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Tomb Raider, Annihilation, Red Sparrow, Isle of Dogs and More in This Week's MPAA Ratings Bulletin

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By Chris Kavan - 02/01/18 at 06:38 AM CT

Even though January isn't the most exciting month for movie releases in theaters, at least the ratings board has finally stepped up their game. There is a lot to digest in this week's releases, including a fantastical adventure, a sexy spy saga, the rebirth of an action heroine, a home invasion thriller, a comedy about parents vs. their daughters' virginity on prom night and a new animated film from one of my all-time favorite directors. All in all, a lot to talk about and, even better, worth talking about. I know every update can't be like this one, but I'm always happy when they turn out this way.

MPAA Official Logo

Video game movies have always presented trouble. Now, you can say the current release of Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle is technically a "video game" movie - but it's about being sucked into a game, not based on one. There are a lot of failures (Prince of Persia, Assassin's Creed, Super Mario Bros., Hitman, Street Fighter... I can go on all day, people!) when it comes to trying to adapt video games for the big screen. But the original Tomb Raiders, starring Angelina Jolie, is one of the few bright spots on the video-games-turned-movie department. Tomb Raiders has already been rebooted in terms of video games - so it's no surprise we're also getting a new Tomb Raider in theaters. Breakout star Alicia Vikander (who stars in one of my favorite films from 2014, and the one that put her on the map, Ex Machina) plays the title hero and, like the game, this version of Lara Croft is not a full-fledged hero yet. She's just trying to find her adventurer father, who has gone missing on an uncharted island, and will be pushed to her limit, forging the person she will become in an unforgiving crucible. The trailers make this look plenty exciting - and with Walton Goggins, Kristin Scott Thomas, Dominic West, Nick Frost and Daniel Wu on board (among others), Vikander will have plenty of help. I have hopes that this will be able to standout like the original films and once again put a good spin on video game movies and hopefully lead to even better. Rated Rated PG-13 for sequences of violence and action, and for some language.

Strong females are a theme this year and Jennifer Lawrence does her part in the spy thriller Red Sparrow. Marvel and Disney may have never been able to settle on a Black Widow film (yet - there may yet be one on the horizon), but they've been beat to the punch. Red Sparrow, based on its own novel, follows Dominika Egorova, who is recruited in Russia's "Sparrow School" to become a deadly agent - one who is as adept at using her body as a weapon as the more traditional arms. But on her first mission targeting a CIA agent (played by Joel Edgerton), despite all her training, she finds herself falling into a forbidden passion - something that threatens to bring down both nations. Lawrence has both the acting chops and the allure to pull off this roll. She is the right mix of sexy and dangerous. Where Atomic Blonde was a bit of a letdown, this looks like it's going to sizzle and make all the right moves. Also stars Mary-Louise Parker, Ciarán Hinds, Charlotte Rampling, Jeremy Irons, Matthias Schoenaerts and Joely Richardson. Rated R for strong violence, torture, sexual content, language and some graphic nudity.

But wait, we're not done with strong females just yet - having been on my radar for awhile, the upcoming Annihilation looks like a true sci-fi trip. The film follows a group of women: a biologist (Natalie Portman), a psychologist (Jennifer Jason Leigh), surveyor (Tessa Thompson) and an anthropologist (Gina Rodriguez) who find themselves on an other-worldly voyage of danger and intrigue. The biologist's husband (Oscar Isaac) has gone missing in a location dubbed "Area X" where the laws of nature don't apply, monstrous creatures roam and just being there can wreck your sanity. Despite the danger, the team won't stop until they have the answers each is searching for. Hey, remember I mentioned Ex Machina as being one of my favorite films of 2014? Guess whose directing this feature - Ex Machina director Alex Garland. It's hard to say if this will appeal to mainstream audiences, but I, for one, am very much interested to see how this turns out. Rated R for violence, bloody images, language and some sexuality.

Still haven't had your fill of strong female leads yet?! No worries, this train still isn't slowing down. James McTeigue is no stranger to giving us strong female characters - he was responsible for the excellent V for Vendetta, nor is he shy of action with Ninja Assassin and Survivor under his belt. He takes on the home invasion trope, but if anyone can give is a good spin, McTeigue will figure it out with Breaking In. Gabrielle Union plays the main character, who will stop at nothing to protect her family during a home invasion. Details are light, but it looks like Jason George will play her husband, Ajiona Alexus her daugher and Billy Burke, Richard Cabral and Levi Meaden also star (probably at least Burke as one of the said invaders). The film is being dropped in May, right between some huge blockbusters like Avengers: Infinity War, Deadpool 2 and Solo: A Star Wars Story. But this is exactly the type of counter-programming that could work in its favor and deliver decent returns. Rated PG-13 for violence, menace, bloody images, sexual references, and brief strong language.

For a change of pace, hope you're ready to laugh because Kathryn Newton, Leslie Mann, Ike Barinholtz, John Cena, Graham Phillips and more are here to play the great, unending battle between parents and their children in Blockers. Prom Night is every girl's dream, and every parent's nightmare. While the girls are there to make memories that will last a lifetime, their dates are more likely interested in getting laid. A group of parents will stop at nothing to make sure their daughters remain innocent - no matter the cost. Will it succeed? The casting looks pretty solid, but I'm not sold on the premise.Still, for a early spring comedy, it might be enough. Rated R for crude and sexual content, and language throughout, drug content, teen partying, and some graphic nudity.

I saved the best for last - well, maybe not best for you, but I have a huge respect for director Wes Anderson. who is easily one of my all-time favorite directors. His style is unique and through he may not appeal to everyone, I've always found his films fascinating and his attention to detail is second-to-none. He has done an animated film before, The Fantastic Mr. Fox, and it looks like he's ready to go back to the medium with Isle of Dogs. The film is set in Japan and follows a young boy on his quest to find his lost dog. The voice cast features some familiar Anderson collaborators including Bill Murray, Jeff Goldblum, Edward Norton, Frances McDormand, Tilda Swinton, Fisher Stevens, Kara Hayward, Harvey Keitel and F. Murray Abraham. They are joined by some big names including Bryan Cranston, Scarlett Johansson, Greta Gerwig, Liev Schreiber, Ken Watanabe and Courtney B. Vance. Anderson knows how to put together a top-class group of actors and also knows how to get the best out of them. Despite the fact it looks like many of them are going to be voicing various dogs on a mysterious island, I bet this turns out just as interesting and fantastical as his previous films and I think (no knock to Disney/Pixar) is a shoo-in for best animated film next year. Rated PG-13 for thematic elements and violent images.

Wow! What a great list this week - the board really stepped up their game and I hope for more of the same in the future. Be sure to check out the full MPAA Ratings Bulletin below:


Rated R for violence, bloody images, language and some sexuality.


Rated PG-13 for sequences of violence and action, and for some suggestive material.


Rated R for crude and sexual content, and language throughout, drug content, teen partying, and some graphic nudity.


Rated PG-13 for violence, menace, bloody images, sexual references, and brief strong language.


Rated R for some language.


Rated R for some strong sexuality.


Rated R for some violence and sexuality.


Rated PG-13 for thematic elements and violent images.


Rated R for language.


Rated R for violence including bloody images, language, nudity and some sexual material.


Rated PG-13 for some violent content and disturbing images.


Rated R for strong sexual content, language, some violence and brief drug use.


Rated R for strong violence, torture, sexual content, language and some graphic nudity.


Rated PG-13 for some mature thematic material including images of a sexual assault, and brief strong language.


Rated PG-13 for sequences of violence and action, and for some language.


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