The New Mutants (PG-13)

Age 14+

Groundbreaking elements, but violent X-Men tale falls short.

The New Mutants” was originally intended to be a spinoff of the X-Men franchise but is now serving as its final installment. It’s directed at teens, with actors they know from shows such as “Game of Thrones” and “Stranger Things” (and the same director as “The Fault in Our Stars”). But it’s as much a horror film as it is a superhero action fantasy: Expect lots of violence, some of it bloody. The teen mutants’ situations are extremely dark, including a religious leader branding a girl and the strong implication of child rape. Terrifying animals and monsters attack relentlessly, children are tortured, and the mutants attack each other. All the mutants are being held in a remote hospital because they’ve killed at least one person; only a few show remorse. Teens joke about sex, and two romances develop, each resulting in a kiss. The kids curse (“bitch,” “s---”), but not excessively. The message is tailor-made for a generation that’s grappling with anxiety and depression, and it’s repeated over and over: Don’t let fear ruin your life, you can conquer your demons. The X-Men have always led the way when it comes to superhero diversity, and this film takes it a step further: The ensemble is more inclusive of gender, sexuality, economic status and ethnicity than ever before. (110 minutes)

Magic Camp (PG)


Age 8+

Tween-friendly, camp-set comedy has positive messages.

Magic Camp” is a tween-friendly comedy that combines two childhood passions — magic and camp — in a story about encouraging kids and adults to discover and value their own unique talents. The kids (and some counselors) arrive to camp with baggage — absent or deceased parents, a bad attitude, hundreds of allergies, frustrated dreams — that make them feel like misfits or losers. But together they find strength in each other, and that positive reinforcement promotes resiliency and courage. There’s some heavier emotion, particularly in the character of Theo, whose loving father passed away. But the film’s overall tone is light. Violent content is minimal, like some minor bullying and comedic incidents brought about while practicing magic tricks, such as getting a foam ball stuck in the throat or falling off a bench while wearing a straitjacket. Sexual content is limited to some tween flirtation and a single, end-of-camp goodbye kiss. Language includes kids chanting “K-I-S-S-I-N-G” and taunting each other with insults including “geek,” “noob,” “nerd,” “dweeb,” “dork,” “dummy” and “lame-o.” (100 minutes)

Available via Disney Plus.

Bill & Ted Face the Music (PG-13)

Streaming and in select theaters

Age 10+

Funny, satisfying threequel wraps series with family focus.

Bill & Ted Face the Music” wraps up the trilogy that began in 1989 about two time-traveling buddies (Keanu Reeves and Alex Winter) who learned they’d one day unite the world through song. Now the pressure is on to make that moment happen. This time around, the emphasis is on musical history, and Bill and Ted’s teen daughters (Samara Weaving, Brigette Lundy-Paine) jump through time to put together a band of musical greats from around the world. The film seems intended for ’80s and ’90s kids to watch with their own children, and it works in that regard. Just as in the prior films, the iffy content is fairly limited and incredibly unrealistic. Bill pulls a gun on himself, a hilariously meek robot lasers people into hell, and an older character is shown drinking vodka from the bottle because of his failures, but it’s all played as over-the-top silliness. There’s some profanity, but it’s infrequent and mild — the worst of it is two instances of the men calling themselves a “d---.”
(91 minutes)

Available on various streaming platforms and select theaters.

Mulan (PG-13)


Age 11+

Martial-arts epic is more intense, violent than original.

This version of “Mulan” isn’t like Disney’s nearly scene-for-scene live-action musical remakes of “Aladdin,” “Beauty and the Beast” and “The Lion King.” Directed by Niki Caro and featuring an ethnically Chinese cast, it’s an epic martial-arts retelling of the original ancient Chinese “Ballad of Mulan.” It’s much more serious and intense than the animated movie, with fewer gender-bending jokes and no songs or wisecracking dragon (sorry, Mushu fans). It’s also more violent, with both large-scale and one-on-one battle sequences that leave people dead and injured and a few close calls when main characters seem on the verge of death. Weapons include swords, bows and arrows, knives, and flaming projectiles shot from a catapult (yes, the avalanche scene is still here). Romance is limited to a few lingering looks and one meaningful but brief touching of hands. Mulan (Yifei Liu) strips down to take a bath in a river, showing her bare shoulders and part of her back. Her fellow soldier, a man, is shown shirtless. Fans of the 1998 version should keep their eyes and ears open for several Easter eggs, including cameo by the original voice of Mulan, Ming-Na Wen. The themes of honor, honesty and devotion to family and country and the challenging of gender stereotypes will give families plenty to talk about after watching Mulan together.
(115 minutes)

Available via Disney Plus Premier Access streaming.

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