At The Movies
Yet another remake, this time from a horror favorite from 1986. A young college couple, driving across country enroute to spring break, becomes the prey of a cunning serial killer, who blames all his murders on the young man. Stars Sean Bean, Sophia Bush and Zachary Knighton. (R)
The Last King of Scotland
A Scottish doctor on a medical mission becomes irreversibly entangled with one of the world's most barbaric figures, Ugandan President Idi Amin, who picks the doctor as his personal physician and closest confidante. Forest Whitaker portrays the mad dictator in an award-winning performance. Review on Page 28. (R)
The Painted Veil
Based on the W. Somerset Maugham novel set in the 1920s, a young English couple -- a conservative doctor (Edward Norton) and a restless society girl (Naomi Watts) -- marry hastily and relocate to Hong Kong. There they betray each other easily, and find an unexpected chance at redemption and happiness while on a journey into the heart of ancient China. Review on Page 29. (PG-13)
E.B. White's beloved children's book is adapted for 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 (Dakota Fanning) and an erudite spider (voiced by Julia Roberts).
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.
Arthur and the Invisibles
In order to save his grandma's home, a boy (Freddie Highmore) sets off to find his grandpa's treasure hidden somewhere on the "other side" in the land of the Miniroys, a race of creatures that are just a tenth of an inch tall and live in perfect harmony with their environment. The movie bing-bing-bings all over the place like a pinball machine, re-purposing fantasy novels, video games and Arthurian legends. The digital animation is sleek, and artful without quite making it over the hump to art.
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.
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 (done with the help of the Aardman studio of "Wallace and Gromit" fame) is only hampered by a constant hyperkinetic pace.
Happily N'Ever After
When the wizard in charge of Fairy Tale World goes on holiday, Cinderella's wicked stepmother takes over the land. A riff on Cinderella with a gimmick could have worked in deft hands, but this unengaging animated fantasy comes off as derivative and diluted.
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.
Rocky Balboa 1/2
Sylvester Stallone's iconic boxer steps out of retirement, pitting himself against a new rival (played by real-life boxer Antonio Tarver) decades after his initial glory. The movie is a tired retread padded out with flashbacks 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 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.
Code Name: The Cleaner
Cedric the Entertainer plays an amnesiac janitor who is duped into thinking he's an undercover agent carrying a dangerous secret that can link the FBI with an arms scandal. Cedric, unfortunately, doesn't have a big enough persona to fill a film, and the one-note character cramps his style. He's not particularly helped by the stale script that listlessly recycles action-comedy clichés.
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.
Former "American Idol" contestant and Golden Globe winner 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.
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, because the story is seemingly fractured and skips about in time and space. Or is this thinking person's film all but a dream?
An unashamed heart-tugger, this movie is based on the true story of an idealistic Southern California teacher who inspires her poor and ethnically diverse high school students. She's so full of gee-whiz decency that she can only be played by Hilary Swank. Swank holds the movie together, even when all its disparate elements -- tolerance lessons, gang violence, the Holocaust, spousal abuse -- threaten to take it in different directions.
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 pays off in making a better life for himself and his child, played by Smith's son Jaden. Italian director Gabriele Muccino does fine work, 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 death of Princess Diana. Mirren gives the role a restrained soulfulness that reinvents the monarch.
Stomp the Yard
A troubled street dancer attends a historical African American university where he joins a struggling fraternity and learns the true meaning of brotherhood when he tries to help the school's step team win the national championship. The rhythmic step dancing is infectious in this otherwise formulaic underdog flick.
Stranger Than Fiction
Will Ferrell plays a confused man who discovers that an unseen female narrator is chronicling the events of his life in a voice only he can hear. A literature professor (Dustin Hoffman) helps him figure out that he's gotten caught up in the work of a British novelist (Emma Thompson). This movie is sweetly engaging, and Ferrell give his best performance yet.
A drama based on the life of Jesse James Hollywood, the youngest man to ever be on the FBI's most wanted list. It's a tumble into a world of drugs, depravity and murder, and the movie carries a strikingly easygoing vibe as it plunges into an underworld. Emile Hirsch and Justin Timberlake star.
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. The extreme blood and gore undermine 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.
Alejandro González Iñárritu's latest film, with a cast featuring Brad Pitt, Cate Blanchett and Gael García Bernal, is a global testament to the curiously incommunicative species that is man, told in four separate stories. But the film struggles to be as true as it is portentous.
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, 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, 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.
Children of Men 1/2
Director Alfonso Cuarón helped adapt this heavy, provocative tale for the screen. Set in the near-future, a flu pandemic results in complete infertility in women. A former activist is recruited by an old flame -- now the leader of a terrorist group -- into smuggling a young immigrant, who may be fertile, out of the country. The thriller is a desolate, thoughtful study of humankind's resilience. Stars Clive Owen, Julianne Moore, Michael Caine and newcomer Clare-Hope Ashitey.
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.
Flags of Our Fathers
Clint Eastwood directs this astounding ensemble drama about the six soldiers who planted a U.S. flag atop the island of Iwo Jima in the midst of World War II's bloodiest Pacific campaigns. The inspiring photo capturing that moment became a symbol of victory to the nation. This is a powerful, harrowing and disturbing film.
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 and too cold.
The History Boys
The Tony award-winning play is a bittersweet comedy in this film adaptation by the original writer, Alan Bennett. It's the story of an unruly class of students in pursuit of an undergraduate place at Oxford or Cambridge.
Letters from Iwo Jima
The bookend to Clint Eastwood's masterful "Flags of Our Fathers." This time the story of the battle of Iwo Jima is told from the perspective of the Japanese. Compared to "Flags," this smaller, meditative film is more elegaic -- how does one die with honor?
Little Children 1/2
In a suburban town full of "perfect" parents devoted to rearing their children for Ivy League futures, Sarah, a stay-at-home mom has an affair with Brad, an ex-jock stay-at-home dad. With strong direction by Todd Field, the always excellent Kate Winslet is superb as Sarah, while as Brad, Patrick Wilson nicely captures the feeling of a golden boy who's beginning to lose his luster.
Guillermo del Toro's latest film is set against the postwar repression of Franco's Spain. It's a fairy tale that centers on a lonely child, who creates a world filled with fantastical creatures. Del Toro has crafted a terrifying and visually wonderous masterpiece, blending fantasy and gloomy drama into one of the most magical films in recent memory.
A TV news crew goes to war-torn Burundi where they hope to capture, on tape and in a giant metal cage, a giant crocodile that has claimed over 300 victims. Gory though it is, the movie is lacking in the sadism that characterizes many recent horror offerings.
Running with Scissors
Director Ryan Murphy's adaptation of Augusten Burroughs' dark if charming memoir is a black comedy riddled with problems. While it's funny in spots and the 1970s period is well-rendered, the movie amounts to a series of increasingly bizarre episodes featuring the teen protagonist and the unstable people that surround him.
This latest installment in the horror franchise, compared to 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.
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):
Old Joy 1/2
See review on Page 27. (NR) At 7:30 p.m. Friday.
3566 Harding Ave.; $5, $4 members; reservations recommended due to limited seating (735-8771):
At 2, 4, 6 and 8 p.m. Friday.
At 2, 4, 6 and 8 p.m. Saturday.
The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada
At 12:30, 3, 5:30 and 8 p.m. Sunday.
House of Sand (Casa de Areia)
At 12:30, 3, 5:30 and 8 p.m. Jan. 22.
At 2, 4, 6 and 8 p.m. Jan. 25.
UH OCEAN PLANET FILM SERIES
Spalding Hall Auditorium, University of Hawaii-Manoa; $5 general and $3 UH students, faculty and staff:
Time & Tide / Keepers of the Reef
At 5 p.m. Sunday.
The Ocean Blue: The Healing Sea / Ocean Origins
At 7 p.m. Jan. 25.