On local screens

Movie showtimes and reviews May 21-28

By Bill White on May 21, 2009


CHERRY BLOSSOMS: A dying man is devastated when his wife suddenly dies while visiting family in Berlin.  After her death, Rudi discovers he had no idea the level of sacrifice Trudi had made to be with him and dedicates his remaining time to fulfilling Trudi’s unfulfilled dreams by traveling to Tokyo to celebrate her life during the beautiful cherry blossom festival. (NR) – Bill White

DANCE FLICK: The mother of all dance battles is brought to you by two generations of the Wayans family. (PG-13) – BW

DRAG ME TO HELL: Early opening. (PG-13)

NIGHT AT THE MUSEUM: BATTLE OF THE SMITHSONIAN: Larry the so-called maintenance man (Ben Stiller) returns to the museum to comfort his buddies from the 2006 movie who are being retired and shipped off in packing crates to an eternity of confinement in the National Archives. Oh, did I dislike this film. It made me squirmy.  Its premise is lame, its plot relentlessly predictable, its characters with personalities that would distinguish picture books, its cost incalculable (well, $150 million).  Watching historical figures enact the clichés identified with the most simplistic versions of their images, I found myself yet once again echoing the frequent cry of Gene Siskel: Why not just give us a documentary of the same actors having lunch?  With Robin Williams, Amy Adams, Christopher Guest, many more. (PG) One and a half stars – Roger Ebert

TERMINATOR SALVATION: The action scenes, which is to say, 90 percent of the movie, involve Armageddon between men and machines 10 years in the future.  The most cheerful element of the film is that they’ve perfected Artificial Intelligence so quickly.  Yes, Skynet is self-aware and determines to wipe out humankind for reasons it doesn’t explain.  A last-ditch resistance is being led by John Connor, or “J.C.” for you Faulkner fans. 

 (PG-13) Two stars— RE

UP: Early opening. (PG)

Now Playing

17 AGAIN: An unhappy man in his late 30s is transported back to his body at 17 and gets a chance to fix things with his alienated family.  Zac Efron is a charmer as the teenager, and there is a completely unanticipated fanboy-fangirl romance that is comic genius.  Pleasant, harmless. (PG-13) Three stars – RE

ANGELS AND DEMONS: Professor Tom Hanks is back on the trail again, racing through Rome against a ticking time bomb to save four kidnapped cardinals and reach a vial of anti-matter that could vaporize the Vatican.  Meanwhile, intrigue within the College of Cardinals and evidence the previous pope was murdered.  This kind of thriller requires us to accept the preposterous, and if we do, it promises to entertain.  Angels and Demons succeeds. (PG-13) Three stars – RE

EVERLASTING MOMENTS: The story, beginning in 1911, of a Swedish woman who raised seven children in poverty, who has a husband who is kind when sober but frightening when drunk, and whose idea of herself is transformed when she begins to take photographs.  A beautifully told story of striving and of the varieties of love.  By the great director Jan Troell. (NR) Four stars – RE

FAST & FURIOUS: Exactly and precisely what you’d expect.  Nothing more, unfortunately.  You get your cars that are fast and your characters that are furious.  The fourth in the series, with Vin Diesel, Paul Walker and the other major cast members from the original 2001 movie now back again.  Who cares? (PG-13) One and a half stars – RE

FRENCH THEATER: Fort Lewis movie schedule: 17 Again (PG-13) Fri-Sun 7. Dragonball: Evolution  (PG) Sat-Sun 2.

GHOSTS OF GIRLFRIENDS PAST: Matthew McConaughey plays a famous lecher who turns up at his kid brother’s wedding to discourage it and advocate a life of promiscuity.  But the ghost of his late Uncle Wayne (Michael Douglas) arrives as a spirit guide to take him on a tour of girlfriends past, present and future.  Some funny lines and a warm performance by Jennifer Garner, but the hero is far from sympathetic. (PG-13) Two stars – RE

HANNAH MONTANA: THE MOVIE: When a young pop star struggles to juggle success, school and family her father sends her home for a dose of reality that turns into doses of adventure and romance as well.  Includes 14 new songs featuring Miley Cyrus and Taylor Swift. (G) – BW

IS ANYBODY THERE?: Michael Caine is superb as the Amazing Clarence, a retired magician who checks into an old folks’ home and slowly makes friends with Edward (Bill Milner), the owners’ 10-year-old son.  The rest of the film, unfortunately, isn’t up to their level; it’s clunky and sitcomish, but Caine is almost worth the price of admission. (PG-13) Two and a half stars – RE

MONSTERS VS. ALIENS: Monsters from the 1950s are released from a secret federal prison to join the 49-foot, 11-inch Ginormica (voice by Reese Witherspoon) in saving Earth from hostile aliens.  Probably fun for younger kids, but lacks the humor and personality of earlier DreamWorks films like Shrek.  The 3-D, not as bright as 2-D, is more a distraction than enhancement. (PG) Two and a half stars – RE

NEXT DAY AIR: Bloody screwball comedy about possibly the world’s most inept bank robbers along with its most inept delivery man and most imprudent drug lord.  With Donald Faison, Mike Epps, Wood Harris and Mos Def.  Funny. (R) Three stars – RE

OBSESSED: Idris Elba, from HBO’s greatly underappreciated drama The Wire, finds himself in a pickle when he lets Heroes star Ali Larter get a little to close, endangering his marriage to the beautiful Beyonce Knowles. (PG-13) – BW

RACE TO WITCH MOUNTAIN: Dwayne (the Rock) Johnson and Carla (Silk Spectre) Gugino co-star with AnnaSophia Robb and Alexander Ludwig, who play aliens masquerading as teenagers.  They’re pursued by hostile federal agents in a desperate chase to get to their flying saucer hidden inside Witch Mountain.  Innocuous family entertainment, harmless and fun. (PG) Two and a half stars – RE

THE ROCKY HORROR PICTURE SHOW: Dr. Frank-N-Furter, Brad and Janet are dancing the “Time Warp” at the Proctor District’s cozy Blue Mouse which features a stage for the movie’s loyal following to perform.  Not for the kiddies. – BW

SIN NOMBRE: The interlocking stories of a young woman from Honduras and a young man from southern Mexico, who meet while riding on the roof of a freight car on their long journey to the U.S. border.  The trip is forged in hell, but the film also finds room for beauty and romance.  Winner of the awards for best direction (Cary Fukunaga) and cinematography at Sundance 2009. (R) Four stars – RE

THE SOLOIST: Jamie Foxx stars as a homeless street musician who is written about by a Los Angeles Times columnist (Robert Downey Jr.) and becomes an overnight celebrity.  He was a child prodigy, studied at Juilliard, plays violin and cello, but is haunted by the demons of mental illness.  All the pieces are in place and the actors are convincing, but the film never really delivers on the promise of the story. (PG-13) Two and a half stars – RE

STAR TREK: Using the device of time travel, the new movie reboots the original franchise with younger characters and actors, as we meet Kirk, Spock, Scotty, Uhuru and Bones in their younger days.  Lacks the twists and challenges of classic Star Trek and is essentially a space opera, with young Kirk (Chris Pine) battling a Romulan super ship from the future.  Leonard Nimoy is very effective as an elder Spock, who is, paradoxically, a Vulcan who seems the most human of the characters. (PG-13) Two and a half stars

SUNSHINE CLEANING: Amy Adams and Emily Blunt star as sisters, desperate for income, who start a business mopping up after messy murder scenes.  Steve Zahn is a faithless lover, Clifton Collins Jr. is a warmhearted hardware store owner, and Alan Arkin is the girls’ dad, hatching get-poor-quick schemes.  A lot of promising material, never quite assembled into a film that holds together. (R) Two stars – RE

X-MEN ORIGINS: WOLVERINE: Since the modern Wolverine has amnesia and at the end of this film he forgets everything in it, who cares about his origins?  A monotonous, shallow and inarticulate character, used as a story device linking pointless action scenes.  None of the charisma of the great superheroes. (PG-13) Two stars – RE