At The Movies
Aqua Teen Hunger Force Colon Movie Film for Theaters
The barely dynamic trio from Cartoon Network's Adult Swim comes to the big screen, revealing the mysterious origins of Master Shake, Frylock and Meatwad. When an immortal piece of exercise equipment threatens the balance of galactic peace, it's up to the Hunger Force to run away from it. Review on Page 27. (R)
In a contemporary variation on Alfred Hitchcock's "Rear Window," a young man (Shia LaBoeuf) under house arrest becomes a voyeur from his window and suspects that one of his neighbors is a serial killer. Review on Page 16. (PG-13)
Guy Pearce plays a cocky, smooth-talking salesman whose life slowly unwinds even though a roadside soothsayer assures him a windfall is on its way. Review on Page 17. (R)
A young Norse warrior raised by Native Americans wages a personal war to stop the invading Vikings' trail of destruction. (R)
When an investigative reporter learns that her friend's murder might be connected to a powerful advertising executive, she goes undercover to find out the truth, only to discover that she isn't the only one changing identities. Feature and review on Pages 28 and 29. (R)
A gorgeous young auto fanatic -- and frontwoman for the hottest unsigned band on the West Coast -- finds herself caught up in illegal drag-racing competitions organized for the pleasure of a bunch of bored billionaires. (PG-13)
Ray Liotta plays a district attorney who untangles the truth behind a murder involving a beautiful assistant D.A., a record store clerk and a powerful gang lord. LL Cool J, Jolene Blalock, Mekhi Phifer and Taye Diggs co-star. (R)
Meet the Robinsons
In this Disney animated movie, a boy genius creates a machine to recover the past and embarks on an amazing adventure with his future family. While the script is strictly two-dimensional, the digital 3-D effects are pretty spectacular. The movie has a beautifully retro art deco aesthetic, a sci-fi vision of the future as it might have been imagined during the 1950s.
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.
Are We Done Yet?
Ice Cube and Nia Long return in the sequel to the popular "Are We There Yet?" Nick and his ever-growing family move out to the Oregon countryside and have an adventure rebuilding their dream Victorian house. No cleverness was exerted on this movie, as it's more of an endurance test than a comedy.
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 in his barn. Billy Bob Thornton and Virginia Madsen star in this charming and gorgeous-looking movie that touches a strain of modern American mythology.
A dog star is born in this wonderful new family movie. After a stunt goes awry, an overpampered Hollywood pooch finds himself with some hapless but well-meaning firefighters.
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. The heart and the core of the movie is rooted in 1940s science fiction values -- like being smart is good for you -- so this makes for a good and thoughtful family-oriented outing.
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 to apparently take over the world. Even though the plot's subtext of the need of family is hammered throughout, the movie is consistently entertaining to look at and listen to, albeit on the level of a well-crafted video game.
Blades of Glory
Will Ferrell and Jon Heder star as rival figure skaters banned and disgraced from competition who, in an attempt to make their return years later, team up to perform as the first male-male pair in the sport. There's enough material here for a great little "Saturday Night Live" sketch, but the trouble is there's an extra 80 minutes or so of downtime in which the cast has to repeat their characters' shallow schtick again and again.
Jennifer Hudson, winner of the best supporting actress Oscar, walks away with this big, splashy dazzler of a movie, 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 co-star.
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.
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.
A middle-class Indian family moves from Calcutta to New York in the late 1970s to start a new life, but it's a lifelong balancing act to meld into a new world without forgetting the old, as the college-age son particularly finds out. Director Mira Nair has created a gentle and compassionate variation on the often-told immigrant movie theme, and Kal Penn puts in a crackling star performance as the conflicted son.
Stomp the Yard
A troubled street dancer from Los Angeles attends a historically black 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.
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 wear off quickly and ultimately become overbearing, including the pounding musical score and profuse use of voice-over narrative.
Black Snake Moan
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.
Children of Men
Director Alfonso Cuarón helped adapt this tale set in the near-future when 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 pregnant woman out of Britain. The thriller, a thoughtful study of humankind's resilience, is carried by the performances of Clive Owen, Julianne Moore, Michael Caine and Clare-Hope Ashitey.
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.
Longtime friends Robert Rodriguez and Quentin Tarantino have made an epic homage to '70s B-movie kitsch by each writing and directing an entire feature-length film in this double bill complete with fake trailers. Rodriguez's zombie flick "Planet Terror" is a total blast and Tarantino's actioner "Death Proof," while overly verbose (like the director), does have a climactic and truly dazzling car chase.
Richard Gere is ideally cast as the writer Clifford Irving, who nearly pulled off one of the most audacious media scams in history when his bogus autobiography of reclusive billionaire Howard Hughes was published in 1972. Gere infuses Irving with a mastery of subterfuge and showmanship that makes this a crowd-pleasing comic caper.
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.
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, 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 with "Flags," this smaller, meditative film is more elegiac, and Eastwood's real triumph is that the incipient mawkishness that could've been found in the voices is tamped down in favor of ruefully observed realism.
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.
Hilary Swank stars as a debunker of religious phenomena who investigates what looks like Biblical plagues befalling a small Louisiana town. Even though Swank does a solid job, the movie doesn't have a prayer, due to hackneyed and sloppy writing.
Reign Over Me
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 has his meatiest -- and most maudlin -- screen role to date, and Don Cheadle brings his typical intelligence and nuance to what might have been a dry, straight-man role. He can elevate anyone's game, and here he and Sandler share a buoyant chemistry.
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's silly action flick revels in masculine clichés and over-the-top braggadocio. It's like two hours of watching a man hit himself in the face while yelling how tough he is.
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 is utterly absurd and weirdly boring. It's all attitude and firepower.
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):
At 1 and 4 p.m. Friday, 1 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, 7:30 p.m. Monday, and 1 and 7:30 p.m. Tuesday. Review on Page 18. (NR)
Yasmin Ahmad Retrospective: Contemporary Malaysian Cinema and Gender
See related article.
Neil Young: Heart of Gold
At 1 and 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, and 1 p.m. April 19.
3566 Harding Ave.; $5, $4 members; reservations recommended due to limited seating (735-8771):
The Perfect Crime (Crimen Ferpecto)
Hawaii premiere. At 2, 4, 6 and 8 p.m. Friday and Monday.
At 12:30, 3, 5:30 and 8 p.m. Saturday.
At 2, 4, 6 and 8 p.m. Sunday.
The History Boys
At 2, 4, 6 and 8 p.m. April 19.