Against the Sun

Movie review by
Jeffrey M. Anderson, Common Sense Media
Against the Sun Movie Poster Image
Teamwork and hope in intense WWII lifeboat drama.
  • PG
  • 2015
  • 100 minutes

Parents say

age 8+
Based on 3 reviews

Kids say

age 13+
Based on 2 reviews

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

Themes include learning to work together and keeping a positive attitude. Characters help each other and forgive one another's mistakes.

Positive Role Models & Representations

The characters' behavior is mainly admirable; they learn to work together and help each other when necessary. They do slip into iffy behavior from time to time (mainly because of hunger, thirst, frustration, and impatience), but they usually correct themselves and get along well.


General tension and peril. Some bloody wounds. A gun is shown and fired. Albatross shooting. Shark wrestling. Gory shark guts. Intense feelings of desperation and being trapped. Some shouting and verbal conflict. Plane crash into the ocean. Storm at sea. Somewhat scary dream sequences, such as drowning. Talk of death. Reference to suicide.


A man describes his sister to another man, with the intention of "fixing them up." Fantasy sequences of what the sister might look like. Men are shown shirtless.


Infrequent uses of "s--t," "damn" and "hell."

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Against the Sun is based on a true story about three American soldiers who survive a plane crash into the Pacific Ocean and are stranded on a life raft. Though not as agonizing as the similar Unbroken, the material is fairly intense. There's some arguing and shouting, some bloody cuts, and a gun fired. An albatross is shot and a shark is sliced open, with guts spilling into the raft. We hear talk of death and a mention of suicide. We see a scary drowning nightmare, a plane crash into the ocean, and a huge storm. Language includes two uses of "s--t" and infrequent uses of "damn" and "hell." Sex is not an issue, but a man describes his sister to another man, as if thinking of setting them up. The main issue here is that Harry Potter fans might be interested in seeing "Draco Malfoy" (Tom Felton) playing an American character, and a good guy. Fortunately, the movie is mainly quite hopeful and not too intense for kids of 11-12 and up.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written byGurtrude_The_Cool January 16, 2019

A very good film

It was a great film about a true story I enjoyed it there is some parts that are a little tragic but nothing to serious
Parent of a 17-year-old Written byPRINCE JORDAN TYSON June 28, 2016


I just wanted to reach out to you with some updates!! Regarding "AGAINST THE SUN" and "The Raft" book.

June 2016 / The "Grandson... Continue reading
Teen, 13 years old Written byxlcebx June 12, 2020

4 star

Good film, barely any swearing.
Kid, 8 years old May 15, 2015

Violent war story is basically Unbroken again.

My rating PG-13 for: intense war violence, and brief language.

What's the story?

During the first months after the United States officially entered WWII in late 1941, patrol planes are sent over the Pacific. On one such plane, pilot Harold Dixon (Garret Dillahunt), bombardier Tony Pastula (Tom Felton), and radioman Gene Aldrich (Jake Abel), find their craft running low on gas and are unable to raise their aircraft carrier on the radio. They crash into the ocean and end up on a small raft, barely big enough for the three of them, with no flares, food, or water and only a ragtag collection of odds and ends. Expecting to be rescued within a day or two, they must eventually survive for 35 days, enduring hunger, thirst, sunburn, sharks, and other challenges, both mental and physical.

Is it any good?

Released in theaters shortly after Angelina Jolie's similarly themed Unbroken, AGAINST THE SUN is a much lower-key film -- more old-fashioned and less graphically agonizing. This kind of material can be a physically grueling experience for viewers, and director Brian Falk carefully balances scenes of despair with scenes of hope.

But the movie has two disadvantages. First, it's clear that it's based on a true story, so we assume that the men will eventually survive to tell their tale. Second, it can be too quickly and easily compared to Unbroken, as well as to two other high-profile "stranded on a life raft" movies, Life of Pi and All Is Lost. With its lower budget and lower profile, Against the Sun can't really offer up anything not already seen in the other films. With the physical limitations inherent in these types of stories, the range of plot possibilities is fairly narrow. Eventually all the movie has is the talent and chemistry of the three actors; fortunately, that's enough to keep it afloat.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about Against the Sun's violence. How much is shown? Does the movie still make an impact without lots of violence or blood? What makes something "thrilling"?

  • How closely do you suppose the movie sticks to its true story? Does that matter? Why or why not? Why might filmmakers alter the truth when making a fact-based movie?

  • How does the movie demonstrate teamwork?

  • How does real-life history enter into this story? What was happening in the world in January 1942? How did these men get by without technology or the Internet?

Movie details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love true stories

Themes & Topics

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