These are Maui Scene Editor Rick Chatenever's mini-reviews, excerpts of wire service reviews and previews provided by studios and other sources.
"Daybreakers" R, 1:53, Maui Mall Megaplex and Front Street Theaters.
Sony Pictures Classics photo via AP
Heath Ledger woos Lily Cole in “The Imaginarium of Dr. Parnassus”
This week's entry into the always-crowded field of movies about vampires stars Ethan Hawke. In a world the vampires took over a decade earlier, he plays a sharp-toothed researcher trying to develop a substitute for human blood to feed them. Willem Dafoe, the go-to movie star for vampire movies, co-stars with Claudia Karvan as leaders of a group post-vamps who have gone back to being human. Sam Neill is along as the corporate vampire championing the bloodsucking lifestyle. Brothers Peter and Michael Spierig share the writing and directing duties.
"The Imaginarium of Dr. Parnassus" PG, 2:02, Maui Mall Megaplex.
Unstuck in time, Dr. Parnassus (Christopher Plummer) drives his horse-drawn traveling show through modern London, offering the techno crowd a seedy, Victorian-era escape. Those stepping through the show's mirror enter the surreal world of writer-director Terry Gilliam's imagination, with master of ceremonies Tom Waits offering a choice between heaven and hell. Gilliom had to practice his own form of alchemy when his star Heath Ledger died during production; Johnny Depp, Jude Law and Colin Farrell stepped in to fill in the gaps in a cast also featuring Lily Cole, Verne Troyer and Andrew Garfield.
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.
"Leap Year" PG, 1:55, Maui Mall Megaplex and Front Street Theaters.
Amy Adams stars in this frothy romantic comedy, playing a headstrong interior decorator whose plans to observe an old Irish tradition of proposing to her boyfriend on Feb. 29 runs into some problems with the weather, and other things. Adam Scott plays the boyfriend and Matthew Goode shows up as a helpful Irishman perhaps too helpful. John Lithgow co-stars and Anand Tucker directs.
"Youth in Revolt" R, 1:40, Maui Mall Megaplex.
After making himself a contemporary teen archetype with his aching sincerity and gawky coolness, Michael Cera pushes the envelope in this dark comedy. He plays the son of almost divorced parents who first rebels against his own generation by listening to Sinatra and watching Fellini movies. When he encounters the girl of his dreams (Portia Doubleday), he concocts an even more rebellious alter-ego and grows a ridiculous mustache in his master plan to win her heart. Miguel Arteta directs; Jean Smart, Zach Galifianakis, Steve Buscemi, Fred Willard, Ari Graynor, Ray Liotta and Justin Long co-star.
"Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squeakquel" PG, 1:44, Kaahumanu 6 and Front Street Theaters.
Picking up where their first animated 2007 comedy hit left off, this one sends its rodent stars to high school. They get into cute naughty trouble involving passing gas and shots to the crotch before having their little hearts stolen by their girl-group rivals in the school talent show, The Chipettes. Veteran Betty Thomas directs in a squeaky clean direction.
"Avatar" PG-13, 2:57, Maui Mall Megaplex (3-D, $3 surcharge per ticket); Kukui Mall 4 and Lahaina Wharf Cinemas.
After proclaiming himself "king of the world" for all the Oscars and all the bucks for "Titanic," producer-director and cinematic dictator James Cameron still holds the crown for this dazzling and provocative $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. Under the dazzling action is an allegory about the things technological societies do to indigenous cultures in the name of greed and progress. Sam Worthington and Zoe Saldana lead the mixed-species cast, along with Sigourney Weaver (no stranger to outer space), Stephen Lang and Giovanni Ribisi. Upping state of the art to the next level with its amazing creatures and equally amazing 3-D effects, Cameron never lets his technology trump his storytelling, which is touching, instructive and inspiring, all at once. Recommended.
"The Blind Side" PG-13, 2:24, Maui Mall Megaplex.
Moving from plucky to no-nonsense, 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.
"Did You Hear About the Morgans?" PG-13, 1:59, Kaahumanu 6; ends tonight at Front Street Theaters.
Hugh Grant and Sarah Jessica Parker play the dysfunctional couple on the brink of divorce in this disappointing 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 is supposed to produce laughs, but instead showcases the ineptitude of writer-director Marc Lawrence. Sam Elliott, Mary Steenburgen, Elisabeth Moss, Michael Kelly and Wilfred Brimley co-star.
"Disney's A Christmas Carol" PG, 1:51, ends tonight at 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 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.
"Invictus" PG-13, 2:12, Maui Mall Megaplex.
Clint Eastwood, who will be filming scenes for his newest movie in Lahaina next week, is back in the Oscar hunt, directing this inspirational true story from Nelson Mandela's South Africa. Morgan Freeman is 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 and the prodigious talents of director Eastwood, still going strong at 79, yield a project full of hope and noble purpose, that manages to encapsulate all of its complex social and political issues in the action on the field and in the stands. Nominated for three Golden Globes, it's recommended.
"It's Complicated" R, 2:15, Maui Mall Megaplex, Kukui Mall 4 and Lahaina Wharf Cinemas.
The always perfect-for-the-role Meryl Streep stars in this light romantic comedy, playing the object of affection for ex-husband Alec Baldwin and new suitor Steve Martin. Writer-director Nancy Meyers, a specialist in comedies for grown-ups, tries to make life after divorce look like a whole lot of fun, with her A-list stars getting in the spirit of not taking themselves too seriously. Lake Bell, John Krasinski, Mary Kay Place and Rita Wilson co-star, but the results disappoint, squandering the talents of her stars and never living up to the title.
"Nine" PG-13, 1:50, Kaahumanu 6.
Coming full circle, this is Rob Marshall's sexy screen adaptation of the musical based on Federico Fellini's "8 1/2," which was a movie about movies. It looks like it took an Oscar or two just to get to the casting call with Daniel Day-Lewis, Marion Cotillard, Penelope Cruz, Judi Dench, Kate Hudson, Nicole Kidman and Sophia Loren getting in the act. Marshall seems to be on a one-man quest to bring back movie musicals, beginning with "Chicago," and his A-list cast members all know their way around a song. Critics and audiences have been put off by the film's lack of "story," but there's no absence of beauty, from the gorgeous stars, sensual Italian scenery and knock-your-socks- off musical numbers, one after another. (See review on Page 2.)
"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 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.
"The Princess and the Frog" G, 1:52, Maui Mall Megaplex; ends tonight at Front Street Theaters.
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 arrival 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.
"The Road" R, 1:59, ends tonight at Maui Mall Megaplex.
Viggo Mortensen takes on the weight of Cormac McCarthy's post-apocalyptic Pulitzer Prize-winning novel, playing a father traveling with his young son, trying to survive in what's left of the world we used to know. The sun doesn't shine, plants don't grow, scavaging is their way of life ... along with trying to avoid cannibals. Kodi Smit-McPhee plays the boy in a cast also featuring Robert Duvall, Charlize Theron and Guy Pearce. John Hillcoat directs.
"Sherlock Holmes" PG-13, 2:23, Kaahumanu 6, Kukui Mall 4 and Front Street Theaters.
After rewriting the book on superhero action in "Iron Man," Robert Downey Jr. reinvents another icon in this comedy-action update of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's evergreen Victorian detective. With Jude Law as Dr. Watson and Guy Ritchie directing, Downey adds funny stuff to the brainy deductions, poking fun at Victorian propriety along the way. Rachel McAdams rounds out the merry band as the brilliant detective's elementary distraction. There's cleverness galore, especially in the testy relationship between eccentric Holmes and Watson, although it often gets lost under the bombastic action and unrelenting special effects.
"The Twilight Saga: New Moon" PG-13, 2:25, ends tonight at Maui Mall Megaplex.
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.
"Up in the Air" R, 2:04, Maui Mall Megaplex, Kukui Mall 4 and Lahaina Wharf Cinemas.
Leading the Golden Globe field, this bittersweet blend of love, loneliness and hard times features George Clooney along with co-stars Vera Farmiga and Anna Kendrick in pitch-perfect performances. He plays a corporate terminator, logging hundreds of thousands of air miles a year to lay off white-collar workers whose bosses don't have the backbone to do it themselves. Writer-director Jason Reitman makes his own contribution, finding just the right tone in the bathos, mixing happy with sad and cynicism with compassion. Breaking the usual molds for romantic comedy, Clooney is great at playing guys who want to do the right thing, if they only had a clue what that is. This brilliant film offers the occasional glimpse of a silver lining to all those clouds in his world. Recommended.