“Mr. Peabody & Sherman” (PG): Will kids 6 and older be as amused as adults at this 3-D animated time-travel adventure featuring a genius talking dog and his adopted human son, both of them bespectacled nerds? Well, probably yes. While some of the historical references will zoom past them, “Mr. Peabody & Sherman” will still strike the 6-and-older crowd as funny and fun. It updates the “Peabody’s Improbable History” segments from the 1950s and ’60s TV cartoon shows “Rocky and His Friends” and “The Bullwinkle Show,” beloved by baby boomers.
The pooch Mr. Peabody (voice of Ty Burrell) is a master of science, history, math and more. He is also the inventor of the WABAC (as in way-back) time machine, in which he and his boy Sherman (Max Charles) travel back to meet the likes of Marie Antoinette, Leonardo da Vinci (Stanley Tucci), Mona Lisa (Lake Bell), Albert Einstein (Mel Brooks), Agamemnon (Patrick Warburton) and Gandhi. When Sherman starts school, a girl named Penny (Ariel Winter) bullies and mocks him for having a dog for a dad. She headlocks him, so Sherman bites her. In the principal’s office, a grim social worker, Ms. Grunion (Allison Janney), threatens to have Sherman taken away from Mr. Peabody. Hoping to mend fences, Mr. Peabody invites Penny and her parents (voices of Stephen Colbert and Leslie Mann) to dinner. Sherman and Penny play with the WABAC machine, and Penny gets stuck in ancient Egypt. Mr. Peabody puts her parents in a trance while he and Sherman go get her, with stops in Renaissance Florence and ancient Troy.
The script includes mild sexual innuendo that only adults will catch, toilet humor, and adult characters who drink. Sherman and Penny take off in Leonardo da Vinci’s flying machine and nearly crash. In ancient Egypt, Penny learns that if she marries King Tut, she will be disemboweled and mummified.
“300: Rise Of An Empire” (R): Ancient history meets the graphic novel and 3-D cinema in this loud, bloody sequel/prequel to “300” (R, 2006). Rated R and not meant for under-17s because of its blood-gushing battles and an explicit sexual situation, this new film will irritate scholars and other purists, but give history, action and graphic novel buffs the adrenaline rush and atmospherics they crave.
In the first film, Spartan warriors led by King Leonidas (Gerard Butler) fought to their deaths against the invading Persian forces of Xerxes (Rodrigo Santoro) at Thermopylae in 480 B.C. In this new film, Leonidas’ widow, Queen Gorgo (Lena Headey), recounts what led up to the war – the killing of Xerxes’ father by a Greek general, Themistocles (Sullivan Stapleton), years earlier. The Persians came back for revenge and Themistocles feels responsible. After the defeat at Thermopylae, he leads a small Greek navy against a huge Persian armada led by bloodthirsty Artemisia (Eva Green), hoping that Queen Gorgo and her Spartan forces will join in the battle for a free, united Greece.
Looking more black than red in light-dimming 3-D, the blood gushes and spurts operatically as Greek and Persian warriors hack through necks, torsos and limbs. Though the mayhem is more stylized than graphic, a sense of gore and falling heads pervades the battle scenes. A single sadomasochistic sexual situation with partial nudity gets quite explicit, with rare but strong sexual language.