This week's comprehensive study of how violent PG-13 films have become -- gunplay has tripled in such films in the last 30 years, and PG-13 movies are now more violent than R-rated releases -- did not single out specific films.
But in reviewing the 945 top-grossing films since 1950, the researchers behind the report for the American Academy of Pediatrics did identify several PG-13 titles that had a noticeably higher level of violent acts per hour than other similarly rated movies.
Those blood-spattered works included "The Dark Knight," "Terminator Salvation," "Inception," "Transformers: Dark of the Moon," "Captain America: The First Avenger," "Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol," "The Avengers," "The Amazing Spider-Man" and "Taken 2."
The researchers easily could have included several other recent movies in their excessive violence tally -- movies that many reviewers have singled out for relentless bloodshed.
As the report noted, the original "Terminator" and "Die Hard" films in the 1980s were rated R, but their most recent sequels were rated PG-13, even though the updates actually contained more violent acts than their predecessors.
The Motion Picture Assn. of America has long defended its rating system, but some people argue that some recent PG-13 movies could -- and should -- have been rated R.
Here's a sampling of some violent PG-13 productions, along with the MPAA ratings explanation, that critics of the MPAA say deserved the more restrictive rating, along with some of the more pointed criticism of the films:
"Sucker Punch" (2011)
Rated PG-13 for thematic material involving sexuality, violence and combat sequences, and for language.
"'Sucker Punch' reportedly shed nearly an entire reel’s worth of footage in order to land a PG-13 rating, and even then, the film feels highly inappropriate for young viewers. From the opening scene, young ladies seem to be under constant threat of being raped or murdered by grown men, and cutting around the brutality doesn’t diminish the effect at all."
"Man of Steel" (2013)
Rated PG-13 for intense sequences of sci-fi violence, action and destruction, and for some language.
"The story is an origins myth, which turns into another war-of-the-worlds battle epic, this time between Earth and the dying Krypton, with Superman on our side. Once again, Manhattan gets leveled (Don’t worry: Brooklyn is spared). The movie consists of endless declamation, endless violence."
"Terminator Salvation" (2009)
Rated PG-13 for intense sequences of sci-fi violence and action, and for language.
"Most of the running time is occupied by action sequences, chase sequences, motorcycle sequences, plow-truck sequences, helicopter sequences, fighter-plane sequences, towering android sequences and fistfights. It gives you all the pleasure of a video game without the bother of having to play it."
"The Dark Knight" (2008)
Rated PG-13 for intense sequences of violence and some menace.
"The whole movie is a social experiment on a global scale, an ambitious, lavish attempt to see if audiences will turn out for a comic-book epic that goes beyond darkness into Stygian bleakness, grim paradox, endless betrayals and pervasive corruption. All of the early signs -- not just the ritual ravings of fanboys -- say that vast numbers of people will. But they may sustain lots more punishment than they signed up for."
"The Lone Ranger" (2013)
Rated PG-13 for sequences of intense action and violence, and some suggestive material.
"In trying to balance grandiosity with playfulness, to lampoon cowboy-and-Indian cliches while taking somber account of a history of violence, greed and exploitation, it descends into nerve-racking incoherence. Atrocities are followed by jokey riffs and sight gags, and what links them is not a creative sensibility (as would be the case in a Quentin Tarantino movie) but a carnival barker’s desperate need to hold on to a distracted audience’s attention."
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