Recently released films reviewed on basis of moral suitability

Photo Caption: Jose Pablo Cantillo and Matt Damon star in a scene from the movie “Elysium.” The Catholic News Service classification is L — limited adult audience.

Rating: By 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 here.

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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“Elysium” (TriStar)

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.

Writer-director Neill Blomkamp’s dystopian action picture, set in the mid-22nd century, envisions a society divided between a despoiled Earth populated by oppressed workers and the idyllic satellite of the title where the rich live a life of ease — and enjoy miraculous medical technology. After a workplace accident exposes him to a lethal dose of radiation, a Los Angeles laborer (Matt Damon) is desperate to reach this orbiting world of privilege where he knows he can be healed. So he agrees to undertake a perilous spying mission for an underground guerilla leader (Wagner Moura) who has the resources to get him there. But the assignment brings him into conflict with the habitat’s ruthless secretary of defense (Jodie Foster) and with the brutal mercenary (Sharlto Copley) she uses as a secret agent to keep the downtrodden in line.
Well-intentioned but laden with harsh vocabulary and visuals, Blomkamp’s film succeeds more as a suspenseful adventure for stalwart grown-ups than as a parable about the plight of immigrants, restricted access to health care and the unequal division of resources. Much gory violence, some gruesome images, a few uses of profanity, considerable rough and crude language, several obscene gestures.

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“Planes” (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.

The anthropomorphic world of the “Cars” franchise is transported to the skies in this exhilarating 3-D animated adventure, directed by Klay Hall.
A spirited crop-duster (voice of Dane Cook) dreams of life as an air racer. He’s fast, but he has a potentially fatal flaw: Used to flying low and slow over the fields, he’s afraid of heights. Determined to succeed, he persuades a crusty veteran of wartime air battles (voice of Stacy Keach), to train him for a race around the world, where the aircraft to beat is a devious fellow American (voice of Roger Craig Smith).
The animation dazzles with acrobatic races over beautiful scenery, while the plot offers good lessons for kids about friendship and overcoming obstacles. A few perilous situations.

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“We’re the Millers” (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.

Posing as a family of clueless tourists, a drug dealer (Jason Sudeikis), his naive young neighbor (Will Poulter), a stripper (Jennifer Aniston) and a runaway teen (Emma Roberts) use a mobile home to transport a cargo of marijuana across the Mexican border so the pusher can clear a debt to his ruthless supplier (Ed Helms).
As they struggle to overcome various complications — including their run-in with a DEA agent (Nick Offerman) who’s vacationing with his wife (Kathryn Harris) and daughter (Molly Quinn) — the quartet begins to take on the characteristics, both positive and negative, of a real clan.
Director Rawson Marshall Thurber’s tawdry comedy purports to find humor in scenarios involving both aberrant sexual behavior and the mistaken perception of it. As it drips disdain for squares, religion and respectability, his film also sends the message that low-level trafficking in pot is a harmless way to make a living.
Skewed moral values, strong sexual content — including a same-sex encounter, voyeurism and full nudity — a benign view of drug use, much tasteless humor, including a scene mocking prayer, about a dozen uses of profanity, pervasive rough and crude language.

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“Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters” (Fox)

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

Problematic material occasionally mars this otherwise serviceable adventure sequel in which the title character (Logan Lerman) — a modern-day demigod whose father is the Greek ruler of the seas, Poseidon — embarks on a quest to find the Golden Fleece.
He’s accompanied on the journey by his two best friends — a satyr (Brandon T. Jackson) and the goddess Athena’s daughter (Alexandra Daddario) — as well as by his newly discovered half-brother (Douglas Smith). But another offspring of the Olympian deities, the rebellious son of Hermes (Jake Abel), is also after the magical hide, hoping to use it for his own nefarious purposes.
Special effects-generated creatures take priority over human characters in director Thor Freudenthal’s adaptation of the second in Rick Riordan’s series of novels for young people — a follow-up to 2010’s “Percy Jackson & the Olympians: The Lightning Thief.” Parents will want to be aware, moreover, that the mythological elements underlying the franchise seem to be emphasized with increased forcefulness here, while a passing reference to Christianity is at best ambiguous. Yet the script does promote youthful self-confidence, reconciliation with rivals, sibling solidarity and tolerance toward those perceived as different.
Steady but mostly bloodless violence, pagan themes, an irreverent joke, a few mildly crass terms. Probably acceptable for older adolescents.

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“The Way, Way Back” (Fox Searchlight)

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 potentially nostalgic summer vacation spent by the sea is tinged with family problems and teen angst in this coming-of-age comedy-drama, written and directed by Nat Faxon and Jim Rash.
A 14-year-old boy (Liam James) is miserable when forced to join his divorced mother (Toni Collette) at her boyfriend’s (Steve Carell) summer cottage. There the adults party hearty and the kids are left to their own devices.
A bicycle provides escape for the lad who discovers a run-down water park nearby. Its fun-loving manager (Sam Rockwell) takes him under his wing as a mentor and friend, and the surrogate father-son relationship proves mutually beneficial.
An adulterous relationship, acceptability of divorce, implied nonmarital sex, drug use, underage drinking, frequent crude and profane language.

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“The Smurfs 2” (Columbia)

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.

Those squishy blue elves with the white caps return in this jolly 3-D sequel to the 2011 film. Drawing once more on the widely beloved comic-book characters created by Belgian cartoonist Peyo (Pierre Culliford), returning director Raja Gosnell extends their adventures with a mix of animation and live action.
Evil human wizard Gargamel (Hank Azaria) kidnaps Smurfette (voice of Katy Perry) to get her to reveal the formula for “Smurf-essence,” which promises eternal beauty and unlimited power. Papa Smurf (voiced by Jonathan Winters, in his last film role) must organize a rescue mission with the help of a few human allies (principally Neil Patrick Harris and Jayma Mays).
Along the way there are positive messages about family and friendship. Moderately intense action sequences, some slapstick violence, mild scatological humor.

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“2Guns” (Universal)

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.

Not realizing that they have both been sent undercover by their respective government agencies to bust the same Mexican drug lord (Edward James Olmos), a DEA operative (Denzel Washington) and a naval intelligence officer (Mark Wahlberg) mistake each other for real criminals.
Viewers’ reactions to director Baltasar Kormakur’s adaptation of a series of graphic novels by Steven Grant will largely depend on their taste for the farfetched, corruption-driven complications that follow in the wake of this misunderstanding, most involving yet more federal employees (among them Paula Patton, Bill Paxton and James Marsden). Though clever at times, Kormakur’s buddy movie — a blend of action and comedy — is also frequently coarse and occasionally brutal. So the audience for which it can be considered appropriate is small.
Much violence, some of it harsh and gory, a nonmarital bedroom scene with upper female nudity, a few uses of profanity, constant rough and crude language.

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“R.I.P.D.” (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.

Scattershot action adventure about a corrupt Boston cop (Ryan Reynolds) who, inspired by the love of his trusting wife (Stephanie Szostak), decides to return to the straight and narrow. Informed of this change of heart, however, his even more crooked partner (Kevin Bacon) kills him and covers up the crime.
Waking up in the afterlife, the slain officer is given the opportunity to forestall judgment of his misdeeds by serving on a celestial police force called the Rest in Peace Department (lead by Mary-Louise Parker). Uneasily paired with a crusty Wild West-era lawman (Jeff Bridges), he must hunt down dead villains who have managed to evade divine justice by lingering on earth — a pursuit that eventually sheds new light on the circumstances of his own demise.
Director Robert Schwentke’s adaptation of Peter M. Lenkov’s series of graphic novels features convoluted post-mortem dynamics only some of which are compatible with Christian faith. Though Bridges struggles to sustain the proceedings with amusing bravado, the screenwriters’ attempt to combine a buddy movie with a special-effects extravaganza, a comedy and a redemptive romance dooms the film to attention-deficit ineffectiveness.
Much action violence with fleeting gore, a nongraphic marital bedroom scene, brief partial nudity, occasional adult humor, a few instances of profanity, considerable crude and crass language, a couple of obscene gestures.

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“The Wolverine” (Fox)

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.

Macho superhero adventure in which the titular character (Hugh Jackman) — whose distinctive gifts include tougher-than-steel claws that sprout from his hands — slices and dices his way through Japan while protecting the heiress (Tao Okamoto) to an old friend’s (Haruhiko Yamanouchi) industrial fortune.
Physical and emotional angst make director James Mangold’s action picture — based on Marvel’s X-Men mythos — a heavy lift for casual viewers. Still, the relentless combat involves only moderate gore, and occasional flashes of wit offer some relief from the fog of testosterone. Constant action violence with some blood, ritual suicides, a nonmarital bedroom scene, rear nudity, mature references, at least one use of the F-word, occasional crude and crass language.

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“The Conjuring” (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.

Demons get a presumption of truth and the run of the plot, while the solemn rite of exorcism is reduced to a kind of voodoo practiced by entrepreneurial ghostbusters with dubious credentials in cobwebbed New England basements.
Director James Wan and screenwriters Chad Hayes and Carey W. Hayes limn the story of one family’s struggle with evil spirits taking over their household, aided by real-life “demonologists” Ed and Lorraine Warren, played by Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga.
A skewed view of Catholic faith practices, intense action sequences, mild gore, fleeting profanity, and intense but nonviolent scenes involving children.

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