By Chris Kavan - 09/14/16 at 10:30 AM CT
After last week's sudden departure from any major films getting their ratings released, we're once again back on track with several high-profile films receiving their verdicts. We have the latest from Disney animation - a tale featuring a new kind of princess in this Polynisian-inspired story, a cut-throat Jessica Chastain explores the dark side of politics, a thriller about isolation and a new breed of hero emerges thanks to a techno-organic extraterrestrial. That's a lot to cover, but I'm game if you are.
Considering the success Disney has had with recent animation efforts, there is no doubt in my mind that the upcoming Moana is going to be anything but a hit. Disney isn't basing this on any existing story of legend, but I'm guessing they're taking a lot of inspiration from Polynesia. Moana follows the title character (voiced by newcomer and native Hawaiian Auli'i Cravalho), a talented navigator, as she sets sail for a mythical island. She won't be alone as demi-god Maui (voiced by Dwayne Johnson) is there help her along. Also providing voices are Alan Tudyk (becoming a staple in animation - good on him), Jemaine Clement, Nicole Scherzinger and Temuera Morrison. Disney is taking a chance, but seeing as how strong, female characters have been good to them recently, this looks like another film that may be aimed at girls but that the boys won't mind seeing, either. The posters and trailer make this look so vibrant, I don't see how anyone could object. The original story may be risky, but I think it will pay off quite well and I see this joining the ranks as another animated hit from the venerable studio. Rated PG for peril, some scary images and brief thematic elements.
If you like empowering female-driven films, then you're in luck. While Moana may be great for the family, Miss Sloane is going for the adult crowd. After showing she can be just as intimidating and commanding as any man in Zero Dark Thirty, Jessica Chastain is taking on another juicy role, that of a political insider with considerable talent. The film is also wading into the dangerous political waters of gun control as Sloane takes on lobbyists and Congress in order to get a measure passed - no matter the cost to her personal and professional life. It sounds like it will be a potential awards film and the supporting cast (John Lithgow, Alison Pill, Dylan Baker, Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Mark Strong and Michael Stuhlbarg among them) certainly support that notion. It's coming early winter, perfect release for awards attention, we'll see how this hot-button political release is handled - if it doesn't turn off half the population because of it, it should be rewarded. Rated R for language and some sexuality.
We've got a theme going, let's keep it moving along, shall we? Another female-driven film is the thriller Shut In. Naomi Watts plays a child psychologist who has isolated herself from the world, taking care of her son who lies in a vegetative state after a car accident that claimed the life of her husband. When she takes in a young boy, she thinks she is doing right - until a massive snow storm hits and the boy goes missing. Presumed dead, she begins having visions of the boy even as her nightmares meld with reality. This is one of those films that has you questioning whether the main character is dealing with reality or if it's all in her head. We get Jacob Tremblay (so excellent in Room) as the young boy while Oliver Platt plays Watts' psychologist and Charlie Heaton plays her son. For those looking for scares of the more cerebral nature, it looks like a solid choice. Rated PG-13 for terror and some violence/bloody images, nudity, thematic elements and brief strong language.
This last one isn't going to follow the trend. Instead we have a different superhero based on a popular TV show. That's right, Max Steel is here to save the day. Based on a TV show that first premiered in 2001 (and is currently airing on Disney XD in a rebooted series), it follows Max McGrath, a seemingly normal teen who just so happens to have the ability to produce the universe's most powerful energy within him. As evil forces attempt to harness this power, Max gets help from an a mysterious techno-organic extraterrestrial called Steel and together they meld their powers to become the titular superhero. I haven't seen either the original or the new program, but apparently it's popular enough here and worldwide to warrant a live-action film. Ben Winchell will play the main hero while Josh Brener voices Steel. Maria Bello, Andy Garcia, Ana Villafaņe and Mike Doyle round out the cast. This one is currently sitting at a PG-13 for some sci-fi action violence but it appears the rating is going to be appealed (likely for a more family-friendly PG) so I'll update it if it comes along.
Those are the big films for the week - but be sure to check out the full MPAA Ratings Bulletin below:
A.C.O.R.N.S.: OPERATION CRACKDOWN
Rated PG for rude humor.
ALL THESE SLEEPLESS NIGHTS
Rated R for language and smoking throughout, drug use and some sexuality/graphic nudity.
Rated R for brief language and a scene of violence.
Rated PG-13 for some sci-fi action violence.
Rated R for language and some sexuality.
Rated PG for peril, some scary images and brief thematic elements.
Rated PG for thematic content.
Rated R for strong bloody violence, some grisly images, language and brief sexuality.
Rated PG-13 for terror and some violence/bloody images, nudity, thematic elements and brief strong language.
Rated R for language including sexual references.
Rated R for language including sexual references, and some drug use.