Beasts of the Southern Wild, rated PG-13

Starring Quvenzhane Wallis, Dwight Henry

Austin Family critical rating: 4.5 of 5 stars
Austin Family Family-Friendly rating: 3.5 of 5 stars

Benh Zeitlin’s Beasts of the Southern Wild has been the talk of the independent film scene ever since it premiered earlier this year at the Sundance Film Festival. The movie follows a young girl named Hushpuppy (Quvenzhane Wallis) who lives with her father (Dwight Henry) in a vibrant part of Louisiana known as the Bathtub. As an impending storm threatens to wash away her home, she and her father ride it out. The film slowly moves into the realm of magical realism, as Hushpuppy embarks on a journey to find her mother after the storm. Beasts of the Southern Wild is not an easy movie to describe, but it is an experiential and enchanting movie, a powerful look at the world from the perspective of a six-year-old. It’s easily one of the most striking movies I’ve seen this summer, with an outstanding performance from Wallis that is likely to resonate with audiences everywhere.

Brave, rated PG

Starring Kelly Macdonald, Billy Connolly, Emma Thompson, Julie Walters, Robbie Coltrane

Austin Family Critical rating: 4 of 5 stars
Austin Family Family-Friendly rating: 4.5 of 5 stars

Brave, the new film from the always-impressive Pixar Animation Studios, is a colorful and exciting movie that’s particularly commendable for the strength of its female lead, Princess Merida (Kelly Macdonald). It’s easy to expect a lot from Pixar, especially after its long run of masterpieces (The Incredibles, Finding Nemo, Up, Toy Story 3), and some have noted that Brave is a bit of a disappointment when compared to those pictures. But that’s only because Pixar has set the bar so high. Brave is a movie the entire family will enjoy, particularly young girls looking for a new kind of Disney princess.

Jack Kyser is a graduate of Austin High School and New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts.

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