At The Movies
Eric Bana stars as a high-stakes card player who sets out to win both the World Series of Poker and the affections of a Vegas lounge singer (Drew Barrymore). Review on Page 27. (PG-13)
Peter Parker (Tobey Maguire) has finally managed to strike a balance between his love for Mary Jane (Kirsten Dunst) and his duties as a crime-fighting web-slinger. But when his costume suddenly changes, turning jet-black and enhancing his powers, it also brings out the dark and vengeful side of his personality. Not only does Peter have to overcome his personal demons, but he must also do battle with new villains, the Sandman and Venom -- plus his best friend Harry Osborn tries to avenge his father's death by taking on the Green Goblin's powers. Review on Page 4. (PG-13)
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.
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.
A dog star (actually four of the same breed) is born in this wonderful family movie. After a stunt goes awry, a talented if overpampered Hollywood pooch finds himself the mascot of some hapless but well-meaning firefighters.
The Last Mimzy
Two siblings exhibit remarkably high intelligence and abilities when they discover a mysterious box filled with sophisticated toys from the future. The heart and core of the movie is rooted in 1940s science fiction values -- like being smart is good for you -- so this makes for an appealingly thoughtful family outing.
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.
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. This decent thriller is far smarter than most big studio flicks with teen protagonists, and even though it's completely predictable, LaBeouf comes off as a sturdy leading man.
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.
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 entry to the genre. Cage, however, does put in an inspired and goofy performance here.
In the Land of Women
A brokenhearted young man moves in to care for his grandmother and stumbles into the lives of the family across the street, a mother and her two daughters. Writer-director Jonathan Kasdan, unfortunately, bangs the audience over the head with sentimental platitudes about love and loyalty and leaves nothing open for interpretation.
The Invisible 1/2
Attacked and left for dead, a young man's spirit finds himself trapped in limbo -- not quite dead but invisible to the living. His spirit can only watch as his mother and the police search frantically for him, unaware that he is only hours away from truly perishing. It's a fully felt, decently crafted teen B-movie, plenty preposterous in places but alive to the vibrant miseries of being young and misunderstood.
Kickin' It Old Skool
In 1986, a 12-year-old boy ends up in a coma after a break dancing accident at a school talent contest. But he wakes up 20 years later as a man-child, played by Jamie Kennedy. When his parents' yogurt store faces closure, the dancer attempts to revive his career by entering a top-dollar competition with the help of his old dance crew, who have all long left breakin' behind them. This movie is more amusing than it has a right to be, thanks to the surprising subtlety of Kennedy's performance and the script itself.
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 in particular 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.
Nicolas Cage stars as a man who can see into the future, an ability that makes him a target of the FBI, which wants him to help stop America's enemies before they strike. This supposed paranormal thriller, unfortunately, shows how a solid crew of filmmakers and performers can apply a big-studio budget to a good story and still have absolutely everything come out wrong.
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.
Producer and auto enthusiast Daniel Sadek parades his personal collection of rare Porsches, Ferraris and Lamborghinis in this plotless mash-up of a movie with little to offer beyond the novelty of the expensive European cruisers on display. There's shifty businessmen, mob bosses, outlaw races and the requisite bikini car-wash scene.
Stomp the Yard
A troubled street dancer from Los Angeles attends a historical 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.
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 Gabrielle Union and Idris Elba have chemistry on screen, what they don't have is a director who knows yet how to use either to make real movie magic.
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.
Aqua Teen Hunger Force Colon Movie Film for Theaters 1/2
It's a barely there movie version of the barely dynamic trio from Cartoon Network's Adult Swim. Not only does it reveal the mysterious origins of Master Shake, Frylock and Meatwad, but they do battle with a diabolical exercise machine that threatens the balance of galactic peace. Like the late-night cartoon, this is best watched while under the influence.
The Condemned 1/2
A group of death row inmates compete in a deadly game on an abandoned island, where the surviving winner will avoid execution. Stone Cold Steve Austin and Vinnie Jones star in this disheartening, headache-inducing barrage of a movie.
Ryan Gosling plays a hotshot assistant district attorney prosecuting a man (Anthony Hopkins) who readily admits to murdering his wife in this suspenseful and darkly stylish movie. Whenever the two actors share screen time together, it's exhilarating. They needle and spar with each other, and generally enjoy doing fantastically smart, zippy banter.
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 guys from "Shaun of the Dead" -- Edgar Wright, Simon Pegg and Nick Frost -- do for buddy-cop action tales what they did for zombie flicks on "Shaun of the Dead." They present a nice homage while tweaking the conventions and making jolly good fun of the genre's clichés. The movie packs a lot of hearty laughs and few real guffaws as a hotshot London cop (Pegg) adjusts to life in a seemingly tranquil country town.
Journey From the Fall
Writer-director Ham Tran achieves the impossible with this independently funded sprawling tear-jerker about a war-splintered South Vietnamese family trying to survive the aftermath of the American withdrawal and then seek a new life in Southern California. The film depicts one family's endurance in sturdy, old-movie style, with sweeping camerawork, a monumental and occasionally intrusive orchestral score, gorgeous yet forbidding natural vistas and enough shocking tragedies, brazen escapes and crowd-pleasing acts of defiance to fuel several action-adventure pictures.
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.
A young Norse warrior raised by Native Americans wages a personal war to stop the invading Vikings' trail of destruction. The movie is part "Apocalypto" and part "300," but with the commercial misfortune of being neither. What the movie lacks in developed characters, anthropological rigor and dialogue, it makes up for in two grueling action sequences that's unfortunately in an hour-and-a-half movie that feels longer than that.
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. Halle Berry and Bruce Willis star in this thriller that starts off all sleek and sexy, but later collapses in a heap of plot twists that are annoyingly implausible.
The Reaping 1/2
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, however, doesn't have a prayer due to hackneyed and sloppy writing.
Luke Wilson and Kate Beckinsale star as a couple who wind up at a middle-of-nowhere motel, complete with creepy night manager. They find graphic snuff movies on the TV set and find out that they were shot with hidden cameras right in their rundown room. This is the kind of horror flick that hopes the audience will get off on the violence it portrays, which is especially distasteful and, frankly, misogynistic.
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 ("Se7en" and "Fight Club") has been know 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):
Visions of Light: The Art of Cinematography
At 1, 4 and 7:30 p.m. Friday through Sunday, and 1 and 7:30 p.m. Tuesday.
At 1 and 7:30 p.m. Wednesday and May 10.
3566 Harding Ave.; $5, $4 members; reservations recommended due to limited seating (735-8771):
The Last King of Scotland
At 12:30, 3, 5:30 and 8 p.m. Friday.
Conejo En La Luna
At 2, 4, 6 and 8 p.m. Saturday.
At 2, 4, 6 and 8 p.m. Sunday.
The Story of the Weeping Camel
At 2, 4, 6 and 8 p.m. Monday.
My Mother Frank
At 2, 4, 6 and 8 p.m. May 10.
"Waiting for Guffman"
At 2, 4, 6 and 8 p.m. Thursday.
UH Cinema Series
Spalding Hall Auditorium, University of Hawaii-Manoa; $5 general and $3 UH students, faculty and staff:
10 Questions for the Dalai Lama
At 3 p.m. Sunday
(special $10 admission).
Ravi Shankar: Between Two Worlds
At 5 p.m. Sunday.