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Effects are best part of 'Tron'

"Tron: Legacy" (PG): This update/sequel may well delight video, computer and Xbox game-loving kids 10 and older. The soundtrack is almost too deafening for under-10s. The original "Tron" (PG, 1982) was a pioneering film that introduced the idea of virtual reality to audiences, mixing live actors with computer-generated and hand-drawn animation. The new movie uses the latest technology, including 3-D, and it looks good. But its makers are so in love with visual effects that the human element seems a dull afterthought.

The script contains rare mild profanity, sexual innuendo and implied nudity in the virtual world, as well as characters drinking what could be spirits. The loudness of the action sequences may upset some kids under 10. Some nonhuman characters shatter into shards of light. The convoluted plot requires much familiarity with the 1982 film.


"Country Strong" (PG-13): Country-music loving high schoolers may be disappointed. (The movie is a little too full of drinking and implications of promiscuous sex for middle schoolers.) For all the advance hype, one expected "Country Strong" to be a masterpiece. Alas, it is a turgid soap opera so poorly and disjointedly written that several good performances and some catchy music get lost in the unintentionally hilarious mess. Gwyneth Paltrow plays country music superstar Kelly Canter, released too early from rehab by her husband/manager James (Tim McGraw) so she can get on with a comeback tour. She has become more than friends with Beau (Garrett Hedlund), a deep-voiced orderly at the rehab clinic who also happens to be a darn good, if unknown, singer/songwriter. James ignores the infidelity and asks Beau to join the tour to help keep Kelly sober. Kelly also has to deal with a green but ambitious wannabe singer, Chiles Stanton (Leighton Meester). The script is as corny as a bad song.

Not really for middle schoolers, the movie depicts Paltrow's character drinking herself blotto. We learn that the event that precipitated Kelly's rehab involved a drunken fall off a stage and injuries that caused the death of her unborn child. Other characters also smoke and drink, and they all (except husband James) engage in sexual encounters that are strongly implied but not too graphically portrayed. Some of those scenes have implied nudity or characters in stages of undress. The script features midrange profanity and barnyard epithets. A few punches are thrown, and there is a prescription-drug suicide theme.


"Gulliver's Travels" (PG): Jack Black brings his laid-back, irreverent sensibilities to this likable adaptation of Jonathan Swift's 18th-century novel. The film is no masterpiece, and indeed lacks cinematic panache, but it radiates good humor, which could win the hearts of kids 10 and older.

The battle scenes are not scary, even when tiny invading ships fire cannonballs at Gulliver. His sojourn with giants (where he is the tiny person) is very brief, and we only see one (albeit huge) young girl who plunks Gulliver in her dollhouse. There he finds the skeletal remains of a previous prisoner. The film does a decent job of demonstrating how unacceptable Gulliver's lying and plagiarism are.

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