The Lego Movie. Kids 6 and older will have a blast at this animated 3-D comic adventure set in a Lego universe. Parents will grin at its dead-on spoof of modern life. Lego man Emmet, a worker at a construction site, has no thoughts of his own unless they’re in the rule book. His life turns upside down when he accidentally falls down a deep hole and encounters a glowing monolith. When he reemerges with a special red Lego brick melded to his back, Emmet is identified as The Special, destined to become “the brightest, most talented, most interesting person in the universe” and to lead an uprising against the autocratic President Business. Business has secret plans to destroy the Lego universe. Resistance fighter Wyldstyle urges Emmet to think outside the box, but he doesn’t know how. After the climactic battle, the film takes a “real” turn to send home its message about kids and parents embracing creativity.
THE BOTTOM LINE: Bad Cop threatens to melt Emmet down, and President Business threatens to put his constituents “to sleep” if they don’t obey. Battles against President Business and his minions look like old video games, but they include Lego characters that morph like Transformers.
Pompeii. Many teens will relish seeing one of history’s great catastrophes re-created in 3-D. We refer, of course, to the eruption of Mount Vesuvius and its destruction of the ancient Roman towns of Pompeii and Herculaneum in A.D. 79. Our hero is Milo, who, as a boy, saw his family massacred by the Roman tribune Corvus. Now Milo is a Roman slave and unbeaten gladiator, determined to find and kill Corvus. He is brought to Pompeii and falls impossibly in love with Cassia, daughter of the local ruler, Severus. She returns Milo’s passion. The evil Corvus is there, too, and wants Cassia for himself. He wants Milo to die, and sets him up to do so in gladiatorial combat. But Mother Nature intervenes.
THE BOTTOM LINE: Expect much bone-cracking combat with spears, swords, daggers, shields, fists and heads, but all within PG-13 range and relatively gore-free. The eruption, which includes an earthquake, rivers of molten lava and a tsunami, shows victims inundated. The passion between Milo and Cassia is understated.
The Wind Rises. There will always be kids who fall in love with airplanes. This film is for them, or at least for those who are 10 and older. It’s also for kids who know that animation can be a high art. Japanese animator Hayao Miyazaki sets his tale in the Japan of the 1920s and ’30s, leading up to World War II. His hero, Jiro, is a composite of airplane designer Jiro Horikoshi, who designed the Zero fighters used by Japan in the war, and a writer of the same period, Tatsuo Hori. Single-minded in his passion for planes, Jiro seems barely aware of the militarist government for which he’s designing a fighter. (The Academy Award-nominated film has taken hits for its perceived uncritical view of Japan in that period.) Jiro’s love for the ailing Nahoko is the only thing that pulls him from his drawing board or the airfields.
The bottom line: Nightmare images of flying warships in a roiling sky and other battle scenes, while they show no injuries, could unsettle kids younger than 10. One character has a terminal illness. Everyone smokes.
Winter’s Tale. Tweens and teens who like a good cry should bring extra tissues to “Winter’s Tale.” In 1916, Peter Lake is a clever safecracker and the protege of Irish gangster Pearly Soames. Soames deems Peter disloyal and wants him dead. We first see Peter on the run from Soames and his men. Later, we learn that Soames is a demon, but the first sign of magic is a white horse that offers Peter an escape. Later, while robbing a newspaper publisher’s mansion, Peter meets the magnate’s daughter, who looks great but is very ill. The two fall deeply in love, but it ends in tragedy. Cut to 2014: Peter somehow remains alive and young, but he has no recollection of those early days. An encounter with a little girl sparks his memory. Peter believes he can perform a miracle, but Soames and his minions are still after him.
THE BOTTOM LINE: There is bloodless point-blank shooting, a couple of head-banging fights and a lethal but nongraphic stabbing. The lone sexual situation is understated, with a hint of undress. There is rare mild profanity.
About Last Night. Trash-talking and lovemaking at hyper-speeds, Kevin Hart and Regina Hall are hilarious as Bernie and Joan, who hook up in a bar and have scorching sexual chemistry but are afraid to fall in love. Joan and Bernie’s best friends, Debbie and Danny, are quieter people who meet through their pals and fall slowly in love. But both couples fall out for different reasons. What works best in “About Last Night” is exactly what makes it inappropriate for viewers younger than 17: the loud, lascivious adventures of Joan and Bernie, not the ordinary emotional ups and downs of Debbie and Danny.
THE BOTTOM LINE: Adults only, due to constant crude and highly explicit sexual language. There are explicit sexual situations, some with partial nudity. Characters drink a lot and use steaming nonsexual profanity, too.
Horwitz is a freelance writer.