Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets (PG-13)
Age 11+

Silly but exuberant sci-fi adventure has fantasy violence.

Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets” is a sci-fi/action movie based on French comic books and directed by Luc Besson. There’s plenty of fantasy violence, with futuristic guns, shooting and fighting (but virtually no blood). An alien character is strapped to a chair and questioned (possibly tortured). The main characters eventually kiss, and one spends the movie asking the other to marry him. There’s a “red-light” district with flirty characters and a woman doing a sexy dance involving a stripper pole. Language includes one possible use of “s---” (it’s obscured by noise) and uses of “ass” and “damn.” Although the movie is very long and quite silly, it’s also bright and dazzling and fun, with messages about courage, teamwork, environmentalism and helping the less fortunate. And the main female character (Cara Delevingne) constantly challenges her position as the male’s sidekick. (137 minutes)

Dunkirk (PG-13)
Age 14+

Intense, challenging story shows the horrors of war.

Dunkirk” is director Christopher Nolan’s World War II movie about the real-life incident in which Allied forces were surrounded and trapped on Dunkirk beach — and everyday heroes helped rescue them, despite the risk of danger and death. The movie’s war violence is realistic and intense, with heavy bombing and shooting and many deaths (though very little blood). Planes crash in the ocean, ships fill with water and sink, and an oil slick catches fire, burning many soldiers. A teen civilian is injured, and a man walks into the ocean, presumably to commit suicide. Language includes two uses of “f---” and one “Christ,” and there’s one scene with beer. Kenneth Branagh, Tom Hardy and Cillian Murphy star, but there are many characters, some of whom aren’t clearly distinguished from others. That, plus Nolan’s time-twisting technique, can make the story challenging to follow. But it has messages of bravery, teamwork and sacrifice, and persistent teens and adults will be rewarded with a powerful, visceral experience.
(107 minutes)

Chasing Coral (Unrated)

Streaming

Age 9+

Awe-inspiring, poignant documentary tracks decline of coral reefs.

Chasing Coral” hopes to spark public outcry or action by portraying the ongoing devastation of the Earth’s coral reefs. They are the movie’s true stars: We get to see their brilliant colors, amazing interdependence with sea creatures and the desperate measures the coral take to fight for life. But the commitment, ingenuity and passion of the humans involved in both filming and saving the coral are part of a separate, equally valuable tale. Clearly designed to inform and inspire both awareness and action, “Chasing Coral” gathers filmmakers and scientists to directly attribute the decline of one of the ocean’s most essential living creatures to climate change. Expect sad moments, which are intensified because the events are real, happening now and potentially irreversible. Filled with facts, well-presented and beautifully photographed, and with an ending that inspires optimism, this film is highly recommended for family viewing. (93 minutes)

Via Netflix streaming.

To the Bone (Unrated)

Streaming

Age 15+

Compelling but mature drama about eating disorders.

To the Bone” follows Ellen (Lily Collins), a 20-year-old woman with an eating disorder, as she embarks on an uncertain and difficult journey toward recovery. It’s not easy to watch: Many intense, disturbing scenes show Ellen’s struggles with food and body image, as well as those of others who are forced to confront their illnesses. Language is strong, including “f---,” “s---” and “p---y.” Characters kiss, cuddle and have frank conversations about sex (expect references to orgasms, masturbation and the like). There’s also nonsexual nudity related to the main character’s continuing health issues. Two scenes include underage drinking and cigarette smoking. Writer-director Marti Noxon tackles a very sensitive issue with the honesty and authenticity that come from having been there herself. While it’s clear that her intentions aren’t exploitative, there has been concern (some based on the movie’s trailer) about the film’s possible stereotyping or triggering of negative behavior among those with eating disorders. But rest assured that the movie has thoughtful messages about finding joy and beauty in life, discovering value in ourselves and learning to survive the bad things that inevitably happen to everyone. It also promotes compassion, empathy and perseverance. (107 minutes)

Via Netflix streaming.

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