Popcorn Parents - Family Movie Reviews

Family Movie Review: Ready Player One (PG-13)

Kernel Rating: whole popcorn kernalwhole popcorn kernalhalf popcorn kernal(2.5 out of 5)

MPAA Rating: PG-13       Length: 140 minutes

Age Appropriate For: 13+. This adaptation of the cult classic novel by Ernest Cline is about a virtual reality world that is threatened, and the teenagers and young adults who come together to defend its existence. There is a lot of virtual violence here; when people are killed or injured in the virtual world, their bodies or limbs explode into arcade coins, and so there is a lot of that throughout as people are killed in fighting games, in car crashes, when facing off against King Kong, and in a climactic battle scene with explosions, drowning, and other varieties of violence. It may be a lot for younger viewers. Also some cursing; some declarations of romantic love and some kissing; a subplot in which people who become overcome by debt are sent to a company’s worker camps; some deaths in the “real world,” including assassinations; and a recreation of a long scene from the classic horror film “The Shining,” including ax attacks, a chase through a maze, implied nudity, and a decaying reanimated corpse.

‘Ready Player One’ is jam-packed with ’80s references, from music to movies to video games, and some of the visual effects are thrilling, horrifying, and fun. But Steven Spielberg’s latest is only infrequently successful, more often relying on viewer recognition of things they already like than actual character development or narrative engagement.

By Roxana Hadadi

Family Movie Review: Love, Simon (PG-13)

Kernel Rating (out of 5): whole popcorn kernalwhole popcorn kernalwhole popcorn kernalwhole popcorn kernal (4 out of 5)

MPAA Rating: PG-13       Length: 110 minutes

Age Appropriate For: 14+. This teen drama focuses on a high school senior and his decision to come out to his friends and family. Some cursing and homophobic slurs, some bullying, some sexually themed humor and conversations, a party where teens drink to excess, some kissing and flirting.

‘Love, Simon’ is the kind of earnest coming-of-age story that focuses on a teen boy’s coming of age and his first love—he also just happens to be gay. The film is gentle and generous, with a captivating performance from Nick Robinson as the titular Simon.

By Roxana Hadadi

Family Movie Review: Pacific Rim Uprising (PG-13)

Kernel Rating (out of 5): whole popcorn kernalwhole popcorn kernalhalf popcorn kernal(2.5 out of 5)

MPAA Rating: PG-13       Length: 111 minutes

Age Appropriate For: 10+. The sci-fi-themed action film is similar to its predecessor in terms of content, with various fights between alien monsters and gigantic robots, explosions, and destruction of cities; some hand-to-hand combat and fights between various human characters; some characters die, either in explosions or robot vs. alien combat; some cursing; some drinking and partying; some flirting between characters and some kisses on the cheek; and some gross-out moments with the alien kaijus.

‘Pacific Rim Uprising’ is a dumbed-down version of its predecessor, an imitation of the first film that doesn’t live up to its creative imagination. John Boyega is having a lot of fun, but neither the supporting cast nor the plot match his energy level.

By Roxana Hadadi

Family Movie Review: Tomb Raider (PG-13)

Kernel Rating (out of 5): whole popcorn kernalwhole popcorn kernalwhole popcorn kernalhalf popcorn kernal(3.5 out of 5)

MPAA Rating: PG-13        Length: 118

Age Appropriate For: 13+. This adaptation of the video game series is mostly campy action fun, with some scenes that might be a little scary for younger viewers: a tomb holds rooms full of corpses; a bicyclist is hit by a car; a major storm destroys a ship and is fairly disorienting to watch; a woman is threatened numerous times by men with weapons, including guns and knives, and has to kill others to survive; people are killed throughout; some characters end up infected with a disease that turns them zombie-like; a parental figure disappears; a mixed martial arts training session is somewhat brutal; someone is given DIY stitches; a character drinks to excess; and some sexually themed threatening moments and cursing.

The latest adaptation of the ‘Tomb Raider’ video games places Oscar winner Alicia Vikander in the role once held by Angelina Jolie, providing a female action star whose physical strength is on par with her cleverness. The movie is as campy and as fun as those preceding films, although it drags on a bit too long and relies on a silly plot twist.

By Roxana Hadadi

Family Movie Review: A Wrinkle in Time (PG)

Kernel Rating (out of 5): whole popcorn kernalwhole popcorn kernalwhole popcorn kernalwhole popcorn kernal (4 out of 5)

MPAA Rating: PG         Length: 109

Age Appropriate For: 8+. There are some scary moments throughout the film, which keeps most of the young adult novel’s original story: A young girl’s father has gone missing, and we see him trapped and alone in a far-off world; an evil being spreads insidiously throughout the universe, encouraging a father to verbally abuse his son, classmates to bully one another, and a girl to become obsessed with her weight and develop an eating disorder; there are some scenes of bullying, one of which ends in a basketball being thrown at another student’s face; some very light romance between tweens and a married couple kiss. Most scary is the evil being taking control of a beloved character and turning him cruel and aggressive, and his glowing red eyes and cracked, glowing skin may particularly frighten young viewers.

Ava DuVernay’s adaptation of the beloved YA classic ‘A Wrinkle in Time’ drops off much of the original story, leaving the plot a bit skimpy. But the film is a riot of color, a celebration of individual flaws, and an encouragement of self-confidence, and in those ways, taps directly into the ‘love conquers all’ message of the novel.

By Roxana Hadadi

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