiller stars in the story of a night watchman dealing with dinosaur skeletons, statues and wax figures that come to life at a museum. Stretched to greater length than its thin idea merits, the movie mainly is a collection of slapstick vignettes and, despite some occasionally inventive visual effects, comes off as unimaginative and annoying.
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 on 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.
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.
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 (Matthew McConaughey) rebuilt the program and rejuvenated the spirit of the surrounding community. More than a simple football movie, the theme is not about winning or losing, but finding the strength to move on in spite of tragedy.
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 than 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.
Former "American Idol" contestant Jennifer Hudson absolutely walks away with this big, splashy dazzler of a picture, based on the 1981 Broadway musical about the rise of a Supremes-style vocal trio called the Dreamettes. Jamie Foxx, Eddie Murphy and Beyoncé Knowles star.
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.
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).
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.
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 provoke titters of ridicule, undermining a simple, stirring story of family devotion as a man races from vile captors to return home and rescue his pregnant wife and their son.
A disastrous remake of the 1974 slasher classic about a psycho terrorizing a sorority house during the holidays. Any semblance of terror is smothered beneath a blanket of unnecessary information, revealing too much and teasing too little.
Leonardo DiCaprio stars as 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, all amidst the chaos of 1990s Sierra Leone.
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 transgressive comedy is an instant classic -- crude, confrontational and stunningly sick -- 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.
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. The film is cursed by its own excesses, the rich humanity evident in earlier Zhang epics lost amid a turgid glut of bad computer-generated effects and the characters' self-absorbed blood feuds.
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). A story like this needs sweep and scope and the operatic melodrama of betrayal, but instead the movie's pace is too slow, too measured and too cold.
The History Boys
The Tony award-winning play is just as shrewdly acted by the stage cast and exuberant a bittersweet comedy in this film adaptation by the original writer, Alan Bennett. It's 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 and a headmaster obsessed with results.
This latest installment in the horror franchise, compared with its more resourceful predecessors, is just a hodgepodge of gruesome moments and a weird love story that's even more cringe-inducing than the gory death scenes. The original concept of a serial killer targeting people who are already self-destructive is lost amid this movie's messy storytelling.
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):
Artists and Film series: Fur: An Imaginary Portrait of Photographer Diane Arbus
See review on Page 16. (R) At 1, 4 and 7:30 p.m. Saturday and Sunday; 7:30 p.m. Jan. 8; 1 and 7:30 p.m. Jan. 9 to 11.
3566 Harding Ave.; $5, $4 members; reservations recommended due to limited seating (735-8771):
The Motorcycle Diaries
At 12:30, 3, 5:30 and 8 p.m. Friday.
Little Miss Sunshine
At 2, 4, 6 and 8 p.m. Saturday.
The World's Fastest Indian
At 12:30, 3, 5:30 and 8 p.m. Sunday.
Factotum (Hawaii Premiere)
See review on Page 15. (R) At 2, 4, 6 and 8 p.m. Monday.
Bandidas (Hawaii Premiere)
At 2, 4, 6 and 8 p.m. Jan. 11.