8 and Older
"Thunderbirds" (PG). Lively, diverting neon-colored update of 1960s British kids' show about family of international rescuers who fly Thunderbird rocket ships in year 2010; snarling villain (Ben Kingsley) tricks ex-astronaut (Bill Paxton) and his older sons into flying away, then takes over family's high-tech island for evil purposes; youngest son (Brady Corbet), his friends and a visiting aristocrat-adventuress (Sophia Myles) must face the villain. Crude toilet joke, kick-in-the-crotch joke; kids fight off thugs, escape explosions, avoid a scorpion.
"The Village." Well-acted, artfully filmed but stilted nonthriller is more a parable with a weak surprise finish; children in isolated, 19th-century village are taught to fear unnamed creatures in the woods; blind, intuitive daughter (Bryce Dallas Howard) of village elder (William Hurt) is sent through woods to get medicine for injured love interest (Joaquin Phoenix). A stabbing; skinned dead animals; mysterious hooded figure with bony spines sticking out of its cloak; verbal recollections of long-ago violent deaths. Not for preteens.
"The Bourne Supremacy." Matt Damon deftly blends innocence and experience as former CIA assassin roused from his safe haven and amnesia by folks who want to frame and kill him, in long but satisfyingly jittery, brainy, peripatetic thriller sequel. Intense but non-gory mayhem shows a stylized assassination, a gun suicide, naturalistic fights, strangulation, snapped necks; harrowing chases; rare profanity; drinking. Not for preteens.
"Garden State." Sweet, likable, offbeat story about struggling actor (writer-director-star Zach Braff of TV's "Scrubs") who comes home for mother's funeral, faces cold psychotherapist dad (Ian Holm), his own numb alienation, hangs with ne'er-do-well pal (Peter Sarsgaard) and meets a really nice girl (Natalie Portman). Scary plane-crash dream; drug use, smoking, drinking; profanity; briefly graphic sexual situation, mild sexual innuendo; crocodile attacking deer on cable show. 17 and older.
"Maria Full of Grace." Painfully realistic, riveting drama about 17-year-old Colombian girl, Maria (Catalina Sandino Moreno), tired of her demanding family, low-paying job, who agrees to smuggle heroin to U.S. as a "mule," carrying wrapped pellets in her stomach on trip fraught with danger, tragedy. Glimpses of a bloodied body, blood-spattered room where probable murder occurred; verbal threats; upsetting scenes of Maria swallowing heroin; mild sexual innuendo; out-of-wedlock pregnancy theme; profanity; drinking. In Spanish with subtitles. 17 and older.
"The Blind Swordsman: Zatoichi." Wild, witty (if narratively confusing), character-rich, blood-soaked remake of first in hugely popular series of Japanese films and TV shows about a blind, nomadic masseur-gambler (writer-director-star Takeshi Kitano) in 19th-century Japan whose keen senses and swift sword rid a village of mobsters. Stylized mayhem with much spurting blood, runnings-through, hackings; subtly implied brothel, mild sexual innuendo; flashbacks to murder of family, implied sexual abuse of a child; drinking. In Japanese with subtitles. 17 and older.
"A Home at the End of the World." Beautifully acted, bittersweet tale of unrequited loves; Colin Farrell as unworldly baker who moves in with his gay childhood friend (Dallas Roberts) and falls for his free-spirited roommate (Robin Wright Penn); unrequited feelings among the three cause heartbreak. Explicit sexual situation; near-nudity; profanity; drug use; AIDS theme; bloody accident. 16 and up.
"The Manchurian Candidate." Thrilling, acerbic remake of 1962 brainwashing thriller, its paranoia shifted from global communism to global corporations; Denzel Washington as Army major racked by conflicting memories of a Gulf War incident; Liev Schreiber as decorated war hero, now a congressman poised to be vice president; Meryl Streep as his ruthless senator mom. Surreal, fairly bloodless shootings, asphyxiations, drownings; nongraphic war flashbacks; surgical drill whirring into a skull, electroshock therapy, someone cutting into his own back; rare profanity; mild sexual innuendo. High-schoolers.
"Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle." Funny, stereotype-busting stoner comedy with two guys of Asian heritage as stars, not sidekicks; Harold (John Cho) is an office drudge, his roommate Kumar (Kal Penn) a premed who would rather get stoned; they go on an eventful all-night quest for White Castle burgers. Drug use; profanity, wildly crude language, humor; grossly comic operating room scene; explicit sex talk; milder sexual situations; toplessness, back-view nudity. College age and up.