At The Movies
Tim Allen, John Travolta, Martin Lawrence and William H. Macy play a group of middle-aged friends who decide to rev up their routine suburban lives with a freewheeling motorcycle trip. (PG-13)
An American film producer returns to her Russian homeland where her natural mother's dead body has been found under bizarre circumstances. The only clue to what might have happened is an isolated and abandoned farm in the mountains that supposedly belonged to her natural parents. (Originally part of last November's "After Dark Horrorfest.")
Amazing Grace 1/2
Ioan Gruffudd portrays the man who wrote the beloved hymn, William Wilberforce, who led efforts as a member of Parliament in 18th century England to end the slave trade. See review on Page 27. (PG)
The Astronaut Farmer
An astronaut is forced to leave NASA to save his family farm, but he continues to dream of space travel and sets out to build a rocket inside his barn. Billy Bob Thornton and Virginia Madsen star. See review on Page 17. (PG)
The Number 23
Jim Carrey stars as a man whose life unravels when he becomes obsessed with an obscure book that's all about the number. See review on Page 18. (R)
Perfume: The Story of a Murderer
Based on the best-selling novel, it's a story of murder and obsession set in 18th century France surrounding the life of Jean-Baptiste Grenouille, whose unique talent for discerning scents and smells helped him create the finest perfumes, spurred on by the irresistible but elusive aroma of young womanhood. See review on Page 26. (R)
Reno 911!: Miami
Based on the popular Comedy Central show, Reno's "finest" are called in to protect and serve when a terrorist attack disrupts a national police convention in Miami Beach they're attending. (R)
Bridge to Terabithia
An 11-year old boy has his life changed forever when he befriends the tomboy class outsider. Together, they create an imaginary kingdom filled with ghosts, trolls and other magical beings. This is a perfect family-friendly movie and even a bit of a tear-jerker.
Based on the best-selling 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 re-creation of a miniature London filled with rats, toads and slugs of varying caste. 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 hampered only by a constant hyperkinetic pace.
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 (Matthew McConaughey) rebuilt the team and rejuvenated the spirit of the surrounding community. More than a football movie, its theme is not about winning or losing, but finding the strength to move on in spite of tragedy.
Because I Said So
Diane Keaton's acting talents are wasted in this shrill romantic comedy about an overbearing mother who secretly places an Internet personal ad for her daughter (Mandy Moore). The movie isn't awful, just pandering and generic.
Based on the real-life Robert Hanssen story, a young FBI analyst (Ryan Phillippe) must find proof that his boss (Chris Cooper) has been selling secrets to the Soviet Union. The movie is less a biopic than a psychological thriller framed around the volatile relationship between the cantankerous agent and his young counterpart. It holds your attention, with several nail-biting set pieces, but it doesn't leave you feeling like you understand the villain, the script being filled with dead-end tangents and unanswered questions.
Casino Royale 1/2
Daniel Craig takes over the iconic role of James Bond, in a movie about the secret agent's very first mission. The action scenes are riveting, clever and well-choreographed, with the movie's appeal laying much heavier on Bond as a person, so it's no surprise that Craig delivers one of the finer performances as 007 in the long history of the franchise.
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. Cedric doesn't have a big enough persona to fill a film and the stale script listlessly recycles action-comedy clichés.
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. The movie is a multiple Oscar nominee, including for best supporting actor and actress (Eddie Murphy and Hudson) and best original song three times over.
Epic Movie 1/2
Attempting to compensate for its own lack of originality and humor, this flick spoofs recent summer movies, a few MTV shows and, of course, Paris Hilton. With the flimsiest of story lines, the movie is more spliced-together mimicry.
Ghost Rider 1/2
Nicolas Cage stars in this Marvel Comics film adaptation about a motorcycle stuntman, Johnny Blaze, who sells his soul to save his dad. Blaze is transformed into a supernatural agent of vengeance. The movie is just different enough from other superhero fare to be worth a look, but it's not a particularly stirring genre entry. Cage, however, does put in an inspired and goofy performance here.
The American debut of Hong Kong horror directors the Pang brothers is a stylish but almost completely generic thriller. A family moves into an old, run-down farm only to encounter ominous signs that something is very wrong with their new home, especially after they hire a farmhand (a ridiculous performance by John Corbett).
Music and Lyrics
Hugh Grant plays a washed-up '80s pop singer who collaborates with a lyricist (Drew Barrymore) when he gets a chance at a comeback. While it has its moments this is a formulaic romantic comedy.
After seeing his strong and nuanced acting in "Dreamgirls," Eddie Murphy regresses to "Nutty Professor" latex, slathering himself in makeup to play a nebbish, his morbidly obese bride and a cartoonish Chinese man. The mutant romantic comedy is filled with fat-bashing and ethnic stereotypes. Every character, heroes and antagonists alike, is either overplayed or underwritten.
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 and find an unexpected chance at redemption and happiness. Excellent performances all around in this beautifully designed film entirely shot in China.
The Queen 1/2
Oscar nominee Helen Mirren gives a strong performance as Queen Elizabeth II, here shown 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.
Stomp the Yard
A troubled street dancer from Los Angeles attends a historical African American university in Atlanta 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.
Tyler Perry's Daddy's Little Girls 1/2
The popular black filmmaker is back with the story of two worlds colliding when a successful attorney falls in love with a struggling garage mechanic, the single father of three daughters. While leads Idris Elba and Gabrielle Union have chemistry on screen, what they don't have is a filmmaker who knows yet how to use either to make real movie magic.
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.
A disastrous remake of the 1974 slasher classic about a psycho terrorizing a sorority house during the holidays. Any terror is smothered beneath a blanket of unnecessary information, revealing too much and teasing too little.
Biopic about Edie Sedgwick, the trust fund girl who was transformed into the It Girl of Manhattan by pop artist and New York scenemaker Andy Warhol. Director George Hickenlooper easily apes the frenetic scene that was the relentless pop-culture event known as the 1960s and Warhol's famed studio, the Factory. Despite fabulous performances by Sienna Miller and Guy Pearce, the script is more like an extended story pitch than a true exploration of Sedgwick's short, flame-out life.
The origin of how Dr. Hannibal Lecter became the monster millions of movie fans have embraced. Director Peter Webber does a great job of blending the drama and pathos of Lecter's experiences with his descent into obsession and taste for blood. It may not be perfect as a prequel or a stand-alone film, but it's among the most sympathetic serial-killer movies ever made.
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 Oscar-nominated performance, an inspired study in commotion.
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 and Eastwood's real triumph is that the incipient mawkishness that could've been found in the voices of the dead is tamped down in favor of ruefully observed realism. (Eastwood is a best director Oscar nominee for this film, itself nominated for best picture and original screenplay.)
'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, stay-at-home dad. With strong direction by Todd Field ("In the Bedroom"), the film also boasts two Oscar-nominated performances by Kate Winslet and Jackie Earle Haley.
Notes on a Scandal
Oscar nominees Judi Dench and Cate Blanchett star as public school teachers -- one a self-professed "old battle-ax," the other a fresh-faced art instructor -- who share the secret of an illicit affair with a student. It's a perfectly executed movie whose working motto is keep your friends close and your enemies closer.
Guillermo del Toro's multiple Oscar-nominated 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 and secret destinies. 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 huge 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.
Smokin' Aces 1/2
A rogues' gallery of characters collide with the FBI when a Vegas mob boss takes out a hefty contract on a magician's head. The movie's utterly absurd and weirdly boring. It's all attitude and firepower.
Spanish director Pedro Almodóvar's latest film is a generational story of three women -- a good mother who is desperately in love with a man who is far from being a saint, a young mother carrying a hard life upon her shoulders and an illegal hairdresser whose shop is the meeting point for all the neighborhood gossips. Penélope Cruz, who plays the young mother, is a best actress Oscar nominee.
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).
An Unreasonable Man
At 4 p.m. Friday and Sunday, and 7:30 p.m. Saturday.
At 1 p.m. Saturday, Sunday, Feb. 27 and 28; and 7:30 p.m. Sunday, and Feb. 26 to 28.
3566 Harding Ave.; $5, $4 members; reservations recommended due to limited seating (735-8771).
The Cave of the Yellow Dog
At 2, 4, 6 and 8 p.m. Friday.
At 12:30, 3, 5:30 and 8 p.m. Saturday.
At 12:30 and 2:30 p.m. Sunday.
Kekexili: Mountain Patrol
At 2, 4, 6 and 8 p.m. Feb. 26.
Stranger Than Fiction
At 12:30, 3, 5:30 and 8 p.m. March 1.
UH OCEAN PLANET
Spalding Hall Auditorium, University of Hawaii-Manoa; $5 general and $3 UH students, faculty and staff.
Lost Jewel of the Atlantic
At 5 p.m. Sunday.
Volcanoes of the Deep Sea / Exotic Terrane: Geological Discoveries in the Pacific Northwest
At 7 p.m. March 1.