Good action, solid moral center for ‘The Hunger Games: Catching Fire’

Director Francis Lawrence has decreased the intensity of the violence on screen in the sequel to "the Hunger Games" but added at least one sexual flourish not found in the original story. "Catching Fire" resurrects the question why young people would want to flock to such a spectacle of youngsters battling to the death, even in fictional form.

Author’s ‘what if’ offers fascinating view of JFK’s second term

Author Jeff Greenfield probes what might have been if on that rainy day in Dallas the sun had not come out and the plastic "bubble" on the presidential car had not been removed. If it had stayed on, Greenfield plausibly posits, the shots that hit the president might have been serious, but not fatal.

’12 Years a Slave’ portrays inhumanity with brutal honesty

NEW YORK (CNS) -- If you thought Alex Haley's "Roots" was the definitive take on antebellum slavery in the United States, prepare for a harsh wake-up call with "12 Years a Slave" (Fox Searchlight).

A look at classic cinema’s depiction of personal holiness

The attainment of holiness may be every human being's vocation, but sanctity can be a difficult quality to capture in the dramatic arts. As the church's observance of the Year of Faith draws to a close, here in alphabetical order are capsule reviews of 10 movies that have successfully risen to the challenge of depicting personal holiness in a way that's both credible and engaging.

In ‘Best Man Holiday,’ religion takes a back pew to raucous shenanigans

NEW YORK (CNS) -- Piety and raucousness vie for screen time -- and make for an uneasy mix -- in the freewheeling sequel "The Best Man Holiday" (Universal). Predictably, perhaps, it's the less edifying elements that win out in this blend of comedy and drama: Talk of things spiritual yields center stage to bedroom shenanigans, locker room-level dialogue and even a catfight. Still, religion plays an unusually prominent role.

Thor’s ‘Dark World’ lightens up with levity, 3-D action

NEW YORK (CNS) -- Wielding his mighty hammer, the "God of Thunder" returns with a vengeance in "Thor: The Dark World" (Disney), a rousing 3-D adventure based on the popular Marvel Comics series.

New Christmas/Advent movie arrives in time for the holidays

A new non-biblical Christmas film that does not have Santa Claus, elves, or cartoon characters is coming soon. The focus of “The Christmas Candle” is not on the “holiday season” but on Christmas, and most especially the Advent season. It opens Nov. 22, distributed by a firm led by former Sen. Rick Santorum.

Movie review: Ender’s Game

NEW YORK (CNS) -- On its surface, "Ender's Game" (Summit) appears to be another futuristic science-fiction movie in which the fate of humanity hinges on the outcome of an epic battle waged in space. Countless aircraft will be obliterated and the hero will overcome significant adversity in order to vanquish a pernicious alien enemy.

Movie review: Last Vegas

NEW YORK (CNS) -- What happens in Vegas goes oh-so-slowly and sedately in "Last Vegas" (CBS).

Movie review: About Time

NEW YORK (CNS) -- If you could play God, would you -- or should you? That big question is at the heart of the romantic comedy "About Time" (Universal).