At The Movies
Katherine Heigl plays a perennial bridesmaid whose own happy ending is nowhere in sight ... that is, until her younger sister (Malin Akerman) captures the heart of her boss (Ed Burns), with whom she is secretly in love. Review on Page 10. (PG-13)
Five young New Yorkers throw their friend a going-away party the night that a giant monster descends upon the city. Told from the POV of their video camera, the movie is a document of their attempt to survive the most surreal, horrifying event of their lives. Review on Page 12. (PG-13)
Diane Keaton, Queen Latifah and Katie Holmes star as unlikely friends who plan to rob one of the most secure banks in the world. Review on Page 11. (PG-13)
Philip Seymour Hoffman and Laura Linney play siblings -- he's a neurotic college professor and she's a struggling playwright -- who put their already arrested lives on hold when they have to help their father (Philip Bosco), who is slowly being consumed by dementia. Review on Page 22. (R)
There Will Be Blood
Director Paul Thomas Anderson's latest offering is an epic tale of family, faith, power and oil set on the incendiary frontier of California's turn-of-the-century petroleum boom. Review on Page 21. (R)
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.
The Pirates Who Don't Do Anything: A VeggieTales Movie 1/2
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. The rather ordinary movie has a boilerplate plot like one you might find in any morning TV cartoon.
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.
This is an obviously manipulative, corny, contrived movie, and you'd have to have a heart of stone not to be seduced by its string-pulling charms. Freddie Highmore plays Evan, a musical prodigy who has grown up in orphanages but holds fast to the belief that his parents are alive and will find them. The movie manages to rise above the clichs and take on the magical realism that springs from Evan's mind.
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.
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 that eventually hatches and grows up to be the Loch Ness monster.
Robert Zemeckis ("The Polar Express") presents another motion-capture animated film, this time the epic fantasy about the legendary Viking warrior and his battle with the demon Grendel. This movie is more akin to "300," only with more violence, if that's possible, and lots of nudity. The technology still hasn't improved much, though, as the characters still look distractingly fake and stiff.
The Bucket List 1/2
Director Rob Reiner's comic drama puts him back in commercial, if not artistic, form. The movie's easily accessible, with Jack Nicholson and Morgan Freeman as a couple of mismatched, terminally ill men who become buddies, who elevate a story overloaded with clichd life lessons and self-help slogans into a relatively painless way to go.
Ice Cube and Tracy Morgan play bumbling petty criminals who come up with a crazy scheme to rob their neighborhood church. The movie sometimes feels more like a script read-through, but its warmth is likely to carry you through the stretches of clich and tedium.
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 German shepherd 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.
In the Name of the King: A Dungeon Siege Tale
In a movie as bombastic as its title, 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. Like actors in an amateur stage play, the large cast looks, rather dazedly, to be playing dress-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.
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 semi-rogue CIA spook and a Houston socialite in the 1980s to arm the Afghan mujahedeen against Soviet invaders. It's an often smart, frequently entertaining and uncommonly annoying reimagining 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.
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.
Lions for Lambs 1/2
A rumination on war, education and politics from the socially minded Robert Redford, and starring Tom Cruise and Meryl Streep. The movie's three interlocking stories are awkwardly scripted and, despite the star power, Redford's direction is weak.
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.
The Orphanage 1/2
Co-produced by Guillermo del Toro ("Pan's Labyrinth"), this well-crafted if familiar 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.
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):
I Want Someone to Eat Cheese With
Review on Page 27. At 1 and 7:30 p.m. Friday, Sunday and Tuesday; and 1 p.m. Saturday.
At 1 and 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 24 and 25.
3566 Harding Ave.; $5, $4 members; reservations recommended due to limited seating (735-8771):
He Was a Quiet Man
Hawaii premiere. At 2, 4, 6 and 8 p.m. Friday.
Tiempos de Azcar
At 2, 4, 6 and 8 p.m. Saturday.
The Golden Door (Nuovomondo)
At 12:30, 3, 5:30 and 8 p.m. Sunday.
At 12:30, 3 and 5:30 p.m. Monday.
At 12:30, 3, 5:30 and 8 p.m. Jan. 24.