Kids 10 and older
The Adventures of Tintin (107 min., PG) The intrepid boy reporter from the series of graphic novels makes it to the screen, courtesy of Steven Spielberg. Some of the nonstop action sequences involve gunplay, and a long flashback shows old battleships ablaze and firing cannons. A pickpocket plies his trade very successfully. The athletic Tintin and his dog, Snowy (the true star of the movie), take all kinds of acrobatic risks, unscathed. Their friend Captain Haddock is definitely an alcoholic.
Kids 12 and older
Joyful Noise (118 min., PG-13) This comedy about a small Georgia town, which stars Dolly Parton and Queen Latifah, includes a couple of barnyard epithets and some mild sexual slang. Two secondary characters have sex out of wedlock.
The middle ground
The Artist (100 min., PG-13) This black-and-white silent movie set in 1920s Hollywood is about a star trying to make the transition to talkies. There’s rare mild profanity (in the written titles), as well as a rude gesture. At one point a fire threatens the star’s life. He also has a scary nightmare and suicidal tendencies.
Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close (129 min., PG-13) Based on the novel by Jonathan Safran Foer, this film about the emotional fallout of 9/11 centers on Oskar Schell (Thomas Horn), a brilliant, anxiety-plagued 11-year-old whose dad (Tom Hanks) died in the World Trade Center attacks. The entire movie explores how children and adults deal with grief. It has images both real and stylized (but not graphic) of burning towers and falling bodies. The script includes occasional crude language and midrange profanity.
The Iron Lady (105 min., PG-13) This biopic about British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher stars Meryl Streep. It includes frightening reenactments of IRA bombings, raucous, occasionally violent anti-Thatcher demonstrations and strikes. There are archival shots of war violence and brief toplessness. A central theme is the elderly Thatcher’s slow descent into dementia.
Man on a Ledge (102 min, PG-13) Will Sam Worthington jump off the side of a Manhattan hotel? Police officers Elizabeth Banks and Edward Burns do their best to keep him from doing so. The action features fights and shoot-outs, but little intensity or gore. One female character wears revealing outfits and engages in steamy kisses and some mild sexual innuendo.
Red Tails (125 min., PG-13) An action-picture slice of history about World War II and the pre-civil rights era. “Red Tails’’ is about the fabled Tuskegee Airmen - African-American pilots who fought in World War II. Aerial dogfights have injuries and crashes but are not overly graphic. The script includes rare midrange profanity, racial slurs, and crude language.
War Horse (146 min., PG-13) Based on Michael Morpurgo’s young adult novel (a Tony Award-winning stage adaptation is currently on Broadway), this World War I story directed by Steven Spielberg has battlefield scenes that are extremely intense. They push the PG-13 envelope hard with shattering artillery fire; charges on horseback; trench warfare; images of men and horses dead; the deathly silence of a poison gas attack; a horse trapped and struggling in barbed wire. We see dead and injured men and horses, but not a lot of blood.
Carnage (79 min., R) This adaptation of “Gods of Carnage,’’ a successful stage play about two married couples in collision, includes strong profanity and gross toilet humor.
Contraband (109 min., R) Mark Wahlberg plays an ex-smuggler who’s pulled back into the crime world when his wife’s inept kid brother botches a smuggling job and needs help covering the debt to a violent dealer. The script warrants an R for strong profanity, an instance of crudely misogynist sexual slang, and the depiction of children’s lives threatened by criminals.
The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo (152 min., R) The international best-selling novel comes to the screen. Two scenes of sexual assault and exploitation - one a vile and humiliating act, the other a brutal rape - make the film inappropriate for anyone under 20 or so. The plot focuses on a serial killer who tortures victims first. There are a couple of explicit consensual sexual situations with nudity. Other violence involves gunplay, car and motorbike chases and crashes, and a big explosion.
The Grey (117 min., R) A group of men led by Liam Neeson survive a plane crash in the Alaskan wilderness - but can they survive the wolf attack that follows? The attacks themselves aren’t highly graphic, but the foreboding leading up to them and the size of the animatronic and computer-animated creatures - yellow eyes, huge teeth - make the attacks graphic. And the views of the mutilated victims after the attacks are graphic. There are severed limbs and a lot of blood. The action includes a harrowing plane crash, gunplay, fist fights.
Haywire (106 min., R) Mixed-martial artist Gina Carano does “black ops’’ work for the government. The fights play out in bone-shattering detail, though action sequences with gunplay and chases are more stylized than graphic. The script includes rare profanity and one steamy kiss with the start of undressing, but the film cuts away at that point.
Underworld: Awakening (88 min. R) With Kate Beckinsale presiding, those vampires and Lycans (werewolves) are up to their old tricks. The special-effects-enhanced violence includes multiple beheadings, impalings, bone-splinterings, and hands thrust into abdominal organs, as well as head-bashing, high-flying fights. The references to genocidal “cleansing’’ of the “non-humans’’ are intentionally disturbing references to recent human history. One scene includes implied nudity, and there is very occasional profanity.
Jane Horwitz, Washington Post Writers Group.