Reel Reviews

‘The Pirates! Band of Misfits’

Audience:
A-II – adults and adolescents

 

Watch Review Watch Trailer

More Movie Reviews


 

Rate the Review & Trailer

 

Hijinks on the high seas

We have it on the authority of Victorian librettist W.S. Gilbert that “it is a glorious thing/to be a pirate king.” If the rollicking 3-D animated comedy “The Pirates! Band of Misfits” (Columbia) is to be believed, being the captain of even a motley shipload of 19th-century buccaneers isn’t such a bad lot either.

That’s the role fate has assigned to the luxuriantly bearded central character in this historical fantasy, voiced by Hugh Grant.

Despite many failed attempts to do so, this warmhearted and enthusiastic – but not overly successful – plunderer still dreams of winning the accolade “Pirate of the Year.” His adventures in pursuit of that title eventually bring him into contact with humorously revisionist versions of both Charles Darwin (voice of David Tennant) and Queen Victoria (voice of Imelda Staunton). The former is shown to be shifty, the latter a shrew.

Fleeting elements of Gideon Defoe’s script – adapted from his book “The Pirates! In an Adventure with Scientists” – preclude recommendation for all. The dialogue, for instance, lapses into a bit of low-level vulgarity. And, in addition to a smattering of cartoonish violence and some perilous situations, the proceedings also find one character referring to a “scantily clad” woman and another jokingly admonishing his peers to “lock up your daughters.”

One of the Pirate Captain's numerous misadventures brings him briefly onboard a vessel populated by naturists, though a variety of strategically placed objects prevent us, of course, from glimpsing anything inappropriate. And one of his merry cohorts, whom he dimly characterizes as “surprisingly curvaceous,” turns out to be a woman disguised as a man.

Still, as helmed by director Peter Lord, this swashbuckling saga does teach viewers a good lesson about placing loyalty to friends above worldly ambition. Freighted with that respectable moral, it should make smooth sailing for teens and their seniors.

The film contains very mild action violence, a brief scene involving obscured nudity, a couple of crass terms and a few vaguely sexual references. The Catholic News Service classification is A-II – adults and adolescents. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is PG – parental guidance suggested.

(By John Mulderig, Catholic News Service)

‘Marvel’s The Avengers’

Audience:
A-III – Adults

 

Watch Review Watch Trailer

More Movie Reviews


 

Rate the Review & Trailer

 

Many Super Heroes muscle onto one screen

Seemingly destined to haul in wads of cash at the box office, the ensemble adventure “Marvel’s The Avengers” (Disney) will not disappoint fans of the comic books on which it’s based. But it may prove problematic for the parents of some excited youngsters anxious to ride the juggernaut.

The film has a long pedigree that can ultimately be traced back to Stan Lee and Jack Kirby’s original comics series from 1963 (Lee serves the screen version as an executive producer).

More recently, it has been foreshadowed with subtle references and clues scattered among the four previously separate superhero franchises that are united here. 2011’s “Captain America: The First Avenger,” for instance, hinted at a future Avengers movie not only in its title but in a post-credits add-on scene as well.

Writer-director Joss Whedon’s script juggles no fewer than six superheroes: Thor (Chris Hemsworth), Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.), Hulk (Mark Ruffalo), Captain America (Chris Evans), Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner) and Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson).

Led by the eye-patched and grizzled Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson), this dream team confronts the mischievous exiled Norse god Loki (Tom Hiddleston). Loki believes freedom is overrated, and has hatched a scheme involving some glowing square that triggers – well, who really cares what it triggers? Just sit there and eat your popcorn!

Not to be flippant, but the plot is unashamedly perfunctory, and serves only to place our oddly dressed friends in a situation where they can flex their magic muscles.

And flex they do: “The Avengers” shuns attempts at allegory or subtlety, replacing them with special effects, loud noises and a surprisingly witty sense of humor. Which is not to say Whedon’s plot is entirely shallow. Christian themes concerning the dignity of the person and the value of freedom underlie the hectic proceedings.

Captain America, moreover, is given a bit of dialogue showing him to be a firm believer, not only in Christ but in Jesus’ incarnate nature as both God and man. A firm defense of the uniqueness of Christ’s nature and role is a welcome surprise in a contemporary Hollywood movie, and, however brief, should be enthusiastically applauded.

But there are also more questionable elements on display amid all the mindless action. Though relatively mild, these troublesome ingredients – listed below – will nonetheless raise concerns for some parents, putting them in the uncomfortable position of having to tell the youngsters that this otherwise thoroughly enjoyable romp is off-limits.

The film contains intense but largely bloodless violence, a few mature references, including to suicide and drug use, and a handful of crass terms. The Catholic News Service classification is A-III – adults. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is PG-13 – parents strongly cautioned. Some material may be inappropriate for children under 13.

(By Adam Shaw, Catholic News Service)