WASHINGTON (June 27, 1997) -- With the summer movie season firmly underway, film-goers have a variety of action adventures to choose from, although some are not suitable for all viewers.
Face/Off makes its debut this week on the toll-free move review line, 1-800-311-4CCC, funded by the Catholic Communication Campaign. Each week the movie line carries the reviews of six current theater releases and a family video. This week's family video is Wagon Master.
Each week the U.S. Catholic Conference's Office for Film and Broadcasting provides full-length movie reviews, brief capsuls, and film classifications of new theatre releases. Each review includes the movie's calssification and evaluation according to artistic merit and moral suitability.
The text of the capsul reviews for June 27-July 4 follows:
- Face/Off -- Because of excessive violence, sexual innuendo and much rough language as well as profanity, the U.S. Catholic Conference classification is O -- morally offensive. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is R -- restricted. Face/Off is an ultraviolent action movie in which the faces of federal agent John Travolta and sociopathic terrorist Nicolas Cage are surgically switched, enabling the criminal to pose as the law officer in deadly pursuit of his nemesis. The slickly contrived premise is used primarily to generate prolonged and gratuitous scenes of bloody mayhem.
- Speed 2: Cruise Control -- Because of intermittent violence and an implied affair, the U.S. Catholic Conference classification is A-III -- adults. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is PG-13 -- parents are strongly cautioned that some material may be inappropriate for children under 13. Speed 2: Cruise Control follows L.A. cop Jason Patric and girlfriend Sandra Bullock on a Caribbean cruise which becomes a nightmare when psychotic computer whiz Willem Dafoe programs the ship to collide with an oil tanker. The hectic action sequel focuses on constant shipboard perils and giant special effects but fails to work up any empathy for its one-dimensional characters.
- Hercules -- The U.S. Catholic Conference classification is A-I -- general patronage. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is G -- general audiences. Hercules is a buoyantly animated tale of ancient Greece where the baby Hercules is kidnapped from Mt. Olympus and raised as a mere mortal until proving himself a true hero by rescuing a damsel from the fiery god of the underworld. The music-filled adventures of these mythological characters are told in the style of today's pop culture, though toddlers may be frightened by a few menacing scenes and the fun is tainted midway by a shameless plug for Disney's line of Hercules products.
- Batman & Robin -- Because of much cartoon-like violence and some sexual innuendo, the U.S. Catholic Conference classification is A-II -- adults and adolescents. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is PG-13 -- parents are strongly cautioned that some material may be inappropriate for children under 13. Batman & Robin is an elaborate live-action cartoon as Batman George Clooney tries to save Gotham and its residents from being fast-frozen by demented scientist Arnold Schwarzenegger. Though the villains in this empty spectacle are somewhat more interesting than the bland superheroes, the story sags in between frantic action sequences.
- Con Air -- Because of excessive violence and glamorized mayhem, frequent rough language and an instance of profanity, the U.S. Catholic Conference classification is O -- morally offensive. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is R -- restricted. In Con Air, a gang of hardened prisoners (led by John Malkovich) seizes control of their federal transport plane, but a parolee onboard (played by Nicolas Cage) secretly works to undermine their efforts to escape the country. The frantic action movie is a shameless stitching together of brawn and brutality and murder and mayhem, offering only empty excitement.
- My Best Friend's Wedding -- Because of sexual references, including a risque sight gag, a crude expression and an instance of rough language, the U.S. Catholic Conference classification is A-III -- adults. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is PG- 13 -- parents are strongly cautioned that some material may be inappropriate for children under 13. My Best Friend's Wedding features Julia Roberts as a restaurant critic who learns a former lover is about to marry someone he just met, decides she wants him back and connives to stop the wedding. This muddled romantic triangle offers little more than a gooey confection of bogus emotions on beautiful faces.
This week's family video reviewed on the movie review line is Wagon Master. The U.S. Catholic Conference classification is A-I -- general patronage. Not rated by the Motion Picture Association of America. Wagon Master is a Western classic about a pair of genial cowboys hired to guide a Mormon wagon train Utah and their encounters with a patent medicine show, Navaho Indians and some vicious killers. The 1950 movie pays poetic homage to the pioneer spirit of those journeying into the wilderness and their courage in facing the perils of the trail.
The classifications are A-I -- general patronage; A-II -- adults and adolescents; A-III -- adults; A-IV -- adults, with reservations (an A-IV classification designates problematic films that, while not morally offensive in themselves, require caution and some analysis and explanation as a safeguard against wrong interpretations and false conclusions); O -- morally offensive.
Reviewers include Henry Herx, Director, and Gerri Pare, Associate Director, of the Film and Broadcasting Office, which is funded by the CCC.
The capsule reviews are available on the World Wide Web. They can be found on two sites: http://www.nccbuscc.org and http://www.CatholicDigest.org/stops/movies/movies1.html.
Full-length reviews of the above and other movies are available through America Online at the Catholic News Service site on AOL, and can be accessed by AOL members using the keyword, "CNS."