As parents and film fans, we want to share the best of the cinematic world with our kids. But when you haven’t seen a new movie yet, how do you know if you should take your kids? Obviously every kid is different, and they change with age; the same child who had to be escorted, weeping, out of Guardians of the Galaxy might completely fall in love with Deadpool two years later (true story). But it’s also true that movie marketing can be misleading – no-one wants to be that mom who had to leave Pan’s Labyrinth with an emotionally-scarred 10-year-old. With this ongoing feature, we’ll aim to offer some loose, spoiler-free, age-by-age guidelines as to what parents might expect from new features marketed to families, so you can make the best judgment call for your youngsters.
In a gritty, dsytopian, cyberpunk future several centuries from now, nearly everybody left on earth has some kind of cyber enhancement. Ido, a kindly cybersurgeon, combs the scrap heaps where the elite from the sky city Zalem dump their junk, looking for spare parts to help out the citizens of Iron City below. Alita: Battle Angel begins when he finds an intact core for an advanced cyberhuman. He rebuilds her, and names her Alita after his deceased daughter.
Alita has no memory of her life before Ido found her, but suspects Ido knows more about her origins than he lets on. She quickly befriends a local boy, Hugo, who introduces her to the sport of Motorball. The only way to ascend from Iron City to Zalem is to win the ultimate Motorball tournament and become the Final Champion.
There are a few other details, but you can probably guess how things unfold from there. The plot is unnecessarily complicated yet soap-bubble-thin; it’s basically a string on which to hang a number of impressive, visually spectacular fight/race sequences between CGI cyberhumans with varying degrees of weapons and enhancements.
So, should you take your kids to see it?
YMMV, but I’m going to say probably not. There are very tense scenes of fighting and some torture, there’s bloody murder and actual deaths portrayed, and at least one F-bomb. This is one that’s probably too intense for most small fry.
Tweens and Teens
Now, all that listed above is probably too much for most under-10s, but I’ll wager the average tween or teen will find it SUPER COOL. (They grow up so fast, don’t they? And the cat’s in the cradle and the silver spoon… Wait… Where was I? Oh yeah) Jacked-up cyborgs fighting each other with unbelievable weapons and martial arts moves? Bring. It. On.
The plot is thin and the dialogue is unimaginative, but there’s enough cool fights, CGI characters, and action to keep any adult interested. If that kind of stuff bores you, and you’re into movies at all, a fun way to pass the time could be matching the multiple character actors in this movie with their nearly-unrecognizable CGI roles! (No? Just me?)
Wee time: This is a pretty action-heavy movie, so there’s not a lot of down time; but there is a kissyface scene at the 1:10 mark that could definitely be missed if anyone needs to dash out to the loo.
Bottom line: Unless you or your kid is a big fan of CGI characters fighting each other, skip it. But if you are going to see it, I recommend the biggest screen possible for all the bullet-time punching and kicking action.
Jenny Bullough is a movie fan and mom based in Toronto. She has missed the middle 5 minutes of every kids’ movie because of her kid’s small bladder, and she let her kids watch Deadpool at an inappropriately young age and stands by her choices.