300: The Rise of an Empire  (R / L - 2 Stars) - One spectacularly bloody film — with hacked off limbs and decapitated heads flying about (all in “glorious 3D” …) — with a rather spectacular sexual encounter between two of the story’s leads to boot. SOOO … definitely not for the kids. Yet, is there anything besides the blood, the severed limbs / decapitated heads and that sexual encounter that one will remember of this film? Actually there may be. But though the film was certainly intentionally made this way, the relentlessly bracing imagery IMHO does get in the way.
The Son of God  (PG-13 / A-III - 3 1/2 Stars) - Basically Ep. 4 of last year’s Hist. Channel’s The Bible miniseries but reworked somewhat “to stand on its own” as a movie. As in The Bible miniseries as a whole, I enjoyed the film-makers creativity in finding novel ways of pulling in some of the Gospel texts and parables into the film. For example, tax-collector Matthew hearing Jesus telling The Parable of the Pharisee and the Tax Collector tearfully COMPLETES Jesus’ telling of the story completing Jesus’ tax collector’s prayer: “O God, be merciful to me, for I’m a sinner.” THIS IS GOOD STUFF and parents could do worse with their kids during Lent then taking them to this film :-)
Since beginning my Blog some 3 1/2 years ago, I’ve come to the conclusion that all the Oscars are basically “lifetime achievement awards,” and that a lot of great performances, especially in smaller films, are ignored. As such, each year I also offer my own "Denny" Awards. But the Oscars are, of course, the “Biggest Show in Town.” So here is my annual survey of who IMHO will win, should win and deserved consideration for the major categories at the 2014 Oscars:
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Pompeii  (PG-13 / A-III - 3 Stars) - A little “corny” at times — a James Cameron Titanic / Gladiator-like rendering of the story of the tragic destruction of Pompeii. Yet it could be good for teens previously “bored” with high school history courses.
About Last Night  (R / O - 3 Stars) - 2014 remake of 1986 film Despite richly deserved R-rating NOT a bad relationship film for 20-somethings to see and discuss. How to convince skeptical, fearful, perhaps previously burned young people that their relationships NEED NOT FAIL, especially when they are between people that everyone around them (friends, family, etc) can see “were made for each other?”
Endless Love  (R/O - 3 Stars) - Probably far more a tween / teen “chick movie” rather than what I’d imagine a “date movie” but better actually than what I “eyes rolling” would have expected. Could give parents fodder to reflect on about their priorities for their kids.