By Catholic News Service
NEW YORK (CNS) — The following are capsule reviews of movies recently reviewed by Catholic News Service.
“Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close” (Warner Bros.)
Devastated by the sudden loss of his devoted father (Tom Hanks), a victim of the terrorist attacks of 9/11, an introverted grade schooler (Thomas Horn) sets out to identify the purpose of a mysterious key he discovers among his dad’s belongings. His quest gains him the friendship of the traumatized German immigrant (Max von Sydow) who lodges with his grandmother and ultimately brings him closer to his seemingly grief-paralyzed mom (Sandra Bullock). Director Stephen Daldry’s grim drama, adapted from the best-selling novel by Jonathan Safran Foer, focuses on community, shared suffering and familial solidarity as it upholds positive, humanistic values. But the main character’s eccentricities — he may or may not have a mild form of autism — and the diffuse nature of his search, which brings him into contact with a whole series of strangers, makes it difficult for viewers to establish a sense of connection with his plight, and renders his story, for the most part, more emotionally trying than cathartic. Mature themes, some disturbing images, a transvestite character, a couple of crude terms, occasional vulgar wordplay. 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 Grey” (Open Road)
Survival story set in the Alaskan wilderness has an oil-rig worker (Liam Neeson) struggling to lead six other victims of a plane crash in their battle against marauding wolves. As directed and co-written by Joe Carnahan, the chases, killings and feats of courage are brisk but routine while the script (written in collaboration with Ian Mackenzie Jeffers, and based on Jeffers’ short story “Ghost Walker”) includes attempts at profundity and spiritual reflection that are wildly uneven. Given the meager rewards of trekking through it, even most adults would be well advised to decline this grueling cinematic journey altogether. Troubling themes — including suicide and one character’s blasphemous expression of despair — frequent gory animal attacks, at least one use of profanity, pervasive rough, crude and crass language. 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.
“The Iron Lady” (Weinstein)
Touching dramatization of the life of Margaret Thatcher (a glorious Meryl Streep), Britain’s first female prime minister, and arguably its most important post-World War II politician. Shuttling between the present day, with Thatcher suffering from dementia and short-term memory loss, and flashbacks recounting significant passages in the handbag-wielding ex-leader’s life — including her romance with future husband Denis (Jim Broadbent) — director Phylidda Lloyd’s film is sympathetic yet fair, Despite a few historical inaccuracies and moments of overemotional fluff, her portrait is both intimate and educational. Viewers of faith will appreciate its explicitly pro-family celebration of Thatcher’s successful marriage as well as its implicitly pro-life vindication of her dignity (and enduring perceptiveness) despite mental frailty. Two scenes of terrorist attacks, documentary footage of real-life violence, a glimpse of upper female nudity, a few instances of crass British slang. 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.
“Underworld: Awakening” (Screen Gems)
In this fourth installment of the horror-fantasy series, Kate Beckinsale squeezes into the black vinyl tights again as Selene, avenging warrior of the Vampire clan. She battles werewolves called Lycans as well as predatory human scientists, and learns she has a daughter (India Eisley). Co-directors Mans Marlind and Bjorn Stein serve up a familiar and somewhat dreary formula of neck-bitings, stabbings, martial-arts kicks and more gunfire than Custer’s last stand. Stylized gun, knife and martial-arts violence, brief, shadowy upper female nudity. The Catholic News Service rating is A-III — adults. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is R — restricted. Under 17 requires accompanying parent or adult guardian.