These are Maui Scene Editor Rick Chatenever's mini-reviews, excerpts of wire service reviews and previews provided by studios and other sources.
"Alvin and the Chipmunks 3: Chip-Wrecked" G, 1:45, Kaahumanu 6 and Lahaina Wharf Cinemas.
From a place between Bollywood and animated rodents comes this third installment in the franchise. Rated G, it's set in a parallel universe where the Chipmunks and the Chipettes are musical megagroups, en route a cruise ship to a Grammy-like awards ceremony when they all wind up overboard, then stuck on the proverbial desert island. Laced with puns -in word and music -and clever pop references, director Mike Mitchell hopes to provide a few laughs for the parents as well as the kids. Jason Lee, Justin Long, David Cross and Jenny Slate star.
"The Descendants" R, 1:55, Maui Mall Megaplex and Kukui Mall 4.
Hawaii audiences will recognize everything in Alexander Payne's brilliant adaptation of Kaui Hart Hemmings' novel that has already won numerous prizes for star George Clooney along with young supporting actress Shailene Woodley, and is an expected front-runner in this year's Oscar race. Clooney plays a descendant of Yankee ancestors in Hawaii, now struggling with the responsibilities of fatherhood as his wife lies in a coma following a boating accident. "Sideways' " Payne finds just the right note of bathos in the tale, devastating and tragic in one moment, uproariously funny in the next. The film's brilliance and compassion come clothed in a surprisingly authentic sense of island life, beginning with the Oscar-deserving soundtrack featuring Gabby Pahinui and other masters of Hawaiian music. Recommended.
"Like Crazy" PG-13, 1:29, Kaahumanu 6.
Not only do Felicity Jones and Anton Yelchin steal each other's hearts in this bittersweet romance about a geographically challenged couple, they also made audiences fall in love with them at the Sundance Film Festival, which gave the film two awards. She plays a British student whose love for him runs into visa problems with the authorities. Drake Doremus directs, making good use of a wonderful musical score to evoke ups and downs that should be familiar to anyone who's ever been young and in love.
"Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows" PG-13, 2:09, Maui Mall Megaplex, Kukui Mall 4 and Lahaina Wharf Cinemas.
Remember when Sherlock Holmes was all about brilliant deductions clothed in Victorian propriety? Probably not, thanks to Robert Downey Jr. as Holmes, Jude Law as everpresent Dr. Watson and director Guy Ritchie, who turned the early prototype for "CSI London" into more of a comic romp. Well, they're all back in this reportedly equally amusing and fast-moving sequel that pits them against dastardly Dr. Moriarty (Jared Harris), intent on starting World War I decades before the real thing happened. Judging by the trailers and TV spots, including the one of Downey in drag, admitting, "It's not my best disguise," cleverness isn't restricted to brilliant deductions.
"Young Adult" R, 1:34, Maui Mall Megaplex.
Charlize Theron is generating Oscar buzz for her utterly self-absorbed portrayal in this dark, dark comedy that reunites the "Juno" team of director Jason Reitman and screenwriter Diablo Cody. Theron plays that prom-queen perfect person in everyone's high school who unfortunately peaked early. Now in her 30s, writing young-adult novels, she still has her looks, but has yet to find maturity as she returns to the old hometown to rekindle the spark with high-school jock boyfriend Patrick Wilson, ignoring the fact that he's now a happily married father.
"Arthur Christmas" PG, 1:55, Maui Mall Megaplex (3-D and 2-D); ends tonight at Kukui Mall 4.
James McAvoy heads the vocal cast in this animated fantasy that reimagines Santa Claus' Herculean task of delivering gifts to 600 kids worldwide -in a single night! -as more a matter of high-tech production and rocket science delivery methods. There are also some family dynamics with Santa himself (Jim Broadbent) little more than a figurehead, favored son Steve (Hugh Laurie) losing the true spirit of the holiday and only Arthur left to deliver that cherished bike to the last girl on the list. Sarah Smith directs; Bill Nighy, Imelda Staunton, Laura Linney, Eva Longoria, Michael Palin, Robbie Coltrane and Joan Cusack lend their voices.
"Happy Feet Two" PG, 1:58, Kaahumanu 6 and Front Street Theaters.
As though the dancing, singing penguins weren't adorable enough, now the voices of Brad Pitt and Matt Damon join the fun in this animated musical. They play krill, trying to figure out where they fit into the circle of life. Elijah Wood and Robin Williams return at the head of the vocal cast, with Wood's penguin having grown up to be a dad dealing with a misfit, runaway son embarrassed over his own lack of rhythm. Oscar-winning director and co-writer George Miller once again helms the project, balancing the singing and dancing with an environmental message. Absolutely wiggy and whimsical, the script is full of witty delights for parents in the audience, to go along with all the cute critters onscreen. Recommended.
"Hugo" PG, 2:07, Maui Mall Megaplex (3-D and 2-D).
Oscar-winning master filmmaker Martin Scorsese tones down his fondness for gangster violence and rock icons to make this lavish PG-rated fantasy for his young daughter - and the young at heart everywhere. In this first foray into 3-D, he embraces the medium to adapt Brian Selznick's children's book "The Invention of Hugo Cabret" to the screen. It is set in a train station in 1930s Paris, which assumes magical dimensions thanks to the title character, a wide-eyed orphan played by Asa Butterfield, who secretly lives in the walls and keeps all the clocks running on time. Chloe Grace Moretz plays the young girl who becomes his ally in unlocking the mystery of the mean old man who runs the train station toy shop (Ben Kingsley). For all its fantastical elements, it is, in fact, based on a true character, an almost lost figure in the history of cinema. Recommended.
"Immortals" R, 2:05, Maui Mall Megaplex (3-D and 2-D).
The gods won their mythic struggle against the Titans eons ago, but King Hyperion (Mickey Rourke) has still declared war against humanity in this mythical Greek epic from the production team behind "300." It falls to the mortal Theseus (Henry Cavill) to try to beat Hyperion to the legendary Epirus Bow, to unleash the Titans and put the cosmos in order again. Tarsem Singh directs, the grand-scale action co-starring Stephen Dorff, Freida Pinto, Luke Evans and John Hurt. Striking to look at, the film's blend of architectural angles and oiled bodies barely hides the gratuitous violence and mean spirit at its core.
"Jack and Jill" PG, 1:46, ends tonight at Maui Mall Megaplex and Lahaina Wharf Cinemas.
Adam Sandler plays both characters in the title of this family-friendly comedy. Jack is the normal, successful family guy Jill is his needy, passive-aggressive twin sister who makes her annual appearance for Thanksgiving dinner, then decides not to leave. Dennis Dugan, who directed Sandler and company when they filmed "Just Go With It" on Maui, once again directs a cast featuring Katie Holmes, Al Pacino and Regis Philbin as themselves with Sandler's buds David Spade, Nick Swardson, Norm MacDonald and Dana Carvey co-starring.
"J. Edgar" R, 2:17, Kaahumanu 6.
Leonardo DiCaprio's portayal of controversial FBI icon J. Edgar Hoover achieves Shakespearean dimensions under the impeccable direction of Clint Eastwood. Surrounded by superb supporting performances by Armie Hammer, Judi Dench and Naomi Watts, DiCaprio's Oscar-worthy portrayal casts Hoover as a stuttering mama's boy and closeted homosexual with an encyclopedic memory and a powerful, if twisted, sense of patriotism and order. His arrival in government service coincided with new advances in criminology, ultimately making him a figure who inspired fear in the most powerful leaders of our land for decades. He is a perfect storm of twisted psychology, paranoia and political power-mongering in this haunting work that continues Eastwood's remarkable career, still going strong at 81. Recommended.
"Margin Call" R, 1:49, ends tonight at Kaahumanu 6.
Right out of yesterday's headlines, and providing background history for the Occupy Wall Street protests, this star-laden drama is set against the collapse of an unnamed (read Lehman Brothers) investment firm. Kevin Space, Paul Bettany, Jeremy Irons, Zachary Quinto, Penn Badgley, Simon Baker, Mary McDonnell, Demi Moore and Stanley Tucci star in this fascinating study of some very smart men making very wrong decisions as they realized their holdings were worthless unless they could find clueless clients to foist them upon. J.C. Chandor writes and makes his directoral debut, making all the financial stuff understandable and even fascinating but still inexcusable. Recommended.
"The Muppets" PG, 1:38, Maui Mall Megaplex and Front Street Theaters.
Like a wholesome, kid-friendly version of an MTV-style "Where are they now?" show about faded rock stars, this good-hearted resurrection of Jim Henson's beloved franchise reunites the old gang to stop a tycoon (Chris Cooper) from drilling for oil under the Muppets' old theater. Jason Segel and Amy Adams are the humans joining the funny furry friends. The return of Kermit, Miss Piggy, Gonzo, Fozzie and the rest of the crew is intended to be welcome news for three generations, adding topical references both for Generation-Xers, who grew up on The Muppets, and their parents, who were glad they did. James Bobin directs.
"New Year's Eve" PG-13, 2:13, Maui Mall Megaplex, Kukui Mall 4 and Lahaina Wharf Cinemas.
After guiding the A-list ensemble schmaltz of "Valentine's Day," veteran director Garry Marshall turns his attention to another holiday. This cast features Hilary Swank, Jon Bon Jovi, Katherine Heigl, Sofia Vergara, Abigail Breslin, Sarah Jessica Parker, Zac Efron, Michelle Pfeiffer, Jessica Biel, Ashton Kutcher, Lea Michelle, Seth Meyers, Halle Berry, Robert De Niro, and many more. Katherine Fugate's screenplay weaves all the plotlines together into one big group hug and two-hour-long Hallmark card. (See review on Page 2.)
"Puss in Boots" PG, 1:45, ends tonight at Maui Mall Megaplex (2-D and 3-D).
After Shrek and Donkey, it's time for the greatest scene stealer of them all, Antonio Banderas' Puss, to tell his story. This prequel flashes back from the kitty's life as a Spanish outlaw to his days growing up in an orphanage with his best friend, Humpty Dumpty (Zach Galifianakis). Joining forces with Kitty Softpaws (Salma Hayek), Puss deals with everyone from trailer-trash Jack and Jill to the goose that laid the golden egg. While Banderas' Puss is at the top of his game, the production is full of derivative refences that will fly right over the kids' heads, and not quite land in their parents' memories, either.
"Real Steel" PG-13, 207, Kaahumanu 6.
Hugh Jackman co-stars with a bunch of hardware as a former fighter who has turned manager now that robots have climbed into the ring to do the actual boxing. Learning to be a good dad to his troubled son (Dakota Goyo) proves as challenging as getting his pile-of-junk 'bot transformed into a title contender. Evangeline Lilly, Anthony Mackie, Hope Davis and Kevin Durand co-star in this box office hit directed by Shawn Levy. Its formulaic script relies on the bots for the action, despite the fact that they've got neither brains nor hearts to make any of it make much sense.
"The Sitter" R, 1:36, Maui Mall Megaplex, Kukui Mall 4 and Front Street Theaters.
After Harold and Kumar and friends subjected the very little girl in their care to all those politically incorrect dangers, Jonah Hill picks up the theme in this new comedy. Co-starring with scene-stealing youngsters Max Records, Kevin Hernandez and Landry Bender, he's definitely not the guy to trust with the kids. Taking them along on his own pursuit of raunchy pleasures, they all wind up being chased by drug dealers and other low-life types in this reckless romp directed by David Gordon Green.
"Tower Heist" PG-13, 2:08, Front Street Theaters; ends tonight at Maui Mall Megaplex.Failing financial fortunes provide the starting point for this comedy featuring Ben Stiller and Eddie Murphy returning to "48 Hrs" form. Stiller plays the manager of an upscale Manhattan high-rise where penthouse-dwelling Alan Alda bears a striking resemblance to Bernie Madoff. His victims include the staff of the building -until Stiller hatches a plan to get their money back. Matthew Broderick, Casey Affleck and Tea Leoni co-star. Brett Ratner directs.
"The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn - Part 1" PG-13, 2:12, Maui Mall Megaplex, ends tonight at Kukui Mall 4 and Lahaina Wharf Cinemas.
As any teenage fan can tell you, Bella (Kristin Stewart) and Edward (Robert Pattison) are now married and expecting trouble, between the wolf pack and vampire coven. Taylor Lautner is also back to round out the triangle the romantic mix of vampires and young love that has found a place in the hearts of young women and their mothers everywhere. Bill Condon directs; Billy Burke, Sarah Clarke, Ty Olsson and Ashley Greene co-star in this really big box office hit.
* Times in the movie ads are subject to change on the weekend. Visit www.mauigateway.com/~rw/movie for more details.