Ratings and reviews of recently released movies

Following are ratings and capsule reviews of recently released films. The reviews are by Catholic News Service in conjunction with the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Office of Film and Broadcasting.

For full reviews of these films, visit www.usccb.org/movies

This list will be updated periodically as the reviews are supplied by Catholic News Service.

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“The Karate Kid” (Columbia)

The Catholic News Service classification is A-II — adults and adolescents. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is The Motion Picture Association of America rating is PG — parental guidance suggested. Some material may not be suitable for children.

Stirring, satisfying update of the 1984 hit shifts the action to modern China, where an unassuming kung fu master (Jackie Chan) teaches an undersized American boy (Jaden Smith) how to confront a bully while imparting other life lessons. Director Harald Zwart balances fealty for the crowd-pleasing original with embellishments that, aside from a manipulative musical score, enhance the appeal of the timeless underdog story.
Hard-hitting and occasionally cruel but not graphic martial arts violence, including a boy being struck across the face by an adult, the use of a crass term for the human posterior, some mild toilet humor, one instance of sexual innuendo, an unnecessary kiss between pre-teens.

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“Killers” (Lionsgate)

The Catholic News Service classification is A-II — adults and adolescents. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is PG-13 — parents strongly cautioned. Some material may be inappropriate for children under 13.

Very much the definition of mindless fun, only if you enjoy anything Ashton Kutcher says or does. Director Robert Luketic and screenwriters Bob DeRosa and Ted Griffin play explosions, gunfire and car crashes by rote in this combination of marital comedy and espionage thriller, very much derivative of “Mr. and Mrs. Smith” and others of the genre, but the comic bickering between Kutcher and co-star Kathleen Heigl is usually stale and insipid.
Fleeting crass language, mild sexual banter, and all violence is played for comic effect, making this acceptable for older adolescents.

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“Splice” (Warner Bros.)

The Catholic News Service classification is O — morally offensive. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is R — restricted. Under 17 requires accompanying parent or adult guardian.

Director Vincenzo Natali’s perverse tale of modern science run amok chronicles how genetic engineers (Adrien Brody and Sarah Polley) who create new life forms by “splicing” together genes from different animals decide to take the next step and use human genes to create “Dren” (Delphine Chaneac), a monster with the body of a beautiful woman. The trio morph into a happy if unconventional “family” until Dren grows up and her hormones start raging, with deadly results.
Generally sympathetic presentation of human cloning, genetic engineering and embryo destruction; nudity; nonmarital sexual activity; rape; rough language; and bloody scenes of violence and torture.

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“Marmaduke” (Fox)

The Catholic News Service classification is A-I — general patronage. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is PG — parental guidance suggested. Some material may not be suitable for children.

Small children might like this comedy based on the titular comic-strip Great Dane (voiced by Owen Wilson), but adults may find it about as charming as a bucket of doggie drool. Director Tom Dey has constructed a slapstick-laden story with the canine hero as a gangly and quite talky adolescent attempting to fit in with cliques at a dog park that represents high school, while a parallel plot has his human family (led by Lee Pace) attempting the same transformation after they move from Kansas to Southern California.
Some mild scatological humor.

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“Sex and the City 2” (New Line)

The Catholic News Service classification is O — morally offensive. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is R — restricted. Under 17 requires accompanying parent or adult guardian.

Romantic-comedy sequel, based on a long-running cable-TV series, recounting the further adventures of a New York-based columnist turned author (Sarah Jessica Parker), her husband (Chris Noth) and her three best friends (Kim Cattrall, Kristin Davis and Cynthia Nixon) as they confront the challenges of married life, parenthood and career changes, pressures only temporarily relieved, for the quartet of pals, by a luxurious vacation in Abu Dhabi. Writer-director Michael Patrick King’s morally unmoored follow-up to his 2008 feature confuses promiscuity with feminist empowerment, caricatures Muslims and showcases an extended celebration of same-sex marriage.
Graphic nonmarital sexual activity with nudity, benign view of casual sex and homosexual acts, adultery theme, constant sexual humor and references, some rough and crude language.

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“Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time” (Disney)

The Catholic News Service classification is A-II — adults and adolescents. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is The Motion Picture Association of America rating is PG-13 — parents strongly cautioned. Some material may be inappropriate for children under 13.

Plodding adaptation of the eponymous videogame series pits a heroic orphan (Jake Gyllenhaal) against his adopted royal uncle (Ben Kingsley) as he helps a princess (Gemma Arterton) safeguard a time-altering dagger that has the potential to destroy humankind. Hyperactive camerawork and frenetic special effects squash any authentically human elements that director Mike Newell might have brought to the loud, flashy proceedings, while the script’s presentation of religion involves an uneasy mix of pagan mythology and vague monotheism.
Frequent, moderately intense violence, a number of frightening images, some sexual innuendo.

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“Get Him to the Greek” (Universal)

The Catholic News Service classification is O — morally offensive. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is R — restricted. Under 17 requires accompanying parent or adult guardian.

Raucous, frequently coarse comedy in which a timid young record company executive (Jonah Hill) is tasked by his hard-bitten boss (Sean Combs) with escorting a hedonistic British rock star (Russell Brand) from London to the titular Los Angeles theater for a comeback concert, a journey that coincides with, and aggravates, a break with his live-in girlfriend (Elisabeth Moss). Like his 2008 debut, “Forgetting Sarah Marshall,” in which Brand’s character first appeared, writer-director Nicholas Stoller’s tale of an unlikely friendship features a few touching moments and some positive underlying values, but these elements are ultimately eclipsed by obscenity-laden dialogue and debauched, sometimes perverse behavior.
Brief graphic nonmarital sexual activity, scenes of aberrant sexuality, cohabitation, drug use, some gruesome images, upper female and rear nudity, much sexual humor, a couple of uses of profanity, pervasive rough and crude language.

“Shrek Forever After” (Paramount)

The Catholic News Service classification is A-II — adults and adolescents. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is The Motion Picture Association of America rating is PG – parental guidance suggested. Some material may not be suitable for children.
Heartwarming, decidedly less raucous animated riff on fairy tales brings the blockbuster franchise full circle as the titular ogre (voiced by Mike Myers) experiences a midlife crisis and is tricked by an evil wizard (voice of Walt Dohrn) into living a different version of his past, during which he must win his wife’s affections (voiced by Cameron Diaz) all over again and learn to appreciate his current good fortune.
Director Mike Mitchell and colleagues downplay the previous installments’ cheeky idiom of pop-culture parody and affirm the values of love and fidelity in a manner that should gladden parents, who can err on the side of being inclusive when judging whether to bring the kids.
A few mild action sequences, occasional toilet-related humor.

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“MacGruber” (Rogue)

The Catholic News Service classification is O — morally offensive. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is R — restricted. Under 17 requires accompanying parent or adult guardian.
Juvenile, tasteless action spoof in which a cocky but disastrously incompetent special agent (Will Forte) is called out of retirement by his former commander (Powers Boothe) to foil a plot by an evil arms dealer (Val Kilmer) to nuke Washington, gaining the aid of an Army lieutenant (Ryan Phillippe) and an undercover operative-turned-pop-singer (Kristen Wiig) along the way.
Director and co-writer Jorma Taccone’s expansion of a recurring “Saturday Night Live” skit is consistently vulgar and intermittently gruesome. Much gory violence, graphic premarital sexual activity, upper female and rear nudity, frequent sexual and scatological humor, more than a dozen uses of profanity, pervasive rough and crude language.

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“Letters to Juliet” (Summit)

The Catholic News Service classification is A-II — adults and adolescents. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is PG — parental guidance suggested. Some material may not be suitable for children.

Director Gary Winick’s old-fashioned romantic comedy explores time-honored themes of love, loss, family, and destiny amid a beautifully photographed Italian travelogue as it chronicles New York-based magazine fact-checker Sophie’s (Amanda Seyfried) journey to Verona — the city of “Romeo and Juliet” — where, left on her own by her food-obsessed chef fiance Victor (Gael Garcia Bernal), Sophie visits Juliet’s house and discovers a kind of Wailing Wall for the amorous, where lovesick women leave letters seeking relationship advice.
Sophie’s answer to one such missive, penned 50 years before by Englishwoman Claire (Vanessa Redgrave), prompts Claire to return, with her obnoxious grandson Charlie (Christopher Egan) in tow, determined to find her long-lost idol Lorenzo.
An implied premarital relationship, a brief obscene gesture.

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“Robin Hood” (Universal)

The Catholic News Service classification is A-III — adults. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is PG-13 — parents strongly cautioned. Some material may be inappropriate for children under 13.

Thematically ambitious yet enervating version of the much-filmed legend concerning the 13th-century English outlaw (Russell Crowe) who, in this serious reworking awash in political intrigue and salubrious civics lessons, goes from common archer on King Richard’s Crusade to the valiant unifier of a downtrodden, suffering nation.
Director Ridley Scott drains the tale of energy and emotion without offering action thrills that would ingratiate a new generation of viewers. Though hovering on the edge of bawdiness, and despite jabs at the cold-hearted, oppressive church leaders of the period, the movie may be acceptable for some mature teenagers.
Much — mostly bloodless — battle violence, a nongraphic sexual situation with fleeting rear nudity, an attempted rape, callous clergy, some innuendo and anatomical references, one instance each of crude and crass language.

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