The Adventures of Tintin (Paramount/Columbia)
Visually sumptuous animated adaptation of Belgian cartoonist Herge's famed comic books in which the curiously coiffed young reporter of the title (voiced by Jamie Bell) finds himself drawn into a centuries-old mystery via the purchase of a model ship. His efforts to solve the puzzle are aided by a good-hearted but excessively tippling sea captain (voice of Andy Serkis) and opposed by a deliciously wicked Russian villain (voiced by Daniel Craig). Director Steven Spielberg's globetrotting quest spans vibrantly portrayed environments from Tintin's native Belgium to the deserts of North Africa. Themes congruent with Judeo-Christian values, including the vital role of companionship in overcoming one's individual weaknesses and the need for fortitude in the face of difficulty, are advanced through sympathetic main characters, a screenplay faithful to its classic source material and envelope-pushing 3-D technology. The generally family-friendly result will not only afford vigilant moms and dads a chance to relax, but the opportunity to be entertained as well. Occasional stylized violence. (A-I, PG)
Alvin and the Chipmunks: Chipwrecked (Fox)
This weak, slapstick-laden --- but not unwholesome --- third entry in the Chipmunks series has the titular rodent rap stars (voiced by Justin Long, Matthew Gray Gubler and Jesse McCartney) and their distaff counterparts the Chipettes (voices of Amy Poehler, Anna Faris and Christina Applegate) misbehaving on a cruise ship and winding up on a remote Caribbean island, where they help another castaway (Jenny Slate) and learn some lessons in maturity and responsibility. As he blends animation and live action, director Mike Mitchell piles on the pratfalls --- along with references to other similarly themed media offerings, from the TV show "Lost" to Tom Hanks' 2000 big-screen drama "Cast Away." (A-I, G)
The Darkest Hour (Summit)
Director Chris Gorak's weak alien-invasion entry has five American visitors to Moscow (Emile Hirsch, Olivia Thirlby, Max Minghella, Rachael Taylor and Joel Kinnaman) running away from space intruders who manifest themselves as balls of lethal microwave radiation, and start zapping folks --- right, left and center. Action violence and fleeting profane, crude and crass language. (A-III, PG-13)
The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (Columbia)
This piercingly violent and sordid crime thriller, based on the first book in Swedish writer Stieg Larsson's "Millennium Trilogy," follows a journalist (Daniel Craig) and a talented computer hacker (Rooney Mara) as they investigate a wealthy clan's role in the murder of a female member of the family 40 years prior. Director David Fincher's unflinching adaptation is faithful to the often disturbing source material, which includes scenes of heinous physical abuse. Although skillfully --- if exhaustingly --- executed, his film portrays a world seemingly devoid of moral coordinates. The transgressions endured by the title character, and the choices she makes in response, both undermine her quest for justice and render the proceedings inappropriate for all. Excessively graphic violence, including rape, torture and maiming; images of women sadistically murdered; antireligious undertones; strong sexual content, including explicit lesbian and nonmarital encounters and frequent nudity; and much crude and crass language. (O, R)
We Bought a Zoo (Fox)
In this amiably tame, warmly emotional feature, based on the true-life experiences of British memoirist Benjamin Mee, a widower (Matt Damon) and his two children (Maggie Elizabeth Jones and Colin Ford) attempt to start over by purchasing an exurban menagerie filled with endangered animals and staffed by a clutch of oddball humans. Under the baton of director Cameron Crowe, the story's Capraesque charms are enhanced by numerous rock-'n'-roll ballads and some star wattage. Both father and teenage son are given romantic prospects, played by Scarlett Johansson and Elle Fanning, respectively. Viewers will note that the catharsis achieved studiously bypasses the theological, that there's an implied timetable for the grieving process, and that no one questions the idea that it's always moral to hasten the death of a suffering creature. Yet the movie is still commendable, not least because the value of hard work is emphasized. At least one instance of profanity, several uses of crude and crass language, some lightly suggestive banter and a few morbid images. (A-III, PG)
Catholic News Service classifications: A-I ---- general patronage; A-II ---- adults and adolescents; A-III ---- adults; L ---- limited adult audience, films whose problematic content many adults would find troubling; O ---- morally offensive. Full-length reviews: www.catholicnews.com/movies.htm.
Prayer of the MonthPapal intentions for November: That priests who experience difficulties may find comfort in their suffering, support in their doubts, and confirmation in their fidelity. That as fruit of the continental mission, Latin American Churches may send missionaries to other Churches.
Papal intentions for December: That children who are victims of abandonment or violence may find the love and protection they need. That Christians, enlightened by the Word incarnate, may prepare humanity for the Savior's coming.