Kids 6 and older
Escape From Planet Earth (89 min., PG) An animated comedy about a muscle-bound celebrity astronaut and his derring-do on other planets. Several scenes show him and his brother in danger — frozen in cylinders or nearly falling to their deaths from space. Some of the interplanetary creatures play to American ethnic stereotypes.
The middle ground
Beautiful Creatures (124 min., PG-13) Strange doings in a Southern town, based on the best-selling fiction series by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl. Acts of witchcraft are not graphic. The film includes occasional profanity and one implied teen sexual situation. Nothing explicit occurs. There’s a potentially lethal shooting. Without preaching, the film says that good or evil is always a choice.
Dark Skies (98 min., PG-13) This horror story includes creepy visions of elongated, diaphanous entities with black eye sockets. Children are shown in danger of alien abduction. Weird happenings include profuse nosebleeds and trances. The B-word is heard, as well as crude but not-too-explicit sexual slang. Young characters watch a porn video that sounds steamy but visually never gets more graphic than a hand on a clothed breast. A scene briefly depicts teens using pot. The dialogue includes mild profanity, and parents have an implied sexual situation.
The Gatekeepers (95 min., PG-13) An Oscar-nominated documentary about former heads of Israel’s domestic security agency. The film shows very graphic photos and video clips of an Israeli bus blown up in an act of terror, with dead passengers amid crushed metal. Footage of Palestinians being questioned and their houses entered by Israeli soldiers is disturbing, as are photos of two captured Palestinians arrested for hijacking a bus, who were allegedly beaten to death in custody.
Jack the Giant Slayer (114 min., PG-13) An update of the fairy tale. The giants are gross — filthy and ill-mannered, with disgusting habits involving nose-picking and worse. The action sequences feature stabbings and bone-crushing fights. It is strongly implied that the giants eat victims alive, though the munchings are not depicted in a graphic manner. The giants’ caves are lined with human bones. Many men fall to their deaths off the beanstalk, as does a giant or two later in the film.
A Place at the Table (84 min., PG) This documentary about hunger in America includes nothing graphic, except for intense emotional moments among real people.
Safe Haven (115 min., PG-13) A young woman on the run falls for widower Josh Duhamel. A couple of flashbacks imply the possibility of murder and, later in the film, drunken spousal abuse. A child falls off a dock and must be rescued. The budding couple spend the night together, but aside from much kissing and removing of outer garments, nothing is shown.
Snitch (112 min., PG-13) Businessman Dwayne Johnson goes undercover among drug dealers to save his son. Action scenes include a couple of heavy gun battles, but without a lot of blood or graphic injuries. It’s strongly implied by bruises and stitches on his face that the son undergoes beatings and perhaps worse in jail. Families are shown at risk, with one child briefly abducted. The script includes midrange profanity. Themes about divorce and how it can alienate children figure prominently.
A Good Day to Die Hard (97 min., R) Bruce Willis, as super-cop John McClane, rides again. The movie consists mostly of eardrum-shattering gun battles and explosions, and road-destroying, metal-shearing car chases and crashes. Wounds are mostly less than graphic, but not always. One character late in the film falls into a helicopter rotor, which produces a cloud of blood. The dialogue includes strong profanity.
Phantom (97 min., R) This Cold War thriller set on a Soviet submarine includes instances of lethal gun violence, including a suicide, and a graphic throat-slitting. The atmosphere aboard the sub feels claustrophobic. The dialogue includes little profanity.Jane Horwitz, Washington Post Writers Group.