Staff Member, Office for Film & Broadcasting of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops
November 1, 2019 | By JOHN MULDERIG, CATHOLIC NEWS SERVICE
NEW YORK. The moral probing and feminist revisionism that characterized its 2014 predecessor are mostly absent from the routine follow-up “Maleficent: Mistress of Evil” (PG, Disney). So much so, that ethical straightforwardness makes its title seem somewhat misleading.
October 4, 2019 | By JOHN MULDERIG
NEW YORK. Those who’ve been yearning for a fix of interwar elegance ever since the popular ITV and PBS television series “Downton Abbey” went off the air in 2015 can rejoice.
Program creator Julian Fellowes serves as screenwriter for Focus Features’ big-screen (PG) addition to his saga and, predictably, he keeps his well-loved ensemble of characters waltzing in perfect time. The result will be catnip to fans of the franchise.
September 20, 2019 | By JOHN MULDERIG
NEW YORK. Loosely based on the case histories of real-life wounded veterans, writer-director Alex Ranarivelo’s endearing sports drama “Bennett’s War” (PG-13, Forrest) is a portrait of courage in the face of adversity. Well-suited to an audience of grown-ups, the film may also pass muster with the parents of older teens willing to overlook some barracks-style talk in the dialogue.
September 6, 2019 | By JOHN MULDERIG, CATHOLIC NEWS SERVICE
NEW YORK. Good personal values vie with relentless gory combat in “Angel Has Fallen” (R, Lionsgate). The result is an action sequel that’s too graphic for those seeking casual entertainment.
August 16, 2019 | By JOHN MULDERIG, CATHOLIC NEWS SERVICE
NEW YORK. “The Art of Racing in the Rain” (PG, Fox 2000), an otherwise benign drama about a man and his dog, adapted from the novel by Garth Stein, is marred by a treatment of reincarnation that prevents endorsement of it for impressionable viewers.
August 2, 2019 | By JOHN MULDERIG, CATHOLIC NEWS SERVICE
NEW YORK. Advances in moviemaking technology allow a story that could only previously be told as a cartoon to be enacted, so to speak, by animals. And so we get “The Lion King” (PG, Disney).
July 5, 2019 | By JOHN MULDERIG, CATHOLIC NEWS SERVICE
NEW YORK. Just how good are the hotshots behind “Toy Story 4” (G, Disney)? So good that, by the time the closing credits roll, moviegoers will likely feel more emotional connection to an animated spork than they have to the vast majority of live-action human characters they’ve ever seen on screen.
June 21, 2019 | By JOHN MULDERIG, CATHOLIC NEWS SERVICE
NEW YORK. Lessons about overcoming fear and helping those in need are featured in “The Secret Life of Pets 2” (Universal).
Given that they come amid generally amusing antics that unfold at a lively pace, returning director Chris Renaud’s follow-up to his 2016 original rates as an entertaining cartoon suitable for all but the youngest kids.
June 7, 2019 | By CATHOLIC NEWS SERVICE, JOHN MULDERIG
NEW YORK. Though the magical tale of Aladdin is centuries old, it’s probably best known to contemporary audiences through two relatively recent products of pop culture: the 1992 animated film with Robin Williams and the Broadway musical derived from it, which continues a run that began in 2014.
With “Aladdin” (PG, Disney), director and co-writer Guy Ritchie serves up a spirited live-action take on the same material. The result is a thoroughly enjoyable musical fantasy that’s suitable for a wide range of age groups.
May 17, 2019 | By JOHN MULDERIG, CATHOLIC NEWS SERVICE
NEW YORK. By turns lyrical and moving, “Tolkien” (PG-13, Fox Searchlight) is a sophisticated profile of the future novelist’s youth that succeeds on a number of levels. This may not be the biography that every fan of Catholic author J.R.R. Tolkien (1892-1973) is looking for, and it may not even fully accomplish what its makers set out to achieve. But, if nothing else, it does tell the story of the young Tolkien and his times.
April 5, 2019 | By JOHN MULDERIG, CATHOLIC NEWS SERVICE
NEW YORK. The hard-hitting, fact-based drama “Unplanned” (R, Pure Flix) dares its viewers to confront the reality of what happens when a baby is aborted.
That’s an effective strategy on the part of co-writers and directors Chuck Konzelman and Cary Solomon, not least because the peculiar institution of our day thrives on concealment, muddled thinking and Orwellian euphemisms. But it also means that this emotionally unsparing film is not for the casual moviegoer of any age.
March 15, 2019 | By JOHN MULDERIG
NEW YORK. Wit, positive messages and lavish production values buoy the origin story “Captain Marvel” (PG-13, Disney). While some of the mythos in this adaptation of various strands of Marvel Comics lore, as well as other considerations, make it unsuitable for kids, the film is tame enough to be possibly acceptable for mature teens.
March 1, 2019 | By JOHN MULDERIG
NEW YORK. In his 1922 book “What I Saw in America,” the great Catholic writer G.K. Chesterton reflects on how beautiful New York’s Times Square would be for someone who couldn’t read. Similarly, the animated adventure “How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World” (PG, Universal) would benefit from being shown without sound.
January 18, 2019 | By JOHN MULDERIG
NEW YORK. It has taken more than half a century, but at long last “Mary Poppins Returns” (PG, Disney). The result is a delightful sequel to the 1964 classic that will divert all but the youngest and most skittish members of the family.
December 7, 2018 | By JOHN MULDERIG, CATHOLIC NEWS SERVICE
NEW YORK. For a film about magic, 2016’s “Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them” was strangely lacking in enchantment. So it’s welcome news that the follow-up, “Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald” (PG-13, Warner Bros.) is sharper and more engaging, though defects remain.The sequel is suitable for a wide audience since the mayhem is free of gore and the basic values congruent with scriptural ones. At least for those paying careful attention, however, a single line of dialogue may raise parental concerns.
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