These are Maui Scene Editor Rick Chatenever's mini-reviews, excerpts of wire service reviews and previews provided by studios and other sources.
New this week
Korean pop star Rain plays Raizo in the action-packed “Ninja Assassin”
Warner Bros photo
"Ninja Assassin" R, 1:54, opened Wednesday at Kaahumanu 6 and Lahaina Wharf Cinemas.
Korean pop star Rain and Naomie Harris lead the cast of this effort to rescue ninja in black pajamas from the province of turtles and return them to the status of worthy adversaries. This blood-splattered bone-snapper directed by "V for Vendetta's" James McTeigue centers on a rogue hit man who betrays his clan of assassins.
"Old Dogs" PG, 2:24, opened Wednesday at Kaahumanu 6, Kukui Mall 4 and Front Street Theaters.
Times in the movie ads are subject to change on the weekend. It's a good idea to call the theater, just to be sure. For showtimes at Kaahumanu 6 and Kukui Mall 4, call 1 (800) -FANDANGO visit www.con solidatedtheatres.com.
For showtimes at Lahaina Wharf Cinemas, Front Street Theatres and Maui Mall Megaplex call 249-2222 or check www.gohollywood.com.
See review on Page 7.
Surf film festival
Save Honolua Film Festival screens at 5 and 7:30 p.m. Tuesday at the Maui Arts & Cultural Center's Castle Theater. Admission is $10.
This film fest to support ocean- conservation efforts for Honolua Bay and beyond features premieres of three new surf films. "The Drifter" follows surfing legend Rob Machado beyond his comfort zone, to an unnamed Indian Ocean reef where he can finally be alone with his thoughts, desires and the empty perfection of the spot. Rob Machado will attend the screening. "Dear & Yonder" follows several sea-loving ladies, showing how far women's surfing has come. And "Faces of the Bay" is a short documentary on the history of surfing at Honolua Bay. For more information, visit www.SaveHonolua.org.
"The Blind Side" PG-13, 2:24, Maui Mall Megaplex, Kukui Mall 4 and Front Street Theaters.
Although she's probably sick of the word "plucky," Sandra Bullock keeps up her irresistible ways in this redemptive sports comedy-drama based on a true story. She plays a wealthy, strong-willed Memphis wife who adopts a very large, homeless African-American teen and makes him part of her family. She also introduces him to the sport of football -a match made in heaven. John Lee Hancock writes and directs, showcasing newcomer Quinton Aaron, but mostly letting Bullock do her lovable thing. (See review on Page 2.)
"The Box" PG-13, 2:11, Maui Mall Megaplex.
Cameron Diaz and James Marsden play a typical couple in the '70s whose lives are forever changed when disfigured stranger Frank Langella appears at their door to make them an offer. If they accept the box he brings, they will receive $1 million but someone they don't know will lose his life. Richard Kelly writers and directs the troubling thriller.
"Disney's A Christmas Carol" PG, 1:51, Maui Mall Megaplex (3-D and 2-D).
Ebenezer Scrooge is a role made in movie heaven for Jim Carrey, and techno-wiz director Robert Zemeckis adds motion capture and 3-D effects to jazz up Charles Dickens' evergreen holiday classic. The results are reportedly eye-popping, adding to the faithful adaptation of Dickens' original tale of the miser who comes to his senses after visits from several frightening ghosts one Christmas Eve. Gary Oldman and Colin Firth lead the supporting cast along with Cary Elwes, Robin Wright Penn, Bob Hoskins and Fionnula Flanagan in multiple roles.
"The Fourth Kind" PG-13, 1:53, Kaahumanu 6.
Milla Jovovich plays a psychological researcher in a remote Alaskan village investigating peculiar disappearances and other strange behavior on the part of the locals. With help from Sheriff Will Patton and fellow researcher Elias Koteas, she comes to the only plausible explanation: alien abductions. Olatunde Osunsanmi writes and directs, going for crude "Paranormal Activities" production values to pretend this isn't a movie but a recording of actual -and bizarre - events.
"The Men Who Stare at Goats" R, 1:50, Maui Mall Megaplex and Lahaina Wharf Cinemas.
The catchy title refers to one strange bunch of U.S. soldiers experimenting with psychic warfare, espionage and other tactics like staring goats to death or thinking they can reconstitute their molecules and walk through walls. George Clooney leads the merry band, with heavyweight co-stars including Jeff Bridges, Kevin Spacey and Ewan McGregor. Grant Heslov directs the "Catch-22"-like comedy for the Iraq era, but its origins, heart and literary sensibilities are in the '60s and '70s. With Clooney and Bridges portraying a couple of wiggy warriors, the surreal antics bring new meanings to making love, not war unless you happen to be a goat. Recommended.
"Michael Jackson's This Is It" PG, 1:51, Kaahumanu 6, Kukui Mall 4.
Director-choreographer Kenny Ortega shot the rehearsals for Michael Jackson's comeback tour, thinking they would become part of the King of Pop's private library. Instead, they have taken the place of the concerts that never happened. Capturing Jackson's musical talents, still impressive at age 50, the film also shows the humanity that often got lost amidst his tabloid antics. A must-see for Jackson's fans, it broadens the audience for his legacy.
"Pirate Radio" R, 1:29, Maui Mall Megaplex.
The British government's efforts to outlaw rock 'n' roll in the '60s led to the renegade radio station broadcasting off the English coast from "The Boat That Rocked" (the English tititle of this toe-tapping comedy.) Philip Seymour Hoffman, Bill Nighy, Tom Sturridge, Rhys Ifans, January Jones, Emma Thompson and Kenneth Branagh hop aboard this satirical romp, written and directed by "Love Actually's" Richard Curtis. The stuffy English establishment is no match for the free spirits on board the boat, who bring not only the music, but the spirit, of those happy times to a brand-new audience. Recommended.
"Planet 51" PG, 1:46, Kaahumanu 6 and Front Street Theaters.
A monster from outer space invades a suburban neighborhood in this family-targeted animated sci-fi comedy. Only, the monster this time is an astronaut and the homebodies are little green aliens, taking their cues from "Ozzie and Harriet." Dwayne Johnson, Jessica Biel, Justin Long, John Cleese and Gary Oldman provide the voices for this retrofitted return to the '50s, mostly to make fun of what passed for humor then. Jorge Blanco directs.
"A Serious Man" R, 1:45, Kaahumanu 6.
The cynical, brilliant, Oscar-winning Coen brothers are back with this serious comedy. Delving into their own Jewish Minnesota roots, it recasts the Book of Job as a contemporary tale of a physics professor (Michael Stuhlbarg) whose efforts to live a moral life and do the right thing keep running into random acts of destruction. The point is that the universe is chaotic, providing insurmountable challenges in which concepts of justice and karma are irrelevant.
"The Twilight Saga: New Moon" PG-13, 2:25, Maui Mall Megaplex, Kukui Mall 4 and Lahaina Wharf Cinemas.
It's the second chapter of love with the proper vampire in this second screen adaptation of Stephanie Meyer's wildly successful book series. Young Bella Swan (Kristin Stewart) is once again willing to sacrifice everything to be with the vamp she loves, Edward Cullin (Robert Pattison) -but of course, things can never be that simple when it comes to romance. Taylor Lautner makes it a triangle as Bella's old friend who tries to help her, despite the presence of large wolves and other unsavory influences. Ashley Greene, Rachelle Lefevre, Billy Burke, Michael Sheen and Dakota Fanning co-star; Chris Weitz directs this week's box-office monster.
"2012" PG-13, 2:38, Maui Mall Megaplex. Kukui Mall 4 and Front Street Theaters.
Roland Emmerich destroys the world one more time in this epic vision of a modern apocalypse inspired by a supposed Mayan prediction. John Cusack heads a cast also featuring Amanda Peet, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Tom McCarthy, Oliver Platt and Woody Harrelson, but the real stars are the special effects, which can destroy California, Las Vegas, and Washington, D.C. with a single keystroke. The grand-scale destruction brings new meaning to the word disaster, as the audiences in the theater don't seem to notice it's their own destruction that's providing their entertainment.