Home » Archive by category 'Movies' (Page 5)

‘Beauty (‘must-see film intended for children’) and the Beast’ (‘agenda at odds with Christian values’)

By

Catholic News Service

Disney’s live-action adaptation of its beloved 1991 animated film “Beauty and the Beast” arrives in theaters amid controversy over the updating of one of its characters into an openly gay man.

Emma Watson stars in a scene from the movie "Beauty and the Beast." The Catholic News Service classification is L -- limited adult audience, films whose problematic content many adults would find troubling. . (CNS photo/Disney)

Emma Watson stars in a scene from the movie “Beauty and the Beast.” The Catholic News Service classification is L — limited adult audience, films whose problematic content many adults would find troubling. . (CNS photo/Disney)

The decision of the studio, director Bill Condon (“Dreamgirls”), and screenwriters Stephen Chbosky and Evan Spiliotopoulos to reimagine LeFou (Josh Gad), sidekick of the villainous Gaston (Luke Evans), as Disney’s so-called “first gay character” is a regrettable one. A cherished family film has, in essence, been appropriated for an underlying agenda that is firmly at odds with Christian values.

Parents will have a hard time explaining to their kids, as most know the cartoon by heart, why LeFou has jumped on the homosexual bandwagon. His amorous advances to Gaston, proud display of a bite mark from Gaston on his stomach (due to “wrestling”), and ultimate dance in the arms of another man will raise eyebrows, to say the least.

Admittedly, many grown moviegoers will take LeFou’s transformation in stride. “Beauty and the Beast,” however, is a must-see film intended for children. Given the clear intent to make a statement with the character in question, the restrictive classification assigned below is a caution for viewers of faith, especially parents.

The pall cast over “Beauty and the Beast” is unfortunate, as the film is largely an imaginative and engaging work with an arresting visual style. An old-fashioned Hollywood musical at heart, it brims with familiar songs by Alan Menken and whirling dance sequences worthy of Busby Berkeley.

Like the cartoon, this film is loosely based on the 1740 fairy tale by Gabrielle-Suzanne Barbot de Villeneuve. The eponymous lovely, Belle (Emma Watson), is a spirited maiden in a French village who longs for excitement.

“I want adventure in the great-wide somewhere,” she warbles. “I want so much more than they’ve got planned!”

Be careful what you wish for, dearie. No sooner does she spurn the advances of the vain hunter Gaston than Belle winds up imprisoned in a haunted castle, having swapped places with her kidnapped father, Maurice (Kevin Kline).

Enter said Beast (Dan Stevens), aka The Prince. We learn in an extended prologue that this handsome royal was transferred into a horned (but infinitely more dapper) version of Chewbacca from the “Star Wars” franchise by Agathe (Hattie Morahan), an enchantress, as punishment for his selfishness.

Agathe’s curse extended to The Prince’s staff, who became not furry creatures but household objects. These exceedingly loquacious items include Cogsworth (Ian McKellen), a stuffy mantel clock; Lumiere (Ewan McGregor), a dancing candelabra; Mrs. Potts (Emma Thompson), a motherly teapot, and her cup of a son, Chip (Nathan Mack); and musical duo Cadenza (Stanley Tucci), a harspichord, and Garderobe (Audra McDonald), a wardrobe.

Only if Beauty grows to love the Beast will the spell be broken, which seems a very long shot for this odd couple. A courtship ensues, with a lesson on looking beyond outward appearances for true love, until a vengeful Gaston raises an angry mob to kill the Beast, casting doubt on a happy ending.

Even in the absence of the hot-button issue already discussed, young children might be frightened by several dark moments in the movie, including attacks by wolves and Gaston’s violent assault on the Beast’s castle.

The film contains a few scenes of peril and action violence, a benign view of homosexual activity, and some sexual innuendo. 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.

 

Comments Off on ‘Beauty (‘must-see film intended for children’) and the Beast’ (‘agenda at odds with Christian values’)

‘Logan’ presents dreary killing fest

March 3rd, 2017 Posted in Movies Tags: , ,

By

Catholic News Service

Moviegoers unwise enough to take in a showing of “Logan,” the 10th installment of the Marvel Comics-based X-Men series, will discover that the very first word of the dialogue is a four-letter one beginning with “F” and the last image of the film is sacrilegious.

Patrick Stewart and Hugh Jackman star in a scene from the movie "Logan." The Catholic News Service classification is O -- morally offensive.  (CNS photo/Fox)

Patrick Stewart and Hugh Jackman star in a scene from the movie “Logan.” The Catholic News Service classification is O — morally offensive. (CNS photo/Fox)

In between, the grumpy mutant of the title (Hugh Jackman), a character better known as Wolverine, uses his machete-like claws to perforate all who threaten him.

His main adversary is Donald Pierce (Boyd Holbrook). Pierce is an agent of Transigen, a company that has set itself the goal of eliminating all mutants not under their control.

That includes Logan’s current housemates, Professor Charles Xavier (Patrick Stewart) and the albino Caliban (Stephen Merchant), as well as Laura (Dafne Keen), a young girl with blades like his own who, as the plot progresses, comes under Logan’s reluctant protection.

Set in the near future, director James Mangold’s action adventure poses as a redemption story for its bad-tempered protagonist. Logan gradually has his disgust with the world softened by Laura’s presence. He also improves his strained relationship with Charles.

But in the midst of all that, he carries on a spree of beheadings, impalements and limb lopping as he vents his anger and his enemies. Worse yet, Laura behaves in a similarly vicious manner, balletically jumping form one extra’s back to the next one’s shoulders as she, so to speak, digs in.

As though this duo wasn’t enough, Transigen has been developing another blade wielder who, once unleashed, starts to get under Logan’s skin.

The upshot is a dreary killing fest that’s gutsy in all the wrong ways.

The film contains excessive gory violence, upper female nudity, about a half-dozen uses of profanity and pervasive rough and crude language. The Catholic News Service classification is O, morally offensive. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is R.

 

Mulderig is on the staff of Catholic News Service.

 

Comments Off on ‘Logan’ presents dreary killing fest

‘The Shack’ seeks to justify the ways of God

March 3rd, 2017 Posted in Movies Tags: , ,

By

Catholic News Service

“The Shack,” director Stuart Hazeldine’s screen version of William Paul Young’s best-selling novel, represents a serious effort to tackle the problem of evil from a Christian perspective. As such, it will be welcomed by believers.

Octavia Spencer and Sam Worthington star in a scene from the movie "The Shack." The Catholic News Service classification is A-III -- adults.  (CNS photo/Lionsgate)

Octavia Spencer and Sam Worthington star in a scene from the movie “The Shack.” The Catholic News Service classification is A-III — adults. (CNS photo/Lionsgate)

While objectionable elements are virtually absent from the film, however, patches of dialogue discounting the value of religion, here implicitly set in opposition to faith broadly speaking, and hinting that God is indifferent to how we worship him mean that impressionable viewers should keep their distance. So, too, does the morally problematic treatment of a dark and long-kept secret.

After his young daughter, Missy (Amelie Eve), is abducted and murdered, previously devout churchgoer Mackenzie “Mack” Phillips (Sam Worthington) has a crisis of faith. But a note from “Papa,” his wife, Nan’s (Radha Mitchell), nickname for God, leads to an encounter with the Trinity near the titular hideout where evidence of Missy’s death was uncovered that alters his perspective.

Octavia Spencer plays an unflappable, warmhearted God the Father, Avraham Aviv Alush a fun-loving Jesus and Sumire a serene Holy Spirit. As Spencer bakes, Sumire gardens and Alush tinkers in his carpentry shed, Worthington learns to see his own tragedy as a spiritual death that offers the prospect of resurrection.

While some may be uncomfortable with the fact that both the Father and the Holy Spirit manifest themselves to the protagonist as women, given that they would be free to do so in whatever guise they chose, this is no real objection, all the more so since Spencer eventually morphs, when it seems advisable, into a paternal Graham Greene.

The narrative’s brief descent from nondenominationalism into outright indifferentism and its suggestion that religion is “too much work” are more substantial defects. While Mack has much to forgive, moreover, he has a shocking crime in his own background that the movie seems to excuse too easily.

Beautiful settings and a sense of humor help to keep the somewhat overlong proceedings from bogging down in sentimentality. But the script, penned by John Fusco, Andrew Lanham and Destin Cretton, takes on too many weighty subjects, from the suffering of innocents to the need for forgiveness, to treat any one of them in a fully satisfying way.

Still, on the whole, this is an intriguing endeavor to accomplish the same goal British poet John Milton set himself in writing his masterpiece, “Paradise Lost,” namely,” to justify the ways of God to men.”

The film contains scenes of domestic violence and mature themes requiring careful discernment. The Catholic News Service classification is A-III, adults. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is PG-13.

 

Mulderig is on the staff of Catholic News Service.

 

Comments Off on ‘The Shack’ seeks to justify the ways of God

The end is the beginning in ‘Before I Fall’

March 3rd, 2017 Posted in Movies Tags: , ,

By

Catholic News Service

Sound values underlie the conversion story “Before I Fall.” But the path toward its positive conclusion takes twists and turns that will give the parents of targeted teens pause in considering whether their kids should travel it.

Logan Miller and Zoey Deutch star in a scene from the movie "Before I Fall." The Catholic News Service classification is A-III -- adults. (CNS photo/Open Road)

Logan Miller and Zoey Deutch star in a scene from the movie “Before I Fall.” The Catholic News Service classification is A-III — adults. (CNS photo/Open Road)

Early on in the film, its main character, seemingly successful high school student Samantha Kingston (Zoey Deutch), is killed in a car crash. But instead of this being the end of her tale, it turns out to be just the beginning.

Samantha awakens again on the morning of her last day on earth, a period of time, she soon discovers, that she will be forced to relive over and over until she discerns what she needs to change about her life to escape the cycle. The relationships she has to re-evaluate include those with her trio of closest pals, Lindsay (Halston Sage), Ally (Cynthy Wu) and Elody (Medalion Rahirri).

Additionally, she’ll need to re-examine her bond with her shallow boyfriend, Rob (Kian Lawley), her treatment of Kent (Logan Miller), the less glamorous but more caring lad who has loved her from afar since childhood, and her persecution of troubled schoolmate Juliet (Elena Kampouris) whom Samantha and her clique relentlessly torment.

Symptomatic of the problem with director Ry Russo-Young’s adaptation of Lauren Oliver’s 2010 novel for young adults is Samantha’s attitude toward romance and sexuality. This is another area in which her values take a posthumous turn for the better. Yet her starting point on this journey finds her besties celebrating the fact that she is about to lose her virginity, and presenting her with a condom for the occasion.

Together with some of the language in Maria Maggenti’s script, such behavior makes “Before I Fall” a risky proposition for any but grownups.

The time loop conceit inevitably invites comparison with the 1993 comedy “Groundhog Day.” For Catholic moviegoers, at least, Samantha’s experience also can be viewed from a theological perspective as representing a sort of purgatory through which she must pass.

The fact that she not only sees through the illusions that have blinded her in the past but reaches a high level of compassion and altruism fittingly fulfills the goal of that cleansing state. So it’s a shame that other aspects of the movie preclude endorsement for the young people at whom “Before I Fall” is clearly aimed.

The film contains semi-graphic premarital sexual activity, partial nudity, underage drinking, a single use each of profanity and rough language, a mild oath, frequent crude talk and mature references, including to homosexuality. The Catholic News Service classification is A-III, adults. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is PG-13.

 

Mulderig is on the staff of Catholic News Service.

 

Comments Off on The end is the beginning in ‘Before I Fall’

Drug heist and kidney crisis ‘Collide’

February 27th, 2017 Posted in Movies Tags: , , ,

By

Catholic News Service

As its title implies, “Collide” involves vehicular mayhem.

There’s so much high-speed demolition derby, in fact, that it becomes somewhat more entertaining, just on the basis of sheer volume, to focus on that rather than the thin drug-smuggling plot. But director Eran Creevy, who co-wrote the screenplay with F. Scott Frazier, intends all of this with tongue firmly planted in cheek.

We know this because Geran (Ben Kingsley), who hires Casey (Nicholas Hoult), a young American living in Germany, to hijack a truck smuggling cocaine, keeps calling him “Burt Reynolds.” It’s a 1970s reference, meant to imply that Casey’s just a good ol’ boy.

Casey’s career up to now has involved stealing cars and trucks for Geran. He’s despondent about where his life has taken him.

At a rowdy nightclub, he meets another American, Juliette (Felicity Jones), and their whirlwind romance sets him on a new course working honestly in an auto salvage yard. She’s dazzling, quirky and in desperate need of a kidney transplant for which the German health system will not pay.

Raising that kind of money necessitates a return to crime, an immoral means to a good end. So Casey agrees to participate in the complicated drug heist, which is being led by Hagen (Anthony Hopkins), Geran’s former partner and a leading German kingpin.

What could go wrong? Virtually everything. Casey, accordingly, has to escape Hagen and his torturing henchmen repeatedly, and rescue Juliette after they take her hostage.

Steal something, speed, crash, repeat. Watch the pretty muscle cars rushing by.

The outline for a bare-bones thriller is clearly here. But the story loses quite a bit in the execution, and the characters and dilemmas prove less than compelling.

The film contains gun and physical violence and fleeting rough language. The Catholic News Service classification is A-III — adults. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is PG-13.

 

      Jensen is a guest reviewer for Catholic News Service

Comments Off on Drug heist and kidney crisis ‘Collide’

‘Rock Dog’ — Sheep, dogs and rock ‘n’ roll

February 27th, 2017 Posted in Movies Tags: , ,

By

Catholic News Service

“You ain’t nothin’ but a hound dog,” Elvis Presley crooned six decades ago. That pretty well describes “Rock Dog,” a feeble animated comedy about a canine with unlikely musical aspirations.

On Snow Mountain, high in the Himalayas, a Tibetan Mastiff named Bodi (voice of Luke Wilson) is stuck in the shadow of his stern father, Khampa (voice of J.K. Simmons). Their two-dog mission is to guard the village from marauding wolves eager to eat the resident sheep population.

Animated characters Bodi, voiced by Luke Wilson and Angus Scattergood, voiced by Eddie Lzzard, star in a scene from the movie "Rock Dog." 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.(CNS photo/Lionsgate)

Animated characters Bodi, voiced by Luke Wilson and Angus Scattergood, voiced by Eddie Lzzard, star in a scene from the movie “Rock Dog.” 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.(CNS photo/Lionsgate)

Bodi prefers playing his guitar to sentry duty. When a passing airplane drops a radio from the sky, it’s like manna from heaven. Turning the dial to a rock ‘n’ roll station (reception is remarkably clear), Bodi is entranced by the music of legendary rock-and-roller Angus Scattergood (voice of Eddie Izzard).

The village elder, fittingly named Fleetwood Yak (voice of Sam Elliott), convinces Khampa to let his son leave the village and seek his destiny in the big city.

“It’s your life. Make it a happy one,” Fleetwood tells Bodi.

So Bodi hops the bus (mass transit is also surprisingly good), lands in the nearby metropolis, filled with anthropomorphic species, and seeks out Angus’ heavily guarded compound.

The aging rocker, a hipster cat with a British accent and a sassy robot butler named Ozzie, invites the awestruck fan into his lair, but his motives are not sincere. Angus needs a new hit, and Bodi’s fresh talent might be just the ticket.

Meanwhile, the big bad wolf pack, led by Linnux (voice of Lewis Black), is inspired by Bodi’s departure to mount a final assault on Snow Mountain. Sporting gangster attire and driving stretch limos, these cool dudes have one goal in mind: feasting on grilled lamb chops.

Director and co-writer (with Kurt Voelker) Ash Bannon keeps the story moving while borrowing heavily from other animated films, including “Zootopia” and “WALL-E.”

Despite the dangers characters occasionally face and Angus’ mildly intemperate language (he says things like “stupid bloody idiot!”), “Rock Dog” is mindless fare acceptable for all. except possibly the most easily frightened.

The film contains a few scenes of peril. The Catholic News Service classification is A-I — general patronage. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is PG.

 

Comments Off on ‘Rock Dog’ — Sheep, dogs and rock ‘n’ roll

‘Get Out’ — Guess who’s coming to frighten you

By

Catholic News Service

Is the thriller “Get Out” as good as all get out? Well, not exactly.

Clever social commentary from writer-director Jordan Peele does add heft to the proceedings. But late scenes featuring some gory encounters, together with swearing throughout, make his film a rugged ride even for grown-ups.

Daniel Kaluuya and Allison Williams star in a scene from the movie "Get Out."  (CNS/Universal)

Daniel Kaluuya and Allison Williams star in a scene from the movie “Get Out.” (CNS/Universal)

In a setup reminiscent of 1967’s “Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner,” young black photographer Chris Washington (Daniel Kaluuya), is about to meet his white live-in girlfriend Rose’s (Allison Williams) parents — Missy (Catherine Keener) and Dean (Bradley Whitford) Armitage — for the first time.

In lieu of the earlier movie’s titular meal, the occasion for Chris’ introduction to the family is to be a weekend visit to the Armitages’tony estate in the country.

While Chris is prepared for the initial awkwardness Missy and Dean display as they go out of their way to show they’re not bigots, less predictable developments leave him increasingly unsettled. There’s Rose’s weirdly aggressive brother Jeremy (Caleb Landry Jones), for instance, who seems to be spoiling for a martial-arts smackdown with Chris.

Then, too, there’s the Armitages’ strangely subdued, zombie-like household staff: maid Georgina (Betty Gabriel) and gardener Walter (Marcus Henderson). In fact, Chris is disturbed by the behavior of pretty much everyone he meets during his stay, on both sides of the racial divide.

As things turn ever more sinister, Peele adeptly uses horror tropes to comment on slavery, racism and liberal pieties. The plot’s denouement, however, comes dipped in a needless amount of blood.

This wrap-up is also clearly designed to incite the audience to cheer as an array of villains meet satisfyingly grisly ends. It’s ironic and unfortunate that a picture aimed at satirizing one negative aspect of human nature should eventually appeal to another.

The film contains some harsh and bloody violence, cohabitation, at least one use of profanity and pervasive rough and crude 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.

 

Mulderig is on the staff of Catholic News Service.

 

Comments Off on ‘Get Out’ — Guess who’s coming to frighten you

‘Fist Fight’ a dirty jokes mess in the parking lot after school

February 22nd, 2017 Posted in Movies Tags: , ,

By

Catholic News Service

We have to inquire: What kinds of audience laughter are the makers of the misbegotten “Fist Fight” going for?

Broad guffaws at human frailties? Nope, none of that. Expansive hoots at outrageous physical comedy? Again, not here.

Charlie Day and Ice Cube star in a scene from the movie "Fist Fight." The Catholic News Service classification is O -- morally offensive. (CNS photo/Warner Bros.)

Charlie Day and Ice Cube star in a scene from the movie “Fist Fight.” The Catholic News Service classification is O — morally offensive. (CNS photo/Warner Bros.)

That leaves bitter, humorless sneering at various forms of human degradation. If there’s a sweet spot for that, this film has found it.

Director Richie Keen and screenwriters Van Robichaux and Evan Susser have constructed this unpleasant mess as a series of dirty jokes.

It’s the last day of the academic year at a crumbling Atlanta public high school, which has a tradition of year-end senior pranks. So a lot of these, usually involving crude sexual imagery or animal abuse, go on while the faculty worry about impending layoffs.

Nebbishy English teacher Andy Campbell (Charlie Day) is fearful of losing his job because his wife is pregnant. And Strickland (Ice Cube), the only member of the staff who actually stands up to the pranksters, does so with nearly feral outbursts in a misguided attempt to maintain his dignity and authority.

Finally, Strickland has had too much of the high jinks and, with Andy in tow, goes after a student with a fire axe. Principal Tyler (Dean Norris) then has to decide, before the last bell, which one of the two is going to get the figurative axe as a result. With some urging from Andy, he chooses Strickland.

So Strickland challenges Andy to an after-school brawl in the parking lot, and the ensuing complications take up the rest of the plot, with much ridicule directed at Andy’s fears along the way.

The film contains strong sexual content, including pornographic images and masturbation, drug use and pervasive rough and crude language. 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.

 

Jensen is a guest reviewer for Catholic News Service.

 

Comments Off on ‘Fist Fight’ a dirty jokes mess in the parking lot after school

‘The Great Wall’ — A deeply implausible, shallow spectacle

February 22nd, 2017 Posted in Movies Tags: , ,

By

Catholic News Service

Those seeking nothing more from a movie than sheer spectacle may be satisfied with director Zhang Yimou’s visually interesting but thoroughly implausible action adventure “The Great Wall.”     

Epic in scale, the film is shallow in emotion and characterization. On the upside though, its central romance is completely chaste and its dialogue mostly free of cursing.

Matt Damon stars in a scene from the movie "The Great Wall." The Catholic News Service classification is A-III -- adults. (CNS Universal)

Matt Damon stars in a scene from the movie “The Great Wall.” The Catholic News Service classification is A-III — adults. (CNS Universal)

To appreciate those assets, however, viewers will first have to swallow a whopper of a premise. Drawn by the wealth they could gain by introducing gunpowder into the West, two medieval European mercenaries, William Garin (Matt Damon) and Pero Tovar (Pedro Pascal), arrive in China after an arduous journey during which they were harried, as the opening scenes show, by unidentified adversaries.

But an unpleasant surprise awaits the visitors. As they soon discover, their unwilling hosts are preoccupied with battling vicious alien monsters called the Tao Tei. It was to defend against these marauding creatures that the famous structure of the title was built.

Or so, at least, the script, written by Carlo Bernard, Doug Miro and Tony Gilroy, attempts to inform us with a straight face.

William gradually becomes committed to this struggle, not least because he’s attracted to Lin Mae (Jing Tian), the fetching commander of one division of the local forces, the Crane Corps (think Cirque du Soleil with spears). But Pero remains focused on the original scheme.

He’s abetted in it by Ballard (Willem Dafoe), another traveler who came to the Middle Kingdom years before for exactly the same purpose as the new arrivals, and has been held prisoner ever since.

What with catapults launching great balls of fire and innumerable colorfully uniformed soldiers manning the ramparts, there’s plenty to absorb the eye. As for the brain or heart, not so much.

Super-skilled archer William undergoes something of a conversion, evolving from a lone wolf who boasts of trusting no one to a team player, at least where Lin Mae is concerned. And the movie’s conclusion does show him putting loyalty to Pero above potential profit, a choice the screenplay implicitly but unmistakably endorses.

But he remains merely the battle-hardened, scarred warrior type rather than a fully rounded person. Nor is there much individuality to Lin Mae.

Given that these two never so much as kiss, on the other hand, and that the screenplay is seldom marred by vulgarity, many parents may consider “The Great Wall” acceptable for older teens. All the more so since the mayhem of the fight against the Tao Tei is portrayed far more suggestively than graphically.

The film contains action violence with little gore, a mild oath as well as at least one crude and a couple of crass terms. The Catholic News Service classification is A-III, adults. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is PG-13.

 

Mulderig is on the staff of Catholic News Service.

 

Comments Off on ‘The Great Wall’ — A deeply implausible, shallow spectacle

The 10 best movies and family films of 2016 from Catholic News Service

February 20th, 2017 Posted in Featured, Movies Tags: ,

By

Catholic News Service

The quality of the best Hollywood films was higher in 2016 than in some recent years. But the outstanding movies of the 12 months just past tended to deal with challenging subject matter. Assassination, the exactions of combat, even religious repression enforced through torture were all dealt with in a skillful way, but also in a manner not likely to appeal to the casual moviegoer. Read more »

Comments Off on The 10 best movies and family films of 2016 from Catholic News Service
Marquee Powered By Know How Media.