In a box office climate dominated by big-budget CGI-heavy action flicks and raunchy comedies, Bully provides a stark and unsettling look into the everyday lives of several teens whose existences are fraught with verbal, physical, and psychological abuse of a horrifying degree. With his unrelenting lens turned on the heartbreakingly vicious treatment these teens endure, Director Lee Hirsch exposes an issue that has avoided mainstream conversation for far too long. After the MPAA handed down an R rating, the studio chose to release the film intact (and Unrated), mainly because of its conviction in the seriousness of the issue. Teens and parents should be warned, though; despite being centered one of today’s most crucial – and glossed over – social issues, Bully is full of graphic language and disturbing scenes, made all the more upsetting by the fact that, unlike those action flicks and comedies, this is real life.
ec Rating: 4 stars
When tech entrepreneurs Sean and Ben visit Moscow on a business trip, their laid-back Russian excursion is suddenly and tragically interrupted by a freakish alien invasion. As these mysterious creatures rampage through the streets of Moscow, leaving death and destruction in their wake, the guys find themselves in a fight for survival. The effects falter at times, but this dark thriller comes off like a War of the Worlds for today’s teens. Rated PG-13 for sci-fi action violence and some language. The images of humans and animals being turned to ash might disturb younger viewers, but the action will likely appeal to most teens, despite the absence of any real message or theme.
ec Rating: 2 stars
This modern remake centers on the classic Curly, Larry, and Moe, a bumbling trio who takes it upon themselves to save the orphanage where they have grown up together from bankruptcy. Their best intentions unsurprisingly go awry, and the three soon find themselves tangled in a murder plot and more slapstick antics than you could smack with a hammer. Ultimately, a lot of the jokes fall rather flat, and the plot is as ridiculous at times as the Stooges’ pranks. Despite their cartoonish nature, several of the tussles are a bit violent in nature (chainsaws, explosions, etc.), and might be a little startling for younger kids. Rated PG for slapstick action violence, and some rude and suggestive humor and language.
ec Rating: 2 stars
In this futuristic action-adventure, Guy Pierce stars as Snow, a bad boy convict sentenced to MS1, a maximum security prison in space. However, when the US President’s daughter is trapped on MS1 following a disastrous diplomatic visit, Snow is offered a reprieve—if he can rescue the girl. The action is packed in so tightly that the filmmakers hardly leave room for the lurching, predictable plotline, and the abundant language and violence surely made the “PG-13 or R?” question a tough one for the ratings board. While it is full of explosions and intense action violence, Lockout comes up way short in the areas that really matter: plot and substance.Rated PG-13 for intense sequences of violence and action, and language (including some sexual references).
ec Rating: 1 star