These are Maui Scene's mini-reviews, excerpts of wire service reviews and previews provided by studios and other sources.
"Sinister," R, 1:50, Kaahumanu 6.
Liam Neeson is a not-quite-retired, take-no-prisoners CIA killing machine in “Taken 2.”
20th Century Fox photo
Found footage helps a true-crime novelist realize how and why a family was murdered, though his discoveries put his entire family in the path of a supernatural entity. It's been more than a decade since author Ellison Oswald (Ethan Hawke) has had a hit book and as a result his methods become more desperate. He moves his family into the victim's home to research his latest novel, and that's where the trouble begins. The scares are intense and unyielding in this compelling horror film from "The Exorcism of Emily Rose" director Scott Derrickson. Juliet Rylance and James Ransone co star.
"Argo," R, 2:00, Kaahumanu 6, Lahaina Wharf Cinema Center.
The Iran hostage crisis of 1979-81 was a dire turning point in modern history. Based on a "declassified true story," Director Ben Affleck handles this political thriller with intelligence, great period detail and a surprising amount of humor. The story begins as the Iranian revolution reaches a boiling point and a mob takes 52 American embassy workers hostage. A CIA "exfiltration" specialist concocts a risky plan to free six Americans who have managed to slip away and find shelter at the home of the Canadian ambassador. Affleck also stars with Bryan Cranston and John Goodman.
"Seven Psychopaths," R, 1:49, Maui Mall Megaplex.
A struggling screenwriter inadvertently becomes entangled in the Los Angeles criminal underworld after his oddball friends kidnap a gangster's beloved Shih Tzu. The colorful cast includes actors Colin Farrell, Woody Harrelson and Sam Rockwell. Director Martin McDonagh's absurd satire of the writing process includes plenty of one-liners that poke fun at crime-movie cliches.
"Here Comes the Boom," PG, 1:45, Maui Mall Megaplex.
A high school biology teacher looks to become a successful mixed-martial arts fighter in an effort to raise money to prevent extra-curricular activities from being axed at his cash-strapped school. Kevin James plays Scott Voss, the teacher who wants to save the job of music teacher, Marty Streb (played by Henry Winkler). Frank Coraci directs.
"Atlas Shrugged: Part II," PG-13, 1:52, Maui Mall Megaplex.
The global economy is on the brink of collapse. Unemployment tops 24 percent. Gas is $42 per gallon. Railroads are the main transportation. Brilliant creators, from artists to industrialists, are mysteriously disappearing. Dagny Taggart, COO of Taggart Transcontinental, has discovered an answer to the mounting energy crisis - a prototype of a motor that draws energy from static electricity. But, until she finds its creator, it's useless. It's a race against time. And someone is watching. Samantha Mathis, Jason Beghe and Esai Morales star. John Putch directs.
"Frankenweenie," PG, 1:27, Maui Mall Megaplex, Kukui Mall, Lahaina Wharf Cinema Center.
Young Victor Frankenstein (voiced by Charlie Tahan), conducts a science experiment to bring his beloved dog Sparky back to life, only to face unintended, sometimes monstrous, consequences. "Frankenweenie" is Tim Burton's latest exercise in animation and reanimation. The black and white, stop-motion picture is an ideal medium for displaying the director's unique world of whimsy. The cast inlcudes Chatherine O'Hara and Martin Short as Victor's doting parents (among other roles), Martin Landau as a Vincent Price-inspired science teacher and Winona Ryder as Elsa Van Helsing.
"Taken 2," PG-13, 1:31, Maui Mall Megaplex, Kukui Mall, Lahaina Wharf Cinema Center.
In Istanbul, retired CIA operative Bryan Mills (Liam Neeson) and his wife are taken hostage by the father of a kidnapper Mills killed while rescuing his daughter. The orginal "Taken" helped redefine Neeson as a bankable action star. This second installment makes no attempt to tamper with the macho formula except that the violence is toned down significantly. As a result, "Taken 2" is more engaging and even funnier than its predecessor. Stars Famke Janssen and Maggie Grace. Olivier Megaton directs.
"Butter," R, 1:30, ends tonight at Kaahumanu 6.
In small-town Iowa, an adopted girl discovers her talent for butter carving and finds herself pitted against an ambitious local woman in their town's annual contest. This wicked Midwest satire heralds the arrival of first-time screenwriter Jason A. Micallef and showcases Jennifer Garner's gift for comedy. The butter carving dreams of a married couple (Ty Burrell and the aforementioned Garner) begin to melt when 11-year-old butter carving prodigy (Yara Shahidi) arrives on the scene. Jim Field Smith directs.
"Pitch Perfect," PG-13, 1:52, Maui Mall Megaplex
Beca, a freshman at Barden University, is cajoled into joining The Bellas, her school's all-girls singing group. Injecting some much-needed energy into their repertoire, The Bellas take on their male rivals in a campus competition. Outsider Beca (Anna Kendrick) finds a community of sorts with the dysfunctional ensemble. Rebel Wilson and Brittany Snow co star. Jason Moore directs.
"Won't Back Down," PG, 1:58, ends tonight at Maui Mall Megaplex, Front Street Theater, Kukui Mall.
Two determined mothers, one a teacher, look to transform their children's failing inner city school. Facing a powerful and entrenched bureaucracy, they risk everything to make a difference in the education and future of their children. Jamie (Maggie Gyllenhaal) and Nona (Viola Davis) come from different backgrounds yet are unified in their effort take on an unjust system. As they try to unite the neighborhood parents, they meet some resistance, yet it is nothing compared to the hostility they encounter from the teachers, administration and school board. Daniel Barnz directs.
"Hotel Transylvania," PG, 1:31, Kaahumanu 6, ends tonight at Front Street Theater.
Hotel Transylvania is Dracula's lavish resort, where monsters and their families can live it up without humans to bother them. On one special weekend, Dracula has invited some of the world's most famous monsters to celebrate his daughter Mavis' 118th birthday. For Dracula, catering to all of these legendary monsters is no problem - but his world could come crashing down when a human stumbles on the hotel for the first time and takes a shine to Mavis. Adam Sandler is the voice of Dracula. Andy Samberg and Selena Gomez play love-struck Jonathan and Mavis. Genndy Tadtakovsky directs.
"Looper," R, 1:58, Kaahumanu 6, Kukui Mall, ends tonight at Front Street Theater.
Time travel changes everything. In 2072, when the mob wants to get rid of someone, the target is sent 30 years in the past, where a hired gun awaits in the year 2042. Joe (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) is one of the hired guns, called "Loopers." One day, Joe learns the mob wants to "close the loop" by transporting back Joe's future self (Bruce Willis). The situation only gets stickier when future Joe arrives in the past with his own agenda. Rian Johnson directs.
"Arbitrage," R, 1:40, Kaahumanu 6.
A troubled hedge-fund magnate desperate to complete the sale of his trading empire makes an error that forces him to turn to an unlikely person for help. Richard Gere plays money mogul Robert Miller. He is married to well-heeled Ellen (Susan Sarandon). Amid an extra-marital affair and missing millions, the collective moral compass of "Arbitrage" begins to spin wildly in this well-written, high-tension drama. Nicholas Jarecki directs.
"Trouble with the Curve," PG-13, 1:51, Maui Mall Megaplex, ends tonight at Kukui Mall and Lahaina Wharf Cinema Center.
Gus (Clint Eastwood) is a baseball scout with eye problems. He can't see the baseball go over home plate. His daughter Mickey (Amy Adams) wants to help and so she leaves her job to go on a recruiting trip, which might be his last if Gus can't make the right call. This is Eastwood's first film as an actor for a director other than himself since "In the Line of Fire" in 1993. The father/daughter reconciliation story is set mostly in the minor league baseball world of the South. Robert Lorenz directs.
"End of Watch," R, 1:49, Maui Mall Megaplex, ends tonight at Front Street Theaters
Two young officers are marked for death after confiscating a small cache of money and firearms from the members of a notorious cartel, during a routine traffic stop. There are some adrenaline-producing encounters in this cops versus cartel drama. Screen writer David Ayer (who also directs)?captures the tension of walking into deadly situations. He has experience with police-work scripts, having also penned "Training Day" and "Dark Blue." Jake Gyllenhaal, Michael Pena and Anna Kendrick star.
"The Master," R, 2:17, Kaahumanu 6.
After returning from the Second World War, having witnessed many horrors, a charismatic intellectual creates a faith-based organization in an attempt to provide meaning to his life. He becomes known as "The Master." His right-hand man, a former drifter, begins to question both the belief system and The Master as the organization grows and gains a fervent following. Philip Seymour Hoffman, Joaquin Phoenix and Amy Adams star. Paul Thomas Anderson directs.
"House at the End of the Street," PG-13, 1:41, Maui Mall Megaplex, ends tonight atLahaina Wharf Cinema Center
Seeking a fresh start, newly divorced Sarah (Elisabeth Shue) and her daughter Elissa (Jennifer Lawrence) find the house of their dreams in a small, upscale, rural town. But when startling and unexplainable events begin to happen, Sarah and Elissa learn the town is in the shadows of a chilling secret. Years earlier, in the house next door, a daughter killed her parents in their beds, and disappeared -leaving only a brother, Ryan (Max Thieriot), as the sole survivor. Against Sarah's wishes, Elissa begins a relationship with the reclusive Ryan - and the closer they get, the deeper they're all pulled into a mystery more dangerous than they ever imagined. Mark Tonderai directs.
"Resident Evil: Retribution," R, 1:30, ends tonight at Maui Mall Megaplex.
The Umbrella Corporation's deadly T-virus continues to ravage the Earth, transforming the global population into legions of the flesh eating undead. The human race's last and only hope, Alice, awakens in the heart of Umbrella's most clandestine operations facility and unveils more of her mysterious past as she delves further into the complex. Stars Milla Jovovich, Sienna Guillory and Michelle Rodriguez. Paul W.S. Anderson directs.
"The Odd Life of Timothy Green," PG, 1:41, ends tonight at Maui Mall Megaplex.
A childless couple bury a box in their backyard, containing all of their wishes for an infant. Soon, a child is born, though Timothy Green is not all that he appears. The movie, from novelist and filmmaker Peter Hedges, author of "What's Eating Gilbert Grape" and creator of Katie Holmes' lovely independent feature "Pieces of April," attempts to Disney-ize the family dysfunction territory he explored so well in those works.
* Movie listings are subject to last-minute changes. Visit www.mauigateway.com/~rw/ movie/ for updates.