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A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
Promotes respect for cultural differences; values the legacy of myths and fantasy.
Positive Role Models
The two kids at the heart of this film are resourceful, brave, honest, and compassionate. They occasionally take risks without parental approval, but always with the intent of doing the right thing. The parents, who love their children, are initially too absorbed in their work, but eventually learn the art of paying attention. The comic element is a Chinese monk who occasionally displays stereotypical behavior.
Violence & Scariness
Several hand-to-hand battles using martial arts and various weapons: knives, spears, a broom handle. Efforts are made using special effects, slow-motion cuts, and close-ups to keep the action stylized rather than frightening, however the two kids in the midst of it are in danger in numerous scenes. The dragon is ferocious and powerful, but it is a hero from centuries past and is portrayed mostly as magical. There are falls, chases, as well as eerie suspenseful sequences in underground tombs, but no one is hurt or killed.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that The Dragon Pearl is an exciting, live-action adventure (with a CGI dragon) that has multiple sequences in which the two young heroes are in danger. Despite these dangers, the film will be appealing and appropriate for most older tweens because the filmmakers have tried to minimize the actual violence using special effects and camera techniques. The dragon -- a heroic character -- snorts, growls, and has a ferocious face, but it is never truly a threat to the children. Set in China, the movie includes a few scenes that use simple subtitles, but the majority of the film is in English. To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
Is It Any Good?
Every effort has been made to keep The Dragon Pearl a family-friendly adventure film. Even the action sequences are designed to be fun rather than scary (i.e., knives stop in mid-air; a comic character wields a broom as a weapon; the dragon is not threatening). The two kids are watchable, likable, and heroic. It's lightweight entertainment, often sacrificing logic to move the plot forward, and with some amateurish effects and camera work. Still, it's always well-intentioned.
Combining martial arts moves, an all-powerful dragon, an ancient legend, and a quest, middle-grade kids should enjoy The Dragon Pearl, and their parents probably won't mind the time spent.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.