Current films reviewed on the basis of moral suitability

Photo Caption: Robert Pattinson and Kristen Stewart star in a scene from the movie “The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn — Part 2.” The Catholic News Service classification is A-III — adults.

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 at www.catholicnews.com/movies.htm.

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

—–

“The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn — Part 2” (Summit)

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.

This fifth and final installment of the popular franchise sees its domesticated vampire hero (Robert Pattinson) and his once-mortal, but now undead bride (Kristen Stewart) enjoying both married life and newfound parenthood.
But when their half-human, half-bloodsucker daughter (Mackenzie Foy) is mistaken for a type of being long banned by the ruling clique of the vampire world, a conflict erupts between the young couple’s allies (most prominently Taylor Lautner, Peter Facinelli and Elizabeth Reaser) and the elite defenders of the established order (led by Michael Sheen).
Themes of family loyalty, tolerance for others and the corrupting effects of power underlie the easy-to-laugh-at but undeniably entertaining proceedings of director Bill Condon’s gothic romance — adapted, like its immediate predecessor, from novelist Stephenie Meyer’s blockbuster “Breaking Dawn.”
Parents will have to assess how well mature adolescents may cope with the unsettling means by which the vein-drainers dispose of each other during a climactic battle — essentially gore-free decapitation, followed by burning — as well as with scenes of intimacy between the central pair. Some harsh but bloodless violence, fleeting gore, semi-graphic marital lovemaking with partial nudity, a couple of crass terms.

—–

“Lincoln” (DreamWorks)

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.

Daniel Day-Lewis’ bravura performance in the title role is the highlight — but by no means the only asset — of director Steven Spielberg’s splendid historical drama.
The plot focuses on the Civil War president’s passionate yet wily struggle, during the closing days of that conflict, to steer a constitutional amendment abolishing slavery through Congress. Aided by his secretary of state, William Seward (David Strathairn), but distracted by his troubled personal life — Sally Field plays his famously high-strung wife Mary — Lincoln uses rhetoric to win over his hesitant Cabinet and patronage to woo his opponents.
The trajectory of the tale is, by its nature, uplifting, while Lincoln’s multifaceted personality — which encompassed idealism, political shrewdness, melancholy, humor and even a few endearing foibles — is vividly illuminated in Tony Kushner’s screenplay. The educational value and moral import of the film may make it acceptable for older adolescents.
Intense but mostly bloodless battlefield violence, a scene involving severed limbs, cohabitation, about a dozen uses of profanity, racial slurs, a couple of rough terms, occasional crude and crass language

—–

“The Sessions” (Fox Searchlight)

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.

Paralyzed from the neck down by a childhood bout of polio, a 38-year-old journalist and poet (John Hawkes) engages the services of a so-called sex surrogate (Helen Hunt) to help him lose his virginity, an undertaking in which he gains the misguided support of his sympathetic but irresolute parish priest (William H. Macy).
Writer-director Ben Lewin’s adaptation of Mark O’Brien’s autobiographical writings displays an initially ambiguous, but ultimately negative attitude toward the memoirist’s devout Catholic faith — which is predictably identified as a source of guilt and inhibition. As for the titular encounters between the two main characters, while not prurient, they are nonetheless excessively explicit. And scenes showing the surrogate’s home life with her husband and teenage son raise the ethical stakes by introducing the element of adultery.
Anti-Catholic bias, a priest character who fails to uphold church teaching, strong sexual content, including graphic scenes of adulterous sexual activity with full nudity, a benign view of nonmarital and aberrant sex, at least one rough term, occasional crude and crass language.

—–

“The Man With the Iron Fists” (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.

Repulsively violent martial-arts fantasy in which a blacksmith — played by rapper RZA, who also directed and co-wrote the script — a secret agent for the emperor of China (Russell Crowe) and the heir of an assassinated warlord (Rick Yune) join forces to battle a variety of villains (principally Byron Mann and David Bautista), all of whom are out to purloin a shipment of imperial gold.
Far from administering stylized karate chops, warriors on both sides dismember, disembowel and even liquefy their enemies to sickening effect. Excessive bloody violence, gruesome images, graphic sexual activity, implied aberrant sex acts, a prostitution theme, drug use, an anti-Catholic slur, much rough language, a few crude or crass terms.

—–

“Skyfall” (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.

A rousing return for British Agent 007 and a much-needed injection of vitality into the 50-year-old James Bond film franchise, this 23rd outing for the iconic spy is directed by Sam Mendes.
Bond (Daniel Craig) and a field operative (Naomie Harris) are on the trail of a villain (Javier Bardem) who has stolen a computer disc containing the identities of every secret agent in the world. The sleazy megalomaniac uses the data to terrorize London and exact revenge on veteran counter-intelligence chief M (Judi Dench), who is also contending with the threat posed by a government rival (Ralph Fiennes) who seeks her job.
Though the violence quotient is undeniably high, Mendes’ film is thoughtful and character-driven, raising issues of loss, responsibility, patriotism and loyalty amid the battle of good vs. evil.
Scenes of intense action violence and torture, implied nonmarital sexual activity, mild sensuality and innuendo, some profane and rough language.

—–

“Somewhere Between” (Long Shot Factory)

The Catholic News Service classification is A-II — adults and adolescents. Not rated by the Motion Picture Association of America.

Filmmaker Linda Goldstein Knowlton’s documentary offers an unvarnished look at the awkwardness involved when Chinese-born adoptees in the U.S. seek to reconnect with their original culture and birth families, and as they struggle to forge an identity for themselves as adults.
Knowlton, herself the mother of a child adopted from China, follows the lives of four teenage girls in different parts of the country, one of whom is a devout evangelical Christian. She also charts the varied levels of interest those profiled display toward their homeland. Mature themes.

—–

“Wreck-It Ralph” (Disney)

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.

This clever 3-D animated adventure, directed by Rich Moore, ponders the meaning of life inside a video arcade machine once the “Game Over” message appears.
The perennial bad guy (voice of John C. Reilly) of the title wants to be just like his good-guy opponent (voice of Jack McBrayer). So he abandons his game for others in search of fame and glory. Along the way he encounters a violent warrior (voice of Jane Lynch) and an outcast (voice of Sarah Silverman) from a racing game with whom he bonds. The pair unites to overcome prejudice and embrace their differences, offering a positive lesson in self-esteem for young viewers.
Mild cartoonish violence, some rude humor.

—–

“Cloud Atlas” (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.

Sweeping screen version of David Mitchell’s 2004 novel — co-written and directed by Lana and Andy Wachowski and Tom Tykwer — that interweaves six connected stories set at different times between the 19th and 24th centuries. Tom Hanks leads an ensemble cast that also includes Halle Berry, Jim Broadbent, Hugo Weaving, Jim Sturgess, Doona Bae, Ben Whishaw, Keith David and James D’Arcy — all skillfully juggling multiple roles.
The half-dozen tales which make up the plot send mostly positive — if sometimes ponderously expressed — messages about the bonds uniting all human beings and the courage required to do the right thing on behalf of others. But one of the central relationships is a sympathetically portrayed romance between two men. An incidental extramarital affair, moreover, is treated as essentially harmless. Another plotline involves the debunking of a fictional faith that may or may not be intended as an attack on real-life religion, and the script at least hints that some of the characters may be reincarnations of people in the earlier sections of the vast chronology.
Considerable gory violence, including torture and a suicide, a benign view of homosexual acts and adultery, graphic premarital and nongraphic adulterous sexual activity, upper female and rear nudity, a same-sex kiss, a few uses of profanity, at least 20 rough terms, occasional crude language.

—–

“Chasing Mavericks” (Fox)

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.

Compelling fact-based portrait of Jay Moriarity (Jonny Weston), a gifted California surfer who, at the tender age of 15, took on the Mavericks, a famously formidable Golden State coastal spot where some of the largest waves in the world are found. Jay enlists his surfer-dude neighbor (Gerard Butler) as his trainer, while trying to help his alcoholic mother (Elisabeth Shue) rebuild her life, and working to win the heart of the prettiest girl (Leven Rambin) in his high school.
The film, co-directed by Curtis Hansen and Michael Apted, offers viewers — particularly teens — a refreshingly positive role model in the person of a young man who, despite a mountain of obstacles, inspires others with his inherent sense of goodness, perseverance, and self-discipline.
Intense sports scenes and some emotionally challenging moments.

—–

“Hellbound?” (Area23a)

The Catholic News Service classification is A-III — adults. Not rated by the Motion Picture Association of America.

Thought-provoking documentary showcasing a variety of viewpoints on the topic of hell. Filmmaker Kevin Miller interviews writers, theologians, ministers and even some heavy-metal rock musicians, asking questions about the existence of the inferno, its nature and its duration.
While the focus is mostly on the debate about this subject within the evangelical community, the Catholic standpoint is ably, albeit briefly, presented by Boston College professor — and celebrated apologist — Peter Kreeft. Both he and Orthodox Archbishop Lazar Puhalo of Ottawa, Ontario, come across as more reflective and humane in their outlook than some of the hard-line Protestant fundamentalists with whom Miller talks — and with whom he clearly disagrees.
Along with the obvious issue of its potentially upsetting theme, some less than kid-friendly images and words make this intelligent exploration of a weighty subject suitable for grown-ups only. A brief act of blasphemy, a few rough and crude terms.

—–

“Fun Size” (Paramount)

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.

In this Halloween-themed comedy, directed by Josh Schwartz, a high school senior (Victoria Justice) is forced by her widowed mom (Chelsea Handler) to take her mischievous little brother (Jackson Nicoll) trick-or-treating, despite her plans to attend a big costume party being given by the boy of her dreams (Thomas McDonell). When the siblings accidentally become separated, she turns to her best friend (Jane Levy) and two nerdy schoolmates (Thomas Mann and Osric Chau) to help find the missing tot. But their search soon descends into farce.
Some enjoyable humor — especially from Thomas Middleditch in the role of a slacker store clerk — and a pleasingly innocent central romance are drowned out by discordant notes that bar endorsement for the targeted age group. These include the revelation that one of the geeks has been raised by a lesbian couple as well as the pass given to an off-screen sexual encounter between two teens.
Frivolous treatment of homosexuality, adult cohabitation, implied nonmarital — and possibly underage — sexual activity, obscured rear and partial nudity, some sexual and scatological humor, at least one use of profanity, a few crude and crass terms.

—–

“Paranormal Activity 4” (Paramount)

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.
This extension of the durable horror franchise shifts the focus to a teen couple (Kathryn Newton and Matt Shively) whose lives are disrupted in increasingly eerie ways after her parents (Stephen Dunham and Alexondra Lee) take in her little brother’s (Aiden Lovekamp) weird playmate (Brady Allen) because his reclusive single mother (Katie Featherston) has been hospitalized.
The found footage conceit behind co-directors Henry Joost and Ariel Schulman’s flesh-crawler becomes strained at times, leaving moviegoers to wonder who would continue to carry a camera around with them while being terrorized by demons. But the comparatively restrained mayhem that has made this series more commendable than many of its genre competitors endures, though the young leads often express their shock or amazement via expletives and indulge in some sexual banter as well.
A few scenes of harsh but bloodless violence, some sexual and scatological humor, a few uses of profanity, about 20 rough and crude terms, references to occult hokum.

—–

Alex Cross” (Summit)

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 titular hero (Tyler Perry) of the best-selling crime novels by James Patterson anchors an action-packed thriller, directed by Rob Cohen. Together with his partners — a tough Irish cop (Edward Burns) and a rookie (Rachel Nichols) eager to stand toe to toe with the big guys — Tyler’s character, a detective and forensic psychologist, tracks a vicious serial killer (Matthew Fox) through the streets of Detroit.
The high-stakes game of cat and mouse becomes personal when tragedy strikes close to home, and the investigators’ search for justice is tinged by a desire for revenge. Fortunately, the strong violence is lightened by moments of humor, and the picture shows us the tender side to its protagonist, a devoted family man, as well as the role of faith in his life.
Intense violence, including torture, drug use, a brief nonmarital bedroom scene with partial nudity, a few instances each of profane and rough language.

—–

“Argo” (Warner Bros.)

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.

Engrossing thriller, based on real events, and set against the backdrop of the Iran hostage crisis of 1979-81. Tasked by his boss (Bryan Cranston) with rescuing the handful of U.S. embassy employees who managed to escape capture when that facility was overrun by armed militants, a CIA agent (Ben Affleck) hatches a seemingly far-fetched scheme: He’ll smuggle them out of Tehran — where they’ve been hiding in the Canadian embassy — disguised as a Canadian film crew scouting locations.
To do so convincingly, he enlists the aid of a Hollywood producer (Alan Arkin) and makeup artist (John Goodman), and together they drum up publicity for the imaginary film project of the title. Affleck, who also directed, masterfully alternates between life-or-death drama and high-stakes humor. Though both aspects of the story too frequently give rise to coarse dialogue, the canny patriotism and emotional impact of the picture — as scripted by Chris Terrio — make for a rousing experience.
Potentially disturbing scenes and images, an abortion reference, a half-dozen uses of profanity, many rough and crude terms.

—–

“Seven Psychopaths” (CBS)

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.

The line between reality and cinema is blurred in this powerful but excessively violent drama. The complex plot centers on a borderline-alcoholic screenwriter (Colin Farrell) and two of his friends (Christopher Walken and Sam Rockwell). The latter duo have a scam going that involves kidnapping dogs and getting cash rewards for returning them to their unsuspecting owners, who think the pets have just gone missing. Walken’s character uses the funds to finance his wife’s (Linda Bright Clay) breast cancer treatment.
But things go awry when they snatch a crazed gangster’s (Woody Harrelson) beloved pooch. They go on the lam, joined by the screen scribe who incorporates their experiences into a script he’s writing for a movie with the same title as this one.
Writer-director Martin McDonagh is firing on all aesthetic pistons, as too are his stars. But his serious meditation on the vicious cycle of wrongdoing and revenge — and the possibilities of living peacefully — is marred by off-the-charts bloodletting and scenes of sickening mayhem. Also lost in the queasy shuffle is his screenplay’s unusually forthright affirmation of an afterlife.
Pervasive gory violence, including torture and multiple suicides, nongraphic nonmarital sexual activity, a prostitution theme, upper female nudity, several uses of profanity, relentless rough and crude language.

—–

Frankenweenie” (Disney)

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.

After his beloved pet dog is killed in an accident, a socially isolated but scientifically gifted boy (voice of Charlie Tahan) uses stock monster-movie methods to bring the pooch back to life. His subsequent efforts to conceal his breakthrough from his parents (voices of Catherine O’Hara and Martin Short) and from his peers (voiced, among others, by Atticus Shaffer and James Hiroyuki Liao) go awry, however. And when his schoolmates try to emulate his feat, the results are temporarily disastrous.
Director Tim Burton’s skillful 3-D animated spoof of horror conventions might scare small fry, but will delight their older siblings and amuse parents as well.
Mild scatological humor and some science-fiction hokum.

—–

“Here Comes the Boom” (Columbia)

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 Frank Coraci extols the Christian virtue of self-sacrifice through the unlikely yet inspiring tale of an ordinary man who goes to extraordinary lengths to help others. When the penny-pinching principal (Greg Germann) of a failing public high school threatens to eliminate its popular music program — and axe the beloved teacher (Henry Winkler) who runs it — a faculty colleague (Kevin James) pledges to raise the funds needed to save the activity.
Having failed to do so by more conventional means, the onetime college wrestler becomes a mixed martial arts cage fighter. Despite being beaten to a pulp in each bout, he inspires his students and coworkers, especially the school nurse (Salma Hayek) who tenderly patches his wounds.
Realistic martial arts sequences, a brief scene of gross-out humor, one instance of crass language.

—–

“Pitch Perfect” (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.

Campus musical in which a college student (Anna Kendrick) joins an all-female a cappella group that’s on track to compete in an annual competition. Along the way to the singing showdown, she clashes with the ensemble’s traditionally minded leader (Anna Camp) and finds romance with a fellow music lover (Skylar Astin), despite his membership in a rival all-male band of warblers.
Though director Jason Moore’s multi-melody romp maintains a generally pleasing tone, some salty language and a lax outlook on premarital sexuality bar recommendation for youngsters.
Implied nonmarital relationships, adult themes and references, including to aberrant sexuality, a few uses of profanity, occasional crude and crass language, an obscene gesture.

—–

“Sinister” (Summit)

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.

Ethan Hawke plays a famed true-crime writer who moves his wife (Juliet Rylance) and two kids (Michael Hall D’Addario and Clare Foley) from their Connecticut mansion to a rambling Pennsylvania ranch house thinking he can solve an old murder that took place on the property. Instead he finds himself trapped in the vortex of an ancient killing ritual.
Director Scott Derrickson blends the hoary haunted house motif with the found footage formula of more recent years to mostly tepid results. But at least he goes relatively light on the gore.
Brief but explicit scenes of violence, some of it directed against children, grisly images, fleeting profanity, occasional rough language.

SPALDING PASTORAL CENTER | 419 NE MADISON AVENUE | PEORIA, IL 61603 | PHONE (309) 671-1550 | FAX (309) 671-1595
© Copyright 2020 - The Catholic Post || 2 || All Rights Reserved || Design by TBare.com