Staff Member, Office for Film & Broadcasting of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops
June 19, 2020 | By JOHN MULDERIG, CATHOLIC NEWS SERVICE
NEW YORK. In the hands of such great artists as British novelist J.R.R. Tolkien or Irish poet W.B. Yeats, the elements of medieval lore have been deployed to great effect.
Such, alas, is not the case with “Artemis Fowl” (PG, Disney), director Kenneth Branagh’s crowded, off-key screen version of Eoin Colfer’s 2001 fantasy novel for young adults that’s streaming now on Disney+.
June 5, 2020 | By JOHN MULDERIG
NEW YORK. Baby boomers may remember whiling away their Saturday mornings, beginning in 1969, by watching the Hanna- Barbera cartoon series “Scooby- Doo, Where Are You!”
Beyond the fact that its ensemble of teen sleuths always discovered a perfectly reasonable explanation for apparently occult events, however, their memories of the show may be blurry.
Ten films that were among best of 2019 offer options for home viewing until theaters re-open
May 15, 2020 | By JOHN MULDERIG, CATHOLIC NEWS SERVICE
NEW YORK. The year 2019 saw the release of quality films across a wide range of genres, from a comic book-based extravaganza and a family drama about a Chinese American clan to a crackerjack murder mystery.
Below — in alphabetical order — are the Media Review Office of Catholic News Service’s picks for last year’s Top 10 movies overall.
March 20, 2020 | By JOHN MULDERIG, CATHOLIC NEWS SERVICE
NEW YORK. “Emma” (PG, Focus) is a delightful screen version of Jane Austen’s classic novel, lovely to look at and abounding in gentle humor.
Only the momentary introduction of a bit of visual earthiness, presumably meant to balance off the overall painterly elegance of the picture, hinders endorsement for younger viewers. That’s a shame because this is otherwise a perfect entree into Austen’s delicate world.
February 7, 2020 | By JOHN MULDERIG, CATHOLIC NEWS SERVICE
NEW YORK. Exactly a century ago, British author Hugh Lofting published “The Story of Doctor Dolittle,” the first in a long series of books for children that have won lasting popularity for their protagonist, a physician-turned-veterinarian who has, need it be said, the unique ability to communicate with the critters he treats.
January 17, 2020 | By CATHOLIC NEWS SERVICE, JOHN MULDERIG
NEW YORK. In 2007, Franz Jagerstatter (1907-1943), a devoutly Catholic Austrian farmer martyred by the Nazis for his stance as a conscientious objector, was declared blessed. In the luminous, though deliberately paced, drama “A Hidden Life” (PG-13, Fox Searchlight), writer-director Terrence Malick paints a striking and memorable portrait of Jagerstatter, one that will be especially prized by believing viewers.
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.
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