These are Maui Scene Editor Rick Chatenever's mini-reviews, excerpts of wire service reviews and previews provided by studios and other sources.
Warner Bros. photo
Morgan Freeman plays Nelson Mandela and Matt Damon is his ally on the nation’s rugby team in “Invictus,” directed by Clint Eastwood.
Disney Enterprises photo
Walt Disney Studios retell the story of “The Princess and the Frog.
"Boondock Saints II: All Saints Day" R, 2:01, Kaahumanu 6.
Belatedly following up on the cult following he attracted with his first "Boondock Saints" a decade ago, violence-loving director Troy Duffy returns for more cinematic revenge in Boston. Sean Patrick Flanery and Norman Reedus reprise their roles as former hitmen who have retired to become bachelor sheep herders in Ireland. But when a beloved Boston priest is murdered, they head back to the States to set matters straight, which involves lots of killing. Billy Connolly, Clifton Collins Jr., Julie Benz and Peter Fonda co-star in what sounds like a Quentin Tarantino production with an Irish brogue.
"Invictus" PG-13, 2:12, Maui Mall Megaplex.
Clint Eastwood, who will be filming scenes for his newest movie in Lahaina next month, is back in the Oscar hunt, directing this inspirational true story from Nelson Mandela's South Africa. Morgan Freeman is reportedly perfect for the role of the imprisoned political leader who becomes the president of that apartheid-torn land. Matt Damon co-stars as the captain of the nation's rugby team who becomes Mandela's ally in reuniting the country. The stars, the story, the trailer and the prodigious talents of director Eastwood, still going strong at 79, promise a project full of hope and noble purpose. (Reviewed today on Page D1 of The Maui News.)
"The Princess and the Frog" G, 1:52, Maui Mall Megaplex, Kukui Mall 4 and Lahaina Wharf Cinemas.
Disney Studios return to Walt's original medium of hand-drawn animation to update the Brothers Grimm fairy tale. Moving the story to a 1920s Louisiana bayou, it tells of a waitress (Anika Noni Rose) whose dreams of opening her own restaurant are interrupted by the appearance of a frog named Naveen (Bruno Campos) claiming that he's really a prince under the slimy green skin. Ron Clements and John Musker direct, surrounding Disney's first animated black heroine with cute dialogue, lovable characters and a Randy Newman soundtrack.
"Secret" NR, 1:50, Kaahumanu 6.
Chinese filmmaker Jay Chou directs and stars in this romantic drama co-starring Guey Lun-mei. He plays a student in a new school captivated by a haunting piece of music played by a pianist. When he asks her about it, she says she cannot reveal its secret. In Mandarin with English subtitles.
"An Education" PG-13, 1:40, Kukui Mall 4.
A relationship between a 16-year-old girl (Carey Mulligan) and a 35-year-old man (Peter Sarsgaard) is at the heart of this romantic drama set in 1961 London. Lone Scherfig directs from a screenplay by Nick Hornby, taking a "Lolita"-like premise and turning it into a PG-13-rated sophisticated entertainment that never panders, exploits or titters. The film's young star Mulligan is winning early comparisons to Audrey Hepburn for making her character so light, luminous and intelligent - getting the "education" the title promises in what's reported to be a most charming way. Alfred Molina and Cara Seymour co-star as her parents.
"Armored" PG-13, 1:43, Maui Mall Megaplex and Front Street Theaters.
Matt Dillon leads a cast of men's men heavyweights in this heist caper that plays like "Reservoir Dogs" on wheels. Jean Reno, Laurence Fishburne, Amaury Nolasco, Fred Ward and Skeet Ulrich are along for the ride as armored car guards who steal one of the vehicles containing $42 million. Thinking they've got a foolproof plan is their first mistake. The first of many. Nimrod Antal directs.
"The Blind Side" PG-13, 2:24, Maui Mall Megaplex, Kukui Mall 4 and Front Street Theaters.
Moving from plucky to more of a no-nonsense fiestiness, 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 as now real-life NFL lineman Michael Oher, but mostly letting Bullock do her lovable thing, as the film just keeps getting stronger at the box office. Recommended.
"Brothers" R, 2:05, Maui Mall Megaplex and Lahaina Wharf Cinemas. FristLight screening: Dec. 20, 2 p.m.
Tobey Maguire, Jake Gyllenhaal and Natalie Portman star in Jim Sheridan's hard-hitting remake of the acclaimed 2004 Danish film ''Brodre.'' Maguire plays an army captain taken prisoner by the Taliban and reported dead to his wife. Brother Jake's efforts to console the family eventually lead to the widow's bed a situation worstened when the traumatized officer, who wasn't dead after all, returns home.
"Disney's A Christmas Carol" PG, 1:51, Maui Mall Megaplex ($3 3-D surcharge added to each ticket.)
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.
"Everybody's Fine" PG-13, 1:40, Maui Mall Megaplex.
Robert De Niro is in cuddly mode as a widowed father trying to reconnect with his grown children, Drew Barrymore, Kate Beckinsale and Sam Rockwell in writer-director Kirk Jones' warm comedy-drama, adapted from an Italian hit. De Niro reportedly brings his usual perfection to this kinder, gentler role than some he's played, with his younger co-stars holding their sides of the screen with the master.
"Fantastic Mr. Fox" PG, 1:28, ends tonight at Maui Mall Megaplex. FristLight screening: Jan. 2, 2 p.m.
George Clooney and Meryl Streep top the vocal cast for whimsical director Wes Anderson's first foray into stop-action animation, joining Anderson regulars Bill Murray, Jason Schwartzman, Owen Wilson and Willem Dafoe. Anderson brings his always off-kilter quiet hilarity to adapting Roald Dahl's children's book a fox whose chicken-stealing ways put him at odds with three evil farmers. The critter-heroes are cute and clever, with the sly humor tickling the parents in the audience while delighting the kids. Recommended. (See review on Page 2.)
"The Men Who Stare at Goats" R, 1:50, ends tonight at Maui Mall Megaplex. FristLight screening: Dec. 28, 5 p.m.
The catchy title refers to one strange bunch of U.S. soldiers experimenting with psychic warfare 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.
"Ninja Assassin" R, 1:54, Kaahumanu 6; ends tonight at Lahaina Wharf Cinemas.
Korean pop star Rain and Naomie Harris lead the cast of this effort to rescue ninja in black pajamas from the realm 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, Kaahumanu 6 and Front Street Theaters; ends tonight at Kukui Mall 4.
An old dog serves as narrator and color commentator on the peculiar antics of Robin Williams and John Travolta in this family comedy. They play sports agents forced into the role of daddies when a woman (Kelly Preston, Travolta's real-life wife) appears in their lives with twins she said Williams fathered. They have to take the kids for a few weeks while she spends time in jail for a political protest. Walt Becker directs the assortment of slapstick gags and Seth Green co-stars in the antics that might have been titled "Two Men and a Baby and Another Baby and an Old Dog."
"Pirate Radio" R, 1:29, ends tonight at Maui Mall Megaplex. FristLight screening: Dec. 26, 5 p.m.
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 title 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.
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.
"Transylmania" R, 1:32, ends tonight at Kaahumanu 6.
A semester abroad in Romania puts some college students gone wild in touch with the land's dark side in this horror comedy. "If the partying doesn't kill them, the vampires might!" promises this raunchy project starring Patrick Cavanaugh, James DeBello, Tony Denman, Paul H. Kim, Jennifer Lyons, Oren Skoog and David Steinberg. David and Scott Hillenbrand share the directing duties.
"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 new 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, passing the $200 million mark at the box office.
"2012" PG-13, 2:38, Maui Mall Megaplex and Front Street Theaters.
Apocalyptic auteur Roland Emmerich destroys the world one more time in this epic vision of the end of the world 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. Watch for the tidal wave carrying the aircraft carrier that trashes the White House. 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.