Movie Review

Posted February 2, 2018 at 12:00 am

Batman and Harley Quinn

Warner Bros. 

Poorly conceived and produced as well as morally obtuse straight-to-video animated film from DC Comics. Tired of humans despoiling the environment, villains Poison Ivy (voice of Paget Brewster) and the Floronic Man (voice of Kevin Michael Richardson) team up to transform all animal life on earth into plant hybrids. After Batman (voiced by Kevin Conroy) and Nightwing (voice of Loren Lester) turn to Harley Quinn (voice of Melissa Rauch), the madcap, motley-wearing former psychiatrist and sidekick to the Joker, for help foiling the plot, director Sam Liu’s movie quickly devolves into a series of awkward and offensive situations and jokes, punctuated by harsh punch-outs. Frequent cartoon combat violence, two suggestive sexual situations, one instance of scatological humor, occasional profane, crude and crass language. A-III; PG-13  

Den of Thieves 

STX  

A morass of crass. Gerald Butler is a rogue and troubled Los Angeles police officer chasing after a hyper-violent crew of bank robbers who have, as their ultimate goal, the heretofore-unassailable Los Angeles Federal Reserve Bank from which they hope to “withdraw” $30 million in untraceable cash. Director Christian Gudegast, who co-wrote the screenplay with Paul Scheuring, launches several scattershot, implausible plot lines that never quite come together. Skewed view of law enforcement, pervasive gun and physical violence, frequent racial slurs, pervasive rough language and profanities. O; R </span id=”6″>

Forever My Girl 

Roadside Attractions  

Gentle adaptation of Heidi McLaughlin’s romance novel has an aspiring country music star (Alex Roe) returning to his small Louisiana home town when a high school classmate dies, only to learn that he has a 7-year-old daughter with his ex-fiancee. This forces him into finally making adult decisions. Writer-director Bethany Ashton Wolf plays up the romantic and faith-based elements to smooth over stilted performances and unrealistic dialogue. Adult themes of life and death, references to excessive alcohol use. A-II; PG </span id=”11″>

Hostiles 

Entertainment Studios  

Western, set in 1892, which works from the premise that not only were white soldiers at the time fully aware of their complicity in the decades-long genocide of Native Americans, they also could feel immense, paralyzing guilt about their actions. Director-writer Scott Cooper wishes to make a strong moral case as he sets an Army officer (Christian Bale) on a long journey from New Mexico to Arizona as he escorts a dying Native American chief (Wes Studi) to a reservation. Gun and physical violence, fleeting gore, some racist dialogue. A-III; R  

Proud Mary 

Screen Gems  

Tall tale of a hitwoman (Taraji P. Henson) with a heart of gold who takes in the orphaned son (Jahi Di’Allo Winston) of one of her victims and dispatches the Fagin-like leader (Xander Berkeley) of the gang into whose service the lad was ensnared in the wake of his dad’s death. But this new arrangement does not sit well with the father (Danny Glover) and son (Billy Brown) who run the mob family to which she belongs, the latter of whom is also her ex-boyfriend. Intended as an homage to female-led blaxploitation films of the 1970s, director Babak Najafi’s drama is all style and no credibility since John Stuart Newman’s screenplay fails to lay the foundation either of its unlikely plot or of its adoptive central relationship. Morality also gets taken out as the script gives its featured assassin a pass for the two most prominent of her killings on the grounds that her targets are bad guys. A vengeance theme, much stylized gunplay with fleeting but nasty gore, a scene of torture, brief partial nudity, several uses of profanity, about a half-dozen milder oaths, a couple of rough and numerous crude and crass terms. A-III; R  

12 Strong 

Warner Bros.  

True military adventures don’t come any more rousing than this. Chris Hemsworth plays a Green Beret captain leading a small Special Forces unit on horseback in rugged terrain in the early weeks of fighting in Afghanistan after 9/11. Director Nicolai Fuglsig, working from a script by Ted Tally and Peter Craig, avoids what could have become flag-waving jingoistic moments, preferring to show the Americans quietly going about their tasks. Intense, lengthy and realistic combat violence and gore, a scene of an execution of a teacher in front of three young girls. A-III; R 

I, Tonya 

Neon   

At no point is it clear whether the filmmakers are sympathetic to the plight of disgraced Olympic figure skater Tonya Harding (Margot Robbie) or just want to make fun of the skater and the peculiar, fleeting nature of fame. Instead, director Craig Gillespie and screenwriter Steven Rogers present a coarsening, numbing fusillade of domestic abuse and cursing. Occasionally this is broken up by ice skating routines which conform to the formula of a sports drama, and eventually the inept execution of a crime – the assault on Tonya’s rival, Nancy Kerrigan, just before the 1994 Winter Olympics. Pervasive scenes of domestic abuse, a nonexplicit scene of sexual activity, pervasive rough language, frequent profanities. A-III; R  

Maze Runner: The Death Cure 

Fox  

In this adaptation of the third and final novel in James Dashner’s sci-fi trilogy, the story of a band of teens and their fearless leader (Dylan O’Brien) fighting evil in post-apocalyptic world comes to a noisy and violent conclusion. The gang seeks to liberate their peers from tortuous experiments conducted by a wicked doctor (Patricia Clarkson) and her colleague (Kaya Scodelario), who seek a cure to a deadly virus that has decimated the population. Returning director Wes Ball operates at a breakneck pace, turning this film into a white-knuckle roller-coaster ride with more vehicle crashes than you can shake a stick at. Despite worthy expressions of friendship, loyalty and self-sacrifice and some intriguing Christian symbolism, the trilogy has clearly outworn its welcome. Relentless but bloodless violence and gunplay, scenes of torture, occasional crude and profane language, one offensive gesture. A-III; PG-13  

USCCB Office for Film & Broadcasting  

classifications:  

A-I – General patronage  

A-II – Adults and adolescents 

A-III – Adults  

A-IV – Adults, with reservations  

L – Limited adult audience  

O – Morally offensive  

Motion Picture Association of America ratings:  

G – General audiences; all ages admitted  

PG – Parental guidance suggested; some material may not be suitable for children 

PG-13 – Parents are strongly cautioned to give special guidance for attendance of children under 13; some material may be inappropriate for young children  

R – Restricted; under 17 requires accompanying parent or adult guardian  

NC-17 – No one under 17 admitted 

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