of the Titans
NEW YORK (CNS)
-- Though hardly a favorite with critics -- the USCCB Office for Film
& Broadcasting, for example, termed it "languid and hopelessly
episodic" -- Desmond Davis' 1981 swords-and-sandals exercise, "Clash
of the Titans," was a box-office hit on its initial release and has
gone on to become something of a cult classic. Perhaps that's the impetus
behind director Louis Leterrier's 3-D remake (Warner Bros.) which retains
the original title.
motivation, the result is a muddled mythological epic in which long, frequently
violent action sequences and an emphasis on special effects leave little
room for engaging drama.
Like the original
-- and like the current, exhaustingly titled children's film "Percy
Jackson & the Olympians: The Lightning Thief" -- this is a retelling
of the ancient Greek myth of the demigod Perseus (Sam Worthington). The
offspring of one of Zeus' (Liam Neeson) characteristic dalliances with
a beautiful mortal -- portrayed here in a discreet flashback -- the infant
Perseus and his mother are both cast into the sea by her enraged cuckolded
husband, Calibos (Jason Flemyng). This despite the fact that Zeus had
temporarily disguised himself as Calibos for the encounter. So how was
poor Mom to know?
mother, Perseus survives, and is rescued and raised by the family of a
simple fisherman. As a teen, however, Perseus is left orphaned when his
entire clan is killed off during a rampage by Hades (Ralph Fiennes), the
god of death.
Hades has been
unleashed by his brother Zeus, the king of the gods, to wreak havoc on
humanity for their growing dissatisfaction with, and attempted rebellion
against, the whole pantheon of Olympian deities.
to defend humankind and gain vengeance on the lord of the underworld,
Perseus embarks on a quest that sees him and a small band of hardy companions
-- including his immortal spiritual guide and intrepid comrade Io (Gemma
Arterton) -- battling giant crabs, the Medusa, an ubermonster called the
Kraken and, eventually, Hades himself.
theme of a human revolt against the divine -- even in its debased pagan
form -- is potentially troubling, the collaborative script by Travis Beacham,
Phil Hay and Matt Manfredi treats the subject so inconsistently that audiences
will be hard put to draw any direct analogies or arrive at any definite
display a variety of reactions to the uprising, ranging from outright
defiance -- "We are the gods now!" declares one -- to fearful
submission to quiet, sensible piety and on to the rabble-rousing attitude
and activities of a religious fanatic who pops up in a few scenes.
matters like theology are hardly the point here, as it's never long before
the next in Perseus' formidable succession of adversaries takes center
stage, and combat is renewed. Munching away on their popcorn, undemanding
viewers will likely be content enough with the proceedings not to notice
the gifts of top-tier players such as Fiennes and Neeson being squandered
on stilted dialogue.
The film contains
complex, though undeveloped, religious themes, constant action violence,
some of it bloody or gruesome, a bedroom encounter with implied sexual
activity, at least one sexual reference and a couple of mildly crass terms.
The USCCB Office for Film & Broadcasting 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
NEW YORK (CNS)
-- Occasionally, amid the frenetic proceedings of the romantic comedy-action
blend "Date Night" (Fox), the tale's two protagonists -- an
ordinary married couple from suburban New Jersey -- pause to reflect on
their enduring commitment to each other and on the threat posed to the
vitality of their union by the exhausting demands of professional life
and child rearing.
But these well-intentioned
elements of Josh Klausner's script are eventually overwhelmed by an increasingly
seedy milieu and by the wayward behavior of a number of the characters
the pair encounter during the unexpected nocturnal odyssey through the
streets of Manhattan on which the plot -- which hinges on a case of mistaken
identity -- launches them.
get out of their rut, financial adviser Phil (Steve Carell) and real estate
agent Claire (Tina Fey) Foster spontaneously decide to shift the venue
of their weekly date night from a local tavern to a popular and pricey
Gotham restaurant. With no reservation and no hope of ever being seated,
they take the opportunity of another couple's no-show to snag the table
they had reserved under the name Tripplehorn.
As the mild-mannered
Fosters soon discover, however, Tripplehorn is an alias used by two lowlifes
(James Franco and Mila Kunis) -- he a drug dealer and she a stripper --
who are involved in a blackmail scheme that has roused the ire of local
mob boss Joe Miletto (Ray Liotta).
two of Miletto's thugs (played by Common and Jimmi Simpson), Phil and
Claire turn for help to a former client of hers, James Bond-like international
intelligence agent Holbrooke Grant (Mark Wahlberg). Buff Holbrooke --
whose perpetual shirtlessness and flirtations with Claire are played for
laughs -- proves willing to cooperate, despite the fact that the Fosters'
visit has interrupted his commitment-free bedroom frolic with a female
Israeli agent of his acquaintance.
by Shawn Levy, the Fosters' further adventures bring them into contact
with the cohabiting duo whose absence from the eatery started all the
misery, and lead on to an underground sex club, awash in scantily clad,
pole-dancing bimbos, where they briefly find themselves forced to entertain
a powerful patron with perverse tastes.
travails aid Phil and Claire to rekindle their flickering love for each
other, and though the well-paired Carell and Fey provide at least a few
scenes of enjoyable, understated humor, the sordid doings of the comic
foils they meet on their frequently bullet-ridden journey preclude endorsement
for most viewers.
The film contains
considerable, though bloodless, action violence, partial rear nudity,
much sexual humor, including gags about casual sex, masturbation and aberrant
practices, at least one use of profanity and of the F-word and some crude
and crass language. The USCCB Office for Film & Broadcasting classification
is L -- limited adult audience, films whose problematic content many adults
would find troubling. The Motion Picture Association of America rating
is PG-13 -- parents strongly cautioned. Some material may be inappropriate
for children under 13.
NEW YORK (CNS)
-- Though its underlying theology is evangelical, Catholic viewers --
and Christian believers of every stripe -- will welcome the inspirational
and touching drama "Letters to God" (Vivendi). That's because
director David Nixon's family-friendly tale of courage and conversion
celebrates the power of Gospel values to transform lives in a way that
transcends denominational divides.
Based on real
events, this is the story of Tyler Doherty (ably and endearingly played
by Tanner Maguire), a faith-filled 8-year-old boy stricken with brain
cancer. Tyler's favored method of praying -- and of reflecting on his
struggles -- is to write letters to the Almighty, describing daily events
and asking for favors in the kind of chatty tone one might use with a
But Tyler doesn't
just put pen to paper, he also mails his notes, addressed simply "To
God, From Tyler."
this befuddles Brady McDaniels (Jeffrey S. Johnson), the postman who has
just taken over the local route in Tyler's Norman Rockwell-esque hometown.
Depressed over his recent divorce --and a potentially disastrous mistake
that cost him visiting rights with his young son -- war vet Brady leads
a squalid, solitary life, drinking to excess by night and barely holding
on to his job by day.
unwilling to trash Tyler's correspondence or even drop the envelopes into
the dead letter box. Eventually he tries to leave them in a local church,
but he's interrupted by the pastor (L. Derek Leonidoff) who insists that
Brady keep the missives, since God must have had a reason for choosing
him to receive them in the first place.
As Brady gradually
befriends Tyler and his family -- which includes widowed, overtaxed mom
Maddy (Robyn Lively), devout grandmother Olivia (Maree Cheatham) and teen
brother Ben (Michael Christopher Bolten), who's emotionally conflicted
over Tyler's illness -- he finds the lad's innocent piety and against-the-odds
optimism, (expressed both in person and through those messages to God
which Brady has by now begun to read), subtly wearing away at his own
The only noticeable
divergence from Catholic teaching comes late in the script -- developed
by Sandra Thrift from an original draft by co-director Patrick Doughtie,
father of the real youngster on whom Tyler's character is modeled -- when
Tyler's perky best friend Samantha (Bailee Madison) expresses the assurance,
rather than the trusting hope, that her acceptance of Jesus into her heart
will lead her to eternal life.
of a certain age will recognize Ralph Waite, who plays Samantha's seemingly
gruff but ultimately good-hearted grandfather, Mr. Perryfield, as John-Boy
Walton's daddy on the long-running CBS Depression-set drama "The
There are also
hints that Brady and Maddy's friendship may develop into something deeper;
Tyler prays, in one of his letters, for God to send his mother someone
who will relieve her loneliness. But this remains only a vague possibility
by the time the credits roll, so the issue of a morally troublesome second
marriage for Brady never really arises.
While the inclusion
of the mature subjects listed below make this unsuitable entertainment
for the youngest viewers, objectionable material of any kind is entirely
absent from this heartwarming look at the infectious faith of a young
man who, despite the ravages of a potentially terminal illness, continued
to treat God as his pen pal.
The film contains
themes of life-threatening illness, divorce and alcoholism. The USCCB
Office for Film & Broadcasting classification is A-II -- adults and
adolescents. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is PG --
parental guidance suggested. Some material may not be suitable for children.
NEW YORK (CNS)
-- Fans of the prolific -- and often predictable -- Tyler Perry will find
themselves on familiar terrain with his ninth film project in five years,
the sequel "Tyler Perry's Why Did I Get Married Too?" (Lionsgate).
Though dramatically uneven -- with some scenes working quite effectively
while a few go embarrassingly astray -- this mix of comedy and drama is,
for the most part, a morally steady examination of the challenges and
rewards of committed marital love.
reunites the eight old college friends -- all upwardly mobile African-Americans
-- whose relationships he explored in his 2007 hit "Tyler Perry's
Why Did I Get Married?" for another of their annual marriage retreats,
this time in the Bahamas.
of the comic relief, once again, is Tasha Smith as salon owner Angela,
the hyper-suspicious and ever-quarrelsome mate of ex-NFL player and current
sportscaster Marcus (Michael Jai White).
At the other
end of the emotional spectrum is Janet Jackson as Patricia, the successful
self-help author whose talent at counseling others is ironically contrasted
with her own excessive perfectionism and inability to express her feelings
openly, traits which steadily undermine her marriage to architect Gavin
of their relationship eventually leads not only to harsh verbal exchanges
but to an unsettling physical confrontation involving drunken, semi-abusive
behavior by Gavin.
Herself a victim
of both physical and emotional abuse in the past, Sheila (Jill Scott)
has split with her rotten ex, Mike (Richard T. Jones), and found a supportive
new spouse in Troy (Lamman Rucker). But Troy's ongoing unemployment is
putting their bond to the test, while Mike's unwelcome appearance at the
retreat -- motivated, partially at least, by his remorseful desire to
win Sheila back -- adds a further strain.
Terry, who was feeling neglected by his work-obsessed lawyer wife, Dianne
(Sharon Leal), at the last get-together, now has doubts about her fidelity.
endorsing Sheila's remarriage, the script is otherwise all about dedication
and stability. But the highlighted values -- such as open communication
and self-giving love -- do not rest on a spiritual foundation and, unlike
some of Perry's other offerings, faith has no explicit influence on the
of one wife's past decision to have her "tubes tied" will strike
Catholic viewers as another flaw in the fabric of what is, overall, an
ethically sound -- though occasionally cliched -- survey of married life.
The film contains
brief, nongraphic marital lovemaking, a nonmarital bedroom scene, intense
domestic discord, adultery theme, numerous sexual references, including
mention of sterilization and venereal disease, drug references and frequent
crass language. The USCCB Office for Film & Broadcasting 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.