Ages 8 and up
Rise of the Guardians (97 min., PG) This animated feature, adapted from the book by William Joyce, unites the Guardians: Jack Frost, the Tooth Fairy, the Sandman, the Easter Bunny, and Santa Claus, as a kind of traditionalists version of the Justice League.The magical powers wielded in battles get pretty intense, if not downright scary in 3-D. Early in the film, Jack takes a real kid on a harrowing sled ride, invisibly guiding him past cars and other dangers.
The middle ground
Hitchcock (98 min., PG-13) Anthony Hopkins plays the great film director, and Helen Mirren plays his wife, Alma, in this account of the making of “Psycho.” Characters talk about an actor who is a closeted homosexual and use the word “queer.” In Hitchcock’s imagination, he sees a serial killer dispatch someone with a shovel (not too graphic), and drag a woman’s bloodied body (clothed) into a bathtub. In one scene, Hitchcock spies like a peeping Tom on actresses in their dressing rooms. There is much sexual innuendo, but nothing explicit.
Life of Pi (127 min., PG) Despite the PG rating, this adaptation of Yann Martel’s novel is probably more suitable for kids 12 and older. The movie features several intense moments of animal-on-animal violence and life-threatening survival issues for the teen protagonist, adrift in a lifeboat on the stormy Pacific and sharing it with a wild and hungry Bengal tiger. When Pi is in school in India, his friends tease him about his name, using toilet humor. Pi kills a big fish with an ax.
Red Dawn (93 min., PG-13) North Korea invades the Pacific Northwest in this remake of the 1984 film of the same name. The action sequences feature gunfire and explosions. None of the shootings are graphic, but we do see a wound being sewn up. Resistance fighters kill locals they believe collaborate with the enemy. The dialogue includes occasional crude language, mild profanity, and one rude gesture. There’s occasional understated sexual innuendo.
The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn — Part 2 (116 min., PG-13) The series concludes. Battle scenes among vampires, while bloodless, show heads torn off and some bodies set ablaze. The sexual charge between Bella (Kristen Stewart) and Edward (Robert Pattinson) reaches new highs, though the one sex scene is stylized and not explicit.
Anna Karenina (130 min., R) Keira Knightley stars in the title role in the latest movie adaptation of Tolstoy’s classic novel. A character commits suicide (as you likely know). Love scenes are passionate and steamy, but never quite explicit. A horse is hurt during a race and has to be shot.
Killing Them Softly (97 min., R) This small-scale crime film, based on George V. Higgins’s novel “Cogan’s Trade,” stars Brad Pitt as a gangland hit man. The violence occurs less frequently than one might expect. When it does, it involves much blood and often unfolds in slow-motion. One character gets a jaw-crushing beating, and another uses extremely crude and explicit sexual language. The dialogue is highly, comically profane. Several characters drink and use drugs.
Silver Linings Playbook (122 min., R) A romantic comedy, adapted from Matthew Quick’s novel. The script bristles with profanity and includes a rude hand gesture. In one scene, strangers hurl ethnic slurs. The film shows brief toplessness and a strongly implied but nonexplicit shower sex scene. A character talks about her extreme promiscuousness after her husband died.
The Waiting Room (82 min., unrated) A documentary set in the emergency waiting room of an Oakland, Calif., hospital. Shot in cinema-verite style, it’s full of high drama and troubling questions. A patient takes out all his anger, fear, and depression on a young doctor, cussing him out with every word in the book. That would earn an R rating. The rest is more PG-13-ish — nongraphic glimpses of emergency surgery on teenage gunshot victims, understated shots of blood on the floor, bloodied bandages and instruments. There’s a millisecond view of a partially naked patient on an examining table.
Jane Horwitz, Washington Post Writers Group.