Avengers: Endgame

Disney

Primarily set five years after a cosmic villain (Josh Brolin) used a set of energy-endowed gems to wipe out half of all the living creatures in the universe, this sweeping Marvel Comics-based epic charts the efforts of the titular ensemble to harness time travel via Ant Man’s (Paul Rudd) quantum realm to undo the catastrophe. To achieve this, they need to win over tech whiz Tony Stark aka Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.), the only person who can safely engineer such a cutting-edge feat. But he’s reluctant to endanger his happy home life (shared with Gwyneth Paltrow) for the sake of such a risky mission. Vast, intricate and impressive, directors (and brothers) Anthony and Joe Russo’s grand finale deftly weaves together whole franchises spanning 21 previous films and determines the fate, among many others, of Captain America (Chris Evans), Thor (Chris Hemsworth), Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson) and Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner) while also showcasing teamwork, self-sacrifice and reconciliation. Possibly acceptable for mature teens. Much stylized violence with some gore, possible cohabitation, a few uses of profanity and of milder oaths, brief references to homosexuality, a half-dozen crude and several crass terms. A-III; PG-13

Mary Magdalene

Focus

Respectful but off-key profile of the biblical saint (Rooney Mara) portrays her decision to join the apostles in following Jesus (Joaquin Phoenix) as a feminist gesture of rebellion against her family and their effort to force her into an arranged marriage. St. Peter (Chiwetel Ejiofor) comes off as an egotistical villain in director Garth Davis’ drama while Judas (Tahar Rahim) is depicted as well-intentioned but misguided. Phoenix’s Savior, moreover, has the cadences of a beat poet and the demeanor of a Dennis Hopper character from the 1960s trying to explain the meaning of life to squares. Mature religious themes requiring discernment, some gruesome and gory images. A-III; R

 After

Aviron

What might have been an effective film interpretation of a somewhat grounded college romance in Anna Todd’s best-selling “new adult” novel sadly turns into a parade of wooden archetypes. Two literate protagonists, she (Josephine Langford) mostly chaste, he (Hero Fiennes Tiffin) brooding and tattooed with a mysterious, somewhat troubled background, serve as stand-ins for the uneasy lovers of classic literature. Director and co-writer Jenny Gage and her trio of script collaborators wade into the old tropes of the earnest “good girl” navigating her way amid new surroundings as she starts her freshman year. She has to decide whether she’s living just to make her mother (Selma Blair) and priggish high school boyfriend (Dylan Arnold) happy or is willing to strike out on her own and make painful mistakes along the way. There’s at least a weak moral foundation underlying this structure. But it will be up to grown viewers to decide whether the story has been adapted with sufficient vigor. A scene of sensuality implying nonmarital sexual activity with contraception use, same-sex kissing suggesting a lesbian relationship. A-III; PG-13

Breakthrough

Fox 2000

Faith-affirming drama, based on real events, in which a strong-willed mother (Chrissy Metz) refuses to accept that her adoptive son (Marcel Ruiz) is doomed to die after falling through the ice on a frozen lake and her desperate prayers have a startling impact on his seemingly hopeless prognosis. As she keeps vigil at the boy’s bedside, she gradually reconciles with the pastor (Topher Grace) of her church with whom she had been feuding while her husband (Josh Lucas) struggles to share her unshakeable belief in a positive outcome. Director Roxann Dawson’s adaptation of Joyce Smith’s 2017 memoir “The Impossible” (written with Ginger Kolbaba) benefits from Metz’s driven performance and will have sympathetic viewers cheering her character on all the way. Tense but gratifying entertainment for all but the youngest moviegoers. A perilous situation, mature themes. A-II; PG

The Curse of La Llorona

Warner Bros.

Intense but problematic horror story in which a legendary Mexican wraith (Marisol Ramirez), a weeping woman who killed her own children and now preys on those of others, stalks a widowed mother (Linda Cardellini) and her two small kids (Roman Christou and Jaynee-Lynne Kinchen) in 1973 California. Despite some obvious loopholes in its plot, director Michael Chaves’ addition to the universe of the “Conjuring” franchise elicits its fair share of starts. But, while the usual red-flag items are mostly absent, an attempt to blur the lines between Catholicism and superstition, embodied in the figure of the ex-priest-turned-shaman (Raymond Cruz) to whom the troubled trio turns for help, puts this beyond the reach of all but the best-catechized teens. Occult themes, bloodless terror, a single crude term. A-III; R

Missing Link

Annapurna

In this animated comedy-adventure, a spirited send-up of Victorian England, a world-famous investigator of myths and monsters (voice of Hugh Jackman), anxious to qualify for membership in a London club by making a major discovery, travels to America to find Bigfoot (voice of Zach Galifianakis), aka the missing link. He’s tracked by a bounty hunter (voice of Timothy Olyphant) who’s been dispatched by his archrival back in Britain (voice of Stephen Fry) to thwart his quest. Once encountered, the fabled monster turns out to be a kind-hearted, lonely furball who longs to visit his Yeti cousins in the Himalayas. So, joined by an explorer (voice of Zoe Saldana), the duo sets forth. Unfortunately, many of the gags in this otherwise enjoyable jaunt, written and directed by Chris Butler, are aimed at grown-ups and, in some cases, teeter on bad taste. They include jokes about homosexuality and a routine in which Jackman’s character disguises himself as a nun. Though acceptable for grown-ups and older teens, this is not a cartoon for kids. Mature, sometimes rude humor, cartoon mayhem, some peril. A-II; PG

Penguins

Disneynature

At once the profile of a plucky 5-year-old Adelie penguin the filmmakers dub “Steve” and an introduction to his species as a whole, this winning documentary tracks him as he finds a mate and starts a family in the challenging surroundings of Antarctica. From building a nest of rocks in which his duo of offspring can be protected until they hatch to preparing them to live on their own when the time comes, he meets every challenge of fatherhood with aplomb, or at least with determined perseverance. The spectacle of his adventures among hundreds of thousands of others of his kind, skillfully directed by Alastair Fothergill and Jeff Wilson and often humorously narrated by actor Ed Helms, will prove a delight for viewers of every generation. A-I; G

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