Recently reviewed by Catholic News Service
King Arthur: Legend of the Sword
By John Mulderig, Catholic News Service
NEW YORK - Early on in "King Arthur: Legend of the Sword" (Warner Bros.), the audience is treated to the sight of magically generated giant elephants swinging boulder-size wrecking balls at the ramparts of Camelot. It's an apt visual considering how ponderous this action fantasy turns out to be.
Rearranging some of the traditional elements of the Arthur legend -- which may or may not be rooted in actual history -- director and co-writer Guy Ritchie comes up with a sort of "Prince and the Pauper" version of events.
Thus, not long after those lumbering pachyderms depart, toddler Arthur's father, Uther (Eric Bana), dies as a result of his evil brother Vortigern's (Jude Law) violent -- and ultimately successful -- bid to usurp the throne. Arthur evades a similar fate by being set adrift, Moses-like, in a boat, which eventually finds its way to a bustling version of medieval London still called by its Roman name, Londinium.
There Arthur, dispossessed of his rights and with no recollection of his real identity, is raised as a brawling street urchin by the inhabitants of a brothel.
Once grown, and now portrayed by Charlie Hunnam, the rightful heir comes almost accidentally into possession of Excalibur -- here essentially a weapon of mass destruction so powerful that it mows down Arthur's opponents by the dozens. Aided by a so-called Mage (Astrid Berges-Frisbey), who otherwise goes unnamed, Arthur learns how to wield the super sword and uses it to battle Vortigern for the crown.
Along with the supernatural support of the Mage, Arthur gets human backing from Bedivere (Djimon Hounsou), once one of Uther's advisers, and expert archer "Goose-Fat" Bill (Aidan Gillen).
Together with his script collaborators, Joby Harold and Lionel Wigram, Ritchie works the occasional witty exchange into the dialogue. But otherwise his film is a grueling ordeal of nonstop noisy fighting. Like the Dark Ages in which it's set, the movie is dim, toilsome and beset with mayhem.
Since the dust-ups are mostly gore-free, however, and the only flourishes of sensuality come in the form of occult visions, some parents may consider "King Arthur" acceptable for mature teens.
The film contains pervasive combat and other violence with little blood, a prostitution theme, brief partial nudity, fleeting sexual humor, at least one rough term and occasional crass language.
The Catholic News Service classification is A-III -- adults. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is PG-13.
Mulderig is on the staff of Catholic News Service.
Amy Schumer and Goldie Hawn star in a scene from the movie "Snatched." Photo: CNS/Fox
By Joseph McAleer, Catholic News Service
NEW YORK - There's a kernel of goodness at the heart of the mother-daughter comedy "Snatched" (Fox). But the minority of grown viewers for whom the film is acceptable will have to wade through a veritable cesspool of bad taste to approach it.
That's a pity, because this fast-moving feature is occasionally amusing and marks a welcome return to the big screen for Goldie Hawn as Linda, an overprotective but sensible and loving mom.
Linda never condones the lewd antics of her estranged daughter, Emily (Amy Schumer). Instead she labors patiently for Emily's redemption from evil and selfishness.
That's no easy goal to achieve, and their relationship is put to a further test when Emily persuades her mother to join her on a getaway to Ecuador.
Emily intended to go with her rocker boyfriend, Michael (Randall Park), but he dumps her on the eve of their departure. With a nonrefundable vacation package, and no friends willing to go, Emily takes pity on her mother.
Linda is a free spirit and homebody, caring for her cats and her agoraphobic son, Jeffrey (Ike Barinholtz). Afraid of her own shadow, she's an unlikely candidate for a South American adventure.
"Help me put the 'fun' in 'nonrefundable,'" Emily pleads.
So off they go to a fancy resort on the edge of the Ecuadorian jungle.
Linda is content to sit by the pool and read her book. But Emily seeks romance, and soon hooks up with handsome stranger James (Tom Bateman).
This Mr. Wrong lures Emily and Linda into the jungle with the promise of waterfalls and rainbows. It's a setup, and mother and daughter are kidnapped and held for ransom by the treacherous Morgano (Oscar Jaenada).
"Snatched" wastes no time with the perils of these Paulines, piling on the slapstick (and vulgarity) as they escape into the bush. Help comes from a mysterious guide named Roger (Christopher Meloni), and fellow resort guests Ruth (Wanda Sykes) and Barb (Joan Cusack).
As directed by Jonathan Levine ("50/50"), from a screenplay by Katie Dippold, "Snatched" is a slapdash, cliche-ridden send-up of exploitation movies. It's only redeemable feature is a message about a mother's unconditional love and the enduring family bond, which manages to shine through a very dirty exterior -- as indicated by the warnings below.
The film contains brief upper female nudity, persistent sexual humor and innuendo and pervasive rough language.
The Catholic News Service classification is L -- limited adult audience, films whose problematic content many adults would find troubling. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is R.
McAleer is a guest reviewer for Catholic News Service.