These are Maui Scene's mini-reviews, excerpts of wire service reviews and previews provided by studios and other sources.
"Act of Valor" R, 1:41, Kaahumanu 6 and Front Street Theaters.
The comfortable life is peeled away, layer by layer, for George (Paul Rudd) and Lisa (Jennifer Aniston) in “Wanderlust.”
Universal Pictures photo via AP
Active duty Navy SEALs star in a fictionalized account of an actual SEAL operation in "Act of Valor." Hailed as unprecedented in Hollywood, the movie melds real-life heroism and original filmmaking. When a mission to recover a kidnapped CIA agent reveals an imminent global threat, an elite team of Navy SEALs must immediately embark on a secret operation - the outcome of which will determine the fate of us all. Never-before-seen military operation scenes are composited from events in the lives of the men appearing in the film and their comrades. The result, Relativity Media promises, is nearly two hours of adrenaline-fueled, high-octane combat sequences and heart-wrenching, jaw-dropping storylines that showcase the greatest action heroes of them all: the real-life Navy SEALs. Mike McCoy and Scott Waugh direct.
"Gone" PG-13, 1:34, Maui Mall Megaplex.
Don't be fooled by doe-eyed Jill Parrish. The victim of a kidnapping two years before, Jill (Amanda Seyfried) comes home after working one night to find her sister, Molly, missing. She's convinced the same serial killer has come back, and even though no one believes her, Jill embarks on a heart-pounding chase to find the abductor, expose his secrets and save her sister. The suspense-thriller will keep viewers at the edge of their seats, waiting to see if victim becomes victor. Heitor Dhalia directs. Jennifer Carpenter and Wes Bentley co-star.
"Tyler Perry's Good Deeds" PG-13, 2:09, Maui Mall Megaplex.
Successful businessman Wesley Deeds (Tyler Perry), a good-intentioned, predictable man who's set to marry his restless fiancee Natalie (Gabrielle Union), is jolted out of his routine when he meets Lindsey (Thandie Newton), a down-on-her-luck single mom. Wesley tries to help her get back on her feet, but his innocent good deed ignites an unexpected attraction. Suddenly Wesley finds himself caught between the life he thought he wanted and the powerful desires of his heart. Written, produced and directed by Tyler Perry, the film also stars Rebecca Romijn, Jamie Kennedy and Phylicia Rashad.
"Wanderlust" R, 1:38, Maui Mall Megaplex and Front Street Theaters.
It's hard to say how many will head to theaters just spock out signs of romance between one of Hollywood's hottest "it" couples, Jennifer Aniston and Justin Theroux. Whatever the motive for watching, laughs and love are in store when Lisa (Aniston) and George (Paul Rudd), a stressed out New York couple, find themselves unemployed and forced to move in with George's awful brother in Atlanta. On the way there, the couple stumble on a hippie commune populated by colorful characters who embrace a different way of looking at things. If you do go to watch Jen and Justin, who echo that "Wanderlust" wasn't the start to their romance, look for the hippie named Seth (hint:?That's Theroux!). David Wain directs. Malin Akerman co-stars.
"The Artist" PG-13, 1:40, Maui Mall Megaplex.
Leading the Oscar pack in delightful fashion comes this Golden Globe winner for best comedy, best comic actor Jean Dujardin and best musical score. The awards are all richly deserved and are just the tip of the iceberg in this brand-new, old-fashioned silent film. Written and directed by Michel Hazanavicius and co-starring his wife, Berenice Bejo, the melodramatic over-the-top romance traces the crossing paths of a fading matinee idol and an up-and-coming ingenue. Brimming with cinematic ingenuity, the film matches it with wonderful emotions, right down to the Jack Russell terrier who steals every scene he's in. Recommended!
"Big Miracle" PG, 1:47, Maui Mall Megaplex.
Drew Barrymore heads the cast in this big-hearted tale inspired by the true story of a band of folks in Alaska who came together - along with a couple of superpowers and corporate giants - to save a group of whales on the brink of being fatally trapped by rapidly forming ice in the Arctic Circle. Barrymore plays the Greenpeace activist, naturally; John Krasinski co-stars as the journalist who first uncovers the story in a cast also featuring Ted Danson, Vinessa Shaw, Kristen Bell and Dermot Mulroney. While there's the inevitable feel-good message about loving the whales, under Ken Kwapis' direction, the film reportedly doesn't overlook the less noble motivations, or the humor, in the assorted interests it brings together for this fine cause.
"Chronicle" PG-13, 1:39, Maui Mall Megaplex and Front Street Theaters.
The "Spider-Man" template gets updated in this new supernatural teen horror thriller. Dane DeHaan heads the cast as a lonely high-schooler who retreats from his abusive father and nowhere social life by picking up a camera and trying to turn his life into a movie. Things get interesting when he and a friend examine a hole in the ground and emerge from it with newfound supernatural powers. Josh Trank directs in the "found-footage" faux-documentary mode; Michael B. Jordan, Michael Kelly, Ashley Hinshaw, Alex Russell and Luke Tyler co-star.
"The Descendants" R, 1:55, Maui Mall Megaplex.
Hawaii audiences will recognize everything in Alexander Payne's brilliant, Oscar-nominated, Golden Globe-winning adaptation of Kaui Hart Hemmings' novel. Star George Clooney is the Oscar frontrunner, with young supporting actress Shailene Woodley also making an impressive debut in the contemporary story that casts Clooney as 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, Jeff Peterson and other masters of Hawaiian music. Recommended.
"Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance" PG-13, 1:35, Maui Mall Megaplex (3-D), Kukui Mall 4 and Lahaina Wharf Cinemas.
Nicolas Cage returns as Johnny Blaze in this sequel to the 2007 film that made almost $230 million dollars in the box office. Centered on one of Marvel Comic's most well-known characters, the film shows that Johnny is still struggling with the curse of being the Ghost Rider - basically the devil's bounty hunter who has a flaming skull, wears leather and chains and drives a motorcycle. Johnny Blaze is hiding in a remote part of Eastern Europe when a secret sect of the church asks him to save a boy from the devil. At first, Johnny is reluctant to use his power, but it's the only way to save the boy and possibly rid himself of the curse forever. Mark Neveldine and Brian Taylor direct.
"Hugo" PG, 2:07, Maui Mall Megaplex (3-D).
Back by virtue of its richly deserved Golden Globe for director Martin Scorsese-followed by richly deserved Oscar nominations galore - comes this altogether magical film experience. Scorsese tones down his fondness for gangster violence and rock icons, and reveals in their place a huge heart in 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 truly magical movie. Recommended.
"Journey 2: Mysterious Island" PG, 1:44, Kaahumanu 6 (3-D) and Lahaina Wharf Cinemas; closes tonight at Kukui Mall 4.
Dwayne Johnson flexes his acting prowess, playing father figure to Josh Hutherson on a mission to a strange realm of small elephants and other mind-boggling phenomena to try to find Josh's missing dad. Joining up with cute tour guide Vanessa Hudgens and her helicopter-piloting dad, Luis Guzman, they find out how the island got its name, which provides ample opportunities for the superhero formerly known as The Rock to demonstrate how lovable an action figure can be. They might not find dad, but they happen onto Grandpa (Michael Caine) instead. Brad Peyton directs.
"Man on a Ledge" PG-13, 1:42, Maui Mall Megaplex
Sam Worthington, Elizabeth Banks and Jamie Bell head the cast in this psychological action thriller that has a police psychologist trying to talk a suicidal man off a ledge on a Manhattan high-rise which distracts everyone from the huge diamond heist going on at street-level. Asger Leth directs.
"This Means War" PG-13, 1:37, Kaahumanu 6, Kukui Mall 4 and Front Street Theaters.
All is never fair in love and war. Just ask the world's deadliest CIA operatives who happen to also be best buds, FDR Foster (Chris Pine) and Tuck (Tom Hardy). The two work together to bring down entire enemy nations, but the bond is quickly thrown out the door when they fall for the same woman, Lauren (Reese Witherspoon). Soon, FDR and Tuck employ their spy skills and endless array of high-tech gagetry to take out their greatest threat yet - each other. Action scenes propel the sometimes violent and always hilarious rivalry in this romantic comedy that aims to entrap both genders. Til Schwei-ger, Angela Bassett, Rosemary Harris, Chelsea Handler and Abigail Leigh Spencer co-star. McG directs.
"Safe House" R, 2:05, Kaahumanu 6 and Lahaina Wharf Cinemas.
Denzel Washington goes into rogue mode as one of the CIA's most-wanted fugitives, whose capture and protection in a supposedly "safe house" proves to be anything but safe. Ryan Reynolds co-stars as the young agent charged with protecting him, who winds up in way over his head, but still plays a credible cat-and-mouse game with Denzel, trying to protect him from the mercenaries chasing them while keeping him from escaping at the same time. The impressive supporting cast features Vera Farmiga, Brendan Gleeson, Sam Shepard and Ruben Blades. Daniel Espinosa directs.
"The Secret World of Arrietty" G, 1:35, Kaahumanu 6.
Little people who live quietly beneath the floorboards are about to have a big turn of events. From Studio Ghibli, the masterful creative team behind "Spirited Away" and "Ponyo," comes this animated Disney adventure based on Mary Norton's award-winning children's book series "The Borrowers." Fourteen-year-old Arrietty lives with her parents in the recesses of a suburban garden home, unbeknownst to the homeowner. Like all little people, Arrietty remains hidden from view; but when 12-year-old Shawn discovers his mysterious housemate one evening, a secret friendship blossoms, risking the safety of Arrietty's family. Bridgit Mendler, Will Arnett, Amy Poehler, Carol Burnett and others provide voices. Gary Rydstrom directs.
"Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace" PG, 2:16, Maui Mall Megaplex (3-D).
Faster than you can say "3-D glasses surcharge" comes this return of the 1999 prequel, providing the backstory of how and why Darth Vader came to be. Ewan McGregor, Liam Neeson and Natalie Portman star - all looking a lot younger - along with Frank Oz providing the voice of Yoda. But the real star is writer-director George Lucas, creator of the original "Star Wars" that reshaped our mythology and our moviemaking sensibilities, not to mention paving the way for the marketing mentality that now rules Hollywood. The film is a two-hour epic romp through Lucas' boundless imagination, full of many of the greatest visions to ever hit the movie screen, now enhanced by 3-D.
"The Vow" PG-13, 1:54, Kaahumanu 6, Kukui Mall 4 and Front Street Theaters.
From a place between "The Notebook" and "Fifty First Dates" comes this memory-loss romance. Rachel McAdams plays a newlywed put into a coma by a car accident. When she wakes, she doesn't remember who she is or who she's married to. Channing Tatum plays the husband who must win her back again, a challenge complicated by the presence of an ex-fiance. Scott Speedman, Sam Neill and Jessica Lange co-star; Michael Sucsy directs.
"The Woman in Black" PG-13, 1:51, Maui Mall Megaplex.
Proving that there is life after Harry Potter, Daniel Ratcliffe stars in this moody English ghost story as a young attorney dealing with the sale of a house in a remote village. It's there that he meets the title figure, who's reportedly capable of disconcerting even the bravest audience member. James Watkins adapts the novel and stage play for the screen in a menacing gothic mode full of an hour and a half's worth of fright. Ciaran Hinds and Janet McTeer co-star.
* Movie listings are subject to last-minute changes. Visit www.mauigateway.com/~rw/ movie/ for updates.