These are Maui Scene's mini-reviews, excerpts of wire service reviews and previews provided by studios and other sources.
"A Thousand Words" PG-13, 1:31, Maui Mall Megaplex.
Taylor Kitsch (center) stars as “John Carter,” having one adventure after another on Mars with Lynn Collins (left) and Samantha Morton.
Disney Enterprises photo
Eddie Murphy hopes to turn karma into comedy playing a fast-talking agent who should know better than to stretch the truth with one of his clients, guru Dr. Sinja (Cliff Curtis.) The next thing he knows, he's got a magic Bodhi tree shedding one leaf for each word he speaks. The problem is, there are only a thousand leaves after which, he dies. Clark Duke and Kerry Washington co-star; Brian Robbins directs.
"John Carter" PG-13, 2:27, Kaahumanu 6, Kukui Mall 4 and Front Street Theaters.
Taylor Kitsch stars as the titular hero in this blend of historical sci-fi, playing a Civil War veteran transported to Mars where he encounters 10-foot barbarians and a princess (Lyn Collins) who needs to be saved from the leader of the large barbarians, Dominic West. Andrew Stanton directs the special-effects-laden adaptation of the 1912 novel by Edgar Rice Burroughs, better known as the creator of Tarzan. Full of eye-popping creatures and scenery, it co-stars Willem Dafoe, Samantha Morton, Thomas Haden Church, Mark Strong and Ciaran Hinds.
"Silent House" R, 1:41, Maui Mall Megaplex and Lahaina Wharf Cinemas.
Elizabeth Olsen stars in what appears to be a haunted-house thriller but turns out to be more of a haunted-psyche exercise. Appearing in nearly every frame in the film concocted out of unbelievably long takes, she plays a young woman helping her father (Adam Trese) and uncle (Eric Sheffer Stevens) fix up their dilapidated summer house in order to sell it. The fact that it's boarded up makes it very dark inside, even when it's bright daytime outside, which only adds to the growing paranoia. So does the arrival of a mysterious long-lost friend, played by Julia Taylor Ross. Husband and wife Chris Kentis and Laura Lau direct this adaptation of the Uruguayan original, following up on their 2004 hit thriller "Open Water."
"Close Encounters of the Third Kind" PG, 2:12, screens at 7 p.m. Friday outdoors at the Maui Arts & Cultural Center's Yokouchi Pavilion/Amphitheater as part of the MACC's Starry Night Cinema. Admission is free.
As spellbinding, mysterious and thrilling as it was when it was released in 1977, Stephen Spielberg's sci-fi fable is still unmatched in its hopes that we're not alone in the vastness of space. Richard Dreyfuss, Teri Garr and French auteur-turned-actor Francois Truffaut lead the cast as Dreyfuss plays a man driven by strange forces to a wondrous rendezvous in the great Southwest. The film is targeted at families and is being shown for free by the MACC in association with Maui Film Festival with support from the County of Maui and H. Hawai'i Media.
"Act of Valor" R, 1:41, Kaahumanu 6, Kukui Mall 4 and Front Street Theaters.
Active duty Navy SEALs star in a fictionalized account of an actual SEAL operation in "Act of Valor." 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 is nearly two hours of adrenaline-fueled, high-octane combat sequences and heart-wrenching, jaw-dropping storylines. Mike McCoy and Scott Waugh direct.
"The Artist" PG-13, 1:40, Maui Mall Megaplex, Kukui Mall 4 and Front Street Theaters.
Oscar night's big winner with prizes for best picture, best actor Jean Dujardin, best director Michel Hazanavicius, best musical score and more, is a delight from beginning to end. This brand-new, old-fashioned silent film radiates humor, wit, whimsy and a sense of being in love with life itself. Hazanavicius also wrote the script, co-starring his wife, Berenice Bejo, in a melodramatic over-the-top romance tracing 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; 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.
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 the "found-footage" faux-documentary; Michael B. Jordan, Michael Kelly, Ashley Hinshaw, Alex Russell and Luke Tyler co-star.
"The Descendants" R, 1:55, ends tonight at Maui Mall Megaplex.
Hawaii audiences will recognize everything in Alexander Payne's brilliant Oscar-winning adaptation of Kaui Hart Hemmings' novel. Star George Clooney was robbed of an Oscar, 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 an authentic sense of island life, beginning with the great soundtrack featuring Gabby Pahinui, Jeff Peterson and other masters of Hawaiian music. Recommended.
"Dr. Seuss' The Lorax" PG, 1:41, Maui Mall Megaplex (3-D and 2-D), Kukui Mall 4 and Lahaina Wharf Cinemas.
Decades ago, a visionary cartoonist named Theodor Geisel - better known to the world as Dr. Seuss -imagined a world with no trees and no regard for the rest of the environment, either. Danny DeVito gives voice to the Lorax, the grumpy yet charming figure at the center of this strange new world in this animated family-oriented fantasy. Zac Efron voices the 12-year-old youth who sets out to find an actual tree to bring back to win the heart of his honey (Taylor Swift). Ed Helms rounds out the cast with Chris Renaud and Kyle Balda sharing the directing duties and winning the week's box-office race.
"Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance" PG-13, 1:35, Maui Mall Megaplex (3-D and 2-D).
Nicolas Cage returns as Johnny Blaze in this sequel to the 2007 blockbuster. Centered on another Marvel Comic creation, 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. He's reluctant at first, but it's the only way to save the boy and possibly rid himself of the curse forever. Mark Neveldine and Brian Taylor 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. Heitor Dhalia directs. Jennifer Carpenter and Wes Bentley co-star.
"Hugo" PG, 2:07, Maui Mall Megaplex (3-D).
Director Martin Scorsese has crafted an altogether magical film experience that now has several well-deserved Oscars to add to its Golden Globe. 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); ends tonight at Lahaina Wharf Cinemas.
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.
"Project X" R, 1:43, Kaahumanu 6 and Lahaina Wharf Center.
Making films like "The Hangover" or "Superbad" look like works of restraint and intellect, this wild comedy tells of three high- schoolers who set out to make a name for themselves for throwing the most outrageous party in movie history. It takes place at one of their million-dollar mansions, which they proceed to trash beyond recognition. Thomas Mann, Oliver Cooper and Jonathan Daniel Brown play the culprits in this tale, loosely based on an actual event in Australia in which someone posted the address for a party on MySpace, resulting in 500 unwanted guests and $20,000 in property damage. Featuring crude teen behavior of every sort, Nima Nounzadeh directs what sounds like every parent's worst nightmare.
"Safe House" R, 2:05, Kukui Mall 4.
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, ends tonight at 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, and paved the way for the marketing mentality that now rules Hollywood. The film is a two-hour epic romp through Lucas' boundless imagination, with many of the greatest visions to ever hit the movie screen now enhanced by 3-D.
"This Means War" PG-13, 1:37, Kaahumanu 6; ends tonight at 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 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. Til Schweiger, Angela Bassett, Rosemary Harris, Chelsea Handler and Abigail Leigh Spencer co-star. McG directs.
"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.
"The Vow" PG-13, 1:54, ends tonight at Kaahumanu 6.
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.
"Wanderlust" R, 1:38, Maui Mall Megaplex and Front Street Theaters.
It's hard to say how many will head to theaters just to 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, they 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 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.