By JOHN MULDERIG, Catholic News Service | Published May 2, 2019
NEW YORK (CNS)—Aficionados of the Marvel Comics universe are likely to be thrilled by the sweeping epic “Avengers: Endgame” (Disney).
Even moviegoers less committed to that imaginary realm can hardly fail to be impressed as directors (and brothers) Anthony and Joe Russo’s grand finale deftly weaves together whole franchises spanning 21 previous films.
With its action mayhem mostly stylized and its cast too busy fighting evil to spend any time in the bedroom, only some wayward language, an ambiguous domestic arrangement and passing mention of a gay relationship really mark this as material for grown-ups. So parents under siege from older adolescents agog to take in this three-hour extravaganza can give the go-ahead with little worry.
Primarily set five years after cosmic villain Thanos (Josh Brolin) used a set of energy-endowed gems to wipe out half of all the living creatures in the universe, the film finds the members of the titular ensemble, like humanity at large, still mourning the loss of many friends and loved ones. Yet their defeat at Thanos’ hands seems irreversible. Until, that is, Scott Lang aka Ant-Man (Paul Rudd) proposes a possible solution.
His travels, while miniaturized, in the quantum realm have revealed to Scott that the alternate dimension operates by its own chronological rules. Why not use it to travel back in time and prevent Thanos from assembling all the stones necessary to his scheme?
To achieve this, his fellow Avengers will need to win over tech whiz Tony Stark aka Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.), the only person who can safely engineer such a cutting-edge feat. But, after a recent brush with death, Tony is reluctant to endanger his happy home life—shared with true love Virginia “Pepper” Potts (Gwyneth Paltrow) and their little daughter—for the sake of such a risky mission.
Tony’s cozy existence living in a rustic cabin on the edge of a rural lake and devotedly raising a child certainly suggests that he has finally wed Pepper, though this is never explicitly stated.
Vast, intricate and, by turns, exciting and poignant as well, “Avengers: Endgame” determines the fate, among many others, of Captain America (Chris Evans), Thor (Chris Hemsworth), Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson) and Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner). It also showcases the value of teamwork, heroic self-sacrifice and reconciliation.
While Thanos’ motive for wiping out billions of human beings is not explored in this movie as it was in last year’s “Avengers: Infinity War,” his crazed version of retroactive eugenics is shown to have resulted not in the perfected world he imagined but in a deeply damaged and traumatized one full of mourners in need of therapy. To that extent, this adventure carries the same implicitly pro-life message as its predecessor.
The film contains much stylized violence with some gore, possible cohabitation, a few uses of profanity and of milder oaths, brief references to homosexuality as well as a half-dozen crude and several crass terms. The Catholic News Service classification is A-III—adults. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is PG-13—parents strongly cautioned. Some material may be inappropriate for children under 13.
At once the profile of a plucky 5-year-old Adelie penguin the filmmakers dub “Steve” and an introduction to his species as a whole, this winning documentary tracks him as he finds a mate and starts a family in the challenging surroundings of Antarctica. From building a nest of rocks in which his duo of offspring can be protected until they hatch to preparing them to live on their own when the time comes, he meets every challenge of fatherhood with aplomb—or at least with determined perseverance. The spectacle of his adventures among hundreds of thousands of others of his kind, skillfully directed by Alastair Fothergill and Jeff Wilson and often humorously narrated by actor Ed Helms, will prove a delight for viewers of every generation. The Catholic News Service classification is A-I—general patronage. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is G—general audiences. All ages admitted.
“Teen Spirit” (Bleecker Street)
Elle Fanning is a 17-year-old Polish immigrant farm girl living on Britain’s Isle of Wight who enters a TV singing competition with the attendant complications involved in discovering her inner strengths. Writer-director Max Minghella has filled the story with pop songs old and new and keeps the plot predictable but not stale. He goes a bit heavy on the sugar coating and there are a couple of noticeably absent back stories. But, as Fanning’s character is befriended and coached by a down-on-his luck operatic tenor (Zlatko Buric), the content remains determinedly non-offensive, making this probably appropriate for mature adolescents. Underage drinking, some sensuality and fleeting crude language. The Catholic News Service classification is A-III—adults. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is PG-13—parents strongly cautioned. Some material may be inappropriate for children under 13.
“Breakthrough” (Fox 2000)
Faith-affirming drama, based on real events, in which a strong-willed mother (Chrissy Metz) refuses to accept that her adopted son (Marcel Ruiz) is doomed to die after falling through the ice on a frozen lake and her desperate prayers have a startling impact on his seemingly hopeless prognosis. As she keeps vigil at the boy’s bedside, she gradually reconciles with the pastor (Topher Grace) of her church with whom she had been feuding while her husband (Josh Lucas) struggles to share her unshakeable belief in a positive outcome. Director Roxann Dawson’s adaptation of Joyce Smith’s 2017 memoir “The Impossible” (written with Ginger Kolbaba) benefits from Metz’s driven performance and will have sympathetic viewers cheering her character on all the way. Tense but gratifying entertainment for all but the youngest moviegoers. A perilous situation, mature themes. The Catholic News Service classification is A-II—adults and adolescents. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is PG—parental guidance suggested. Some material may not be suitable for children.
Aficionados of the Marvel Comics universe are likely to be thrilled by the sweeping epic “Avengers: Endgame” (Disney).