Ad Astra

Fox

Compelling sci-fi drama, set in the near future, in which an astronaut (Brad Pitt) goes on a quest to communicate with his father (Tommy Lee Jones), a pioneer space traveler who long ago disappeared during a mission to search for extraterrestrial life from the outer boundaries of the solar system. As he endures a variety of challenges, he broods on his emotional isolation and inability to maintain relationships while also pondering the conflicting evidence suggesting that his dad, long portrayed as a deceased hero, may not only be alive but may, in fact, be a villain. By turns an epic and an intimate character study, director and co-writer James Gray’s moody film features several brief scenes of prayer that will intrigue believers and that, along with the overall artistic merit of the enterprise, may convince the parents of older teens to let them join the audience. Some gory violence, a suicide, a couple of profanities, at least one use each of rough and crude language, an obscene gesture. A-III; PG-13

Downton Abbey

Focus

Interwar elegance makes a comeback as screenwriter Julian Fellowes takes his popular ITV and PBS television series to the big screen under the direction of Michael Engler. A 1927 visit to the stately home of the title by King George V (Simon Jones) and Queen Mary (Geraldine James) revives a long-simmering family dispute with a cousin (Imelda Staunton) who is one of the queen’s ladies-in-waiting and who intends to displace the estate’s patriarch (Hugh Bonneville), her closest male relative, as her heir, much to the chagrin of his iron-willed mother (Maggie Smith). The clan’s former chauffer-turned-widowed-son-in-law’s (Allen Leech) Irish Republican sympathies are scrutinized by a mysterious stranger (Stephen Campbell-Moore) while downstairs excitement among the servants (led by Jim Carter and Phyllis Logan) turns to consternation when they discover that the royal family travels with its own staff, all of whom turn out to be insufferably arrogant. Fellowes keeps his ensemble waltzing in perfect time and the result will be catnip to fans of the franchise. A strong message about marital and familial loyalty and the reconciliation of quarreling spouses is somewhat offset by the sympathetic treatment of a same-sex-attracted butler’s (Robert James-Collier) search for love. But beyond implicitly deploring the harassment to which homosexuals were subjected at the time, the film has no particular axe to grind. Still, though secondary, this subplot makes the glossy costume drama strictly grown-up fare. A romantically viewed homosexual relationship, scenes in an improvised gay bar, a couple of same-sex kisses. A-III; PG

Hustlers

STX

Sordidly treated fact-based tale of two strip-club dancers (Constance Wu and Jennifer Lopez) who, strapped for cash during the Great Recession, collaborate on a scheme to drug wealthy clients and max out their credit cards while they’re helpless. In adapting a New York magazine article by Jessica Pressler, writer-director Lorene Scafaria tries to showcase the bonds of friendship and Hollywood’s much-loved theme of the self-chosen family. But the attempt to justify financial exploitation by the sexually exploited and blame the whole thing on Wall Street rings hollow while the depiction of the two protagonists’ professional milieu is tasteless in its lack of restraint. Blurred values, including a debased view of human sexuality, frequent nudity, cohabitation, an out-of-wedlock pregnancy, constant sexual references, a few uses of profanity, a couple of milder oaths, pervasive rough and crude language. O; R

Abominable

DreamWorks

The dreaded Yeti monster, the legendary abominable snowman, becomes a loveable fur ball in this family-friendly animated adventure directed by Todd Wilderman and Jill Culton. A resourceful teenager (voice of Chloe Bennet), aided by two friends (voices of Tenzing Norgay Trainor and Albert Tsai), embarks on an epic adventure across China to return the creature to his Himalayan home, away from the clutches of his wicked captors (voices of Eddie Izzard and Sarah Paulson). Along with eye-popping animation, roller-coaster action (nothing too perilous for the little ones), and good humor are worthy lessons on the importance of family, friendship and helping others in need. Non-perilous action sequences. A-I; PG

Rambo: Last Blood

Lionsgate

Bleak, absurdly brutal swan song for the character of the title, first played by Sylvester Stallone in 1982. Working from a script by Stallone and Matthew Cirulnick, director Adrian Grunberg relies on the old trick of setting up easy-to-hate villains, then doling out their presumably just desserts. In this case, it’s the Mexican white slavers (led by Sergio Peris-Mencheta and Oscar Jaenada) who have drugged and kidnapped the Vietnam veteran’s adoptive niece (Yvette Monreal). The sadistic revenge he exacts via booby traps and butchery is so over-the-top that it ceases to shock and becomes laughable. Hideous bloody violence, including gruesome torture, drug use, a prostitution theme, much rough and crude language, sexual references. O; R

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