Batman Ninja

Warner Home Entertainment

Produced in Japan in the “anime” style, with its distinctive settings, frantic action scenes and unique character design, this is a thrilling, confusing, gorgeous and bizarre straight-to-video film. A time machine built by a supervillain ape (voice of Fred Tatasciore) transports Batman (voice of Roger Craig Smith) as well as most of his usual supporting cast to feudal Japan sometime around the 16th century. As he battles Gotham’s nastiest (voices of Tom Kenny, Eric Bauza, Tara Strong, Tony Hale and Tatasciore) who have taken on the role of Japanese warlords, the Caped Crusader is aided by host of ninjas (their leader voiced by Matthew Yang King) and some friends from back home (voices of Adam Croasdell and Yuri Lowenthal). Mostly stylized combat violence and some lapses in language make director Junpei Mizusaki’s luxuriously detailed movie unsuitable for children. But it’s possibly acceptable for older teens. Intense battle sequences, a few mild oaths and crass expressions. A-III; PG-13

Book Club

Paramount

An ensemble of friends, all ladies of a certain age, find a renewed interest in amour after their book club takes on E.L. James’ sadomasochistic “Fifty Shades” trilogy. Timid recent widow Diane Keaton lets the patronizing attitude of her duo of over-solicitous adult daughters stand in the way of her romance with wealthy pilot Andy Garcia. Promiscuous, emotionally detached hotel owner Jane Fonda reconnects with Don Johnson, the ex whose proposal she long ago turned down. Buttoned-up federal judge Candice Bergen tries an online dating service and meets Richard Dreyfuss. And Mary Steenburgen and Craig T. Nelson struggle to reignite the flames of passion in their decades-old marriage. There’s hardly a line of dialogue in director and co-writer Bill Holderman’s romantic comedy, penned with Erin Simms, that doesn’t contain an innuendo, a smutty pun or some other tiresome joke about an aging woman’s right to satisfaction in the bedroom, a cause for which the film crusades relentlessly without regard to marital status or any other circumstance. Only Fonda’s tilt away from her licentious past and Steenburgen and Nelson’s commitment to fidelity partially retrieve the lowminded proceedings. A misguided view of human sexuality, an offscreen premarital encounter, implied cohabitation, pervasive sexual humor, including an extended tasteless sight gag, several profanities and milder oaths, at least one rough and a couple of crude terms. L; PG-13

Deadpool 2

Fox

A second helping of excessively violent action with a side of foul-mouthed sarcasm is on offer in director David Leitch’s follow-up to the 2016 original. This time out, the titular smart aleck (Ryan Reynolds, who also co-wrote the script) teams with a fellow mutant (Zazie Beetz) whose superpower is amazing luck to prevent a time-traveling bionic warrior (Josh Brolin) from killing the fire-casting mutant lad (Julian Dennison) who will grow up to murder the fighter’s wife and daughter. Bloodletting, especially the repeated dismemberment of the antihero, whose inability to die is a source of torment for him, overwhelms some potentially interesting ethical material concerning revenge, the morality of taking out a future villain and Deadpool’s effort to prove himself worthy of his recently deceased live-in girlfriend (Morena Baccarin) by becoming a better person. An ambiguous outlook on faith and a benign view of homosexual relationships are other troubling elements. Pervasive gory violence, drug use, a lesbian theme, a bizarre scene of exhibitionism, brief rear male nudity, some irreverent humor and a vaguely anti-religious tone, about a dozen uses of profanity, at least one milder oath, constant rough and crude language, obscene gestures. O; R

Life of the Party

Warner Bros.

Anemic comedy in which middle-aged mom Melissa McCarthy (who also co-wrote the script) is dumped by her husband (Matt Walsh) in favor of the hard-edged real estate agent (Julie Bowen) with whom he has been having an affair and decides to get a fresh start by returning to the university she dropped out of in order to have her now-grown daughter (Molly Gordon) who is also currently a student there. Her kindly, upbeat manner makes her the toast of her daughter’s sorority and wins her the heart of a handsome fraternity brother (Luke Benward). Everything about director and co-writer Ben Falcone’s star vehicle for his wife McCarthy rings false, including its affirmations of maternal and filial affection and its rounds of mutual feminine confidence building. Frivolously treated offscreen nonmarital and marital sexual activity, some of it in semi-public places, unintentional drug use, comic brawling, sexual and anatomical humor, a couple of crude and numerous crass terms. A-III; PG-13

Solo: A Star Wars Story

Disney

The origins and early adventures of future freebooter Han Solo (Alden Ehrenreich) are explored in this pleasing but insubstantial addition to the blockbuster franchise. Indebted to one of the villainous chiefs (Paul Bettany) of the intergalactic crime syndicate that has ensnared his childhood sweetheart (Emilia Clarke), the skilled but boastful pilot joins with a cynical thief (Woody Harrelson) and the apelike creature (Joonas Suotamo) destined to become his sidekick and first mate, both of whom are also beholden to the gangster, in an against-the-odds scheme to purloin a stock of valuable fuel. Working from a script by the father-and-son team of Lawrence and Jonathan Kasdan, director Ron Howard serves up action aplenty and some engaging plot twists while Ehrenreich exudes cheeky charisma. But depth of character is lacking. In keeping with his later persona, as portrayed by Harrison Ford, Solo’s rough-and-ready approach to property rights is offset by his weakness for a good cause, making this early chapter in his biography possibly acceptable for older teens. Much stylized violence, occasional innuendo, a few mild oaths, a couple of crass terms. A-III; PG-13

Wraith

Out Cold

Earnest but flawed horror tale about a family of three parents Jackson Hurst and Ali Hillis and teen daughter Catherine Frances  whose Victorian home in Neenah, Wisconsin, becomes the venue for some unwelcome supernatural activity. Consultation with a priest (Lance Henriksen) raises the possibility that the haunting is connected to the mother’s unexpected pregnancy and her plan to abort her baby. The pro-life message of writer-director Michael O. Sajbel’s film is as honorable as it is unmistakable. But blending this theme with well-worn exorcism and poltergeist tropes turns out to be a dubious decision. Possibly acceptable for older teens. Some nonlethal violence, a sexual predation plotline, a nongraphic marital bedroom scene, a few sexual references. 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