Ages 6 and older
Escape From Planet Earth (89 min., PG) An animated comedy about a 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.
Ages 10 and older
Oz the Great and Powerful (130 min., PG) A prequel to “The Wizard of Oz.” There are plenty of scary moments and images, especially in 3-D, that could give kids under 10 at least temporary shivers. The flying ape-like minions who work for the wicked witch are nasty-looking in close-up. And the laser-like battles between the bad witches, on one side, and Glinda, the people of Oz, and their new “wizard” on the other, get loud and showily destructive. Even the little China Girl, weeping in her demolished porcelain home, has the look and surroundings of a war refugee. Early in the film, the tornado is nightmarish.
The middle ground
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.
The Last Exorcism Part II (88 min., PG-13) This sequel pushes its PG-13 rating to the limit, with violence and sexual content. Most of the killings are just strongly implied, with disturbing sounds and the sight of blood spattering against a window. Still, such scenes are harrowing. And we see a throat being slit. Lightning flashbacks also show violence and what could be a dead human fetus. The film includes scenes of the heroine highly sexually aroused in her sleep; and also at work. as she listens to a couple making love next door.
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.
21 and Over (93 min., R) Three college buddies live it up. Aside from nonstop profanity, use of the B-word, and very explicit sexual slang, the dialogue is replete with ethnic stereotype jokes, and even one about leukemia. Students are depicted smoking pot and binge-drinking and, at least once, projectile vomiting. Someone talks about tripping on LSD. Girls bare their breasts. The mayhem includes nonlethal gunfire and reckless drunk driving. Serious undertones emerge in talk of an attempted suicide and implications that a character’s father may have beat him.
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.