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LOTS OF PG-13 VIOLENCE THIS YEAR

        

For Hicksflicks.com, July 12, 2013

If you've been wondering whether PG-13 movies are getting more violent, here is a statistic that may remove all doubt:

Of the 50 PG-13 movies released in Salt Lake-area theaters so far this year, seven are horror films: "Mama," "Warm Bodies," "Beautiful Creatures," "Dark Skies," "The Last Exorcism, Part II," "World War Z" and the comedy "Scary MoVie" (that's "Scary Movie 5"; the "V" is a Roman Numeral).

Needless to say, some of these are more graphic than others but all are surprisingly violent for the PG-13 rating.

And we could add the fantasies "Jack the Giant Slayer," "The Host," "Oblivion," "Star Trek Into Darkness," "After Earth" and "Pacific Rim" for their darker, scarier sequences. Which would make it a baker's dozen.

One could also argue that the superhero movies "Iron Man 3" and "Man of Steel" qualify, along with violent action pictures that push the PG-13 boundary: "Snitch," "G.I. Joe: Retaliation," "Furious 6" and "White House Down."

Now I haven't seen all of these but I have seen most, and for me the most violent PG-13 movie so far this year is also the most surprising: "The Lone Ranger."

Say what you will about collateral damage, all those people in high-rise buildings who may have been killed or injured off-screen by Superman and Iron Man's destruction, at least kids who attended weren't exposed to graphic blood-letting.

In "The Lone Ranger," which tries unsuccessfully to balance horrifying violence and comedy, members of a gang of villains are dirty, sleazy and kinky, and their leader is also a cannibal. (As are bloody fang-baring rabbits that populate the area.)

Mercifully, when the main bad guy cuts out and eats the heart of a good guy, it's done off-camera with only a blurry reflection in our view, although afterward we do see his bloody mouth.

There are also many scenes where innocents are shot down in cold blood and where larger groups of people are killed en masse with handguns, rifles, Gatling guns and arrows.

If PG-13 means anyone over 12 is mature enough for the material in a film with that rating, is the kind of violence depicted in "The Lone Ranger" — or any of these films — really what we want our 13 or 14 year olds to see?

That's a total of 20 out of 50 PG-13 films so far this year — a third — that are, in my estimation, way too violent for the rating. And I grit my teeth as we move into the second half of 2013.