Rating: PG-13, for intense sequences of violence and action, and for brief strong language.
Liam Neeson once again shows off his particular set of skills in the third (and supposedly last) installment of the Taken series. If you have seen the previous two films, you pretty much know what you’re in for here: muscular, brutal and implausible PG-13 violence. This time, Neeson’s former covert operative is framed for the killing of his ex-wife (Famke Janssen). He must outsmart Los Angeles police, Russian gangsters and various government agencies to prove his innocence and protect his daughter (Maggie Grace) from becoming the next victim. Messily edited fistfights, shootouts, chases and crashes ensue. I guess if you’re a Liam Neeson completist, you’ll want to catch this, but for everyone else it will feel like a disheartening waste of time.
Rating: PG-13, for or some thematic elements, violence/peril and brief drug content.
The end is nigh and only Nicolas Cage can save humanity in this remake of the 2000 Kirk Cameron thriller about the Rapture. It has a bigger budget and a bigger star in hopes of reaching a bigger, more mainstream audience. But the result is laughably chintzy in terms of special effects. And dialogue. And the performances. And pretty much everything. Cage stars as a philandering airline pilot who’s the captain on a transatlantic flight from which several passengers mysteriously disappear. The same phenomenon occurs on the ground where his wife and kids are. Children are the main ones who get zapped, because they’re innocent, but also the truly faithful. Because, you know, it’s Armageddon. Director Vic Armstrong’s film features some “big” set pieces that look pretty small and cheap, including a school bus that goes off an overpass and a small plane that crashes into a shopping mall parking lot. Cage’s character, meanwhile, must find someplace to land his own plane amid the mayhem. There’s some brief drug content involving one of the passengers. Mainly, there’s just widespread panic. Probably fine for tweens and up, or anyone looking for a good laugh.
Rating: PG-13, for sexual content, drug use, some strong language, and violent situations.
The hugely charismatic Chadwick Boseman gives an electrifying performance as James Brown — a performance which sadly has been overlooked so far during awards season. Director Tate Taylor (The Help) doesn’t shy away from the impoverished, abusive childhood the Godfather of Soul endured growing up in rural Georgia. We see his father hit him and his mother (Viola Davis) before the mother abandons the family for good. We see young James move into a brothel where the madam (Octavia Spencer) pays him for luring in randy, young soldiers. And as Brown rises to musical superstardom, we see all the usual infidelities, betrayals and skirmishes (as well as a domestic violence streak of his own). Taylor only briefly alludes to Brown’s drug use. But he does include the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and its impact on the racial tension of the era. This is probably fine for mature tweens and older.
Rating: PG-13, for sequences of violence, menace, terror, and for language.
This wouldn’t be the first movie I’d choose for the whole family to watch together, but if it does end up on your television somehow, be warned that it’s extremely violent and tense and only suitable for mature viewers around 13 and up. Idris Elba stars as an escaped convict who charms his way into the home of a married mother of two, played by Taraji P. Henson. Inexplicably, given that her husband is away on this dark and stormy night, she lets this stranger in with harrowing results. Several women wind up as victims of his sadistic urges, and Henson’s character and her kids must fight for their lives. Director Sam Miller’s film is uncomfortable to watch for a number of reasons, but mainly because it practically fetishizes the brutality Elba’s character inflicts on these people.
Rating: PG-13, for sexual content and smoking.
Wealthy and pretentious characters chain-smoke and try to impress each other with intellectual babble in this unpleasant comedy. But if for some reason you have to watch this movie, it’s probably best suited for mature tweens to young teens and older. Jason Bateman stars as the wealthy and useless heir to a hotel fortune who must fend for himself on the mean streets of fashionable Manhattan when his parents cut him off financially. Billy Crudup plays an artist who’s his equally vapid best friend, and Olivia Wilde plays the model they both love. It’s got a lot of Woody Allen and a lot of Wes Anderson and a lot of French New Wave (which influenced both of those directors), all of which will go over younger viewers’ heads. Bateman’s character prides himself on his family’s exclusive brand of cigarettes, so there’s a lot of smoking. His character and Wilde’s also have sex.