Engrossing undersea expedition is kid friendly.
  • Review Date: August 6, 2014
  • Rated: PG
  • Genre: Documentary
  • Release Year: 2014
  • Running Time: 85 minutes

What parents need to know

Positive messages

If you set a goal and commit yourself, you'll probably succeed. Also, humankind's ability to explore the furthest reaches of the planet is limited only by our imagination.

Positive role models

James Cameron is certainly open to adventure, and he inspires the crew of the DEEPSEA CHALLENGER to give their all. The crew is indefatigable and doesn't let setbacks hamper their progress. 


Some clips from Cameron-directed movies are action-packed and suspenseful. Also, one stormy day at sea is nerve-wracking.

Not applicable



Cameron's movies, including Titanic and Avatar, get significant screen time; their themes are discussed and clips from the films are shown. Also, the expedition is partnered with National Geographic, so that brand has a strong presence, too.

Drinking, drugs, & smoking
Not applicable

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that DEEPSEA CHALLENGE 3D documents director/explorer James Cameron's attempts to reach Challenger Deep, the bottom-most part of the Mariana Trench. It's an exhilarating expedition, punctuated by moments of peril (storms, tension, etc. -- all of which can seem a bit more intense in 3D), although there isn't too much here that will scare older kids or tweens. In fact, the movie is a celebration of the can-do attitude that has propelled explorers since time began, and kids of all ages are likely to find it inspiring and interesting. Expect a little bit of language along the lines of "damn."

What's the story?

The deepest point of the Mariana Trench lies nearly seven miles below the surface of the Pacific Ocean, yet its mystery feels bottomless. In this documentary, director James Cameron invites viewers to join him as he explores its depths. It also allows them a peek into the childhood that shaped the award-winning filmmaker and goes behind the scenes in the months and weeks leading up to the -- yes -- deepsea challenge he's spent years pursuing.

Is it any good?


In a mostly chronological, fairly straightforward style, Cameron weaves an engrossing, relatable story about the yearning to explore and the passions that shape us. As a subject, Cameron lays himself bare, explaining why he's so driven to go underwater and allowing cameras to catch him when he hears bad news about two beloved colleagues.

What makes DEEPSEA CHALLENGE 3D truly engrossing, if a tad overlong, is the journey itself. The months leading up to the dive are far from flawless, but with every setback, the audience becomes more committed to seeing it through, mirroring what Cameron and his crew must have felt. It's a neat trick; the footage underwater is otherworldly and lovely, but not always exciting. (No deepsea monsters that would show up in the filmmaker's fictional films, for instance.) Not that it matters: It's the story of Cameron and his supporters that compels the most. 

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about what drives Cameron to set such lofty goals. What are the pitfalls and challenges of a private individual taking on a project like this?

  • Who's the star of DEEPSEA CHALLENGE 3D -- Cameron or the submersible/expedition? Do you think this movie would have gotten made without Cameron's participation?

  • What is it about the ocean that makes it so mysterious? Do you find the sea alluring?

Movie details

Theatrical release date:August 8, 2014
DVD release date:November 11, 2014
Director:James Cameron
Studio:National Geographic
Topics:Science and nature
Run time:85 minutes
MPAA rating:PG
MPAA explanation:language and brief disaster images

This review of DEEPSEA CHALLENGE 3D was written by

Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are conducted by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.


Our star rating assesses the media's overall quality.

Find out more

Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging; great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging; good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging; good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging; OK learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

Find out more

About these links

Common Sense Media, a nonprofit organization, earns a small affiliate fee from Amazon or iTunes when you use our links to make a purchase. Thank you for your support.

Read more

About Our Rating System

The age displayed for each title is the minimum one for which it's developmentally appropriate. We recently updated all of our reviews to show only this age, rather than the multi-color "slider." Get more information about our ratings.

Great handpicked alternatives

  • Undersea UFO adventure is breathtaking but intense.
  • Gorgeous educational docu dives deep for facts; kids OK.
  • Stunning high-def series spotlights world wonders.

What parents and kids say

See all user reviews

Share your thoughts with other parents and kids Write a user review

A safe community is important to us. Please observe our guidelines

There aren't any reviews yet. Be the first to review this title.


Did our review help you make an informed decision about this product?