NEW THIS WEEK
-- ITS A SUPERHERO CONVENTION TO SAVE PLANET EARTH AND IT'S A HOOT:
"MARVELS THE AVENGERS" PG-13 -- Most teens and lots of tweens will enjoy this witty, raucous ride, which doesn't push PG-13 boundaries much at all. And they can thank their lucky (movie) stars that director (and co-screenwriter) Joss Whedon was the one to get this gig. His long (nearly two-and-a-half hours), eardrum-blowing, property-destroying mash-up based on the Marvel Comic series keeps humor and characterization simmering nicely, amid the 3-D, special effects and mayhem. The dialogue occasionally sounds robotic, but for the most part it sparkles. The intergalactic villain Loki (Tom Hiddleston) invades the secret Earth-protection agency S.H.I.E.L.D. and grabs a renewable energy Cosmic Cube called the Tesseract. He aims to use it to subjugate humankind. Soooooo, Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson), leader of S.H.I.E.L.D., puts out the call to his superheroes, asking them to set aside their egos and use their brains, muscles and superpowers as a team to defeat Loki and the invading army of aliens he aims to unleash. Theres cynical Tony Stark/Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.); patriotic Steve Rogers/Captain America (Chris Evans); brainy Bruce Banner/The Hulk (Mark Ruffalo), whod rather keep his violent alter ego in check; interplanetary god of thunder Thor (Chris Hemsworth), who feels responsible for unleashing his brother, Loki; superspy/assassin Natasha Romanoff/Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson); and high-tech archer extraordinaire Clint Barton/Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner). Needless to say, the good guys win in the end.
THE BOTTOM LINE: The mayhem rarely gets graphic. Once or twice we see a character run through with a blade and bleeding. An early scene shows Natasha smacked hard by Russian "interrogators." Later, the villain Loki warns Natasha that hell kill her "slowly, intimately." The rest of the violence involves arm-bending, neck-cracking, head-banging, body-hurling fights, as well as massive property destruction in car chases and aerial dogfights. The alien spacecraft look like huge, mechanical lizards. Younger audience members may recoil to see Bruce Banner morph into The Incredible Hulk. The exploding arrows shot by Hawkeye aim for eyeballs, but not graphically. There is mild sexual innuendo when Tony Stark/Iron Man and aide Pepper Potts (Gwyneth Paltrow) flirt.
-- GREAT BRITISH ACTORS OF A CERTAIN AGE PLAY RETIREES WHO MOVE TO INDIA IN THIS DROLL, HUMANE TREAT OF A MOVIE:
"THE BEST EXOTIC MARIGOLD HOTEL" PG-13, LIMITED RELEASE -- Heres the film that parents and grandparents can enjoy while the kids give their eyes and eardrums a workout at "Marvels The Avengers." That noted, theres nothing in "The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel" thats inappropriate for high-schoolers, though some of the mildish innuendo about elder-sex could make middle-schoolers cringe. (And young people wont notice that a couple of jokes in the film are older than Methuselah.) Some of greatest British actors around populate this movie, playing a passel of geezers who leave England for India to spend their twilight years in a ramshackle hotel in Jaipur. Advertised as a low-cost luxury spot, the rundown place was heavily Photoshopped by the host, the charming but disorganized Sonny Kapoor (Dev Patel, of "Slumdog Millionaire," R, 2008). The guests include: Maggie Smith as a former housekeeper who despises all nonwhites and has come only to get a cheap hip replacement; Judi Dench as a recent widow whose late husband left her with debt; Tom Wilkinson as a retired judge who grew up in India and returns for very personal reasons; Bill Nighy as a genial retired civil servant and Penelope Wilton (of "Downton Abbey") as his angry wife; and Celia Imrie and Ronald Pickup as the frisky singletons of the group. As with many stories about Brits in India, this one (based on Deborah Moggachs novel) explores how the beauty, poverty and culture of that country profoundly change visitors. Director John Madden does a lovely job tracing the separate stories, yet giving the film narrative cohesion.
THE BOTTOM LINE: The dialogue includes rare profanity, including one nonsexual use of the F-word. There is considerable sexual innuendo, most of it mild but some of it bawdy for a PG-13. One comic scene with mild sexual content includes implied nudity. Characters also read the "Kama Sutra." Maggie Smiths character, without using actual racial slurs, is clearly racist in the beginning, and uses nasty stereotypes.
-- FINE FOR KIDS 10 AND OLDER:
"THE PIRATES! BAND OF MISFITS" PG -- Plenty of kids 10 and older will find the hijinks in "Pirates! Band of Misfits" a hoot, though lots of the jokes and some of the sight gags in this laugh-out-loud British animated comedy will go over their heads. Its a striking mix of stop-motion puppetry, computer animation and 3-D. The cheeky tone and historical references will delight grown-ups, but require a lot of explaining, even for some high-schoolers. Yet theres little thats inappropriate for 10 and older. Well, one throwaway line spoken by The Pirate Captain (voice of Hugh Grant) may give kids and parents brief pause: He recalls how hes always enjoyed running people through and killing babies. The film comes from some of the people who made "Wallace & Gromit in The Curse of the Were-Rabbit" (G, 2005) and "Chicken Run" (G, 2000), but its far more ironical. It is 1837. The British Empire rules the waves -- except for pirates. Queen Victoria (Imelda Staunton) hates pirates. The mild Pirate Captain enters the Pirate of the Year contest with little hope of winning, so he goes back out to sea to pillage more ships. He captures a scientist named Darwin (David Tennant), who tells him that his pet "parrot" Polly is a rare Dodo bird. Darwin lures the Captain and his crew to London for a science contest sponsored by Victoria. Uh-oh.
(c) 2012, Washington Post Writers Group.