These are Maui Scene Editor Rick Chatenever's mini-reviews, excerpts of wire service reviews and previews provided by studios and other sources.
"Beauty and the Beast" G, 1:24, Maui Mall Megaplex (3-D and 2-D).
Sparks and fur fly when Dolly Parton and Queen Latifah get together to make some “Joyful Noise.”
Warner Bros. photo
It may be 20 years old, but this 1991 Disney project remains state-of-the-art when it comes to classic animated storytelling. Now it's back for a new generation and to take advantage of 3-D ticket prices. Packed with great songs to accompany its romantic tale of the most mismatched couple in history, it features the voices of Paige O'Hara, Robby Benson, Richard White, Jerry Orbach, David Ogden Stiers and Angela Lansbury. Gary Trousdale and Kirk Wise lead the animation team to create one of Disney's all-time greatest hits.
"Carnage" R, 1:19, Maui Mall Megaplex.
An Oscar-laden cast joins forces with embattled Oscar-winning director Roman Polanski about two pairs of sophisticated parents brought together after their sons get into a playground fight. They quickly degenerate into childish playground fighting of their own in this dark comedy-drama. Jody Foster, Chrisopher Waltz, Kate Winslet and John C. Reilly play the soon-to-be-warring spouses, for whom getting in touch with their inner child is hardly a cute experience.
"Contraband" R, 2:05, Kaahumanu 6 and Lahaina Wharf Cinemas.
Mark Wahlberg gets back into action in this gritty thriller that moves from New Orleans to Panama in a scheme to reroute millions of dollars in counterfeit bills. He plays a former smuggler trying to go straight who gets drawn back onto the wrong side of the law after getting on the wrong side of crime boss Giovanni Ribisi. Kate Beckinsale plays his wife in a cast also featuring Ben Foster, J.K. Simmons and Diego Luna. Baltasar Kormakur directs.
"The Iron Lady" PG-13, 1:45, Kaahumanu 6.
Just in time for the Golden Globes Sunday, and presumably an Oscar nomination to follow, comes Meryl Streep's portrayal of England's mighty controversial former prime minster, Margaret Thatcher. Jim Broadbent plays her long-suffering husband with her "Momma Mia" director Phyllida Lloyd guiding her moves in this historical drama that examines the price she paid in her personal life to score public victories for her gender, even as she was polarizing England and the rest of the world in the process. With her cake-frosting hairdo and demeanor to match, Streep adds another vivid portrait to her stellar collection.
"Joyful Noise" PG-13, 2:13, Maui Mall Megaplex and Lahaina Wharf Cinemas.
Queen Latifah and Dolly Parton trade snappy one-liners and fingernail scratches as dueling directors of a choir in a depressed Southern town trying to get to the national finals, even though it always loses. Like "Glee" for grownups with a Southern accent, Todd Graff directs the musical comedy with plenty of show-stopping numbers whenever Dolly and Queen Latifah pause for a breath. Keke Palmer, Kris Kristofferson, Jeremy Jordan and Courtney B. Vance co-star.
"The Adventures of Tintin" PG, 2:02, Maui Mall Megaplex (3-D and 2-D) and Front Street Theaters.
Steven Spielberg released 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 investigative reporter Tintin, who's always accompanied by his faithful dog, Snowy. After he buys a model ship, 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 in various transportation devices over all sorts of exotic locales.
"Alvin and the Chipmunks 3: Chip-Wrecked" G, 1:45, Kaahumanu 6; ends tonight at 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 superstars who wind up stuck on the proverbial desert island. Laced with puns and clever pop references in words and music, 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.
"The Darkest Hour" PG-13, 1:44, Maui Mall Megaplex (3-D and 2-D); ends tonight at 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 Golden Globe nominations 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 Devil Inside" R, 1:23, Maui Mall Megaplex.
More lurid than the Amanda Knox trial comes this tale of possession and exorcism set in an Italian hospital for the criminally insane. Suzan Crowley plays the daughter of a woman (Fernanda Andrade) who was committed after confessing to brutally killing three people 20 years earlier. The daughter enlists young exorcists Simon Quarterman and Evan Helmuth to mix science and religion to find out what really happened, but soon they're all staring evil itself right in the face. William Brent Bell directs, all the way to the top of the box-office charts.
"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.
"J. Edgar" R, 2:17, ends tonight at Maui Mall Megaplex.
Leonardo DiCaprio's portayal of controversial FBI icon J. Edgar Hoover achieves Shakespearean dimensions and a Golden Globe nomination under the impeccable direction of Clint Eastwood. Surrounded by superb supporting performances by Armie Hammer, Judi Dench and Naomi Watts, DiCaprio's Oscar-worthy portrayal casts Hoover as a stuttering mama's boy and closeted homosexual with an encyclopedic memory and a powerful, if twisted, sense of patriotism and order. His arrival in government service coincided with new advances in criminology, ultimately making him a figure who inspired fear in the most powerful leaders of our land for decades. Recommended.
"Mission Impossible 4: Ghost Protocol" PG-13, 2:28, Kaahumanu 6, Kukui Mall 4 and Front Street Theaters.
Tom Cruise regains his box-office 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 the world's tallest building, a 130-story Dubai high-rise, guaranteed to induce vertigo for those in the audience. Brad Bird makes an impressive leap from animation ("The Incredibles"), translating his physics-defying tricks into live action, inspiring questions like, "How did they film that?"
"My Week with Marilyn" R, 1:36, Maui Mall Megaplex.
Michelle Williams' Marilyn Monroe is a feat of channeling as much as superb acting, resulting in Golden Globe nominations for the actress, as well as the film. 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 provocative 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. 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 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, glossy 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 a comic romp. They're back in this equally clever, fast-moving sequel that pits them against dastardly Dr. Moriarty (Jared Harris), intent on starting World War I years 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.
"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 sweeping action on an epic scale and sentiments reminiscent of old-fashioned World War I storytelling on screen in this expected award contender. (See review on Page 2.)
"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, Johansson's pluckiness and a fine supporting cast, the film avoids easy animal-poop jokes and goes instead for sentiments more heartfelt, sincere and satisfying. Recommended. (See review on Page 2.)
"Young Adult" R, 1:34, Maui Mall Megaplex.
Charlize Theron got a Golden Globe nod along with 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. Patton Oswalt co-stars.
* Movie listings are subject to last-minute changes. Visit www.mauigateway.com/~rw/ movie/ for updates.