Recently released films reviewed on basis of moral suitability

Photo Caption: Teresa Palmer and Nicholas Hoult star in a scene from the movie “Warm Bodies.” The Catholic News Service classification is A-III — adults.

Rating: From Catholic News Service

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) 2013 Catholic News Service/U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.

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“Bullet to the Head” (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.

A 90-minute killing spree interspersed with banal dialogue and a weak, stale plot involving Sylvester Stallone as a hit man fighting mobsters in Louisiana.
Director Walter Hill and screenwriter Alessandro Camon adapt a French series of graphic novels by Alexis Nolent called “Headshot.” In doing so, they send the body count into double digits and the boredom factor into overdrive. A fetid gumbo of gunfire and stabbing.
Relentless violence, a vengeance theme, frequent upper female nudity, pervasive rough, crude and crass language.

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“Warm Bodies” (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.

Shakespeare’s “Romeo and Juliet” meets the zombie flick in this monster mash that, unusual for its genre, goes light on the gore and contains a surprising number of Christian-friendly themes.
After a mysterious virus has turned vast hoards of humanity into flesh-eating monsters, one of the undead (Nicholas Hoult) finds romance — and the possibility of being restored to life — in his relationship with a surviving human (Teresa Palmer).
Writer-director Jonathan Levine’s screen version of Isaac Marion’s novel presents love as the source of redemption and follows its protagonist’s discovery that self-denial in the form of resisting base desires can make us more human. Some restrained gory violence, occasional profanity, at least one instance of rough language, about a half-dozen crude terms.

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“Amour” (Sony Classics)

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.

An elderly couple (Jean-Louis Trintignant and Emmanuelle Riva) in Paris deals with the effects of the wife’s series of strokes, with escalating damage to the husband’s sanity.
Director Michael Haneke depicts both the enduring love and increasing desperation of a single caregiver. Late plot developments, however, make this French-language drama a film even adult viewers will need to approach with caution and prudence.
Subtitles. Mature themes and objectively immoral actions, fleeting upper female nudity, a single use of profanity, an instance of rough language.

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“Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters” (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.

Hyperviolent updating of the Grimm Brothers fairy tale has the title characters (Jeremy Renner and Gemma Arterton) grown and bent on missions of revenge against all the dark witches who inhabit the forests near medieval Augsburg, Germany.
Writer-director Tommy Wirkola strings near-nonstop mayhem on a bare thread of a plot involving missing children and Hansel and Gretel’s efforts to come to grips with their parents’ abandonment of them.
Pervasive gory violence, a vengeance theme, fleeting rear and upper female nudity, some rough and crude language.

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“Movie 43” (Relativity)

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.

Sick collection of gross-out comedy shorts framed by the story of a madman (Dennis Quaid) pitching his perverse script ideas to a Hollywood studio executive (Greg Kinnear).
Directors too numerous to list — 10 in all — labor vainly to draw humor from subjects like incest, menstruation, aberrant sexual desires and abortion. Inexplicably, stars from Hugh Jackman and Kate Winslet to Emma Stone and Richard Gere seem to have flocked to the queasy project. Moviegoers can go them one better by staying away from it.
Pervasive obscene and scatological humor, brief semigraphic sexual activity, full nudity, about a half-dozen uses of profanity, relentless rough and crude language.

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“Parker” (FilmDistrict)

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.

Bloody and violent adaptation of “Flashfire,” the 19th in the series of “Parker” novels written by Richard Stark, and directed by Taylor Hackford.
A professional thief (Jason Statham) is betrayed by his partners in crime and left for dead. He recovers, and fueled by revenge and greed, tracks the gang to Florida where they are planning the jewel heist of the century. There, a lonely real estate agent (Jennifer Lopez) offers her help in return for a piece of the action.
A benign view of stealing, considerable bloody violence including gunplay and knife fights, brief nudity, sexual innuendo, occasional profanity, frequent rough language.

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“Gangster Squad” (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.

Stylish but excessively violent cops-and-robbers tale set in 1940s Los Angeles and based on real events. To thwart an increasingly powerful mobster (Sean Penn) intent on making the City of Angels his own, the metropolis’ police chief (Nick Nolte) commissions an idealistic officer (Josh Brolin) to form the team of the title — made up, most prominently, of Ryan Gosling, Anthony Mackie and Giovanni Ribisi — which will operate outside the law to break the thug’s power.
The main characters in director Ruben Fleischer’s drama — which also stars Emma Stone as the hood’s goodhearted moll — occasionally express second thoughts about their methods. But screenwriter Will Beall’s script, adapted from Paul Lieberman’s eponymous book, presents their illegal actions as the only practical solution open to them.
Moviegoers will require maturity and prudence to work through the tangled ethics of the situation — and a strong stomach to endure the wild gunplay and interludes of brutality. Vigilantism theme, scenes of gruesome, bloody violence, a premarital situation, brief partial nudity, numerous uses of profanity, much rough and crude language.

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“Promised Land” (Focus)

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.

Reasonably entertaining message movie about the environmental dangers of drilling for natural gas using a method called hydraulic fracturing — fracking for short.
Matt Damon and Frances McDormand play a duo of energy company executives out to convince down-on-their-luck farmers in a rural Midwestern town to sell their land to the corporation, glibly promising them instant wealth. When they encounter opposition from a retired science professor (Hal Holbrook) and from a personable environmentalist (John Krasinski), who launches a fervent campaign to thwart them, Damon’s character begins to have second thoughts. His change of heart is also driven by his attraction to a local teacher (Rosemarie DeWitt) whose regard he comes to value.
A gifted cast and smooth direction by Gus Van Sant help to disguise the simplistic perspective and unmistakable anti-business bias underlying Damon and Krasinski’s script. And moviegoers committed to scriptural values will, of course, appreciate the prioritizing of stewardship over greed. But the proper balance between the two may appear quite different when viewed from a failing Iowa homestead rather than a Malibu beach house.
About a dozen uses of profanity, much rough and crude language.

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“Texas Chainsaw 3D” (Lionsgate)

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.

Desultory sequel to the low-budget 1974 gorefest, “The Texas Chainsaw Massacre.” In updating Tobe Hooper’s original, director John Luessenhop provides little to no shock value, but a high body count and splatter factor.
Dan Yeager plays Jed Sawyer, aka Leatherface, a chainsaw-wielding loony who’s out to avenge his family’s long-ago liquidation at the hands of a mob (led by Paul Rae) and to protect his cousin (Alexandra Daddario), the only other survivor of the slaughter.
A vengeance theme, extensive gruesome violence, including killings by chainsaw and axe, drug use, pervasive profane, rough and crude language, sexual banter.

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“Zero Dark Thirty” (Columbia)

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.

Challenging account, based on real events, of the decade-long hunt for terrorist leader Osama bin Laden. The action centers on a relentlessly determined CIA officer (Jessica Chastain) who uses intelligence hints, some obtained by a colleague (Jason Clarke) using torture, to track America’s public enemy number one to his fortified compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan. There, as enacted in the film’s climax, Navy SEALs killed him in May 2011.
While director Kathryn Bigelow and screenwriter Mark Boal have crafted a compelling drama, their movie’s moral stance is ambiguous. The harsh reality of so-called “enhanced interrogation” is graphically portrayed, yet the results of subjecting prisoners to it are shown to be effective. Viewers will need a strong grounding in their faith to discern the proper balance between the imperative of upholding human dignity and the equally grave obligation to save innocent human lives. They will also need to guard against the temptation to revel in the death of an evildoer.
Considerable violence, including scenes of torture and degradation, brief rear nudity, at least one use of profanity, frequent rough and crude language.

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Django Unchained” (Weinstein)

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.

Vengeance tale written and directed by Quentin Tarantino about a brutalized slave (Jamie Foxx) in the antebellum South who is first purchased, then liberated by a German-born bounty hunter (Christoph Walz). Together the pair conspires to rescue the ex-slave’s wife (Kerry Washington), who was sold away from him. But her current owner (Leonardo DiCaprio) is tipped off to their plans by a treacherous house slave (Samuel L. Jackson).
Tarantino unleashes the same hyper-violence against those participating in, and profiting from, the evil enterprise of slavery as he previously launched against Nazis in his 2009 historical wish-fulfillment fantasy “Inglourious Basterds.” Additionally, the horrific physical degradations endured by the victims of America’s “peculiar institution” are depicted with careful attention to historical detail. Not for the casual moviegoer or the easily jarred.
Revenge theme, pervasive and explicit bloody violence, a glimpse of full male nudity, fleeting upper female nudity, frequent profanity, constant rough language and racial slurs.

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“Jack Reacher” (Paramount)

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.

Tom Cruise as the title character sets out to clear a former military sniper (Joseph Sikora) accused of five murders in Pittsburgh. He is aided in his sleuthing by the veteran’s lawyer (Rosamund Pike). Writer-director Christopher McQuarrie has adapted a reasonably compelling detective story from Lee Child’s novel “One Shot.” But his protagonist turns out to be an amoral avenger. Pervasive violence including gunplay, implied drug use, frequent profanity.

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“Parental Guidance” (Fox)

The Catholic News Service classification is A-I — general patronage. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is PG — parental guidance suggested.

Family comedy stars Billy Crystal and Bette Midler as grandparents babysitting for — and trying to connect with — a trio of grandchildren (Bailee Madison, Joshua Rush and Kyle Harrison Breitkopf) they’ve barely seen before. Though they obviously mean well, director Andy Fickman and screenwriters Lisa Addario and Joe Syracuse produce some very stale and predictable situations. Childish scatological humor.

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“Les Miserables” (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.

Lavish adaptation of the worldwide musical stage sensation, based on the Victor Hugo novel and directed by Tom Hooper. Inspired by the kindness of a Catholic bishop (Colm Wilkinson), an ex-convict (Hugh Jackman) assumes a new identity and amends his life, becoming a benevolent mayor and factory owner, all the while evading the obsessive pursuit of his former jailer (Russell Crowe).
When one of his workers (Anne Hathaway) is unjustly fired and forced into a life of prostitution, he pledges to raise her daughter (Isabelle Allen) as his own. Years pass, and the now-grown lass (Amanda Seyfried) falls for a young revolutionary (Eddie Redmayne) amid violent protests on the barricaded streets of Paris.
A positive portrayal of the Catholic faith, with characters calling on God for grace and mercy, and seeking personal redemption while trying to better the lives of others, makes this rousing film especially appealing to mature viewers of faith. Scenes of bloody violence, a prostitution theme, nongraphic nonmarital sexual activity.

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