At The Movies
The Bucket List
Director Rob Reiner's dramedy stars Jack Nicholson and Morgan Freeman as two terminally ill men who together write a list of all the things they want to do before they die, and then they go do them. Review on Page 21. (PG-13)
Ice Cube and Tracy Morgan play bumbling petty criminals who come up with a crazy scheme to rob their neighborhood church. (PG-13)
In the Name of the King: A Dungeon Siege Tale
Jason Statham plays a once simple man who sets out to find his kidnapped wife and avenge the death of his son, amid the backdrop of war in the kingdom of Ehb. (PG-13)
The Orphanage 1/2
Co-produced by Guillermo del Toro ("Pan's Labyrinth"), this horror-suspense film is about a mother who moves her family back to the former Spanish orphanage for disabled children where she grew up happily, in hopes of restoring and reopening it. But then her 7-year-old son develops an unnerving coterie of imaginary friends -- and disappears. Review on Page 27. (R)
The Pirates Who Don't Do Anything: A VeggieTales Movie
Three animated veggie pals who work at the Pieces of Ate dinner theater reluctantly set sail for adventure in the 17th century, as they go into battle to rescue a royal family from an evil tyrant. (G)
Mr. Magorium's Wonder Emporium
Dustin Hoffman stars as the iconoclastic owner of a magic toy store in search for a successor. You'd have to be a really
little kid to want to hang out at this toy store. With wild hair and an annoying accent, Hoffman looks completely uncomfortable as the childlike eccentric. The movie is totally one-note in its incessant whimsy, except for those few moments when it treads awkwardly toward the topic of death.
Alvin and the Chipmunks
Brothers Alvin, Simon and Theodore are back, making music and mischief in this CGI/live-action adventure. The movie engages for about a half-hour, or about 10 minutes longer than you might expect. Still, the animated chipmunks are quite cute.
Bee Movie 1/2
Jerry Seinfeld's animation project has some pretty pictures and a few good jokes, but not nearly enough. And the story -- about a restless honeybee who sues the human race for making money off of the sale of the sweet stuff -- suffers from sitcom attention-deficit disorder. It picks up whenever there's a chase scene, but the rest of the time, it just bumbles along.
Disney shows a sense of humor and makes fun of itself in this infectious and energetic movie that sends up fairy tales with obvious affection, impeccable craftsmanship and zero snark. A wide-eyed, would-be animated princess becomes human when she is banished by a wicked queen from the magical land of Andalasia to present-day New York City. Amy Adams is absolutely adorable as the princess -- she gets the innate humor within the character's innocence, yet remains respectfully faithful to it.
Fred Claus 1/2
Vince Vaughn and Paul Giamatti star in the family movie about the sibling rivalry between Old St. Nick and his fast-talking slacker of a brother. The comedy veers awkwardly from shrill, slapsticky humor to diabolical meanness to reheated, snuggly sentiments about the importance of love and family.
The Game Plan
A pro quarterback (Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson) must learn to juggle his party-and-practice lifestyle with ballet, bedtime stories and dolls when the 7-year-old daughter he never knew existed shows up at his door. The movie is the cinematic equivalent of a family-friendly halftime show.
National Treasure: Book of Secrets 1/2
Producer Jerry Bruckheimer and Nicolas Cage team up again for this sequel. This time, treasure hunter Benjamin Franklin Gates, in order to exonerate his great-great grandfather, must track down a top secret tome passed down from president to president -- plus kidnap the current commander-in-chief. It's more mediocre action spiced with American lore.
The Water Horse: Legend of the Deep
An extremely sweet tale about loyalty and unexpected friendship as a lonely Scottish boy discovers an enchanted egg on a beach which eventually hatches and grows up to be the Loch Ness monster.
Dan In Real Life
A strait-laced advice columnist and widower's strict rules for behavior are tested when he falls for the girlfriend of his younger brother. Considering all the talent behind and in front of the camera (a strong cast led by Steve Carell and Juliette Binoche), this is a surprisingly plain, sappy, even insipid comedy.
The Golden Compass 1/2
A girl finds herself on an epic quest to save an alternative world where people's souls manifest themselves as animals. Based on Philip Pullman's first novel of the "His Dark Materials" trilogy, this fantasy adventure has some fanciful moments but never achieves the sense of awe-inspiring wonder of the "Lord of the Rings" films, to which comparisons will be inevitable. It's a CGI-filled spectacle, but the whole thing is a bit of a drag.
The Great Debaters 1/2
Inspired by a true story, the movie chronicles the journey of Melvin Tolson (Denzel Washington), a brilliant but volatile debate team coach who uses the power of word to shape a group of underdog students from a small black college in the segregated South of the 1930s. While a formulaic movie, it does bring light on a story we might never have heard, and introduces us to exciting new talent we might never have seen.
I Am Legend 1/2
Will Smith conjures both pathos and absurd laughs as a military scientist whose immunity to a deadly virus leaves him stranded in Manhattan with only his trusted dog for companionship. Set up by the dazzling and haunting visuals of a post-apocalyptic New York City, the movie, unfortunately, turns from a quiet meditation on the nature of humanity into a B-movie schlockfest when the infected crazies show up.
One Missed Call
A young woman is traumatized when she witnesses the gruesome deaths of two friends just days apart. Even more disturbing, she knows that both of them had received chilling cell phone messages -- actual recordings of their own last moments. The movie lacks the skill for suspense and the imagination for frightening imagery.
P.S. I Love You
Hilary Swank stars in this poignant comedy as a young widow who gets over her grief with the help of motivational letters left behind by her dead husband to help her transition into a new life. Swank and director Richard LaGravenese have taken a sentimental story and given it just the right bit of sass.
30 Days of Night
Based on the hit graphic novel about vampires who strike an Alaska town, where the winter days stay dark for a month. While the flick is a huge cut above most gorefests that have come out of late, the premise and its repetitive gimmicks gradually grow as monotonous as, well, 30 days of night.
Aliens vs. Predator -- Requiem 1/2
The iconic killer monsters from the two sci-fi/horror film franchises return to wage a brutal battle in an unsuspecting Colorado town. It's a perfectly respectable next step in the series, because the filmmakers give the humans in the story much more attention than they received in the first one, which makes for a far more watchable movie.
The formidable trio of director Ridley Scott and Oscar winners Denzel Washington and Russell Crowe combine to present an exceptionally crafted and superbly directed movie about the true story of Frank Lucas, a powerful and charismatic Harlem drug kingpin-turned-informant of the 1970s.
Adapted from Ian McEwen's book, a servant's son falls in love with a young, upper-class woman in 1935 Britain, just as her teenage sister falsely accuses him of sexually assaulting their cousin. It's a gripping film, with fine performances by Keira Knightley, James McAvoy and Saoirse Ronan, and even occasional artiness can't detract from the painful events at this story's heart-rending core.
Charlie Wilson's War 1/2
Tom Hanks, Julia Roberts and Philip Seymour Hoffman star in this comedy, based on a true story, about an alcoholic womanizer of a congressman who teams up with a semirogue CIA spook and a Houston socialite in the 1980s to arm the Afghan mujahadeen against Soviet invaders. It's an often smart, frequently entertaining and uncommonly annoying re-imagining of a largely unknown caper in American political history.
A spinoff of the hit video game series, a genetically engineered elite assassin finds unexpected stirrings of his conscience and unfamiliar emotions aroused in him by a mysterious Russian woman. The movie is almost completely generic and predictable, moving fast with plenty of blam-blam, but offered without any reason for the audience to care.
I'm Not There 1/2
A re-enactment of the life of Bob Dylan, with multiple actors embodying different stages in the singer-songwriter's life. Starring Christian Bale, Heath Ledger, Cate Blanchett and Richard Gere, and directed by Todd Haynes ("Far from Heaven"). Review on Page 26.
A whip-smart teen, confronted with an unplanned pregnancy by her classmate, tries to find a "perfect" set of parents for her unborn child in an affluent suburban couple. It's a smart and hip comedy, filled with dialogue like a sugar rush and performances, particularly Ellen Page's in the title role, like grace notes.
The Kite Runner
Based on the best-selling novel, two Afghan friends from different social classes are separated during the Soviet invasion of the '70s. They are reunited two decades later as the Taliban takes hold of Afghanistan. For once, sensitively directed by Marc Forster, Muslim culture is not treated as a joke in this great Hollywood film.
Margot at the Wedding
Director Noah Baumbach ("The Squid and the Whale") has delivered another lethal little comedy about educated people doing horrible things to the people they profess they love. The movie's main event is the emotional wrestling match between sisters, played by Nicole Kidman and Jennifer Jason Leigh. It's a slow but steady battle, with occasional spasms of catharsis.
No Country for Old Men
The Coen brothers' latest film is set in West Texas, as a man on the run with a suitcase full of money is pursued by a number of individuals. In adapting Cormac McCarthy's novel about crime and carnage along the Rio Grande, the Coens stay mostly faithful to its structure while maintaining much of the book's rhythmically clipped, colorful dialogue. It's vintage stuff for the writing-directing team and their best work in a while.
Resident Evil: Extinction 1/2
Milla Jovovich returns as the superhuman Alice who, along with old allies and new survivors, goes on a mission to eliminate the deadly virus that threatens to make every human being a zombie. Not exactly dull but never interesting either, the movie has no weight because there's no characterization or emotion, just slick mayhem.
Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street
Tim Burton adapts Stephen Sondheim's classic musical about a homicidal barber (Johnny Depp) out for grisly revenge, with the help of a pie-making partner (Helena Bonham Carter). It's a strangely beautiful movie, with horrific subject matter that produces plenty of wicked humor and characters who initially seem ghoulish but ultimately reveal themselves as sympathetic and deeply sad.
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):
A Retrospective of Films by Lech Majewski
Feature on Page 4. At 1 and 7:30 p.m. Friday through Jan. 17.
3566 Harding Ave.; $5, $4 members; reservations recommended due to limited seating (735-8771):
Shoot 'Em Up
At 2, 4, 6 and 8 p.m. Friday.
Hawaii premiere. Review on Page 22. At 2, 4, 6 and 8 p.m. Saturday.
At 12:30, 3, 5:30 and 8 p.m. Sunday.
The Thief of Paris (Le Voleur)
At 12:30, 3 and 5:30 p.m. Monday.
At 2, 4, 6 and 8 p.m. Jan. 17.