These are Maui Scene Editor Rick Chatenever's mini-reviews, excerpts of wire service reviews and previews provided by studios and other sources.
The time counter is the only thing moving for long stretches of “Paranormal Activity 2,” this week’s winner at the box office.
Paramount Studios photo vis AP
"Buried" R, 1:35, Maui Mall Megaplex.
An American contractor (Ryan Reynolds) driving trucks in Iraq wakes up in the dark to open this thriller. It turns out, he's been buried in a coffin in the middle of the desert. Luckily for him, there's a cell phone and a cigarette lighter in the coffin. Unluckily for him, he's only got 90 minutes' worth of air. Rodrigo Corts directs, reportedly finding ingenious visual ways to deal with his claustrophobic setting. Jos Luis Garcia, Robert Paterson, Stephen Tobolowsky and Samantha Mathis co-star, with their voices, at least.
"Mao's Last Dancer" PG, 1:57, Kaahumanu 6.
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.
Based on a true story, this biography blends "The Company" with "White Knights," telling of the son of a Chinese peasant picked by authorities to attend the Beijing Dance Academy. His dedication to his art is set against U.S.-Sino relations leading him to well, you'll have to see the movie to find out. Directed by Oscar nominee Bruce Beresford, this elegant award-winning meeting of dance and politics stars Chi Cao with "Center Stage's" Amanda Schull, Bruce Greenwood and Kyle MacLachlin co-starring.
"Saw 3D" R, 1:30, Maui Mall Megaplex (in 3-D with a ticket surcharge).
Tobin Bell returns as Jigsaw/ John, in spirit at least, still casting his spell over his survivors, who turn to a self-help guru and fellow survivor (Sean Patrick Flanery) to help them make it through the nights. With its grotesque effects seemingly made for 3D, the movie's trailer featured giant spinning blades flying right out of the screen and into the audience. Hopefully that won't actually happen. Costas Mandylor, Betsy Russell, Dean Armstrong, Chad Donella, Gina Holden, Chester Bennington and Rebecca Marshall co-star; Kevin Greutert directs.
"Alpha and Omega" PG, 1:28, ends tonight at Maui Mall Megaplex (in 3-D with a ticket surcharge).
Young wolves Humphrey (Justin Long) and Kate (Hayden Panettiere) might be a good match, if she weren't an alpha being groomed to lead the pack, and he weren't an amiable but unambitious omega. Things get complicated when they're rounded up and relocated to an Idaho national forest by park rangers who don't realize wolves from such different destinies aren't supposed to breed. The audience, of course, knows better in this animated family comedy featuring the voices of the late Dennis Hopper, Danny Glover and Christina Ricci. Anthony Bell and Ben Gluck direct.
"Case 39" R, 1:49, Kaahumanu 6.
Renee Zellweger stars in this suspense thriller as a committed social worker who gets more than she bargained for when she temporarily takes in an abused 10-year-old (Jodelle Ferland). Turns out the child has some baggage of the creep-out, possessed variety, making for lots of scary moments. Renee should have had a clue when she saw the girl's name - Lillith. Bradley Cooper, Ian McShane, Kerry O'Malley, Callum Keith Rennie and Crystal Lowe co-star; Christian Alvart directs.
"Catfish" PG-13, 1:26, Kaahumanu 6.
This documentary set in the age of Facebook follows the online relationship that develops among documentary filmmakers Nev Schulman, Ariel Schulman and Henry Joost and a family in faraway Ilshpeming, Mich. It's reportedly a cautionary tale as the filmmakers are drawn into the lives of the Michigan family enough to want to pay them a visit. What happens then is one of those big surprises that advance viewers of the movie aren't revealing other than to say the ramifications say a lot about psychology, sociology and illusions in our cyber times.
"Easy A" PG-13, 1:47, ends tonight at Maui Mall Megaplex.
"Zombieland's" terrific Emma Stone finds a star-vehicle worthy of her talents and charm in this high school comedy about a girl who accidentally starts a trashy rumor about herself, and reaps all sorts of unexpected benefits. With references to the classic "The Scarlet Letter," it's more a cross between "Juno," "Clueless" and "Glee." Amanda Bynes, Dan Byrd, Thomas Haden Church, Patricia Clarkson, Lisa Kudrow, Malcolm McDowell, Aly Michalka and Stanley Tucci co-star; Will Gluck directs and Bert V. Royal provides the clever script around Stone's smart, lovable star turn.
"Hereafter" PG-13, 2:24, Maui Mall Megaplex, Kukui Mall 4 and Lahaina Wharf Cinemas.
Following a harrowing tsunami sequence filmed (with help from the special effects department) on Lahaina's Front Street last January, this Clint Eastwood-directed drama takes a more meditative tone. It intertwines the lives of a French TV journalist (Cecile de France), a San Francisco man trying to hide from his psychic powers (Matt Damon) and a young London schoolboy (Frankie McLaren), deeply scarred by a brush with death. Peter Morgan's screenplay is less concerned with supernatural answers than with death's effect on the living, and Eastwood's elegant direction adds just the right tone. The performances are brilliant, with the cinematography and music (composed by Eastwood) adding nuance and subtlety. While the subject matter is painful and frightening and the film's pacing deliberate, it pays off with a grace note at the end both hopeful and liberating. Recommended.
"Jackass 3D" R, 1:49, Maui Mall Megaplex and Lahaina Wharf Cinemas (in 3-D with a ticket surcharge).
Johnny Knoxville and company once again push the limits of taste, safety and sanity in a decidedly obnoxious direction in this latest round of arrested-development stunts. Like an OSHA training film played for laughs, it's a politically incorrect primer of things not to do with power tools, large animals and high-voltage wires. Blood and vomit are the gauge of success in this realm, now enhanced by 3-D. Morons Bam Margera, Steve-O, Chris Pontius, Jason Acuna, Ryan Dunn, Preston Lacy, Dave England, Ehren McGhehey and John Taylor, all listed in the credits as "Himself," get into the spirit of seeing who can make the other cry, soil their underwear and/or throw up first. Jeff Tremaine directs. Don't try this at home is fair warning, not just for the stunts, but for the behavior in general.
"Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga'hoole" (3-D) PG, 1:55, Kaahumanu 6.
With the cutest faces to hit the big screen since the recent penguin invasion, this animated adventure plays out the age-old battle between good and evil among owls! Jim Sturgess is owl Soren, at odds with a jealous brother. Boasting gorgeous flying sequences and dreamlike landscapes, the owls have an impressive roster of actors providing their voices including Abbie Cornish, Sam Neill, Hugo Weaving, Joel Edgerton, David Wenham and Oscar winners Geoffrey Rush and Helen Mirren. Zack Snyder directs.
"Life as We Know It" PG-13, 1:52, Kaahumanu 6 and Front Street Theaters.
Katherine Heigl adds another chapter to her franchise built on finding the most roundabout roads to romance with this comedy that teams her with Josh Duhamel. They're not a couple, they don't even like each other very much, which complicates their lives when they wind up as the designated caregivers for the daughter of their respective best friends after a tragic car accident. Josh Lucas and Alexis Clagett co-star under the direction of Greg Berlandi, who goes heavy on diaper-changing and poop-in-the-bathtub humor. Hmmm, wonder how the story's going to turn out
"My Soul to Take" R, 2:02, ends tonight at Kaahumanu 6.
Max Thieriot stars in this new serial killer thriller, but it's Wes Craven's name in the credits as writer and director that lets you know this is going to be quality horror. The story is set 16 years after the death of a mass murderer who swore he'd be back to kill the seven children born the night he died. John Magaro, Denzel Whitaker, Zena Grey, Nick Lashaway, Paulina Olszynski, Jeremy Chu, Emily Meade, Raul Esparza, Jessica Hecht, Frank Grille, Danai Gurita, Haris Yulin, Shareeka Epps and Elena Hurst co-star.
"Paranormal Activity 2" R, 1:46, Maui Mall Megaplex and Front Street Theaters
After the original film made $100 million on miniscule budget, could a sequel be far behind? A prequel, actually. Katie Featherston returns as a member of the family at the center of the strange happenings in this creepy mystery set in the months before the first film. This time, the problem seems to be break-ins, prompting them to install a series of security cameras around the house. As in the first one, those things that go bump in the night turn out to be a lot more worrisome than you might expect. Tod Williams directs, with writers Oren Pell contributing the characters and Michael R. Perry providing the screenplay. With a minimum of special effects and the trappings of suburban life to work with, the movie ingeniously taps into modern fears in an unexpectedly entertaining way. Recommended. (See review on Page 2.)
"Red" PG-13, 2:06, Maui Mall Megaplex, Kukui Mall 4 and Front Street Theaters.
Actors more used to snagging prestigious film awards like Helen Mirren, Morgan Freeman, John Malkovich and Richard Dreyfuss join Bruce Willis in "Die Hard" territory for this action-comedy that casts them as former CIA agents now on the agency's hit list. With Mirren and Freeman adding class and Malkovich pushing things in a wiggy direction, Willis dispenses his trademark cool-under-fire wisecracks as the bullets fly. Mary-Louise Parker, Karl Urban and 93-year-old Ernest Borgnine co-star, under the direction of Robert Schwentke.
"Secretariat" PG, 2:18, Maui Mall Megaplex, Kukui Mall 4 and Lahaina Wharf Cinemas.
Historical facts are the spoilers in the unlikely but true story of the horse that gained the nation's attention as a Triple Crown contender in 1973. This Disney production pulls out all the stops when it comes to excitement and sentimentality. Five horses take turns playing the title character, but Diane Lane and John Malkovich add the human dimensions that give the film character. She plays a Denver housewife who becomes a Virginia stable owner after her father is taken ill. Malkovich plays the flashy dressing and eccentric but effective trainer she hires to make a contender out of the horse they call "Big Red" in order to save the stable. James Cromwell, Margo Martindale, Nelson Ellis and Otto Thorwarth co-star; Randall Wallace directs.
"The Social Network" PG-13, 2:15, Maui Mall Megaplex, Kukui Mall 4 and Front Street Theaters.
Competing with the latest headlines, this tense tale tells us how Facebook -that essential fact of modern life that millions of people are addicted to but no one understands or quite trusts - was born. Jesse Eisenberg shines in the troubling role of 19-year-old Mark Zuckerberg, a not very big man on the Harvard campus who came up with the social-networking concept more or less by accident. "The West Wing's" Aaron Sorkin contributes the brilliant script, not only about Facebook's birth, but about all the litigation that followed. Andrew Garfield, Armie Hammer, Josh Pence, Rooney Mara and Justin Timberlake co-star under the skilled direction of David Fincher, who makes computer hacking and filing legal depositions the stuff of high drama, troubling ramifications and box-office rewards. Recommended.
"The Town" R, 2:20, Maui Mall Megaplex.
Ben Affleck gets high marks as director and co-writer while registering the best performance in his acting career in this gritty heist thriller set in the streets of Boston's blue-collar Charleston neighborhood. He plays the leader of an ingenious gang of bank robbers, whose ranks include the hot-headed Jeremy Renner. The best-laid plans of the gang get put to the test after Ben starts a relationship with a bank manager (Rebecca Hall) taken hostage on the last job, just to find out what she knows. Jon Hamm and Chris Cooper make strong contributions in the supporting ranks. Combining a flair for working with actors with an assured sense of his setting, Affleck is the star on both sides of the camera, producing a tasty blend of action, drama and suspense. Recommended.
"Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps" PG-13, 2:28, ends tonight at Maui Mall Megaplex.
Michael Douglas reprises his Oscar-winning role as amoral Wall Street player Gordon Gecko, whose cynical "Greed is good" mantra of the '80s resonates in new and more relevant ways in 2010. After doing a long stretch in prison for his misdeeds, Gecko returns to his old line of work, mentoring Shia LaBeouf while keeping the audience guessing what he's up to. Frank Langella, Susan Sarandon, Josh Brolin and Carey Mulligan co-star. Bravely showing his age, Douglas finds new ways of being shifty as LaBeouf's guide and disillusioner. While the performances are fine, the writers don't waste much time explaining all that financial stuff to the audience, and director Stone orchestrates things in an over-the-top direction, trampling more subtle nuances in the process.
"You Again" PG, 2:00, Kaahumanu 6.
High school rivalries never die in this comedy that traces at least two generations' worth of them. Kristin Bell stars as the sister of soon-to-be-groom James Wolk, who realizes that his bride (Odette Yustman) was her arch tormentor in high school. When aunt Sigourney Weaver flies in for the wedding, it turns out she has the same issues with old classmate Jamie Lee Curtis. Throw in Betty White for good measure, and you've got the recipe for one uncomfortable wedding day. Andy Fickman directs.