Reasonably original, curiously dark exploration of the troubling results that ensue when mere mortals obtain godlike powers. After stumbling on a mysterious object, a trio of Seattle teens (Dane DeHaan, Alex Russell and Michael B. Jordan) find themselves endowed with telekinesis and the ability to fly. Though initially they do no more with their newfound gifts than goof around and play pranks, darker emotions and more serious consequences soon come to the fore, especially for DeHaan's character, who's struggling to cope with an alcoholic father (Michael Kelly) and a dying mother (Bo Petersen). Director Josh Trank conveys all this in the pseudo-found footage style of "The Blair Witch Project." Though it feels more than a little overused, that conceit nonetheless contributes to an atmosphere of realism and lends urgency to the moral debates in which the principals engage --- discussions which, for viewers of faith, will likely represent the film's main appeal. Limited action violence, scenes of physical abuse, an implied premarital encounter, a scattering of profanity, at least one rough term, pervasive crude language and an obscene gesture. (A-III, PG-13)
Journey 2: The Mysterious Island (Warner Bros.)
Leaden adventure --- improbably sourced from books by Jules Verne, Robert Louis Stevenson and Jonathan Swift --- follows an intrepid teenager (Josh Hutcherson) and his stepfather (Dwayne Johnson) to a South Pacific island crawling with natural anomalies and opportunities for derring-do. Joined by a helicopter pilot (Luis Guzman) and his daughter (Vanessa Hudgens), the pair encounter the young hero's explorer grandfather (Michael Caine). Director Brad Peyton helms a mostly wholesome sequel to 2008's "Journey to the Center of the Earth," though one marred by a somewhat casual attitude toward youthful sexuality as well as by a few potty jokes. With its merely serviceable visuals, logically suspect script and lame expository dialogue, the project fails to evoke significant awe or wonderment. Some teen sensuality, several moderately scary sequences, a few uses of suggestive language, occasional toilet humor. (A-II, PG)
Safe House (Universal)
Excessively violent and unconvincing espionage thriller in which the low-ranking but loyal CIA operative (Ryan Reynolds) who runs the agency's safe house in Cape Town, South Africa, tries to keep a veteran agent-turned-traitor (Denzel Washington) alive and in custody after a massive raid on the facility leaves everyone else who was guarding the prisoner dead. Perfunctory exchanges about personal and institutional corruption in screenwriter David Guggenheim's script offer no more than a scant cover story for director Daniel Espinosa's real agenda: to showcase lengthy fistfights, bloody stabbings and fatal shootouts. Constant, sometimes gory, violence, torture, cohabitation, fleeting sensuality with partial nudity, occasional rough and crude language. (L, R)
The Vow (Screen Gems)
Stricken with partial amnesia as the result of a car accident, a Chicago artist (Rachel McAdams) awakens from a coma with no memory of her romance with, or marriage to, her husband (Channing Tatum). So he sets out to win her heart all over again, despite the opposition of her controlling parents (Sam Neill and Jessica Lange) who would prefer to see her reunite with her more conventionally respectable ex-fiance (Scott Speedman). Based on real events, director and co-writer Michael Sucsy's well-intentioned but flawed love story celebrates the extraordinarily determined marital fidelity of Tatum's character, and strikes a generally amiable tone as it does so. But shallow characterizations --- mildly bohemian hubby takes on conniving 1-percenter in-laws --- and an initial relationship too cute to be credible undercut its impact. Brief nongraphic marital lovemaking, a premarital situation, fleeting rear nudity, adultery theme, numerous sexual references and jokes, at least one use of profanity, a couple of rough and about a half-dozen crude terms. (A-III, PG-13)
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.