These are Maui Scene Editor Rick Chatenever's mini-reviews, excerpts of wire service reviews and previews provided by studios and other sources.
"The Adventures of Tintin" PG, 2:02, Maui Mall Megaplex (3-D and 2-D) and Front Street Theaters.
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 investigative reporter 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 provide voices for the comic action involving all sorts of transportation devices traversing all sort of exotic locales.
"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 by 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 tries 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 million kids worldwide -in a single night! -as 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 Darkest Hour" PG-13, 1:44, Maui Mall Megaplex and Lahaina Wharf Cinemas.
Amidst 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.
"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. It has already won numerous prizes for star George Clooney and young supporting actress Shailene Woodley, and is an expected front-runner in this year's Oscar race. Clooney plays a land-rich descendant of Yankee haole 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.
"The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo" R, 2:38, 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 her relentless quest for vengeance, Mara's Lisabeth Salander is a whiz hacker enlisted by Craig to solve a cold, unsolved murder mystery dating back 40 years. Full of horrendous violence, Nazi echoes and Nordic broodings as ominous as the bleak landscape, the Fincher treatment taps into the scary but fascinating energy that fueled the novel to global superstardom in the first place. Christopher Plummer, Robin Wright Penn and Stellan Skarsgard co-star.
"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 around the title character, a wide-eyed orphan played by Asa Butterfield, who secretly lives in a hidden apartment and keeps all the station's 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. Sacha Baron Cohen leads the supporting cast in this altogether magical movie. Recommended.
"Mission Impossible 4: Ghost Protocol" PG-13, 2:28, Kaahumanu 6, Kukui Mall 4 and Front Street Theaters.
Tom Cruise regains his stride after he and his team (Jeremy Renner, Paula Patton and Simon Pegg) are forced to 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 translates his physics-defying, anything-goes animation into live action, inspiring questions like, "How did they film that?"
"My Week with Marilyn" R, 1:36, Maui Mall Megaplex.
The Marilyn of the title is, of course, Marilyn Monroe, and Michelle Williams' portrayal is a feat of channeling as much as superb acting, 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 Laurence Olivier in this story that takes place when they were making "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. The film provides a fascinating look at this most beautiful, most complicated, most tortured and most rapturous icon of our media age, peeling off layer after layer of Marilyn to expose more universal truths and riddles about men and women in general. Recommended.
"New Year's Eve" PG-13, 2:13, Maui Mall Megaplex.
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 long before the real thing happened. While the action goes heavy on noise and confusing editing, Downey and Law still have great chemistry together, never losing their wit 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.
"War Horse" PG-13, 2:22, 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 World War I storytelling on screen.
"We Bought a Zoo" PG, 2:21, 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.
"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.