Recently released films reviewed by CNS for moral suitability

Photo Caption: Santiago Cabrera portrays Father Vega in a scene from the movie “For Greater Glory.”

The following movie reviews are supplied 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, as well as earlier releases, visit the CNS movie site here.

This list will be updated regularly, and all reviews are copyright (c) 2012 Catholic News Service/U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.

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“Snow White and the Huntsman” (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.

The latest take on the Brothers Grimm fairy tale, directed by newcomer Rupert Sanders, is a classic good-vs.-evil fable with splashes of gothic horror and extreme violence, but some welcome religious imagery.
Snow White (Kirsten Stewart), the “Fairest One of All,” is imprisoned by her stepmother, the wicked queen (Charlize Theron). The princess escapes, joins forces with her erstwhile assassin (Chris Hemsworth) and a band of dwarfs, learns how to handle a sword, and musters an army to retake her kingdom.
Intense action violence and brutality, scenes of sorcery, and some mild sensuality.

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“For Greater Glory” (ARC Entertainment)

The Catholic News Service classification is A-III — adults. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is R — restricted. Under 17 requires accompanying parent or adult guardian.

Powerful historical drama recounting the persecution of the Catholic Church in Mexico during the 1920s under the presidency of Plutarco Calles (Ruben Blades) and the popular reactions — both peaceful (led by Eduardo Verastegui) and violent (led by Andy Garcia) — it provoked.
As Garcia’s character, a religious skeptic, becomes the unlikely commander of an army of the devout, he gains inspiration from a saintly adolescent volunteer (impressive newcomer Mauricio Kuri).
Director Dean Wright’s epic — which also features a brief turn from Peter O’Toole as a wise and venerable priest — gets off to a slow start. But once the initially varied story lines laid out in Michael Love’s script converge, their outcome packs an emotional wallop.
The fact-based, faith-quickening tale the movie tells is sufficiently valuable to warrant a younger viewership than would normally be advisable for fare of this kind. Probably acceptable for mature adolescents. Considerable action violence with some gore, the torture of a child and at least one mildly vulgar term.

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“Chernobyl Diaries” (Warner Bros.)

The Catholic News Service classification is L — limited adult audience, films whose problematic content many adults would find troubling. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is R — restricted. Under 17 requires accompanying parent or adult guardian.

Grueling horror exercise in which a quartet of young Americans abroad (Jonathan Sadowski, Devin Kelley, Jesse McCartney and Olivia Taylor Dudley) get more than they bargained for when they hire an extreme-tourism travel guide (Dimitri Diatchenko) to take them to a Ukrainian city that had to be instantly evacuated in the wake of the 1986 Chernobyl nuclear disaster, and that has remained ostensibly deserted ever since.
When their vehicle is mysteriously sabotaged, they, their dodgy docent and two of his other clients (Ingrid Bolso Berdal and Nathan Phillips) find themselves stranded amid radiation, predatory wild animals and an even more sinister source of danger the embattled ensemble only gradually come to understand. In his feature debut, director Brad Parker conjures up the occasional jolt. But unlikely plot elements and largely unsympathetic — and shallow — characters work against audience involvement.
Gruesome scenes of the wounded and the dead, moreover, together with a barrage of foul language from the jittery and the doomed, make this morally unsuitable for most. Intermittent but intense violence with gore, a few uses of profanity, pervasive rough and crude language, occasional sexual references, an obscene gesture.

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“Men in Black 3” (Columbia)

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.

Moderately fun, but ultimately forgettable third round for the well-established secret alien crime-fighting duo of Agents J (Will Smith) and K (Tommy Lee Jones). In this outing, J wakes up in an alternate timeline to find that an extraterrestrial villain (Jemaine Clement) has killed K off, and begun the enslavement of humanity. So J must set the clock back — all the way to 1969 — and dissuade a younger version of K, played by Josh Brolin, from pursuing the course that would eventually lead him to his doom.
Director Barry Sonnenfeld delivers a slightly tired retread of the comedy franchise, the premise for which derives from Lowell Cunningham’s comic book “The Men in Black.” And screenwriter Etan Cohen’s dialogue makes wholly unnecessary forages into vulgar language and profanity, putting this beyond the pale for younger audiences.
Frequent action violence, at least two instances of profanity, occasional crude and crass language.

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Crooked Arrows” (Peck)

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.

Lacrosse returns to its Native American roots in this spirited drama about a ragtag high school team and its flawed manager — who must somehow chart a path to victory and redemption. The boss (Brandon Routh) of a sleazy casino on an Indian reservation wants to expand the business, but requires the approval of the tribal council, led by his estranged father (Gil Birmingham). Seeing an opportunity for his worldly son to reconnect with his heritage, Dad demands that he return home to coach the lacrosse team and “restore pride to our game.”
Directed by Steve Rash, the film includes some thrilling moments on the lacrosse pitch as it builds to a David-vs.-Goliath climax. Intense contact-sports violence, brief rear locker-room nudity, some sexual innuendo, a few crude terms.

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The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel” (Fox Searchlight)

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

A gaggle of British retirees heads to India in search of enlightenment and excitement in this adaptation of Deborah Moggach’s 2004 novel “These Foolish Things,” directed by John Madden.
An ensemble of stock characters are present: the sympathetic widow (Judi Dench); the unhappily married couple (Penelope Wilton and Bill Nighy); two randy seniors (Celia Imrie and Ronald Pickup); a gay man (Tom Wilkinson) searching for his childhood lover; and a mean-spirited bigot (Maggie Smith) who needs a hip replacement. They all live in a dilapidated hotel whose manager (Dev Patel) brims with optimism.
The film offers a mixed, and problematic, moral message about the twilight years, presenting them as a time for forgiveness and reconciliation, but also for cutting matrimonial ties and embracing hedonism. A benign view of premarital sex and homosexual acts, partial nudity, gruesome images of a corpse, some sexual innuendo, occasional rough language.

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“What to Expect When You’re Expecting” (Lionsgate)

The Catholic News Service classification is L — limited adult audience, films whose problematic content many adults would find troubling. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is PG-13 — parents strongly cautioned. Some material may be inappropriate for children under 13.

This fruitless reproductive comedy awkwardly juggles the stories of five expectant couples (most prominently Cameron Diaz and Matthew Morrison, Jennifer Lopez and Rodrigo Santoro) as they prepare for four deliveries and an Ethiopian adoption. Director Kirk Jones’ fictionalization of Heidi Murkoff’s bestselling advice book veers between vulgar humor and trite sentimentality and showcases misguided contemporary attitudes toward sexuality, pregnancy and parenthood.
Errant values, including a benign view of cohabitation, out-of-wedlock pregnancy and in vitro fertilization, pervasive sexual and biological humor, some scatological humor, an implied aberrant sex act, brief rear and partial nudity, a couple of instances of profanity, at least one use of the F-word, much crude and crass language.

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Battleship” (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.

Feel-good nonsense about a rowdy naval officer (Taylor Kitsch) who has to grow up fast when he’s called upon to save the world from a seemingly invincible force of invading aliens. He’s aided, initially, by his steadier older brother and navy comrade (Alexander Skarsgard) and later by the shore-side efforts of his would-be fiancee (Brooklyn Decker). She’s a physical therapist for wounded vets (most prominently real-life Purple Heart-winner Gregory D. Gadson) whose admiral father (Liam Neeson) takes a dim view of her relationship with our hero. And music star Rihanna gets thrown into the mix representing the tough-as-nails distaff side of the duty roster.
Director Peter Berg’s action adventure, which is supposed to have something to do with the titular Hasbro game, pulls out every patriotic stop and waves every flag within reach, offering a largely harmless, if quickly forgotten, diversion for mature viewers.
Much action violence and some painful slapstick, at least one use of profanity, about a dozen crude and a handful of crass terms.

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“The Dictator” (Paramount)

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.

Foul language and gross-out sludge predominate in director Larry Charles’ comedic portrait of a composite, but Moammar Gadhafi-like tyrant (Sacha Baron Cohen) from the fictional North African nation of Wadiya. After his scheming uncle (Ben Kingsley) uses his absence on a state visit to the United Nations as the opportunity to stage a coup, replacing the outrageously bearded goof with a more pliable imposter, the true leader finds himself wandering the streets of Manhattan, whiskerless and penniless.
Taking an alternate identity, he befriends, and eventually romances, a hippy-dippy vegan collective grocer (Anna Faris), muddles his way into a job at her food store and plots to retake his title.
Besides the blatantly sexist and racist jokes in which the script trades, there are gags playing on such ripe-for-comedy subjects as rape, pedophilia, prostitution, AIDS, abortion, necrophilia, suicide and homosexuality. Occasional violence, strong sexual content including pervasive sexual humor, fleeting full nudity, a same-sex kiss and an explicit endorsement of aberrant acts, frequent rough and crude language.

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“Dark Shadows” (Warner Bros.)

The Catholic News Service classification is L — limited adult audience, films whose problematic content many adults would find troubling. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is PG-13 — parents strongly cautioned. Some material may be inappropriate for children under 13.

Campy comic take on the gothic TV soap opera first broadcast in 1966. Buried alive by an angry mob of New England townsfolk in the mid-18th century, a vampire (Johnny Depp) is accidentally exhumed in 1972, only to find himself a bemused fish out of water in psychedelic-era America.
As he tries to restore the dwindling family fortune for the benefit of his descendants (including Michelle Pfeiffer, Chloe Grace Moretz and Gully McGrath), he romances the resident governess (Bella Heathcote), who’s a dead ringer for his true love of long ago, and battles the still-living witch (Eva Green) whose jealousy-fueled curse transformed him into a bloodsucker in the first place.
Though visually striking and initially amusing, director Tim Burton’s riff on a property once beloved by teenage baby-boomers introduces some discordant notes as it seeks to garner laughs from casual sexual encounters. Then the melody gets lost altogether amid a crescendo of special effects and supernatural mayhem.
Some action violence, semi-graphic sexual activity, an implied aberrant act, a suicide, drug use, mature references, a couple of uses of profanity, about a half-dozen instances each of crude and crass language.

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Marvel’s The Avengers” (Disney)

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.

Seemingly destined to haul in wads of cash at the box office, this ensemble adventure will not disappoint fans of the comic books on which it’s based, but may prove problematic for the parents of some excited youngsters anxious to ride the juggernaut.
Writer-director Joss Whedon’s script juggles no fewer than six superheroes: Thor (Chris Hemsworth), Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.), Hulk (Mark Ruffalo), Captain America (Chris Evans), Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner) and Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson). Guided by their eye-patched, grizzled leader (Samuel L. Jackson) this dream team confronts a mischievous demigod (Tom Hiddleston) who believes freedom is overrated.
Despite the (relatively mild) adult elements listed below, the film may possibly be suitable for older adolescents. Intense but largely bloodless violence, a few mature references, including to suicide and drug use, and a handful of crass terms.

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