NEW YORK (CNS) -- The following are capsule reviews of theatrical movies on network and cable television the week of Aug. 26. Please note that televised versions may or may not be edited for language, nudity, violence and sexual situations.
Sunday, Aug. 26, 6-8 p.m. EDT (TCM) "A High Wind in Jamaica" (1965). Some children fall into the hands of pirates (Anthony Quinn and James Coburn) who see to it that they are unharmed in the hazardous events that follow. Director Alexander Mackendrick's exciting adventure is an excursion into the uncertain world of childish logic but the action is too intense for younger children. The Catholic News Service classification of the theatrical version was A-II -- adults and adolescents. Not rated by the Motion Picture Association of America.
Tuesday, Aug. 28, 8-10:30 p.m. EDT (TCM) "All Quiet on the Western Front" (1930). Excellent adaptation of Erich Maria Remarque's novel about the lessons in life and death learned by a patriotic German youth (Lew Ayres) after enlisting in the Kaiser's army and serving at the front during the First World War. In showing the conflict's senseless waste of human life, director Lewis Milestone re-creates with vivid authenticity the horrors of trench warfare while underscoring the humanity of those on both sides of no man's land. Classic anti-war picture especially appropriate for older teenagers, despite some strong battlefield violence and a brief romantic interlude. The Catholic News Service classification of the theatrical version was A-II -- adults and adolescents. Not rated by the Motion Picture Association of America.
Wednesday, Aug. 29, 6:25-8 p.m. EDT (Showtime) "Bridge to Terabithia" (2007). Coming-of-age fantasy based on Katherine Paterson's children's novel about a young loner (Josh Hutcherson) who befriends a new girl in school (AnnaSophia Robb) who's also an outcast, and together they create a magical world -- Terabithia -- where they can escape their real-life troubles. The young leads are charming, and the sweet story gently imparts worthy messages about friendship, family and the power of imagination. But director Gabor Csupo's faithful adaptation is a bit underwhelming, as the anticipated fantastical elements are minimal. Still, despite a plot twist that may upset sensitive young children, the movie is family-friendly. Mature thematic elements, including the death of a child, some minor peril and mildly crude language. The Catholic News Service classification of the theatrical version was A-II -- adults and adolescents. The Motion Picture Association of America rating was PG -- parental guidance suggested. Some material may not be suitable for children.
Saturday, Sept. 1, 8-9:50 p.m. EDT (HBO) "Ferdinand" (2017). Good values help to redeem a somewhat padded plot in this animated adaptation of Munro Leaf and Robert Lawson's 1936 children's classic "The Story of Ferdinand," directed by Carlos Saldanha. Escaping the confines of the stable in which he and other bulls are prepared for their fateful confrontation with a matador, the peace-loving protagonist of the title (voice of John Cena), who prefers smelling flowers to locking horns, is adopted as a pet by an affectionate and growing girl (voices of Julia Saldanha and Lily Day). But a misunderstanding sets him back on the path to the bullring where his commitment to nonviolence will be put to the ultimate test. Lively secondary characters (the most prominent voiced by Kate McKinnon) and charming pastoral landscapes surround a theme that all those who base their ethics on the Gospel, and parents in particular, will find congenial. Scenes of peril, some mildly irreverent humor, a vague scatological reference, one slightly crass expression. The Catholic News Service classification of the theatrical version was A-I -- general patronage. The Motion Picture Association of America rating was PG -- parental guidance suggested. Some material may not be suitable for children.
Saturday, Sept. 1, 9:55-11:40 p.m. EDT (Cinemax) "The Great Wall" (2017). Those seeking nothing more from a movie than sheer spectacle may be satisfied with this visually interesting but thoroughly implausible action adventure from director Zhang Yimou. Drawn by the wealth they could gain by introducing gunpowder into the West, two medieval European mercenaries (Matt Damon and Pedro Pascal) arrive in China, after an arduous journey, only to find their unwilling hosts preoccupied with battling vicious alien monsters. It was to defend against these marauding creatures, so the script claims, that the titular structure was built. As Damon's character becomes committed to this struggle, not least because he's attracted to the fetching commander (Jing Tian) of one division of the local forces, his companion remains focused on the original scheme, abetted in it by another traveler (Willem Dafoe) who came to the Middle Kingdom years before for exactly the same purpose, and has been held prisoner ever since. Epic in scale, the film is shallow in emotion and characterization, though the central romance is completely chaste and the dialogue mostly free of cursing. Probably acceptable for older teens. Action violence with little gore, a mild oath, at least one crude and a couple of crass terms. The Catholic News Service classification of the theatrical version was A-III -- adults. The Motion Picture Association of America rating was PG-13 -- parents strongly cautioned. Some material may be inappropriate for children under 13.
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Mulderig is on the staff of Catholic News Service.