“Winter’s Tale” (PG-13): Tweens and teens who like a good cry at the movies should bring extra tissues to “Winter’s Tale,” for while the film doesn’t quite work, its lead actors are so sincere that they nearly carry it off. It’s just tough to tell a love story bathed in magic and the occult on screen. (It’s based on Mark Helprin’s novel.)
An immigrant couple arriving in 1895 New York are forced to return to the Old Country. They leave their infant son behind, setting him adrift, Moses-like, on a seaworthy model boat. Cut to 1916: The infant is now Peter Lake (Colin Farrell), a clever safecracker and the protege of Irish gangster Pearly Soames (Russell Crowe). Soames now deems Peter disloyal and wants him dead.
We first see Peter on the run from Soames and his glowering men. Later, we learn Soames is actually a demon, but the first sign of magic is a white horse that offers Peter an escape.
Later, while robbing a newspaper publisher’s (William Hurt) mansion, Peter meets the magnate’s daughter Beverly (Jessica Brown Findlay, of “Downton Abbey”), who looks great but is very ill. The two fall deeply in love, but it ends in tragedy.
Now, cut to 2014. Peter is somehow still alive and young, but has no recollection of those early days. An encounter with a little girl (Ripley Sobo) sparks his memory. Peter believes he can perform a miracle, but Soames and his minions are still after him.
Mayhem includes: a bloodless point-blank shooting; a couple of head-banging fights; and a lethal but nongraphic stabbing. The lone sexual situation is understated and lyrical, with a hint of undress. There is a naked silhouette through a curtain and rare mild profanity.
“Pompeii” (PG-13): Historians and archaeologists may take issue with the facts as set out in this epic and love story, but it looks pretty great, in a graphic novel kind of way. Many teens will relish seeing one of history’s great catastrophes re-created in 3-D.
We refer, of course, to the eruption of Mount Vesuvius and its destruction of the ancient Roman towns of Pompeii and neighboring Herculaneum in A.D. 79. Our hero is Milo (Kit Harington), a Celt tribesman from the Roman colony of Britannia.
As a boy (in the film’s prologue), he saw his family massacred by the Roman tribune Corvus (Kiefer Sutherland). Now, Milo is a Roman slave and unbeaten gladiator, determined to find and kill Corvus. He is brought to the port city of Pompeii, falls impossibly in love with Cassia (Emily Browning), daughter of the local ruler Severus (Jared Harris). She returns Milo’s passion. The evil Corvus is there, too, and wants Cassia for himself. So naturally, he wants Milo to die, and sets him up to do so in gladiatorial combat. Mother nature, however, intervenes.
Expect much bone-cracking combat with spears, swords, daggers, shields, fists and heads, but all within PG-13 range and relatively gore-free. The eruption, which includes an earthquake, rivers of molten lava, and a tsunami, shows victims inundated. The passion between Milo and Cassia is understated. Corvus nearly assaults her in one scene, but is stopped.
“About Last Night” (R): This is an update of the R-rated 1986 film of the same title. (Both movies are based on David Mamet’s stage play, “Sexual Perversity in Chicago.”)
Adults only, due to: constant crude and highly explicit sexual language; explicit sexual situations, some with partial nudity. Characters smoke pot in one scene, drink a whole lot, and use steaming nonsexual profanity, too.