These are Maui Scene Editor Rick Chatenever's mini-reviews, excerpts of wire service reviews and previews provided by studios and other sources.
New this week
"Apollo 18" PG-13, 1:41, opens Friday at Maui Mall Megaplex, Kukui Mall 4 and Front Street Theaters.
Ciarán Hinds and Helen Mirren are among the stars of the taut espionage thriller 'The Debt.'
Focus Features photo via AP
Not to be confused with Tom Hanks and Ron Howard's Oscar-winning "Apollo 13," this is the sci-fi horror thriller supposedly based on long-buried NASA footage showing the real reason mankind never returned to take any more footsteps or leaps on the moon. Warren Christie and Lloyd Owen star; Gonzalo Lopez-Gallego directs.
"The Debt" R, 1:53, opened Wednesday at Kaahumanu 6.
A remake of the 2007 Israeli original, this taut, brainy thriller jumps back and forth from the present to the 1960s when a group of three Israeli Mossad agents venture to East Berlin to kidnap a former Nazi death doctor and bring him to trial. Under the direction of "Shakespeare in Love's" John Madden, the roles are double-cast to account for the changing times: Helen Mirren and this year's breakout star Jessica Chastain play Rachel and Tom Wilkinson and Sam Worthington play David in a cast also featuring Ciaran Hinds, Jesper Christensen and Martin Csokas.
"Cars 2" G, 2:07, (3-D and 2-D) returns Friday to Maui Mall Megaplex.
When cute, talking cars graduated from commercials to the big screen in 2006, they raked in big bucks for Pixar and Disney with their tales of life in the slow lane off Route 66. Owen Wilson once again returns to the driver's seat (well, actually he is the driver's seat and the rest of the vehicle) as Lightning McQueen, who competes in an international grand prix this time around. Larry the Cable Guy, Michael Caine, John Turturro and Emily Mortimer add their voices and John Lassiter directs, working in a spy spoof and a message about alternative fuel in this hybrid vehicle designed to sell both tickets and toys to its young audience.
"Sex and Zen 3D: Extreme Ecstasy" NR, 2:19, opens Friday at Kaahumanu 6.
With a title like that, chances are few moviegoers are interested in the Zen part. Updated from the '90s original - a softcore Hong Kong production that reportedly had a healthy sense of humor to go along with its erotic interests -this one adds 3-D and more of a kinky dark side to the adventures of a meek Ming Dynasty scholar who sets off on an odyssey to discover new ways of pleasing his young wife. Hiro Hayama, Leni Lan, Tony Ho, Saori Hara and Yukiko Suo co-star; Christopher Sun Lap Key directs.
"Shark Night" PG-13, 1:46, opens Friday at Kaahumanu 6 and Lahaina Wharf Cinemas.
Yes, you've had this nightmare before -only the bikinis and the particular body of water have changed. In this case it's the Louisiana Gulf where the young cast members see their plans for a girls-gone-wild weekend spoiled by the appearance of fresh-water sharks. Sara Paxton, Dustin Milligan, Chris Carmack and Katharine McPhee head the cast; David R. Ellis directs. (Fresh-water sharks - who knew? One more thing to fear from Mother Nature.)
"Captain America: The First Avenger" PG-13, 2:06, Kaahumanu 6.
This Marvel Comics adaptation finds Chris Evans starring as the World War II fighting hero. He brings an earnest dignity and intelligence to the role of Steve Rogers, a scrawny kid from Brooklyn with dreams of military glory. But scientist Abraham Erskine (Stanley Tucci) sees something special in him and enlists him for a daring experiment, administering high-tech injections to transform him into a supersoldier. Hugo Weaving plays the foe, former Nazi leader Johann Schmidt, aka Red Skull, who's formed his own splinter group and built some intimidating weapons. Tommy Lee Jones and Dominic Cooper co-star. Joe Johnston directs.
"Colombiana" PG-13, 2:04, Maui Mall Megaplex and Lahaina Wharf Cinemas.
Zoe Saldana stars in this action-thriller co-written and produced by Luc Besson, who pioneered a new film genre - damsels who cause distress -in such films "La Femme Nikita." "Avatar" star Saldana seems the perfect choice to play Cataleya, who launched her quest for revenge after seeing her parents killed when she was a 9-year-old schoolgirl in the slums of Bogota. Now that she's become a crack assassin, watch out! Amandia Stenberg, Cliff Curtis, Jorda Molla and Lennie James co-star; Olivier Megaton directs.
"Conan the Barbarian" R, 1:57, Maui Mall Megaplex, ends tonight at Kukui Mall 4 and Front Street Theaters.
Despite his 6-foot-5 physique, no one is going to mistake the arrival of Jason Momoa with the cultural game-changer represented by someone named Ah-nuld in the 1982 original. Under the direction of Marcus Nispel, this epic relies mostly on sword fights, using the script for little more than filling the space between them. Rachel Nichols, Stephen Lang and an over-the-top Rose McGowan co-star.
"Cowboys & Aliens" PG-13, 1:58, Maui Mall Megaplex.
2011 Maui Film Festival honoree Olivia Wilde stars alongside Daniel Craig and Harrison Ford in this sci-fi Western. A stranger (Craig), with no memory of his past and a very strange bracelet attached to his wrist, stumbles into a New Mexico Territory desert town in 1875. He finds that the residents aren't welcoming and the streets are controlled by iron-fisted Col. Dolarhyde (Ford) and his reprobate son (Paul Dano). Under Jon Favreau's direction, it has the making of a "High Noon" kind of saga until the studio marketing department takes over and introduces visitors from outer space. Why? Hard to tell. Wilde is a scene stealer with those big wide eyes in a cast co-starring Sam Rockwell, Clancy Brown and Keith Carradine, but in this mismatch of genres, the final score is Cowboys 1, Aliens zero.
"Crazy Stupid Love" PG-13, 1:57, Maui Mall Megaplex.
Straight-laced 40-something Carl Weaver (Steve Carell) is living the American dream: Nice job, house, kids and marriage. But when he discovers that his wife, Emily (Julianne Moore), cheated on him and is seeking a divorce, his "perfect" life unravels. He started dating Emily in high school, so Carl is more than a little rusty in the single world. Now, he's spending his nights sulking solo at a local bar until he is taken on as the wingman to handsome player Jacob Palmer (Ryan Gosling). Emma Stone, Marisa Tomei and Kevin Bacon co-star. Glenn Ficarra and John Requa direct, concocting impossible twists in the story, but compensating for them with the likability of all the principals in the cast. Between the plotting and the performances, it's a good-hearted winner in a summer that has favored comedies in a more raunchy vein. Recommended.
"Don't Be Afraid of the Dark" R, 1:58, Kaahumanu 6 and Lahaina Wharf Cinemas.
Size shouldn't matter when it comes to scary creatures. After all, plenty of people are terrified of rats and spiders. Yet savage and ugly as the tiny monsters are in this remake of a 1973 TV horror movie, they're not as frightening as the filmmakers would have you believe. These wee beasties are not all that interesting, either, and frankly, neither is the movie. Producer and co-writer Guillermo del Toro and director Troy Nixey manage a lot of creepy atmosphere in their story of a couple (Guy Pearce and Katie Holmes) and a young girl (Bailee Madison) menaced by nasty little things that swarm up from beneath the mansion they're restoring. With the girl at the heart of the tale and del Toro's name the big selling point, the filmmakers want you thinking of the movie as a cousin to his masterful "Pan's Labyrinth," but it comes up a distant second in the comparison.
"Fright Night" R, 2:01, Maui Mall Megaplex; ends tonight at Lahaina Wharf Cinemas.
The suburban sprawl of Las Vegas makes the possibility that new next-door neighbor Colin Farrell really is a vampire vaguely plausible in this remake of the 1985 horror comedy. Anton Yelchin is the nerdy teen harboring the suspicion; his even nerdier pal Christopher Mintz-Plasse is the only one who believes him. Toni Collette heads the strong supporting cast that also features David Tennant. Craig Gillespie directs, maintaining his sense of humor amidst the bloody gore.
"Glee:?The 3D Concert Movie" PG, 1:40, ends tonight at Maui Mall Megaplex.
For the Gleeks out there, this big-screen opportunity will be hard to miss. Get an up-close-and-personal experience during a concert with stars from the multigenerational TV phenomenon. Well, sort of. The film - in theaters for two weeks -is being displayed only in 3D, so fans can get a taste of the singing, dancing and sarcasm, just like attending and documenting a real performance. "Glee: The 3D Concert Movie" includes the castmates' live concerts, with a few fan testimonials. Dianna Agron, Chris Colfer, Darren Criss, Kevin McHale, Lea Michele, Cory Monteith, Heather Morris, Amber Riley, Naya Rivera, Mark Salling, Jenna Ushkowitz, Harry Shum Jr., Chord Overstreet and Ashley Fink star. Kevin Tancharoen directs.
"Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2" PG-13, 2:10 Maui Mall Megaplex.
Just as Harry Potter (Daniel Radcliffe), Hermione Granger (Emma Watson) and Ron Weasley (Rupert Grint) grow up, the audience is forced to grow up, too, and say a sobering yet satisfying goodbye to the well-loved stars in the much-anticipated, final adventure of the Harry Potter film series. In the epic finale, the battle between the good and evil forces of the wizarding world escalates into an all-out war. The stakes have never been higher and no one is safe. But it is Harry Potter who may be called upon to make the ultimate sacrifice as he draws closer to the climactic showdown with Lord Voldemort. Alan Rickman, Ralph Fiennes, Tom Felton, Michael Gambon, Helena Bonham Carter, Maggie Smith and many more familiar faces co-star, brilliantly as usual. For all the grand-scale destruction, under David Yates' direction, the film is a satisfying yet provocative blend of fine acting, taut screencraft and metaphysical musings that linger after the final frame. Recommended.
"The Help" PG-13, 2:17, Kaahumanu 6 and Kukui Mall 4.
Topping the box-office charts with its old-fashioned blend of unforgettable characters, heart-stirring emotions and a righteous cause, this is the rare case of a quality film hitting mainstream popularity, even while sparking lots of debate about its political correctness. Set in Jackson, Miss., the 1960s, it follows three very different, extraordinary women as they build an unlikely friendship around a secret writing project that breaks societal rules and puts them all at risk. From the improbable alliance of Skeeter, Aibileen and Minny, a remarkable sisterhood emerges, igniting the courage to transcend the lines that define the women - and the realization that sometimes those lines are made to be crossed. Its dream cast includes Emma Stone, Viola Davis, Octavia Spencer, Bryce Dallas Howard, Jessica Chastain, Sissy Spacek, Mary Steenburgen, Cicely Tyson and many more, ably directed by Tate Taylor. Recommended.
"One Day" PG-13, 1:44, Maui Mall Megaplex.
This romantic drama might have been retitled "When Em Met Dex," or "When Anne Hathaway Met Jim Sturgess," since they're the ones playing the parts. The day, or night, in question was a post-college graduation party in 1988, and the story keeps time traveling back to it through all the actual career and relationship changes occurring in its protagonists' lives en route to the inevitable night when they'll be together again. Lone Scherfig directs.
"One Voice" NR, 1:24, ends tonight at Kaahumanu 6.
Lisette Marie Flanary directs this heartwarming documentary look at the Kamehameha Schools Song Contest through the eyes of the student song directors. Like a Hawaiian answer to "Glee," this Maui Film Festival hit gives a stirring look at contemporary Hawaiian culture through the eyes of its next generation.
"Our Idiot Brother" R, 1:45, Maui Mall Megaplex, Kukui Mall 4 and Front Street Theaters.
Paul Rudd hops from one sofa to another to another as the title character, and that's sort of what the film does, too. Rudd stars as an amiable, ambling dude named Ned who has no real goals in life; what he does have is a guilelessness that consistently gets him into trouble, both with his family and with the law. He has a knack for being way too honest, and a little dim, despite his big trusting, open heart. Director Jesse Peretz, working from a script written by his sister, Evgenia Peretz, and her husband, David Schisgall, follows him as he bumbles his way from one situation to the next with no great momentum or sense of character evolution. Ned grows increasingly irritating to his hippie farmer ex-girlfriend (Kathryn Hahn), the three sisters he mooches off of (Emily Mortimer, Elizabeth Banks and Zooey Deschanel) and to us. Trying to blend contemporary hipness with an old-fashioned parable, the film never quite finds its pacing although it does come to life whenever Steve Coogan shows up, playing Mortimer's world-saving, politically correct but oh-so-creepy husband with unctious relish.
"Rise of the Planet of the Apes" PG-13, 1:05, Maui Mall Megaplex, Kukui Mall 4 and Front Street Theaters.
Silly humans. We're so arrogant. We see a cute, cuddly baby chimp, assign all kinds of familiar characteristics to it and raise it with the loving playfulness we'd give our own children, only to find that the creature's unpredictable and ferocious animal nature wins out in the end. If the documentary ''Project Nim'' didn't serve as enough of a warning for us earlier this summer, now we have this blockbuster, which is sort of a prequel and sort of a sequel and sort of a reboot. Mainly, it's a spectacle. Sure, it might be trying to teach us a lesson about hubris. But mostly it's about angry, 'roided-up chimps taking over and wreaking havoc. This seventh film in the ''Planet of the Apes'' series rises to such ridiculous heights, it's impossible not to laugh out loud - in a good way, in appreciation. There's big, event-movie fun to be had here, amped up by some impressive special effects and typically immersive performance-capture work by Andy Serkis (Gollum from the ''Lord of the Rings'' films). James Franco stars as the scientist whose drug tests to find a cure for Alzheimer's lead to the birth of the super-smart Caesar. Freida Pinto and John Lithgow co-star; Rupert Wyatt directs.
"The Smurfs" PG, 1:42, Kaahumanu 6 (3-D and 2-D).
Blue is the new black. Pint-sized blue toons are making their 3-D debut when "The Smurfs" hits the big screen. The 1980s NBC cartoon series, affectionately known for its flat animation, simple illustration and good-versus- evil tales, is given 21st century life, thanks to Columbia Pictures / Sony Pictures Animation. When the evil wizard Gargamel chases the Smurfs out of their village through a portal, they're forced out of their world and into ours - landing in the middle of New York's Central Park. Stuck in the Big Apple, and measuring about three apples high, the Smurfs must get back to their village before Gargamel finds them. Neil Patrick Harris, George Lopez and Katy Perry provide vocals. Raja Gosnell directs, adding the phrase "who smurfed?" to our vocabulary.
"Spy Kids: All the Time in the World" PG, 1:44, Maui Mall Megaplex (3-D and 2-D) and Front Street Theaters.
Being a stepmom is the toughest challenge yet for former spy Marissa Cortez Wilson (Jessica Alba). To make matters worse, she's married to a famous spy-hunting TV reporter. When Marissa is called back into action, she sees it as an opportunity to bond with her new step-children, Rebecca (Rowan Blanchard) and Cecil (Mason Cook). They set out to stop the evil Timekeeper (Jeremy Piven) from taking over the world. With a little help from a couple of very familiar Spy Kids, Carmen (Alexa Vega) and Juni Cortez (Daryl Sabara), they just may be able to save the world and possibly bring their family together while they're at it. Robert Rodriguez once again directs.
* Times in the movie ads are subject to change on the weekend. For up-to-date movie time changes, visit www.mauigateway.com/~rw/movie/