At The Movies
Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix
The 15-year-old boy wizard returns for his fifth year at Hogwarts only to discover that much of the wizarding community has been led to believe that his story of his recent encounter with the evil Lord Voldemort is a lie, putting Harry's integrity in question. And the teachings of a new Defense Against the Dark Arts professor leaves the young wizards woefully unprepared to defend themselves against the Dark forces threatening them. So at the prompting of his friends Hermione and Ron, Harry is convinced to take matters into his own hands. (PG-13)
The latest Pixar film directed by Brad Bird ("The Incredibles") is a visual feast for the eyes. Children will probably enjoy watching the adventures of a plucky Parisian rat who leaves the colony to pursue his dream of becoming a gourmet chef. But the animation is so lush and intricately detailed that it seems to have been tailored more to grown-up tastes and sensibilities.
Are We Done Yet?
Ice Cube and Nia Long return in the sequel to the popular "Are We There Yet?" Nick and his family move to Oregon countryside and have an adventure rebuilding their dream house. No cleverness was exerted here -- it's more endurance test than comedy.
Evan Almighty 1/2
Steve Carell stars in the tale of a workaholic politician chosen by God (a returning Morgan Freeman from "Bruce Almighty") to build a floodproof ark because He likes Evan's "change the world" ethos. Despite the shoddy special effects, the movie's surprisingly likable.
Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer
The sequel finds the lovably dysfunctional quartet battling an alien foe who assists a planet-eating entity called Galactus. Compared to its predecessor, this latest installment, while not as silly, isn't particularly thrilling.
The plucky girl sleuth from the Midwest visits La-La Land to try to solve the mystery surrounding a long-dead actress. It's a clever updating of the classic character, and Emma Roberts is thoroughly delightful in the title role, playing someone who's both fearless and a fussbudget.
Shrek the Third
Everybody's favorite green ogre is back, this time embarking on a quest to find a suitable replacement king (besides himself) to rule the land of Far Far Away. This final installment still subverts the fairy tales we grew up with, but it's smothered in a suffocating sense of been-there, done-that.
In this animated movie, a documentary crew follows Cody Maverick, a young penguin with a gift and passion for surfing, as he enters his first pro competition. The faux-documentary angle and the animation are both pretty nifty, and the voice acting is more nuanced than in most animated films.
John Cusack stars as a jaded ghost-hunting author who stays the night in a haunted New York hotel room. Adapted from a Stephen King short story, this movie is good and scary during its first hour, then director Mikael Hafstrom fails to reconcile reality and delusion. But Cusack delivers a credible portrayal of a descent into madness.
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 "Saturday Night Live" sketch, but the trouble is there's an extra 80 minutes or so to fill.
In a contemporary variation on Alfred Hitchcock's "Rear Window," a young man (Shia LaBeouf) 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.
A highly esteemed group of actresses come together for a pretentious, maudlin pile of goo in this adaptation of Susan Minot's bestseller. The story revolves around a woman lying on her deathbed, recalling the one who got away one weekend 50 years ago. This high-brow chick flick feels draggy and repetitive as it wallows self-consciously in its own sense of emotional and cultural significance.
Tom (Zach Braff), an underachiever, must take a job when his pregnant wife Sofia (Amanda Peet) quits her big-salary career. Unfortunately, Tom clashes with a work colleague, the wheelchair-bound Chip (Jason Bateman), who still carries a torch for Sofia from high school. The actors flounder to hit the right comedic notes due to a script that aims low for shock effect rather than offering character-driven humor.
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. This is a decently crafted teen B-movie that's plenty preposterous in places but alive to the vibrant miseries of being young and misunderstood.
La Vie en Rose
The story of Edith Piaf, French diva and national symbol, is told here in a sometimes overly complicated style -- and the facts of her tragic life don't need the extra help. But Marion Cotillard gives a breakthrough performance as "the little sparrow," and the soundtrack -- which uses Piaf's original recordings -- is like a voyage back to another world.
License to Wed 1/2
Holy matrimony turns into an unholy mess in this comedy about a young couple (Mandy Moore and John Krasinski) who go through a wacky minister's (Robin Williams) accelerated marriage-prep course. Williams free-associate one-liners come without benefit of a decent script or logical plot.
Live Free or Die Hard
Rapid-fire, stunt-stuffed and yet still character-driven enough to maintain a healthy human pulse, this movie is a fire-breathing throwback to the grand action spectaculars of the '80s and '90s and a worthy successor for the "Die Hard" franchise. Bruce Willis returns after more than a decade as New York City police detective John McClane. This time around, the enemy is a group led by a genius who electronically shuts down all U.S. communications systems. Timothy Olyphant and Maggie Q join in the action-packed fun.
Eric Bana stars as a high-stakes card player who sets out to win the both the World Series of Poker and the affections of a Vegas lounge singer (Drew Barrymore). The romantic drama crackles with life here and there, but it's a curiously uninvolving tale, considering the director is Curtis Hanson, the man responsible for "L.A. Confidential" and "8 Mile."
Nicolas Cage stars as a man who can see into the future, an ability that makes him a target of the FBI who wants him to help stop America's enemies before they strike. This supposed paranormal thriller, unfortunately, show how a solid crew of filmmakers and actors can apply a big-studio budget to a good story and still have absolutely everything come out wrong.
The third roll of the dice for George Clooney, Brad Pitt, Matt Damon and their merry band of casino crooks is a break-even deal at best for audiences. The movie tries to give all of its players something meaningful to do. But too many cutthroats in the casino wind up watering down whatever's stewing in the pot. Clooney, Pitt and the sparkling casino are the real stars here.
Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End 1/2
With Jack Sparrow trapped in Davy Jones' locker, Will and Elizabeth ally with Capt. Barbossa on a quest to free him. But first, the trio must forge their way to exotic Singapore and confront a cunning Chinese pirate. Generous as it may be with action and spectacle, there's still a ponderousness to this sequel that counterweights the good booty.
This documentary about the ills of America's health care system is quintessential Michael Moore: expertly crafted, eminently entertaining, one-sided, overly simplistic and incredibly persuasive. Moore allows regular folk -- with and without health insurance -- to tell their stories of frustration, pain and loss. But while he tickles the funny bone and tugs at the heart, Moore never suggests that he tried to reach any insurance executives for a response.
In this latest installment of the hugely successful franchise, the result is a bloated, uneven behemoth of a flick, with more villains, more supporting characters and more plot lines.
Not only does Peter Parker/Spider-Man battle human foes and their supervillainous alter egos, but he also goes to the dark side when a black goop from outer space attaches to him. And he juggles two love interests. As threats come and go, the movie feels scattered.
Michael Bay's feature about the popular line of 1980s toy action figures is a screeching-metal, smash-and-crash, extreme-action movie lover's dream. It's also a wildly absurd fantasy and far more fun than it ought to be. The constantly morphing robots are grandeur in motion, created with a detail of computer animation so impressive it's hard not to believe in them.
If you love to hate the super-rich, this delectable comedy, about a piggy billionaire industrialist facing his comeuppance and needs the help of a simple parking valet, is a sinfully delicious bonbon. Writer-director Francis Veber is a master of the modern French farce, and this film has the same tight structure and carefully plotted surprises and reversals as his earlier comedies.
When a waitress in a cheery Southern diner discovers she's pregnant with her immature husband's baby, her dreams for a better life are squashed, until a sympathetic and good-looking doctor arrives in town. With the help of the late director-actress Adrienne Shelly, Keri Russell gives one of the best on-screen performances of the year, one that's clipped, direct and self-aware -- utterly unromantic and yet full of feeling.
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 nor, more importantly, all that funny, as the humor and hijinks are tame and tranquil.
28 Weeks Later
In this woeful sequel to the zombie hit "28 Days Later," it's now six months after the rage virus wiped out the British Isles. Although reconstruction of the country is beginning, the virus is still alive and, with no outward symptoms, deadlier than ever. It's a strained story, with stiff and shallow characters, and overflowing with a barrage of turgid action sequences that look like inferior outtakes from the first movie.
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. 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 as a hotshot London cop (Pegg) adjusts to life in a seemingly tranquil country town.
From Judd Apatow, the man behind "The 40-Year-Old Virgin," is a new comedy more consistently hilarious than its predecessor, and with even greater heart. A goofball of a slacker-stoner (Seth Rogen) enjoys a drunken romp with an up-and-coming reporter (Katherine Heigl) who's way out of his league. When the reporter realizes she's gotten pregnant from the one-night stand, she decides to keep the baby, and forces major life changes on the both of them.
A Mighty Heart
Based on Mariane Pearl's memoir on the search for her kidnapped husband-reporter in Pakistan of 2002, Angeline Jolie gives a quiet and strong performance as the pregnant wife who courageously transcends the political and religion-fueled conflicts that were behind the murder of Danny Pearl.
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):
The Endless Summer
At 1, 4 and 7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday.
Heart of the Sea: Kapolioka'ehukai
At 1, 4 and 7:30 p.m. Sunday; 7:30 p.m. Monday; 1 p.m. Tuesday; and 1 and 7:30 p.m. Wednesday.
Grbavica: The Land of My Dreams
At 1 and 7:30 p.m. July 12.
3566 Harding Ave.; $5, $4 members; reservations recommended due to limited seating (735-8771):
Bread and Tulips
At 12:30, 3, 5:30 and 8 p.m. Friday and Sunday.
The Consequences of Love
Hawaii premiere. At 2, 4, 6 and 8 p.m. Saturday.
At 12:30, 3, 5:30 and 8 p.m. Monday.
The Last Message (Tian Cai Yu Bai Chi)
At 12:30, 3, 5:30 and 8 p.m. July 12.
Kids First! Film Festival
Art Building Auditorium, University of Hawaii-Manoa; free, for ages 5 to 12
Small But Mighty: Onami / The Man Who Walked Between the Towers / Roberto the Insect Architect / Little Blue: Live the Dream / Going to School in India
At 4 p.m. Sunday.
Hawaii Filmmakers Showcase
Spalding Hall Auditorium, University of Hawaii-Manoa; $5 general and $3 UH students and faculty (223-0130):
One Man One Voice: Kris Kristofferson / 30 Years of Laughter: Frank DeLima
At 5 p.m. Sunday.