These are Maui Scene Editor Rick Chatenever's mini-reviews, excerpts of wire service reviews and previews provided by studios and other sources.
Ashton Kutcher and Natalie Portman have a relationship with “No Strings Attached”
Paramount photo via AP
"Evangelion: 2.0" NR, 1:52, Maui Mall Megaplex.
Anime fans will cheer this latest incarnation of the Japanese adventure series. Colleen Clinkenbeard, Caitlin Glass and Briana Palencia provide the voices of the series stalwarts, thrown into battle with one baddie after another. Masayuki and Kazuya Tsurmaki share the directing duties with Hideaki Anno providing the screenplay.
"No Strings Attached" R, 2:03, Maui Mall Megaplex and Front Street Theaters.
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Fresh from her Golden Globe victory, Natalie Portman lightens up considerably for this romantic comedy in the age of "friends with benefits." She plays a young doctor who gets back in touch with Ashton Kutcher, a friend from childhood and college days who's now an aspiring TV writer. The title refers to their sexual agreement; the novelty is that it's her idea and he's the one who goes all mushy on her. Veteran Ivan Reitman directs a cast featuring Kevin Kline, Lake Bell, Greta Garwig, Mindy Kaling and Guy Branum.
"The Way Back" PG-13, 2:13, Maui Mall Megaplex.
Visionary director Peter Weir adapts this saga of a group of prisoners who escaped a 1940 forced labor camp in Stalin's Russia and walked thousands of miles across the Himalayas to their freedom. Ed Harris as an enigmatic American, Jim Sturgess as an idealistic Polish officer, Colin Farrell as a Russian thug and Saoirise Ronan as a young Polish woman who joins up with them co-star with the epic visuals as the ragtag survivors slog through all terrains and weather conditions, shedding pounds, ideals and members of the group in pursuit of their elusive goal.
"Black Swan" R, 1:48. Kaahumanu 6.
Golden Globe winner Natalie Portman plays a technically brilliant but still childlike ballerina forced to go to the dark side after she is cast in the lead role of "Swan Lake." Playing the White Swan is no problem; it's playing her sinister nemesis that pushes her in way over her head in this disturbing look at what goes into creating all that ethereal beauty onstage. Fellow Globe nominee Mila Kunis plays her more worldly rival for the role, with Barbara Hershey cast as the stage mother from hell. Director Darren Aronoksky got his own nomination, as did the movie itself for best drama, despite the creep-out effect it has on audience members, who can never be completely certain what's going on - and what's only happening in poor Natalie's head.
"The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader" PG, 2:08, Maui Mall Megaplex (in 3-D.
The youngest of the Pevense siblings, Lucy (Georgie Henley) and Edmund (Skandar Keynes), return to the magical, allegorical land of Narnia accompanied by their annoying cousin Eustace (Will Poulter) in this third adaptation of books in the beloved series by C.S. Lewis. The title stems from the sailing ship that carries them back, where they grapple with dangers and temptations in this realm presided over the noble lion Aslan (voiced by Liam Neeson). Anna Popplewell, William Moseley, Ben Barnes and Tilda Swinton co-star. Michael Apted directs.
"Country Strong" PG-13, 1:51, ends tonight at Maui Mall Megaplex.
Gwyneth Paltrow can sing country songs with the best of them, which adds impact to the role of a troubled superstar trying to revive her career after a disasrous accident and a too-short stint in rehab. She's joined on her comeback tour by up-and-coming singers Garrett Hedlund and scene-stealing Leighton Meester and her husband-manager Tim McGraw. Hoping to be a cross between "Nashville" and "A Star is Born," the film does have its moments -mostly when someone's singing -but writer-director Shana Feste can't decide which road to head down with the story. As a result, despite some endearing performances, it feels more like melodrama or soap opera than anything stronger.
"The Dilemma" PG-13, 1:50, Kaahumanu 6 and Front Street Theaters.
Vince Vaughn's dilemma in this Ron Howard-directed comedy is how to tell his best pal and business partner, Kevin James, that his wife (Winona Ryder) hasn't been, as they say, true. Turns out, there's plenty of infidelity to go around in this sitcom-y tale that also features subplots about developing electric cars and painful rashes. Jennifer Connelly and Queen Latifah co-star.
"The Fighter" R, 1:55, Maui Mall Megaplex.
Inspired by a true story of two boxing brothers from blue-collar Boston, this hard-hitting drama won well-deserved Golden Globes for Christian Bale and Melissa Leo in the supporting ranks as well as nominations for star Mark Wahlberg, supporting actress Amy Adams, director David O. Russell and for itself as best drama. It's Wahlberg's character's last shot at being a contender, if he can overcome the "help" of his older brother-manager (Bale), a great boxer himself once upon a time. For all the blood, sweat and tears attending the boxing-movie genre, what sets this one apart are its great performances of wonderfully drawn characters with all their often volatile, sometimes funny and ultimately lovable flaws. Recommended.
"The Green Hornet" PG-13, 1:58, Kaahumanu 6, Kukui Mall 4 and Lahaina Wharf Cinemas.
In a leap of casting faith, Seth Rogen steps into the title role of this screen adaptation of a 1930s radio show. He plays a playboy whose sudden inheritance of the family fortune turns his life around, transforming him into an action figure with a conscience, determined to make the world a better place. He does this in a series of very cool vehicles, the work of his mechanic and sidekick (Jay Chou). There are hints of humor in their peculiar partnership, with Cameron Diaz, Tom Wilkinson and Christoph Waltz co-starring under the direction of Michel Gondry.
"Gulliver's Travels" PG, 128, Maui Mall Megaplex (3-D) and Front Street Theaters.
Jack Black moves Jonathan Swift's 300-year-old masterpiece to present times and lets the special effects take over from there in this family-friendly comedy. He plays a wannabe travel writer who vists the Bermuda Triangle, where he winds up in a land where everyone else is 6-inches tall. While the comedy does bring new meaning to "the little people," the gags mostly involve Black trying avoid trampling things, literally and otherwise. Emily Blunt, Jason Segal, Amanda Peet, Chris O'Dowd, Billy Connolly and Catherine Tate co-star; Rob Letterman directs.
"How Do You Know?" PG-13, 2:16, Maui Mall Megaplex; ends tonight at Front Street Theaters.
"As Good As It Gets" writer-director James L. Brooks tries to tap into romantic-comedy gold with this mismatched pairing of Reese Witherspoon and Paul Rudd. She plays a professional softball player cut from the team, trying to decide what comes next - and whether to chase after it with Rudd's harried corporate executive or a ditzy ball player played by Owen Wilson. Jack Nicholson co-stars as Rudd's short-tempered father.
"The King's Speech" R, 1:58. Kaahumanu 6; opens Friday at Kukui Mall 4.
Cheers for Colin Firth's Golden Globe in this wonderful historical drama that led the Globe field! It tells of England's future King George VI (Colin Firth), whose path to the throne is detoured by personal demons and debilitating speech impediment, and the treatment he receives from an unconventional speech therapist (Geoffrey Rush). Superb performances laced with great humor make the film both inspiring and fun, even with the menace of Herr Hitlet preparing for war on England's doorstep reminding us of the grave matters at hand. Nominations for Rush, Helena Bonham Carter, director Tom Hooper and the film itself were all richly deserved. It's the rare case of a feel-good movie that makes you feel smarter, too. Recommended.
"Little Fockers" PG-13, 1:30, Maui Mall Megaplex and Lahaina Wharf Cinemas; ends tonight at Kukui Mall 4.
Everyone's back for another Focker family reunion in the third installment of this comedy franchise starring Ben Stiller and Robert De Niro, with Dustin Hoffman, Barbra Streisand, Owen Wilson, Blythe Danner, Teri Polo and Jessica Alba providing support. The family has grown to include a pair of twins, but their cute presence has done little to assuage DeNiro's gruff ex-CIA agent's conviction that Stiller's male nurse is still unworthy of his daughter. Like a real family reunion that goes on way too long, the Paul Weitz-directed antics take the low road trying to find the humor in vomit, enemas, erectile dysfunction and the like. Despite beating the Golden Globe contenders to the top of the box-office charts, it raises real questions about the appropriateness of its PG-13 rating, not to mention its questionable sense of humor.
"Season of the Witch" PG-13, 1:50, Maui Mall Megaplex and Lahaina Wharf Cinemas.
Nicolas Cage plays a disillusioned knight in not-so-shining armor in this 14th-century action adventure. His mission is to transport a suspected witch to a remote abbey where the resident monks suspect her of causing the Black Plague that has been devastating the land and its people. Ron Perlman, Stephen Campbell Moore, Stephen Graham, Ulrich Thomsen, Claire Foy and Christopher Lee co-star; Dominic Sena directs.
"Tangled" PG, 1:55, Maui Mall Megaplex.
"Repunzel" gets the Disney treatment in this family-friendly animated musical comedy. Mandy Moore gives voice to the heroine, stolen away as a baby and locked in a tower by evil Mother Gothel (Donna Murphy) until her hair grows long enough for a rogue in the vicinity (Zachary Levi) to come up and see her sometime. Once on solid ground, they set off on a series of adventures that give new meaning to the term "big hair." Byron Howard and Nathan Greno direct, with Disney stalwart Alen Menken providing the tunes.
"The Tourist" PG-13, 1:45, Kukui Mall 4.
In Venice, Midwestern math teacher Johnny Depp is trying to mend his broken heart, but runs into the unbelievably gorgeous Angelina Jolie instead. That would be workout enough for his tattered emotions, even if she didn't have some serious secrets that soon have guys with guns chasing them through the canals. In the supporting ranks behind the A-List romantic chemistry are Paul Bettany, Timothy Dalton, Steven Berkoff and Rufus Sewell. Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck directs. Despite what critics may have said, the film won Golden Globe nods for its stars and itself in the comedy field. The story is light and fluffy, true, but Johnny and Angelina know a thing or two about chemistry - and there are lots of worse ways to spend two hours at the movies than just getting lost in their close-ups, or Venice in the background.
"Tron: Legacy" PG, 2:21, Kaahumanu 6.
Oscar or not, Jeff Bridges is upstaged by the special-effects in this sequel to the original foray that takes him back onto the Grid. The original 1982 story explored the then-new interface between humans and the cyber-worlds they were creating on computers. This one deals with the consequences as young Garrett Hedlund goes seeking his missing computer-engineer father (Bridges) in the virtual world he created. The Zen-quoting Bridges co-stars with a computer-generated younger version of himself as his villainous adversary, but it's the amazing vehicles, lighting and other nonstop effects that star. Olivia Wilde co-stars; Joseph Kosinski directs.
"True Grit" PG-13, 1:50, Maui Mall Megaplex, Kukui Mall 4 and Front Street Theaters. Neither brothers Ethan and Joel Coen nor the actor they transformed into The Dude (Jeff Bridges) are intimidated at the prospect of walking into the Old West territory that won John Wayne his only Oscar as cantankerous one-eyed sheriff Rooster Cogburn. Instead, they make the place their own, stamped with their trademark irony, the gorgeous cinematography of Roger Deakins and the distinctive speech cadences of the times. Newcomer Hailee Steinfeld plays the flinty 14-year-old who enlists Mr. Cogburn to trackdown the sidewinder (Josh Brolin) who killed her father, with Matt Damon along for the ride as a Texas Ranger rival trying to beat them to the ransom. Finally topping the week's box office charts, it's gritty, funny, punctuated with brief, unexpected violence, a new twist on the Old West, featuring fine work from all involved -especially young newcomer Steinfeld, who has no problem carrying the story or holding her side of the screen, even with all those big guns around. Recommended.
"Yogi Bear 3-D" PG, 1:55, Maui Mall Megaplex (in 3-D and 2-D).
Dan Aykroyd provides the smarter-than-average voice of the title character and Justin Timberlake gives voice to trusty sidekick Boo Boo in this computer-generated update on the old TV series. Their mission is to save Jellystone Park from the mayor's plan to close it. There's even a computer-generated documentary film crew on hand to cover the proceedings. Anna Faris and Tom Cavanaugh co-star; Eric Breviq directs.