Movie Reviews: June 27, 2013

June 27, 2013
Capsule reviews of movies recently reviewed by Catholic News Service

"Man of Steel" (Warner Bros.)
Action adventure recounting the life of iconic comic book hero Superman (Henry Cavill). Born on distant Krypton, as an infant his parents (Russell Crowe and Ayelet Zurer) send him to Earth so that he can escape his doomed home planet's imminent destruction. His adoptive human parents (Kevin Costner and Diane Lane) instill positive values and try to protect his secret. But, once grown, an investigative reporter (Amy Adams) is on the verge of disclosing his true identity when an old enemy (Michael Shannon) of his father's arrives from space and threatens humanity with annihilation unless Superman surrenders. Director Zack Snyder's take on the familiar narrative has the makings of an engaging drama and includes Christian themes and an anti-eugenics message that viewers of faith in particular can appreciate. But this positive potential is squandered in favor of endless scenes of high-powered brawling and the pyrotechnics of innumerable explosions. Much intense but bloodless violence, a fleeting sexual advance, occasional crude and crass language.

The Catholic News Service classification is A-III -- adults.
The Motion Picture Association of America rating is PG-13 -- parents strongly cautioned. Some material may be inappropriate for children under 13.

"Epic" (Fox)
Pleasant 3-D animated fantasy in which a 17-year-old girl (voice of Amanda Seyfried) finds herself magically transported to a miniature world within nature where the champions of growth and life (their leader voiced by Colin Farrell) battle the dark forces of decay (their commander voiced by Christoph Waltz). While becoming caught up in the conflict, she falls for a youthful warrior (voice of Josh Hutcherson) whose freewheeling ways make him an initially unreliable ally for his fellow good guys. With some of its characters drawn from William Joyce's book "The Leaf Men and the Brave Good Bugs," director Chris Wedge's cheerful journey into the undergrowth sends innocuous messages about environmental stewardship, teamwork and responsibility. There's also some familial bonding via the protagonist's ultimately appreciative interaction with her stereotypically absent-minded professor of a dad (voiced by Jason Sudeikis). Though the impact falls well short of Wedge's overly ambitious title, some lovely imagery compensates for various hit-or-miss attempts at humor. Potentially frightening clashes, themes involving death.

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.

"Frances Ha" (IFC)
When her best friend and roommate (Mickey Sumner) decides to move out, the eponymous heroine (Greta Gerwig) -- a feckless 27-year-old New Yorker -- is cast adrift, suddenly homeless with no real job and few prospects. Not that this especially bothers her, as she flits from party to party -- and from drama to drama -- dispensing empty commentary on her own life and unintelligible advice to others. As she waits for her life to happen, and wallows in self-absorption, the proceedings are shot by director and co-writer (with Gerwig) Noah Baumbach in black-and-white, casting Gotham in a warm and fuzzy glow. Cohabitation, frequent sex talk, many uses of profanity, much 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.

"The Internship" (Fox)
When two middle-aged watch salesmen (Vince Vaughn and Owen Wilson) suddenly find themselves unemployed -- and with nothing to show for their years of enthusiastic peddling -- they apply to the internship program at corporate giant Google, a domain dominated by tech-savvy college-age kids. Director Shawn Levy, working from a script co-written by Vaughn, strains to wring laughs from the generational and cultural divides. But humor and inventiveness are in short supply in this predictable comedy, while a topical message concerning the virtues of adaptability and perseverance in difficult economic times is canceled out by a stream of vulgarity and off-color references. An implied nonmarital encounter, several uses of profanity, at least one rough term, frequent crude and crass language, considerable innuendo, passing approval of a same-sex relationship.

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-13 -- parents strongly cautioned. Some material may be inappropriate for children under 13.

"Now You See Me" (Summit)
A quartet of professional magicians (Jesse Eisenberg, Woody Harrelson, Dave Franco and Isla Fisher) is caught in a high-stakes game of cat and mouse in this entertaining caper film directed by Louis Leterrier. Brought together by a mysterious capitalist (Michael Caine), the four become a world-famous act. But one outrageous stunt they manage to pull off -- a long-distance and very public bank robbery -- attracts the attention of an FBI agent (Mark Ruffalo), his Interpol counterpart (Melanie Laurent) and a reality show host (Morgan Freeman) whose mission is to expose the secrets of the trade. Though it contains a slightly disturbing pagan element, in the end, Leterrier's film is a harmless and witty romp for grown-ups, yet one that lingers in the memory no longer than the time required to shout, "Abracadabra!" Mild action violence, a vulgar gesture, sexual innuendo, some crude and profane language.

The Catholic News Service classification is A-III -- adults.
The Motion Picture Association of America rating is PG-13 -- parents strongly cautioned. Some material may be inappropriate for children under 13.

"The Reluctant Fundamentalist" (IFC)
A thought-provoking -- yet flawed -- exploration of the wide-ranging impact of the 9/11 terrorist attacks both on individuals and on whole cultures. In 2011 Pakistan, a journalist (Liev Schreiber) has been recruited by the CIA to interview the chief suspect (Riz Ahmed) in the kidnapping of an American professor. Things may not be as they appear, however, as the self-professedly peace-loving radical recounts his experiences in the United States -- including his meteoric rise to the top within a wicked corporation (run by Kiefer Sutherland), his romance with a bohemian artist (Kate Hudson), and his fall from corporate grace as a result of post-Twin Towers discrimination. Working from the novel by Mohsin Hamid, director Mira Nair lets the audience pass judgment, for better or worse. The result is an absorbing story with a flawed conclusion -- one that seems to prioritize the force of circumstance over conscience when choosing between good and evil. Fleeting action violence and gunplay, a gruesome image, brief sensuality, some profane and crass language.

The Catholic News Service classification is A-III -- adults.
The Motion Picture Association of America rating is R -- restricted. Under 17 requires accompanying parent or adult guardian.