"Battle: Los Angeles" (PG-13): Shot with a deliberately shaky camera and designed, despite the Marines-versus-space aliens plot, to look like a classic World War II flick, "Battle: Los Angeles" barely stops to breathe. Profound it is not, but it's a roller-coaster ride likely to carry along action-loving teen audiences. It may be a little too much for some middle-schoolers. The violence is rather intense for a PG-13, though wounds are not particularly bloody or graphic. There's also an "ick" factor involving gushy internal organs of the alien fighters, though they are outwardly robotic creatures.
The dialogue includes a bit of nonexplicit sexual innuendo amid the occasional soldierly banter, and some occasional midrange profanity.
"The Lincoln Lawyer" (R): Juniors and seniors in high school -- say, 16 and older -- will be entertained and not morally damaged by this character-rich legal thriller, adapted from a novel by Michael Connelly. Matthew McConaughey does his best work in years as Mick Haller, a charming but less than ethical defense attorney who works out of his Lincoln Continental and cuts deals with the D.A.'s office for guys who are usually very guilty. He has good relations (including sexual relations) with his ex, Maggie (Marisa Tomei), a prosecutor, and shares custody of their little girl. Then a very wealthy young man, Louis Roulet (Ryan Phillippe), hires Mick to clear him of a charge of assault and attempted murder of a prostitute. He claims total innocence, but Mick eventually figures out that Louis had a secret reason for hiring him that involves a former client (Michael Pena) of Mick's who's serving time and may be innocent.
A relatively mild R by current standards, "The Lincoln Lawyer" depicts stylized but still disturbing crime re-enactments, shows bloody murder victims, and includes a lethal shoot-out. Mick and Maggie engage in a nongraphic but very steamy sexual situation. The story touches on drugs and prostitution, and the dialogue features occasional strong profanity, crude sexual slang and a nasty homophobic slur. Characters smoke and drink.
"Mars Needs Moms" (PG): This tale of a boy realizing how much his mom loves him is touching and often amusing, but it's based on the threat and fear of losing one's mom. So "Mars Needs Moms" can also be grim, scary and too intense for many kids under 8. For sheer inventiveness, wit and beauty, the non-3-D "Rango" (PG) has it beat by a mile. Still, it's not without a fun factor for kids 8 and up. A 9-year-old boy named Milo (voice of Seth Green) who doesn't like doing chores or eating broccoli has harsh words with his mom (Joan Cusack), and before he can apologize, she's abducted by a Martian spaceship. The Martians plan to drain all the mothering information from Milo's mom's brain to program nanny-bots.
Milo is perpetually falling, falling, falling off high places. Though he's nearly weightless on Mars and isn't hurt, it's still visually scary. Also, the males in Martian society are dreadlocked and relegated to working on a huge trash heap. The portrayal seems oddly and pointlessly racial, but only adults are likely to notice.