A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that this animated film, based on a line of popular toys, has a surprising amount of violence for a movie aimed at kids. It takes place on a planet where the main entertainment is watching gladiators battle it out with swords, axes, and other weapons. There is plenty of gambling, and even some cheating, though characters who engage in such behavior are rarely rewarded for it. The hero frequently talks about the importance of loyalty and teamwork. Expect young fans to clamor for merchandise, though some parents may find Bionicle toys, which are produced by Lego and are challenging to assemble, to be more palatable than the action figures or stuffed animals that are often sold in conjunction with other movies.
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What's the story?
The powerful warrior Mata Nui (voiced by Michael Dorn) arrives on the planet Bara Magna, where the squabbling tribes of Glatorians have learned to settle their differences through one-on-one battles, gladiator-style. He befriends some of these skilled fighters, including the veteran Ackar (Jim Cummings) and Kiina (Marla Sokoloff), one of the best female combatants, who agree to help Mata Nui find a way back to his own world. The group soon discovers that the Bone Hunters and the Skrall, the two sworn enemies of the Glatorians, have formed an alliance, and Mata Nui must convince the bickering tribes to put aside their petty differences and unite against their common foe.
Is it any good?
The positive message of the movie is muted, somewhat, by the violence. Expect lots of fighting, including several intense gladiator matchups and some major battles between huge armies. Because the characters are all anthropomorphic robot-like Bionicles, based on the popular line of toys, there are few injuries and no blood or explicit gore. However, the fighters favor swords, battle-axes and spears, and the action can get pretty intense, and kids may want to emulate their moves.
Mata Nui’s efforts to promote teamwork seem to go against the nature of the Glatorians, who much prefer single combat and see the needs of their tribes as more important than the needs of their entire race. As an outsider, he has a better perspective on their self-centered culture, but his views are easily disregarded by those who want to maintain the status quo. Only his small group of friends seem to recognize the value of his lesson, but they eventually manage to convince the rest of their people that working together is the only way to prevail; it’s a lesson that is equally important for the Glatorians and young viewers.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about teamwork. Mata Nui repeatedly tells his friend that the only way to defeat their foe is to work together. How does his plan work? How is his suggestion received, considering that his comrades come from a gladiator culture that reveres single-combat?
Families can also discuss toys. The Bionicle film is based on a popular line of toys. Does this DVD make you overtly aware of the tie-in? Or do you think it stands well on its own, as a story, without depending on the toys?
How does this DVD compare to other movies or TV shows that are based on toys?
For kids who love action and robots
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