Another positive: the special effects are impressive. The 3D takes you into the action. While it’s occasionally distracting to have a ninja fall into one’s nose, the overall effect is excellent. Slow-motion is used to optimum effect, heightening anticipation much like that moment when your ride hesitates at the top of a roller-coaster hill. Some of the weaponry, like mini firefly bombs, is cool in a mildly creepy way. The explosions—and there are many—are often beautiful. And the scenery: mountain hillsides, subterranean prisons, even outer space all look spectacular on screen.

In short, it’s pretty much lots of fighting and blowing things up occasionally punctuated by moments of moderately clever dialogue. The bad guys are really bad, the good guys are not particularly God-fearing but they’re at least on the side of justice and freedom. If the plot makes you roll your eyes, at least the special effects are cool. If that’s what you want in a movie, go for it. If not, don’t say I didn’t warn you.

CAUTIONS:

  • Drugs/Alcohol: Some drinking.
  • Language/Profanity: A couple of he** including a “welcome to…”; da**; and the f-word is implied but cut off just in the nick of time after “mother—” There’s a fair amount of smack talk and some subtle sexual innuendos.
  • Sex/Nudity: Some amount of cleavage shown; woman shown in exercise gear consisting of short shorts and sports bra; man unzips woman’s evening gown, she’s shown undressing (underwear intact) in a reflection while man discreetly watches the reflection. Man shown shirtless.
  • Violence:  A lot of weaponry shown. Soldiers killed in battle. Much fighting with guns, swords, and other weapons, sometimes on side of cliff resulting in warriors falling to their deaths. Weapons of mass destruction deployed and destroy a major city. Bad guy in disguise cuts his own “face” with a knife. Considerable hand-to-hand combat, including one scrap between two women, one elderly. Torture implied but not shown. Man badly burned. People impaled, shot, blown up, and dispatched in many different ways. Man hit by car (but survives).
  • Spiritual Themes: Before heading into battle Roadblock prays (if you can call it that) by saying: "In the immortal words of Jay-Z: 'Whatever deity may guide my life, Dear Lord don't let me die tonight!'" The ninjas discuss their devotion to "the Hard Master" who was murdered; he seems to have been their spiritual leader. Some suggestion of Eastern religion form of healing… or it might have been a medical procedure; honestly it was hard to tell. One character learns his life is based on a lie, says "My fate was chosen for me," and confesses "It's possible to feel so much hate you stop feeling." Unfortunately, what could have been an opportunity for him to show remorse and growth must have been left on the editing room floor.

Publication date: March 28, 2013