At The Movies
How She Move
A gifted student and step dancer is forced to leave her prestigious private school and return to her old neighborhood when her parents can no longer afford her tuition, following the tragic death of her sister. She plans to get back to her school by winning the cash prize at a fierce dance competition. Review on Page 21. (PG-13)
Meet the Spartans
From the guys who saw "300" and made "Epic Movie" comes an equally epic satire where the mighty warriors fall victim to parody, lampooning everything from other recent movies, pop culture events and celebrities. (PG-13)
Sylvester Stallone returns as the iconic action hero who ventures into a brutal Burmese war zone to rescue captured aid workers. (R)
Diane Lane plays a FBI special agent in a race against the clock to track down a tech-savvy serial killer who shows his graphic murders on the Internet. Review on Page 26. (R)
Mr. Magorium's Wonder Emporium
Dustin Hoffman stars as the owner of a magic toy store in search for a successor. The movie is totally one-note in its incessant whimsy.
Alvin and the Chipmunks
Brothers Alvin, Simon and Theodore are back, making mischief in this CGI/live-action adventure. The movie engages for about a half-hour. Still, the chipmunks are cute.
Freddie Highmore plays Evan, a musical prodigy who has grown up in orphanages but holds fast to the belief that his parents are alive. The movie manages to rise above the clichés and take on a magical realism. (Best Song Oscar nominee for "Raise It Up.")
Bee Movie 1/2
Jerry Seinfeld's animation project -- about a restless honeybee who sues the human race for making money off the sweet stuff -- suffers from sitcom attention-deficit disorder.
The Game Plan
A pro quarterback (Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson) must learn to juggle his party-and-practice lifestyle with bedtime stories and dolls when the daughter he never knew existed shows up at his door.
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 -- plus kidnap the commander-in-chief.
This movie is so chock full of romantic comedy clichés, it almost plays like a parody. Katherine Heigl stars as a perennial bridesmaid whose own happy ending is nowhere in sight ... until her sister (Malin Akerman) captures the heart of her boss (Ed Burns), with whom she is secretly in love. Heigl maintains a down-to-earth likability, despite the fluff.
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. .
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 clichés.
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 characters remain indistinguishable, the storytelling confusing, and any truly interesting subtext -- such as our preference for recording reality, rather than experiencing it -- ignored.
Ice Cube and Tracy Morgan play bumbling petty criminals who come up with a scheme to rob their neighborhood church. The movie sometimes feels more like a script read-through, but its warmth will carry you through the tedium.
The Golden Compass 1/2
A girl finds herself on an epic quest to save a world where people's souls manifest themselves as animals. (Oscar nominee for Best Art Direction and Best Visual Effects.)
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 students from a small black college in the segregated South of the 1930s.
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.
The likable cast of Diane Keaton, Queen Latifah and Katie Holmes star as unlikely friends who plan to rob one of the most secure banks in the world. The movie may celebrate the shopping gene found in women of all economic stripes, but after it's over, it's forgettable.
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 cel 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.
Aliens vs. Predator -- Requiem 1/2
The killer monsters from the two sci-fi/horror film franchises return to wage a brutal battle. It's a respectable next step because the filmmakers give the humans enough attention to make the movie watchable.
The trio of director Ridley Scott and actors Denzel Washington and Russell Crowe combine to present an exceptionally crafted and superbly directed movie about the true story of Frank Lucas, a powerful Harlem drug kingpin-turned-informant of the 1970s. (Nominated for two Oscars, Ruby Dee for Best Supporting Actress and Best Art Direction.)
Adapted from Ian McEwen's book, a servant's son falls in love with an upper-class woman in 1935 Britain. It's a gripping film, with fine performances by Keira Knightley, James McAvoy and Saoirse Ronan. (Nominated for seven Oscars, including Best Picture, Ronan for Best Supporting Actress, plus for adapted screenplay, art direction, cinematography, original score and costume.)
Charlie Wilson's War 1/2
Tom Hanks, Julia Roberts and Oscar nominee 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 mujahadeen against Soviet invaders.
A spinoff of the video game series, a genetically engineered assassin finds stirrings of his conscience and emotions aroused in him by a woman.
A whip-smart teen, confronted with an unplanned pregnancy, tries to find a "perfect" set of parents for her unborn child in an affluent suburban couple. A smart and hip comedy. (Nominated for four Oscars: Best Picture, Page for Best Actress, Jason Reitman for Best Director, and Diablo Cody for Best Original Screenplay.)
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.
George Clooney stars as a shadowy fixer with a legal New York empire. The Oscar-nominated film is a fulsome exploration of the legal thriller genre. And the trio of actors at the movie's core -- Clooney, Tom Wilkinson and Tilda Swinton, all Oscar nominees -- operate at full thrusters in tautly realized, mature performances. (Tony Gilroy is also up for Best Director and Best Original Screenplay Oscars, and the film is also nominated for original score.)
No Country for Old Men
The Coen brothers' latest is set in West Texas, as a man on the run with a suitcase full of money is pursued. (Nominated for eight Oscars: Best Picture, Javier Bardem for Best Supporting Actor, the Coen brothers for Best Director and Best Adapted Screenplay, plus for cinematography, sound mixing and editing, and film editing.)
The Orphanage 1/2
Co-produced by Guillermo del Toro ("Pan's Labyrinth"), this well-crafted if familiar horror film is about a mother who moves her family back to the former orphanage where she grew up, in hopes of restoring and reopening it.
Philip Seymour Hoffman and Oscar nominee Laura Linney play siblings who put their already arrested lives on hold when they have to help their father (Philip Bosco), who is suffering dementia. Despite its dark humor, the film tackles tough topics with a delicate touch. (Director Tamara Jenkins is an Oscar nominee for Best Original Screenplay.)
Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street
Tim Burton adapts Stephen Sondheim's classic musical about a homicidal barber (Oscar nominee Johnny Depp) out for grisly revenge. (Also nominated for Best Art Direction and Best Costume.)
There Will Be Blood 1/2
Director Paul Thomas Anderson's latest offering is a masterfully told epic of family, faith, power and oil set on the frontier of California's turn-of-the-century petroleum boom. (Nominated for eight Oscars: g Best Picture, Daniel Day-Lewis for Best Actor, Anderson for Best Director and Best Adapted Screenplay, plus for art direction, cinematography, sound editing, and film editing.)
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 7:30 p.m. Friday.
Bollywood Film Festival
Starting Saturday. Feature and schedule on Pages 6 and 7.
3566 Harding Ave.; $5, $4 members; reservations recommended due to limited seating (735-8771):
Le Bonheur Dans le Pré (Happiness Is in the Field)
At 2, 4, 6 and 8 p.m. Friday and Monday.
University of Laughs (Warai no Daigaku)
At 12:30, 3, 5:30 and 8 p.m. Saturday.
Hawaii premiere. Review on Page 22. At 12:30, 3, 5:30 and 8 p.m. Thursday and Sunday.
Ladrón Que Roba a Ladrón
At 2, 4, 6 and 8 p.m. Jan. 31.