[Movie ratings are on a scale of 1-5. All films begin with 5 stars. Based on content, plot, photography/direction, and acting these rates start to drop. Anything over 3 stars are in bold, which means I enjoyed it and would probably recommend it or watch it again. Content is listed for those who are careful about what they or their children view and what to be aware of.]
Belle, 2014 (w/ Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Penelope Wilton, Miranda Richardson, Tom Wilkinson, Emily Watson, Tom Felton, Sarah Gadon, Matthew Goode, Sam Reid) – 5 stars!!! – This is based off of a true story set in the 1700s in Great Britain. Dido (which is Belle, after her mother) is a mulatto daughter of a British navy man and an African West Indies slave woman. Her father brought her to live with his uncle who works for Parliament. She is raised along with her cousin inside his estate, though because of her skin color, she is not always treated as an equal. She becomes a heiress and starts to learn about the treatment of slaves when she learns of a trial in which her Papa (her uncle, who basically adopted her) has a lot of involvement with. This was a very powerful and wonderful film and I thoroughly enjoyed it through and through. When I first put this in my que, I just thought it was another British Romance Drama which usually bores me a bit. I was intrigued once the film began to find it was much more than that. It was in dealing with things I am passionate about (ending slavery and finding equality for all people no matter their color or nationality). There was indeed romance in this film and the acting and the intensity between the characters portrayed were very real to me. I felt like I believed every line and emotion from the characters. It was excellent. Definitely one worth seeing. No complaints.
content: racism, cleavage, kissing, a man showing some physical cruelty to a woman because he feels she is lower than he, the “d” word used once
The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1, 2014 (w/ Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson, Liam Hemsworth, Woody Harrelson, Donald Sutherland, Liam Hemsworth, Elizabeth Banks, Julianne Moore) – 3 stars – I know, you are thinking this is a low rating. Perhaps it will be more fair if I rate it with part 2, which I have yet to see. Mockingjay was my favorite book from the Hunger Games series, so if they do it, they have to do it right. They definitely got a lot of it right but they spent a lot of time doing things that I didn’t remember being a huge thing in the book (the “propo” films) which was just a little weird to me. I will say that Jennifer Lawrence’s acting is superb. She shines true emotions very well. I found (and laughed) at Elizabeth Banks’ acting which also was on par with the character she played. I don’t know why this movie didn’t really stir me as the other two before it, but I will say that the time went by quickly and it was well done and made me want to see the next part which is what caused me to adore the book so much. Again, I think it may be unfair that I am not rating this along with the second part. If you don’t know what this story is about, basically in the third installment of the Hunger games, Katniss is now the Mockingjay and she is basically told to do what she must to sti the people’s hearts up against the Capital, while she longs to see Peeta and make sure he is safe. I truly appreciate however that there is not one bad word said in this movie. A rare delight.
content: kissing, very slight immodesty, some genocide aftermath shown, an execution shown (without blood), signs of torture shown, people shooting and bombing and blowing things up where you know people are dying in the process, ill people shown
Home, 2015 (animated w/ voices of Rihanna, Matt Jones, Jim Parsons, Steve Martin, Jennifer Lopez) – 2.75 stars – My sons adored this, and that was what was important. I love that this is not another white main character even if animated (I’m really tired of the dominance of whiteness in films and in life). This was about a group of aliens that basically make the Earth their home while on the run away from the Gargans. The story basically tells kids that no matter where someone is from, you should try to understand them and get to know them. I like that. What I didn’t like is that there was such bad grammar throughout the film that I think little kids would pick up on when they need to learn more proper speech.
content: kidnappings (of all aged people), stealing, hitting others with a staff often, deceit
I Am Big Bird: The Caroll Spinney Story, 2015 (documentary) – 3.5 stars – This was fabulous! Everyone loves Big Bird when they look back on Sesame Street. We learn the story of the man who has played Big Bird for all these decades, as well as Oscar the Grouch. We get to understand his childhood, how he got into puppetry, how Jim Henson met him, what it takes to operate Big Bird, his love story, his family, and his journey while playing the tall yellow bird we have grown up to love! As a long time muppet fan, I appreciated this. It was so interesting!
content: talks of physical abuse, kissing, the long b word (I read somewhere that you can hear the f word in the background at one point but I didn’t notice it at all and I am usually sensitive to swears), some war footage, talk of divorce, talk of suicide, mentions of deaths
The Hobbit: The Battle of Five Armies, 2014 (w/ Ian McKellen, Martin Freeman, Richard Armitage, Aidan Turner, Evangeline Lilly, Cate Blanchett) – 2 stars – I am so so sorry, friends. I Was so bored. The battle scene was a million times longer than it should have been. It was boring me to a million yawns per 5 minutes. The graphics were poorly done too and the way they had to youthen Orlando Bloom who I don’t even think Legolas was in the book at all was terrible. I liked how they wrapped it up at the end though. I was just glad it was over. Please forgive me. I felt it wasn’t done well enough in line with the story! The problem: It wasn’t focused enough on Bilbo Baggins or his story. It should have been.
content: lots of fighting with stabbing people and chopping off heads and killing one another with blood shown, drinking (no drunkennesss), smoking, kissing, language: large B word used, misuse of the word “hell”
The Divergent Series: Insurgent, 2015 (w/ Shailene Woodley, Theo James, Kate Winslet, Ansel Elgort, Miles Teller, Naomi Watts, Octavia Spencer) – 3 stars – I think this did a good job of living out the book, just as I thought of the first as well. It was about Tris and Four continuing to find a place to hide so that they don’t get caught by Jeanine who wants to use divergents for her own purposes. I was impressed by how well they followed through the book. There were even quotes directly from it. Bravo. However, I wasn’t overly impressed by it (it was average) just as I wasn’t impressed by this book. I probably should have rated this higher. It had great graphics, I am just tired of the violence and the way that teenagers are basically fed that it solves problems when it doesn’t. Blame my Amnity mindset, haha. The reason why this doesn’t get a higher rating is due to the content.
content: kissing, making out while taking off clothes (no frontal female nudity shown but you get some underwear and a full back as a girl willingly shows her chest to her boyfriend before they have sex which is also not shown but implied), a couple shown in bed together without clothes on (you don’t see nudity again but you KNOW), lots of shooting throughout the movie and killing people and stabbing people, forced suicides due to mind control, language: (s word a couple times, f word, small b word, big a word)
Earth to Echo, 2014, (w/ Astro, Teo Halm, Reese Hartwig, Ella Wahlestedt) – 3.25 stars – My sons wanted to watch this. They are just starting to get more into the live-action films but seem drawn to robots. I put it on for them and watched it with them on afternoon in case there were some scary scenes. They were a little nervous about some scenes but they loved this movie so much. When I was watching it I thought the beginning seemed cute. It starts out like a documentary. Turns out it is about three middle school kids who have been making a youtube channel together and there was an eviction notice going through a portion of the homes in an area so a bridge could be built. While on their last night, they decide to spend time together and end up finding this creature or robot of sorts. The movie was very 80’s kids movie feel to me, which I love. It was a unique story and was really fun. I was really surprised by it and enjoyed it! It reminded me a little of a movie I loved as a child called The Flight of the Navigator. This is very different from it but the feel of it is similar. The graphics were spectacular.
content: talk about a party for teenagers (no beer shown that I saw, but there are solo cups in places which you assume must have alcohol in them), a girl says “hell” incorrectly, talk about someone kissing (no kissing is ever shown, as it was a joke), flirting, some imagery that might scare children (this is an alien sort of movie), situations where kids are taken away by scary men and bullied and threatened, breaking and entering, a scene where kids enter a bar
Airport, 1970 (w/ Burt Lancaster, Dean Martin, Jean Seberg, Jacqueline Bisset, George Kennedy, Helen Hayes) – 2.75 stars – This follows various people who either enter the airport or work for the airport in which the story focuses on. One man is going to board a plane to get money to provide for his family who has had it rough for awhile and his wife seems concerned but thankful for his hard work. One is the man who runs the whole place who has marital issues that he tries to work out but can’t seem to sort. One is his secretary, a widow who tries to do well for all around her. Another is an unfaithful man who is the brother-in-law of the man who runs it and is a pilot for the planes. Another is a stewardess who is beautiful and hiding a secret. Helen Hayes was by far the best in this movie as the little old lady who is a natural born stowaway! These are the main characters and each one is interesting to learn about. I think the story was very well done and unique for its time. However, it should have not been rated G, but PG. I am glad I finally saw it, but I don’t think I am interested in watching all the sequels.
content: affairs noted, women shown in slips, a woman shown putting a towel around her body and you see the shape of most of her one breast, kissing, a man talks about a possible abortion of a baby, divorce talked about, blood shown all over a woman’s head, a man dies, lives are threatened, an old woman is publicly slapped, a man is publicly slapped, alcohol being consumed (no drunkenness), smoking throughout movie, I am pretty sure that there was one or two swear words mentioned but they are not coming to mind right now (and I didn’t write it down as I watched)
Camp Harlow, 2014 (w/ AJ Olson, Monique Hurd, Andrew Dyer) – 3 stars – When this started I was very concerned. The acting sounded forced and terrible. Teenagers were acting realy badly. Although the acting in it wasn’t that great, it was a pretty good story about a girl who was adopted and is dealing with her parents fights. She loves being popular and being in control of others. She loves to tell people what to do and have them listen to her every action. When the boy she likes asks her to go to a summer camp where he goes to, she doesn’t really even look into much about it, only to find out she was supposedly tricked into going to a Christian camp that she is going to suffer through. While there she makes friends with a couple horses, writes some songs, and starts to realize that she needs some help in her life. It was actually powerful in a way that I think teenagers would possibly like. It did get good as the movie continued along and I liked it.
content:: stealing, deceit, talk about divorce and affairs, talk about God and Jesus, prayer shown, bullying
The Book Thief, 2013 (w/ Geoffrey Rush, Emily Watson, Sophie Nélisse,Ben Schnetzer, Nico Liersch, Barbara Auer) – 3.25 stars – Liesel’s mom is a communist living in Germany during the 1930s. She therefore is sent away to another home to live at. Her new mother is hard and unloving while her new papa is kind and tries to help her learn how to read. She finds a love of books. She gains a friend, a boy her age while other people seem to mock her. Also, she learns about who the Jews are and starts to form her own opinions about others rather than what people around her were telling her to believe. This story’s narration was confusing at times. We didn’t really know who was supposed to narrating: her papa, or something else. We find out at the end who it is, but the whole thing was narrated too distantly where we’d say, “Oh, that’s right, there is a narrator. Forgot about him.” My husband had a lot of discrepancies about this movie, but I noticed too that the girl who was the lead role was a left handed girl which was NOT tolerated back then, especially in Germany. It was a beautiful movie with a great story line overall and I found it interesting and sad and enthralling and a possible reality that I am sure was common during the Nazi rule.
content: a kiss shown, bullying, blood shown, people die, punching (blood shown), throw up shown, drinking shown (no drunkenness), racism against black people and Jewish people, war imagery, stealing, language: (German word for the long A word), misuse of the word “hell”