Ages 8 and up
Wreck-It Ralph (93 min., PG) Ralph (voice of John C. Reilly) is a villain in an arcade game called “Fix-it Felix Jr.” But he’d rather be a good guy for a change, so he sneaks into another game. The level of mayhem and violence, even though much of it takes place in a virtual game environment made of candy, gets pretty intense in the last third of the film: chases, explosions, and one seemingly benign character turns evil. There’s also a lot of toilet humor.
Ages 12 and up
Brooklyn Castle (101 min., PG) A documentary about the highly successful chess team at a New York public middle school. The emotional tension leading up to big tournaments and tears after a player loses are very real and may elicit similar reactions from empathetic children watching this film. They’ll also hear rare crude language.
The middle ground
Lincoln (150 min., PG-13) Daniel Day-Lewis plays the title role in Steven Spielberg’s biopic. Three scenes could make “Lincoln” problematic for middle-schoolers: One shows soldiers fighting intensely but nongraphically with bayonets; another shows Lincoln riding through a battlefield seeing endless bodies, at least one graphically gutted; and the third shows the dumping of a wheelbarrow full of severed limbs. Characters cuss colorfully. The N-word is heard often, with other racial insults. A marital fight between the Lincolns feels so genuine, it is truly upsetting. They also discuss mental illness.
Skyfall (145 min., PG-13) As you may have heard, James Bond (Daniel Craig) is back. Amid the gunplay, including nongraphic murders, explosions, high-speed chases, crashes, fist- and knife fights, there is little that is graphic or bloody, though the action is intense. A couple of point-blank killings are strongly implied. We see video of someone as he is shot. The script includes occasional profanity, crude language, and frisky but mild verbal sexual innuendo. A brief shower scene with a beauty Bond encounters on his travels hints at nudity, but is nonexplicit. It’s unnerving when a villain removes a prosthetic part of his jaw.
The Details (102 min., R) Tobey Maguire plays a very flawed man in this dark, quirky comedy of human foibles and muddled morality, best geared to college-age filmgoers 17 and older. Adultery and some explicit sexual situations. Characters use pot, drink, swear strongly, and use sexual slang. There is one act of murderous violence. A cat dies (off-camera) and a raccoon is deliberately run over.
Flight (138 min., R) Not for under-17s, as it depicts serious drug and alcohol abuse. Denzel Washington acts up a storm as a brilliant commercial pilot who navigates a successful crash landing but falls from grace after it’s revealed that he was under the influence. Includes female nudity and nonexplicit sexual situations. Characters use strong profanity. Flight scenes are harrowing.
The Man with the Iron Fists (96 min., R) The blood doesn’t just flow in gangsta martial-arts epic. It gushes in every direction as heads roll and arms are lopped off. The violence is intense and exceedingly bloody, with scenes of torture and decapitation. Sexual situations are explicit. Children are shown in danger, and one warrior tears the throat out of an adolescent boy. The script includes much use of the N-word and strong profanity.
Jane Horwitz, Washington Post Writers Group.