Parental Guidance

Parental Guidance: Spider-Man 2, Plus Three Rotten DVD Releases

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

by | May 3, 2014 | Comments

In Theaters This Week:

The Amazing Spider-Man 2


Rating: PG-13, for sequences of sci-fi action/violence.

Well, it’s yet another summer blockbuster about a comic-book character, so this sequel contains all the 3-D, computer-generated action and violence you’d expect. This time, Andrew Garfield’s Peter Parker/Spider-Man must take on not one, not two, but three villains. Among them is Jamie Foxx’s Electro, who gets zapped by a bunch of electric eels when he falls into a vat at work, then uses his newfound powers to wreak havoc on New York City. (Times Square suffers the majority of his wrath.) Peter also continues to investigate what happened to his parents, which includes a flashback to a harrowing airplane trip. There’s the general threat of massive destruction at all times, as well as intimate moments of peril, including the sight of a little boy dressed in a Spider-Man costume who dares confront the metal beast Rhino (Paul Giamatti), Tiananmen Square-style. Fine for tweens and up ? they’ve seen all this stuff before, anyway.

New On DVD:

The Legend of Hercules


Rating: PG-13, for sequences of intense combat action and violence, and for some sensuality.

I couldn’t even recall what movie this was from the title alone. I actually had to look it up to remind myself of whether I’d actually seen it, that’s how forgettable it was ? and it only came out in theaters a few months ago. But if for some reason you feel the urge to rent The Legend of Hercules, you’re in for a dully derivative 300 rip-off from director Renny Harlin. Hunky Twilight vampire Kellan Lutz stars as the title character, who’s the illegitimate half-son of Zeus. He doesn’t have to endure all 12 quests from Greek mythology, but he does use his considerable brawn in plenty of battles, with various body parts and weaponry flinging their way toward us in converted 3-D. Much of the slick action violence is slowed down and then sped up in the preferred (and overused) technique these days. It all looks so fake, it’s probably harmless for older kids.

Gimme Shelter


Rating: PG-13, for mature thematic material involving mistreatment, some drug content, violence and language ? all concerning teens.

Vanessa Hudgens stars as a runaway pregnant teen in this earnest and well-intentioned but clunky melodrama. Following Spring Breakers, the former Disney Channel star continues to distance herself from her good-girl image. She’s unrecognizable as Agnes “Apple” Bailey beneath her shaggy hair, baggy clothes, tattoos and piercings. Apple flees the clutches of her drug-addicted mother (Rosario Dawson) to live with the Wall Street financier father (Brendan Fraser) she’s never met. But Apple’s dirty and desperate mom tracks her down, smacks her several times and, at one point, slices her face with a razor. Apple also considers having an abortion before moving into a home for pregnant teens and young mothers. So there’s a lot of mature stuff here to discuss with your kids ? older ones, only — if you end up renting this movie.

Labor Day


Rating: PG-13, for thematic material, brief violence and sensuality.

This is a soapy romance/thriller/coming of age drama from the perspective of a 13-year-old boy. Despite the character’s age, though, the film’s subject matter is probably too mature for kids and even tweens. Josh Brolin plays an escaped killer who takes Kate Winslet’s single-mom character and her son hostage in their New Hampshire home. He’s a misunderstood fugitive with a heart of gold. She’s a depressed divorcee longing for a man’s touch. While Jason Reitman’s film is unintentionally hilarious, it also has some flashbacks to the murder that landed Brolin’s character in prison and to the traumatic events that destroyed Winslet’s character’s marriage.