THE WILD THORNBERRYS MOVIE (PG, 79 minutes)
"The Wild Thornberrys Movie" will delight kids 6 and older, whether fans of the animated Nickelodeon cable TV series or not. The dialogue sparkles, the film has a witty, hand-drawn look, and the script imparts neat factoids about the natural world. Best of all, that smart, spunky 12-year-old Eliza Thornberry (voice of Lacey Chabert) has a great adventure. Her eccentric family, filming wildlife documentaries in Africa, doesn't know that a shaman has given her the power to talk to animals. Frolicking with cheetah cubs, Eliza feels responsible when poachers (Rupert Everett and Marisa Tomei) kidnap one of them. Preschoolers may get nervous when Eliza dangles from a helicopter trying to get the cub back. They may worry, too, when animals are shown wounded or in danger.
THE LORD OF THE RINGS: THE TWO TOWERS (PG-13, 179 minutes)
Once again, teens with a taste for myth will happily plunge into "The Lord of the Rings." In "The Two Towers," the second installment of writer-director Peter Jackson's rattlingly good adaptation of J.R.R. Tolkien's "The Lord of the Rings" trilogy, Jackson so vividly conjures Tolkien's Middle-earth, its hobbits, humans, elves, dwarves, wizards and armies, that the inevitable confusions of plot and character won't bother teens not into the books.
At least as violent as the first film, "The Two Towers" features several extended bursts of medieval warfare -- not gory, but intense -- and is too much for preteens. There are quick shots of a head on a stake and burned corpses, as well as nightmarish images of dead faces under water, giant trees that walk and talk and the skeletal Gollum (a digitalization of actor Andy Serkis), who stalks hobbit hero Frodo (Elijah Wood) for the ring.
Sometimes a little repetitively, the story moves among its different strands -- Frodo and Sam (Sean Astin) on their trek to destroy the ring and its growing evil, the human warrior Aragorn (Viggo Mortensen) rallying troops for the battle of Helm's Deep, and the evil Wizard Saruman (Christopher Lee), who seeks the power of the Ring to destroy humankind.
ANTWONE FISHER (PG-13, 113 minutes) A human interest story about a young man's struggle to find himself, "Antwone Fisher" engages hearts and minds from the first minute. Acted with straightforward warmth and honesty, it's easily a two-handkerchief film. Mature themes and intense emotions make it a better choice for thoughtful high-schoolers than younger teens. The script (by the real Antwone Fisher, telling his life story) features repeated use of a racial epithet and occasional profanity. The film includes strongly implied sexual abuse, lethal gun violence, minor fisticuffs, other sexual innuendo and discussions of sexuality.
Denzel Washington makes a sure-handed directorial debut and plays a Navy psychiatrist. But the focus is on sailor Antwone Fisher (excellent newcomer Derek Luke). Born to a woman in prison, Fisher was a miserably abused foster child. After joining the Navy, he's always in trouble for his temper. Ordered into therapy, he pours out his heart to the doctor, who helps untangle his feelings and his longing for family.