Wonder Woman 1984 (PG-13)

In theaters and streaming

Age 12+

Melancholy DC sequel about redemption has mixed messages.

Wonder Woman 1984” is the sequel to 2017’s “Wonder Woman” and takes place about 65 years after the events of the first film. Gal Gadot returns as Diana Prince/Wonder Woman, who finds herself up against two new villains (Kristen Wiig and Pedro Pascal) who are motivated by envy and greed — but is also reunited with her long-lost love, Steve Trevor (Chris Pine). There’s more romance in “Wonder Woman” than most other superhero films: Diana and Steve embrace, kiss and are shown in bed together (nothing graphic seen); another couple also makes out. While there’s no world war (or war god) in this movie’s story, it does have near-constant peril/risk, with much of the world devolving into mass chaos as the result of the villains’ actions. Expect battle scenes, car chases, heavy artillery, gun use, references to nuclear weapons, children in danger and beatings/hand-to-hand combat. Characters are injured, sometimes gravely, but not killed — though there are a few sad plot twists. One character’s physical appearance deteriorates disturbingly, with blood dripping out of his ears, nose, etc. Language is infrequent but includes “s---,” “b----” and “hell”; adults drink socially. This sequel isn’t quite as diverse as the original but does feature female leads, a woman writer-director, and Pascal, who’s Latino, as the villain. That said, it also has stereotypical representations of Middle Eastern people and problematic messages around the idea of returning colonized land, the impact of domestic abuse and lack of consent/agency. (151 minutes)

Available in theaters and on HBO Max.

News of the World (PG-13)

Age 13+

Stirring, lyrical Western has peril, some harsh violence.

News of the World” is a striking Western set in 1870 about a man named Captain Kidd (Tom Hanks), who travels the United States reading the news. He’s tasked with transporting a young White girl, Johanna (Helena Zengel), who was taken by the Kiowa people some years before, back to her biological family members — even though she doesn’t want to go. Expect frequent peril and some scenes of upsetting violence, including guns and shooting, deaths, someone being hanged, a field full of dead buffalo, punching, minor bloody wounds, an injured horse being put down, a scary wagon crash and more. Some of the headlines/news that Kidd reads are potentially upsetting, someone makes a racist comment (it’s portrayed as negative), and it’s implied that some unsavory men want to buy Johanna. A nongraphic scene suggests that two characters had sex. Sporadic language includes “goddamn,” “damn,” “hell,” etc., plus “thank God,” and there’s background drinking. Directed by Paul Greengrass, the movie is stirring and lyrical, and, despite some grim sequences, quite enjoyable. (118 minutes)

In theaters.

Soul (PG)

Streaming

Age 8+

Amazing animation, serious themes in existential dramedy.

Soul” is Pixar’s thought-provoking animated movie about a middle-aged band teacher named Joe (voiced by Jamie Foxx) who nearly dies and gets stuck in the “Great Before” section of the afterlife (where unborn souls prepare to be assigned a trip to Earth) and then tries to make his way back to his body. It’s beautiful and creative, with themes of compassion, empathy, and perseverance, but it’s likely to resonate more with adults who’ve wondered about the meaning of life than with little kids. And while there’s no real violence, the movie makes it ambiguous whether Joe is dead or alive, which could upset or confuse some younger viewers. There are also philosophical themes about the meaning of life that might go over kids’ heads, as well as arguments and a bit of insult language (“imbecile,” “idiot,” “self-absorbed,” etc.). This is Pixar’s first movie with a Black main character, and the all-star voice cast includes Angela Bassett, Daveed Diggs, Phylicia Rashad, and Questlove (plus Tina Fey) and features jazz music composed and supervised by Jon Batiste, as well as a score by Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross. (100 minutes)

Available on Disney Plus.

We Can Be Heroes (PG)

Streaming

Age 8+

Robert Rodriguez’s superhero-kid adventure has action, humor.

We Can Be Heroes” is a follow-up to “The Adventures of Sharkboy and Lavagirl” and is set in the same world as “Spy Kids.” Like those movies, it centers on kids with special powers/abilities saving the day. Expect lots of comical violence, including aliens zapping superheroes, and superheroes punching aliens — but (spoiler alert?) no one dies or is seriously injured. A man is raising his preteen daughter solo because of his wife’s death (not shown). Language includes “oh my God” as an exclamation. The movie has strong messages about teamwork and believing in yourself. The main character, Missy (Yaya Gosselin), exemplifies courage and leadership as she helps the other kids in the movie come together. (100 minutes)

Available on Netflix.

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