At The Movies
The Hills Have Eyes 2
A unit of National Guard soldiers is attacked by cannibalistic mutants during a training mission in the New Mexico desert. (R)
The Last Mimzy
Two young siblings exhibit remarkably high intelligence and abilities when they discover a mysterious box filled with sophisticated toys that come from the future. Review on Page 26. (PG)
Terrence Howard stars in the true-life story of Jim Ellis, who turned a group of troubled teens into Philadelphia's first African-American swim team in 1973. Bernie Mac co-stars. Review on Page 27. (PG)
Reign Over Me 1/2
Two former college teammates rekindle their friendship after one of them loses his family in the Sept. 11, 2001, attack on the World Trade Center. Adam Sandler and Don Cheadle star. Review on Page 16. (R)
Mark Wahlberg stars as a former Marine Corps sniper who is lured out of retirement, only to be double-crossed in a government conspiracy. Antoine Fuqua directs. Review on Page 17. (R)
The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles are back on the big screen, this time in CGI animation. The team reunites when tech-industrialist Max Winters amasses an army of ancient monsters apparently to take over the world. Review on Page 18. (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 the smokehouse but is saved by the friendships of an idealistic girl (Dakota Fanning) and an erudite spider (voiced by Julia Roberts).
Ioan Gruffudd portrays William Wilberforce, who led efforts as a member of Parliament in 18th-century England to end slavery and the slave trade in the British empire. It's a heartfelt, if occasionally stodgy tribute to the man.
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.
Happy Feet 1/2
Winner of the best animated film Oscar. A young penguin named Mumble 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.
Night at the Museum 1/2
Ben Stiller stars as a night watchman dealing with dinosaur skeletons, statues and wax figures that come to life at a museum.
Blood and Chocolate
An American teenager on the run has the power of the loup garoux -- shapeshifters who can change from human to wolf. Living in Bucharest, Romania, she must choose between her love for a human outsider and betraying the vows of her family's secret society.
Catch and Release
Jennifer Garner stars as a woman who must deal with the untimely death of her fiancé, then learning he had a secret life he never shared with her -- all the while falling in love with his best friend (Timothy Olyphant). The movie's construction defines it as a chick flick, yet it has a number of strong male roles that are interesting and add up to more than their superficial stereotypes.
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 girlfriend. When the bargain goes sour and the girl isn't saved, Blaze is transformed into a supernatural agent of vengeance.
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, rundown farm only to encounter ominous signs that something is very wrong with their new home, especially after they hire a farm hand (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 -- and the lead actors try their best with what they're given -- 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.
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.
Starring Sandra Bullock as a woman whose husband is killed in a car wreck one day but turns up alive and well the next, this movie plays out too tranquilly in the early going to build much suspense. It teases viewers with the promise of great twists or revelations, making the unsatisfying conclusion and epilogue all the more annoying. It's a shame, because Bullock breathes far more soul into the role than her superficially written character merits.
The Pursuit of Happyness 1/2
Will Smith stars in the true story of a homeless single father who pulls 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 boy, played by Smith's young son Jaden.
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. Too bad that the guys are not all that wild and, more important, not all that funny, as the humor and hijinks in this road romp are tame and tranquil.
Director Zack Snyder painstakingly re-creates the panels from Frank Miller's graphic novel about the ancient Battle of Thermopylae, in which 300 Spartans fought off a much larger Persian army. But the movie is so over-the-top it's laughable -- so self-serious, it's hard to take seriously. The CGI effects and inventive violence are extremely cool at first, but the gimmicks wears off quickly and ultimately becomes overbearing, including the pounding music score and profuse use of voice-over narrative.
Black Snake Moan 1/2
Samuel L. Jackson is a God-fearing blues guitarist in a rural Tennessee town who tries to redeem the soul of the troubled town tramp (Christina Ricci) by chaining her to his radiator, justifying his unorthodox methods with quoted Scripture. Craig Brewer's Southern-fried Gothic tale is filled with such incendiary topics as nymphomania, interracial sex and the iconography of black male sexual power, but the film never catches fire.
Oscar nominee Leonardo DiCaprio stars as a South African mercenary who joins a native fisherman (fellow nominee 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.
Dead Silence 1/2
The killer ventriloquist dummy is back in this horror film that reunites the creators of "Saw." While a more credible, less grisly act of filmmaking than its grimy predecessor, it's also a less compelling exercise. The revenge story is told through rushed montages that cheapen the sensation of discovery and leave the craving for shock unfulfilled.
The hit South Korean film about a horrifying behemoth of a monster that emerges from the polluted waters of the Han River to wreak havoc on the populace of Seoul. Writer-director Bong Joon-Ho has crafted a film that just kicks butt from start to finish, even though its anti-American sentiment (the pollution is caused by a thoughtless U.S. scientist) feels a bit half-baked.
I Think I Love My Wife
Chris Rock directs, co-writes and stars in this movie about a bored married businessman who fantasizes about other women until an ex-mistress friend actually tries to seduce him. While Rock definitely has something to say about marriage, race and the black upper-middle class, he's still too stiff and clunky as a filmmaker to successfully make his point.
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 a best actor Oscar-winning performance.
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 with "Flags," this smaller, meditative film is more elegiac.
The Lives of Others
Winner of the best foreign film Oscar, the German film takes place five years before the fall of the East German government. A surveillance agent, in hopes of boosting his career, finds his own life changing when he takes on a job collecting evidence against a playwright and his actress girlfriend. This is a miracle of a film that manages to be both subtle and intense at the same time. It's a political thriller but also a portrait of unexpected humanity -- a marvel of controlled storytelling and mood, with brilliant performances.
Guillermo del Toro's Oscar-winning film (for best art direction, cinematography and makeup) is set against the postwar repression of Franco's Spain. It's a fairy tale that centers on a lonely and dreamy child who creates a world filled with fantastical creatures and secret destinies.
Reno 911!: Miami
Based on the popular Comedy Central show, Reno's "finest" are called in when a terrorist attack disrupts a national police convention they're attending. The end result is a formulaic, unfunny farce.
Spanish director Pedro Almodóvar's latest film is a generational story of three women: a mother who is desperately in love with a flawed man, a young mother carrying a large burden upon her shoulders and an illegal hairdresser whose shop is the meeting place for all the neighborhood gossips. The all-female cast, led by Oscar nominee Penélope Cruz, is superb.
Jake Gyllenhaal stars in the true story of a serial killer who terrorized San Francisco and taunted police during the 1960s and '70s. Director David Fincher has been known for his visual flair, but he tones things down here and also drags out the movie to close to three hours. "Zodiac" certainly has its moments, but it's no masterpiece.
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):
Army of Shadows
At 1, 4 and 7:30 p.m. Friday through Sunday; and 1 and 7:30 p.m. Tuesday through March 29.
3566 Harding Ave.; $5, $4 members; reservations recommended due to limited seating (735-8771):
Mr. and Mrs. Iyer
At 12:30, 3, 5:30 and 8 p.m. Friday and Monday.
At 2, 4, 6 and 8 p.m. Saturday.
My Country, My Country
Hawaii premiere. At 2, 4, 6 and 8 p.m. Sunday.
The Most Beautiful Day of My Life
At 2, 4, 6 and 8 p.m. March 29.
UH OCEAN PLANET
Spalding Hall Auditorium, University of Hawaii-Manoa; $5 general and $3 UH students, faculty and staff:
Of Penguins and Men /Ice Island
At 5 p.m. Sunday.