Imagine a dark world in which most of North America is destroyed and what remains is ruled by a totalitarian regime that represses any urge toward uprising by pitting children to fight against each other to the death. That is the premise of Suzanne Collin’s best-selling novel-turned-film, The Hunger Games, the first of a trilogy. Both the novel and the film have been highly popular among middle- and high-school students, as the plot delves into the world of tyranny and the mind of a heroine who is motivated by her survival instinct and her desire to help those in need, even at her own peril.
Dr. Seuss’ The Lorax is a film about the disappearance of trees, which have since been replaced by imitations, and the pursuit of two teens anxious to get their hands on some real live greenery. Therefore, there is a predictable environmentalist undertone coupled with anti-capitalist sentiment. However, the film’s anti-tyrannical subtext and focus on friendship and peace may just redeem the movie for some audiences, and its innocence and entertainment value could make it a prime choice for this weekend’s family film.
Fast-paced Act of Valor focuses on a band of Navy SEALs [elite Sea, Air and Land clandestine commandos] working to prevent a Ukrainian-born mastermind terrorist's team of suicide bombers from entering the U.S. and fanning out to major cities. Featuring themes such as bravery and sacrifice, it also stresses the need for religious tolerance in a way that seems aimed at Muslim extremists. The plot is arguably sympathetic toward the U.S. wars in the Middle East, which may well rankle viewers weary of America's endless and expensive foreign interventionism and imperialism.
Based on a true story, The Vow is a romantic drama about how far one man will go to save his marriage. Though it is not a family-friendly film — it is marred by foul language as well as pre-marital sexual relations — it lauds marriage and the marriage vow. It also promotes the great virtues of love and forgiveness. For these reasons the timing of The Vow's release coordinates perfectly with Valentine’s Day, and The Vow is sure to be a movie enjoyed by couples in celebration of that special day.
Every now and then, Hollywood releases a film that tugs at the heartstrings and reminds viewers that the world truly is full of godly people. Big Miracle is no exception. Based on a true story about a community’s efforts to launch a rescue effort for helpless animals trapped in a small area of unfrozen water in an otherwise frozen wasteland, it exemplifies God’s wonder and glory, and underscores what the kind of power God’s grace can have when it works within people.
The Grey is a film about survival in the Arctic wilderness when four men are confronted by a pack of wolves. It is an intense movie with strong Christian undertones, but its powerful qualities are undermined somewhat by oft-used expletives. In addition, the presence of some frightening scenes featuring wolves may prompt parents to keep their children home for this film.
Many Americans may not put much stock into a film that stars former female hip-hop artist Queen Latifah and country music artist Dolly Parton, but Joyful Noise just may surprise those skeptics. Focused on a gospel choir’s effort to win a prominent competition, the film includes very strong Christian morals, poignant analysis of familial relationships, and dazzling Gospel performances, but makes some unfortunate choices regarding sexual relationships that may keep Christian moviegoers away from the box office.
The Chipmunks are back and funnier than ever in this film for the family. Alvin and the Chipmunks: Chipwrecked features the beloved chipmunks and their female counterparts stranded on an island after some shenanigans on a vacation cruise. What follows is a very cute and pleasant film for the family.
Arthur Christmas adds a whole new spin to the classic tale of Santa’s busy Christmas Eve as the deliverer of presents and joy to every child in the world. In this version, Santa Claus is simply a figurehead, and the true genius behind the success of Christmas Eve is Santa's eldest son, Steve, and the millions of elves found in Santa’s highly technological workshop.
Breaking Dawn, part one of the final installment of the Twilight movie saga, brought in $139.5 million in its major North American box office debut. The film, though essentially just a teen flick, proved satisfactory to its most avid fans — which is about all that can be expected from a series about a girl who chooses to love and wed a vampire.
It is predictable that J. Edgar takes a less than favorable approach to J. Edgar Hoover, founder and director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). Hollywood never did embrace anti-communist stalwarts. However, this production’s treatment of Hoover is somewhat surprising seeing as it was directed by Clint Eastwood, typically a more conservative-minded presence in Hollywood. J. Edgar is expectedly an entertaining and engaging film, given the impeccable cast and direction, but its somewhat unfair depiction of Hoover undermines its overall quality.