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
"The Adventures of Tintin" PG, 2:02, opened Wednesday at Maui Mall Megaplex (3-D and 2-D) and Front Street Theaters.
Scarlett Johansson and Matt Damon: They bought a zoo
20th Century Fox photo via AP
Steven Spielberg is releasing not one but two family-friendly films for the holidays. This is the motion-capture adaptation of the popular children's book series, featuring "Billy Elliott's" Jamie Bell giving voice to the titular boy investigator and his faithful dog Snowy. After he buys a model ship called the Unicorn and resists offers from others to buy it from him, Tintin finds himself on the path to adventure after the dog breaks the model and they find a hidden clue inside. Daniel Craig, Andy Serkis, Nik Frost, Simon Pegg and Toby Jones co-star in the comic action involving all sorts of transportation devices traversing all sort of exotic locales.
"The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo" R, 2:38, opened Wednesday at Kaahumanu 6 and Front Street Theaters.
Daniel Craig and "The Social Network's" Rooney Mara join forces with intense director David Fincher to give Stieg Larsson's best-seller a big Hollywood treatment after the Swedish original. With her tattoos and piercings covering her deeper scars, and relentless quest for vengeance, Mara's Lisabeth Salander is a techno whiz enlisted by Craig to solve a cold, unsolved murder mystery dating back 40 years. Full of horrendous violence and Nordic broodings as ominous as the bleak landscape, the Fincher treatment reportedly taps into the scary but fascinating energy that fueled the novel to global superstardom in the first place. And there are two more books in the series Christopher Plummer, Robin Wright Penn and Stellan Skarsgard co-star.
"Mission Impossible 4: Ghost Protocol" PG-13, 2:28, opened Wednesday at Kaahumanu 6, Kukui Mall 4 and Front Street Theaters.
Tom Cruise reportedly regains his stride after he and his team (Jeremy Renner, Paula Patton and Simon Pegg) go rogue after being wrongly blamed for bombing the Kremlin. The action is fast and furious , including scaling a 130-story skyscraper guaranteed to induce vertigo for those in the audience. The surprise star this time is director Brad Bird, making the leap from animating hits like "The Incredibles" and "Ratatouille," who reportedly brings his talent for anything-goes animated action to live performers, inspiring questions like, "How did they film that?"
"My Week with Marilyn" R, 1:36, opening Friday at Maui Mall Megaplex.
The Marilyn of the title is, of course, Marilyn Monroe, and Michelle Williams' portrayal is reportedly as much a feat of channeling, resulting in Golden Globe nominations for the actress, as well as the film. Not to be outdone, Kenneth Branaugh also gets a nomination for playing Sir Lawrence Olivier in this story set against their making of "The Prince and the Showgirl" together. While the two couldn't be more different, it falls to a young film student on the set (Eddie Redmayne) to gain the screen icon's confidence, and see the fragile, fascinating being lurking under the image. Julia Ormond and Emma Watson co-star; Simon Curtis directs.
"We Bought a Zoo" PG, 2:21, opening Friday at Maui Mall Megaplex and Front Street Theaters.
Matt Damon plays a newly widowed dad struggling with the loss of his wife who goes to some extreme lengths. He quits his job as a newspaper columnist and buys 18 acres away from the city, which happens to include an animal park that has seen better days.
Scarlett Johansson co-stars as an available zookeeper - how convenient! - and veteran Cameron Crowe directs. Thanks to Damon's reliable onscreen honesty, the film reportedly avoids easy animal-poop jokes and goes instead for sentiments more heartfelt and sincere.
"The Darkest Hour" PG-13, 1:44, opening Sunday at Maui Mall Megaplex and Lahaina Wharf Cinemas.
Amidst the other higher-minded projects in this film-awards season comes this bit of sci-fi-action-horror. Emile Hirsch leads a group of five young world-savers in a campaign against the alien race that has attacked the people of earth through our power supply. Olivia Thirlby, Max Minghella, Rachael Taylor and Joel Kinnaman co-star; Chris Gorak directs.
"War Horse" PG-13, 2:22, opening Sunday at Maui Mall Megaplex and Kukui Mall 4.
The majestic horse Joey comes into the lives of a struggling British family just before World War I. The father (Peter Mullan) buys him at auction, even though he knows he cannot afford him; the mother (Emily Watson) insists he return him and get the family's money back. But plucky teenager Albert (Jeremy Irvine) begs to keep him and promises to train him in this new historical epic from Steven Spielberg. Originally a children's book and then an innovative stage production utilizing lifesize horse puppets, Spielberg adds swepping action on an epic scale and sentiments reminiscent of old-fashioned storytelling on screen.
"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.
"Arthur Christmas" PG, 1:55, Maui Mall Megaplex (3-D and 2-D).
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.
"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.
"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, closing Saturday at Maui Mall Megaplex.
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.
"The Muppets" PG, 1:38, closing Saturday at Maui Mall Megaplex; closing tonight at 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, closing Saturday at 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.
"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. They're all back in this equally clever, fast-moving chart-topping sequel that pits them against dastardly Dr. Moriarty (Jared Harris), intent on starting World War I decades before the real thing happened. While the action goes heavy on noise and confusing editing, Downey and Law still have great chemistry together amidst the gunfights and explosions.
"The Sitter" R, 1:36, Maui Mall Megaplex.
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.
"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.
"The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn - Part 1" PG-13, 2:12, Maui Mall Megaplex.
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.