Moon-landing documentary has awesome footage but may bore kids
“Apollo 11” is a documentary that uses historical footage to put viewers inside the NASA control room and on the rocket itself during the historic 1969 mission to the moon. It offers an incredible opportunity to understand everything that went into that awe-inspiring event, from prelaunch to splashdown recovery. In particular, it makes it clear that the mission’s success wasn’t the noble effort of just three astronauts, but rather hundreds of thousands of NASA employees, contractors, volunteers and more. Some of the film’s moon footage has never been seen before, and it’s breathtaking. But those amazing moments come toward the end of the movie, and getting there may be slow for many kids. There’s no narrator; instead, the audio is from mission control, and it’s often monotone and sometimes difficult to understand (imagine a pilot talking to the control tower about things such as hydraulics, thermal balance and telemetry). But other than a few glimpses of people smoking and one spectator chugging a beer, there’s no iffy content. Ultimately, the film feels like something that runs on a loop in a science museum: You stop for a moment, take in a few minutes, then move on. (93 minutes)
Touchdown for faith-based fans; underage drinking.
“Run the Race” is a faith-based high school sports drama with heavy Christian messaging. It follows teenage brothers who’ve endured a lot of hardship (including their mother’s death) and are counting on a college athletic scholarship to escape poverty but find their dreams thwarted by injury. The film is aimed at teens, and — perhaps to feel authentic — underage drinking is shown as acceptable and consequence-free. A teen romance is part of the story, but the only passion the two share is discussing God. There are scenes of threats and fighting, and (spoiler alert!) a key character dies. Expect plenty of stereotypes: The movie’s black characters all operate in the sports environment, women are caretakers and male athletes participate in testosterone-driven brawls. Still, from the sports angle, the movie encourages teamwork and perseverance as a way to overcome failure. There are also themes of communication and compassion in the story, which can be taken as a parable, because it plays out biblical lessons. Young sports fans may be excited to see the first film featuring Tim Tebow, who makes a cameo, as does fellow Heisman Trophy winner Eddie George. (101 minutes)
Live-action remake sees heroine tackle tricky teenage emotions.
“Kim Possible” is a live-action movie reimagining of the popular teenage crime-fighting cartoon that ran from 2002 to 2007. The story assumes viewers’ familiarity with the characters and basic story line, jumping directly into the action with little introduction or background. Even so, it’s fairly easy for newcomers to get up to speed as the plot unfolds. Kim’s exchanges with the mostly comical villains involve violence such as kicking, punching and the occasional hand weapon such as a bo staff, and there are some perilous moments, but there are no injuries. A main character tricks Kim and her sidekick, Ron Stoppable, in an effort to undermine them, but Kim’s resourcefulness and her ability to overcome difficult emotions help her demonstrate true heroism. (86 minutes)
Available on the Disney Channel and streaming via Disney Now.
Great actors in quirky, dark and violent comic adaptation.
“The Umbrella Academy” is a series about a group of adopted siblings with superpowers who team up to try to prevent a fiery future apocalypse. Parents’ main concern probably will be the violence, which is gory, bloody and often set to music so that it reads as more cheerful than it should. Characters — usually depicted as villains, bad guys or faceless henchpeople — are dispatched bloodily by so-called heroes: shot, stabbed, their eyes ripped out, torn apart, with spurting blood and gore — in piles of dead bodies. Sex and romance is played down in favor of violence, but one sibling has romantic feelings for another. One character is a drug addict and an alcoholic, and we see him gulping down unnamed pills, scoring drugs in an alley, drinking enormous drinks and more, while he acts sloppy and impaired. Language includes “s---,” “a------,” and “b------.” (10 hour-long episodes)
Available via Netflix streaming.
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