These are Maui Scene Editor Rick Chatenever's mini-reviews, excerpts of wire service reviews and previews provided by studios and other sources.
"Avatar" PG-13, 2:57, Maui Mall Megaplex (3-D, $3 surcharge per ticket); Kukui Mall 4 and Lahaina Wharf Cinemas.
20th Century Fox photo
Feeling blue: Zoe Saldana and Sam Worthington in “Avatar.”
After proclaiming himself "king of the world" for all the Oscars and all the bucks for "Titanic," producer-director and cinematic dictator James Cameron reportedly still holds the crown for this $300 million sci-fi epic. Nominated for a best picture Golden Globe, it's set on a distant moon of a faraway planet. The story revolves around the contact between humans - or, rather, their avatar surrogates -with the locals, a graceful race of 12-foot-tall blue-skinned beings. Sam Worthington and Zoe Saldana lead the human cast, along with Sigourney Weaver, no stranger to outer space, Stephen Lang, Giovanni Ribisi and others, but the real "stars" are special effects and Cameron pulling the high-tech strings to make them dance.
"Did You Hear About the Morgans?" PG-13, 1:59, Kaahumanu 6 and Front Street Theaters.
Hugh Grant and Sarah Jessica Parker play the dysfunctional couple on the brink of divorce in this hopefully witty ditty. After observing a nasty crime, they have to go into a witness protection program that whisks them away from sophisticated Manhattan and relocates them among the gun-toting rubes in a tiny Wyoming town. Watching the Morgans try to master guns and horses and their disastrous relationship produces the laughs. Sam Elliott, Mary Steenburgen, Elisabeth Moss, Michael Kelly and Wilfred Brimley co-star, with Marc Lawrence writing and directing.
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.consolidatedtheatres.com.
For showtimes at Lahaina Wharf Cinemas, Front Street Theatres and Maui Mall Megaplex call 249-2222 or check www.gohollywood.com.
"The Hurt Locker" R, 2:01, Kaahumanu 6; FirstLight screening 5 p.m. Wednesday.
With wins for best picture and best director (Kathryn Bigelow), this taut Iraq War drama is nominated in the same categories for Golden Globes and is a likely Oscar contender. Jeremy Renner leads a cast also featuring Anthony Mackie, Brian Garaghty, Guy Pearce and Ralph Fiennes in this knuckle-biter about the latter-day cowboys with ice in their veins and no doubts in their minds about what they're doing.
"Precious: Based on the Novel 'Push' by Sapphire" R, 1:50, Maui Mall Megaplex.
Young actress Gabourey Sidibe wins a Golden Globe nomination for her screen debut as a pregnant Harlem teen up against seemingly impossible odds in this gritty, challenging and ultimately unforgettable drama. For all the abuse she has and continues to endure - actress Mo'Nique has her own well-deserved nomination in the thankless role of Precious' mother -the movie sneaks in glimpses of humor, and hope. Lee Daniels directs, earning a best-picture nomination. Paula Patton and Mariah Carey co-star. Recommended.
"An Education" PG-13, 1:40, ends tonight at Kukui Mall 4; opens Friday at Kaahumanu 6.
A relationship between a 16-year-old girl (Golden Globe nominee 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, ends tonight at 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.
"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.
"Brothers" R, 2:05, ends tonight at Maui Mall Megaplex and Lahaina Wharf Cinemas. FristLight screening: Dec. 20, 2 p.m.
Golden Globe nominee 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.
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, ends tonight at 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.
"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. Nominated for three Golden Globes, it's recommended. (See review on Page 2.)
"Ninja Assassin" R, 1:54, Kaahumanu 6.
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.
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."
"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, a winning combination that put it on top at the box office this week.
"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.
"Secret" NR, 1:50, ends tonight at 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.
"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, thanks to an army of devoted teenage fans more drawn to the romantic implications than the blood-sucking dangers of the ongoing saga.
"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.