Rating: PG-13, for sustained intense sequences of menace, some violence with bloody images, and substance abuse.
It?s stunning that this film has a PG-13 rating. Paul Greengrass’ thriller, based on the true story of Somali pirates who took over an American cargo ship in 2009, is hugely violent, bloody and intense for nearly all of its two-plus-hour running time. Tom Hanks stars as the title character, a veteran, all-business captain who must find creative ways to appease the pirates while also protecting his crew and trying to communicate with emergency officials and the military. There’s a ton of gunfire, stabbings, slicings, beatings, a kidnapping and — eventually ?- several deaths. The action is both visceral and claustrophobic, with men on both sides trapped in cramped quarters fighting for their lives. One of the hardest parts to watch, though, is Captain Phillips’ cumulative shock once the ordeal is over. This is probably suitable for teenagers at the youngest.
Rating: PG-13, for sci-fi action violence and some disturbing images.
This movie is terrible, regardless of how old you or your kids are. Speaking of kids, Will Smith’s teenage son, Jaden, is the true star here and gets top billing over his more famous dad. Perhaps the most potentially disturbing element for younger viewers in M. Night Shyamalan’s film is the fact that Jaden Smith’s character must fend for himself, away from his father, in a toxic, post-apocalyptic version of our planet once the spaceship they?re riding in crash lands. He must survive severe fluctuations in the elements and slay giant, fake-looking, computer-generated monsters, which are more yucky than scary. This is probably OK for tweens and up.
Rating: PG-13, for sci-fi action and peril.
A great pick for older kids with an interest in science fiction and space exploration. This faux documentary is based on the now-familiar found-footage conceit but it’s inspired by a real-life breakthrough finding. It follows six superstar astronauts gathered from around the globe who travel to Jupiter’s moon Europa to confirm the existence of water and — more importantly — ocean life. Nine months into the journey, they lose contact with Earth — and that’s when things start getting scary. In classic horror-movie fashion, they find themselves being picked off, one by one, by the various dangers that lurk in the vast darkness. But the situations they find themselves in are tense without being graphic, and the way people perish is never gory.