2009-12-31 / Scene

Film Clips

(RATINGS: The movies listed

NINE — Judi Dench as Liliane La Fleur, Marion Cotillard as Luisa Contini, Penelope Cruz as Carla Albanese, Sophia Loren as Mamma, Stacy Ferguson as Saraghina, Nicole Kidman as Claudia Nardi, Kate Hudson as Stephanie Necrophuros and Daniel Day-Lewis as Guido Contini. NINE — Judi Dench as Liliane La Fleur, Marion Cotillard as Luisa Contini, Penelope Cruz as Carla Albanese, Sophia Loren as Mamma, Stacy Ferguson as Saraghina, Nicole Kidman as Claudia Nardi, Kate Hudson as Stephanie Necrophuros and Daniel Day-Lewis as Guido Contini.

below are rated according to the following

key: 4 stars - excellent; 3 stars - good; 2 stars - fair; 1 star -

poor.)

Avatar

The first 90 minutes of Avatar are pretty terrific -— a full-immersion technological wonder with wonders to spare. The other 72 minutes, less and less terrific.

Director James Cameron's futuristic story becomes intentionally grueling but nonetheless delivers the screen's most anticipated and persuasive blend of live-action and motion-capture animation to date. PG-13 (intense epic battle sequences and warfare, sensuality, language and some smoking). 2:42. 3 stars. -— M.P.

Alvin and The Chipmunks: The Squeakquel

This is a kids comedy that screams "Direct to DVD." It doesn't help that it screams that in high, squeaky, three-part harmony. Whatever slim charms there were in the nostalgic, musically cute and slapstick-friendly first film of chipmunk mania are squished right out of The Squeakquel like so much rodent roadkill. The cast is cut rate, and the script needed a serious visit from a serious gag writer. PG (some mild rude humor). 1:28. 1 star. — R.M.

Everybody’s Fine

This Americanized remake of

Giuseppe Tornatore's 1990 Stanno

Tutti Bene is gracefully acted by a good cast with Robert De Niro as a father who travels to see how his grown kids are doing. The actors come riding to the rescue of the schematics in this simple, sincere heartwarmer. PG-13 (thematic elements and brief strong language). 1:40. 3 stars. — M.P.

Have You Heard About The Morgans?

Hugh Grant and Sarah Jessica Parker play a Manhattan power couple on the brink of divorce. He cheated on her; she is not in the forgiving vein. He wants her back and proposes a trial reconciliation dinner -— after which they witness a murder, which makes them targets themselves. They're plonked into the witness protection program.This is a lame script that sports jokes that repeatedly fall flat. PG-13 (some sexual references and momentary violence). 1:43. zero stars. -— M.P.

Invictus

This stately, impressive film from director Clint Eastwood is anchored by its actors. Morgan Freeman plays 16 South African president and revolutionary game-changer Nelson Mandela, and Matt Damon plays rugby captain Francois Pienaar. In the South African rugby team's longshot chances for a victory in the 1995 World Cup Final, Mandela sees a grand opportunity. If the team, under Pienaar's stewardship, can prevail, the country just may skip a step or two on the road to its democratic future. PG-13 (brief strong language). 2:14. 3 stars. -— M.P.

It’s Complicated

It's Complicated isn't: It's pretty simple. It's simply a good time, a relatively adult and easygoing conveyance for three ace performers a certain age. The movie has three huge ringers: Meryl Streep, Alec Baldwin and Steve Martin. The push-pull dynamic is between a woman who should know better and her wolfish but charming pursuer. Ten years after their divorce, Jane (Streep) and remarried Jake (Baldwin) strike up an affair. Is it love? Lust? Lustlove? Meantime, the nice fellow overseeing Jane's elaborate house remodel (Martin) has hopes for romance. MPAA rating: R (some drug content and sexuality). 1:58. 3 stars. — M.P.

Nine

Based on Fellini's 8 1/2, this film is a mixed bag, but the cast ... wow! Director Rob Marshall has conceived Nine in almost precisely the same way he approached Chicago. Each number is imagined by its protagonist, in this case the illustrious film director in crisis, Guido Contini (Daniel Day-Lewis). The movie illustrates scenes from Contini's tangled relationships with his wife (Marion Cotillard), mistress (Penelope Cruz), favorite star and muse (Nicole Kidman), longtime costumer and conscience (Judi Dench) and, in flashbacks, mother (Sophia Loren). PG-13 (sexual content and smoking). 1:58. 2-1/2 stars. -— M.P.

Old Dogs

I would rather watch John Travolta and Robin Williams sitting on a tree trunk, doing nothing, than endure their best efforts to energize this ol' hound of a movie. PG (some mild rude humor). 1:39. 1 star. -— M.P.

The Princess and the Frog

How can a good-looking animated feature with a Randy Newman song as kicky as When We're Human end up being just sort of ... all right?

Featuring Disney's first African- American princess, this movie lacks for nothing in setting and atmosphere (New Orleans, mostly in the 1920s, with side trips to bayou country) but comes up short where it counts: the characters.

Human, insect or amphibian, their appeal is hard-sell and engineered. G. 1:34. 2-1/2 stars. -— M.P.

Sherlock Holmes

Guy Ritchie can make all the greasy crime movies he wants, but

now he gives us Sherlock Holmes,

and I'm sorry, but I like Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's characters. It's a drag to see how Ritchie has turned Holmes and Dr. Watson into thugs. The casting seems so right: Robert Downey Jr. as Holmes, Jude Law as Watson, Rachel McAdams as an old flame of Holmes. Ritchie's film operates on almost pure thuggery. It's dependent on zero-attention-span cutting and erratically shifting film speeds. PG-13 (intense sequences of violence and action, some startling images and a scene of suggestive material). 2:10. 2-1/2 stars. — M.P.

(M.P. -- Michael Phillips; B.S. --

Betsy Sharkey; K.T. -- Kenneth

Turan; G.W. -- Glenn Whipp; R.M. --

Roger Moore; G.G. -- Gar y Goldstein;

C.B. -- Christopher Borrelli) © 2009

TRIBUNE MEDIA SERVICES, INC.

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