Parental Guidance

Parental Guidance: Exodus: Gods and Kings, Plus Guardians of the Galaxy on DVD

We give you what you need to know about the family-friendliness of this week's new releases.

by | December 11, 2014 | Comments

In Theaters This Week:

Exodus: Gods and Kings

30%

Rating: PG-13, for violence including battle sequences and intense images.

This massive biblical epic from director Ridley Scott makes his Oscar-winning Gladiator look like an independent film by comparison. Presented in 3-D and heavy on the visual effects, it’s the Old Testament story of Moses leading hundreds of thousands of Hebrew slaves out of Egypt to freedom. That means plagues — lots of em — from frogs to locusts to boils. (The boils are especially gnarly.) And because everything has gotten so out of control and overpopulated under the reign of the inept Ramses (Joel Edgerton), slaves are thrown into enormous fires to thin out the city. There are also several major battle scenes, perilous chariot chases and a pummeling wall of water once Moses (Christian Bale) has finished parting the Red Sea. Between the violence, the subject matter and the running time of nearly two and a half hours, this is probably best suited only for the most mature tweens and older.

New On DVD:

Guardians of the Galaxy

92%

Rating: PG-13, for intense sequences of sci-fi violence and action, and for some language.

The cheekiest, wackiest blockbuster of the past summer, but it also features all the massive violence and destruction you’d expect from a movie of this genre. Based on the Marvel Comics series about a rag-tag group of misfits who band together to save the galaxy, it begins with a child witnessing a parent’s death, followed by his abduction by otherworldly beings. That child grows up to be the brash space scavenger Peter Quill (Chris Pratt), who refers to himself as Star-Lord and becomes an unlikely hero. Among the other characters are the muscular, brutish Drax the Destroyer (Dave Bautista) and a talking, gun-toting raccoon named Rocket voiced hilariously by Bradley Cooper. Guardians also features a couple of dark and intimidating villains, and everyone’s after a powerful, mystical orb that’s capable of causing some major damage. The spectacle is massive in director James Gunn’s film but cartoonishly so. My son was almost 5 when he attended the screening with me and wasn’t frightened by anything, but some of the seriously traumatic stuff might have gone over his head. If your child has seen this sort of comics-inspired movie before, he or she will probably be OK.

Dolphin Tale 2

66%

Rating: PG, for some mild thematic elements.

This is a sequel to the 2011 family film Dolphin Tale and, like its predecessor, it’s exceedingly earnest and harmless entertainment. There’s something sort of sweet and quaint about that, though. Winter, the dolphin who was rescued in the first movie, now lives at the Clearwater Marine Aquarium in Florida and is learning to function with a high-tech prosthetic tail. But her status there is in jeopardy when — spoiler alert! — her elderly companion dolphin dies. My son was not quite 5 years old when I brought him with me to the screening and the dolphin’s death — as well as the devastated reactions from the teens who worked with her — upset him. But mostly, this is a film that’s all about teamwork and uplift. Fine for the whole family.

When the Game Stands Tall

20%

Rating: PG, for thematic material, a scene of violence and brief smoking.

Based on a true story, this inspirational drama is suitable for viewers around age 8 or 9 and up. It’s about the De La Salle High School Spartans of Concord, Calif., a football team that enjoyed a historic 151-game winning streak in the 1990s and early 2000s. Director Thomas Carter’s film reveals how the players respond when they finally do lose a game, and how they bounce back from a series of traumas on and off the field. A star player is shot to death outside a party and another player loses his mother to cancer. A wide receiver on the verge of breaking a touchdown record endures physical and emotional abuse from his demanding father. And head coach Bob Ladouceur (Jim Caviezel), a longtime smoker, suffers from heart trouble. But the film’s messages about teamwork, dedication and sacrifice are worthwhile.