Visually dazzling adventure is earnest, sometimes intense.
“Missing Link” is a stop-action/computer-generated animated adventure from Laika, the studio behind “Kubo and the Two Strings,” “The Boxtrolls” and “ParaNorman.” Starring the voices of Hugh Jackman, Zach Galifianakis and Zoe Saldana, the movie — which feels like a cross between a road trip comedy and a buddy adventure — follows a 19th-century English adventurer (Jackman) who teams up with a lonely Bigfoot (Galifianakis) to find his distant relatives, the yetis of the Himalayas. Expect some violent scenes in which guns are used, as well as a few character deaths (though they’re all in the “bad guy” camp). One climactic sequence is particularly tense, as is a terrifying moment when a villain threatens a grandmother and her infant grandchild at gunpoint — but (spoiler alert!) it all ends well for the main characters. Language is limited to “bugger,” “sucks” and historical slang like “poppycock”; there’s a bit of flirting but no actual romance, although there are references to Sir Lionel’s rakish past. There are positive messages about friendship, identity and partnership and themes of empathy and teamwork, but given the story line and the humor, “Missing Link” is better suited for older elementary-schoolers. (95 minutes)
Mean young teen carouses and curses in age-swap comedy.
“Little” is like a flipped take on “Big,” with an adult being transformed back into a child to (in theory) help her learn some life lessons. After she’s injured by a bully, 13-year-old Jordan (Marsai Martin) twists her parents’ words of encouragement to understand that when she’s an adult/boss, then she can be the bully. Unfortunately, that’s probably the message that kids will take from the film, as well as the fact that adult CEO Jordan’s (Regina Hall) meanness yields results: success, a lavish lifestyle and submissive behavior from underlings. Meanwhile, the movie plays for laughs the shock of seeing a young teen treat people (both adults and other kids) like dirt, try to drink and make sexual advances toward adult men (including her teacher). That said, some of the iffy stuff is written to go over kids’ heads. Profanity is common but mild (“damn,” “crap,” “hell”), with stronger language only implied; sexual innuendo is frequent but subtle; and alcohol and drug references are ever present, but kids may only notice adults drinking wine socially. And Jordan doesn’t really experience any big consequences for her behavior. The film’s intended message of staying true to yourself will likely land with little impact. (108 minutes)
Dark, violent remake focuses on emotions over gore.
“Pet Sematary” is a remake of the 1989 horror movie; both films are based on Stephen King’s 1983 novel. While it’s not excessively heavy on gore, it’s plenty violent. Expect creepy, disturbing imagery and brief scenes of struggling, strangling and stabbing. A few scenes (including nightmare sequences) show blood dripping or gushing. Characters die, and a dead cat and a nearly dead bird are seen. A gun is shown, and a gunshot is heard. Language includes several uses of “f---,” “s---” and “damn.” A married couple kisses and embraces playfully and passionately in bed. A character smokes cigarettes, and several people drink whiskey (one glass is drugged with a sleeping powder). This take on the story focuses on characters and emotions, but it’s also quite dark, and some fans may miss the silliness of the original. (132 minutes)
Extreme gore, language in comic-book-movie reboot.
“Hellboy” is a new take on Mike Mignola’s popular superhero comic book series about a demonic antihero. Unlike the earlier, PG-13 adaptations that came out in 2004 and 2008, this version is rated R. And no wonder: It’s extremely violent, with tons of computer-generated blood and gore. Characters are killed, and there are torn-up body parts, severed heads and limbs, and gouged tongues and eyeballs. There’s also lots of fighting, with punching, throwing and smashing, as well as slicing and stabbing with swords and arrows. Scenes include creepy monsters and other scary stuff, and children’s bodies are briefly shown hanging from a ceiling. Language is also strong, with frequent use of “f---,” “s---” and more. There’s a quick, non-graphic glimpse of a topless woman, seen from the side, and a couple of spoken sexual references. Hellboy (David Harbour) sometimes gets very drunk, with no consequences. This movie is missing some of the magic that made the previous two work so well, but it’s worth a look for mature fans. (132 minutes)
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