Mr. Peabody & Sherman (Fox)
Baby boomers may remember the titular characters of "Mr. Peabody & Sherman" — a hyper-intellectual dog whose many accomplishments include his invention of a time-traveling device called the WABAC machine, and the perky human son Mr. Peabody adopted as an infant, after finding him abandoned in an alley. Craig Wright's screenplay adds a tiresome amount of potty humor to the elaborate, sometimes groan-inducing puns characteristic of the original material. And a lone adult-themed play on words, though it will certainly fly over youngsters' heads, still seems jarringly out of place. But basic history lessons for the youngest moviegoers, together with a worthy message about respecting people of different backgrounds — even if they do happen to be canines — endow this more than usually literate children's adventure with some countervailing virtues. Scenes of mild peril, several scatological jokes and sight gags and a single double entendre. (A-I, PG)
Airport pat-downs are nothing compared to the severe smackdowns administered by troubled air marshal Bill Marks (Liam Neeson) as he slams his way through this popcorn thriller. Though Marks' rough ways — together with a bit of risque humor — set this turbulent trip off limits for kids, most grownups will likely handle the bumps along the way without much difficulty. The rapid pace and frequent plot twists of director Jaume Collet-Serra's thriller divert attention from its improbabilities. As with Agatha Christie's "Murder on the Orient Express," genuine suspense pervades the proceedings because every single person onboard is a potential suspect. The solution to it all can be said to involve a surprisingly laudable goal pursued in a deeply immoral — and thoroughly crackpot — manner. So to the degree that this jump across the puddle carries any ethical cargo, it's the familiar maxim that good ends do not justify sinful (much less homicidal) means. Considerable harsh but mostly bloodless violence, brief nongraphic sexual activity between incidental characters, some adult references, numerous uses of profanity, at least one instance of the F-word as well as several crude and crass terms. (A-III, PG-13).
300: Rise of an Empire (Warner Bros)
Blood and guts sloshing across the big screen in slow motion 3-D must be someone's idea of a cinematic treat; otherwise, we'd have been spared "300: Rise of an Empire," both a prequel and a sequel to 2007's "300." It serves up a second helping of the choreographed violence and warrior beefcake that characterized its predecessor, with ancient Greeks and Persians once again battling for supremacy of the Aegean peninsula. Don't even try to keep a count of the stabbings, beheadings, maimings and immolations on display. All are intended to demonstrate the triumph of good over evil, and reinforce such militaristic platitudes as, "There is no nobler cause than to fight beside the man who would lay down his life to save you." Relentless gory and sometimes gruesome fighting, a graphic nonmarital sex scene, nudity, skimpy costumes and some rough language. (L, R)
—Catholic News Service
CNS classifications: A-I --- general patronage; A-II --- adults and adolescents; A-III --- adults; L --- limited adult audience, films whose problematic content many adults would find troubling; O --- morally offensive. Full-length reviews: www.catholicnews.com/movies.html.