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What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Fearless is an animated action film about criminal masterminds, space babies with superpowers, and "real world" teens who have to put down the video game to save the day. The action can get fairly violent, but it's animated and generally offset with humor. The moments likely to be scariest are when the adorable babies find themselves in danger -- like when they're kidnapped repeatedly or when one is almost hit by a truck. Characters also fight with fire, lasers, stun guns, swords, spears, tanks, guns, cages, monsters, mazes, and machines to transfer superpowers. Teens almost drive a motorcycle into oncoming traffic, take a death-defying jump off a cliff, and put their lives at risk fighting the bad guys. But the film also has plenty of humor, including in the characters' mutual taunts (some -- "chubby," "muffin top" -- target a creature's weight). Angry name-calling includes "filth," "imbecile" and "you pile of worthless skin cells," while a general uses swearing stand-ins like "Sweet God in heaven," "Mother of all things holy" and "Poop just got real." The diverse group of characters demonstrate courage and perseverance, and there's a clear message about the idea that it's not healthy to try to avoid real life by escaping into virtual reality.
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What's the story?
FEARLESS is the screen name of talented teen video gamer Reid (voiced by Miles Robbins), whose plan for a weekend home alone goes awry thanks to three babies with superpowers -- who happen to be characters from one of his games. They're being pursued by alien criminal mastermind Dr. Arcannis (Miguel), who wants to suck away their superpowers, as well as by their father, Captain Lightspeed (Jadakiss), who's concerned about protecting them and managing their superpowers until they're able to control them. Arcannis kidnaps the babies, but they escape and wind up on Reid's doorstep. Reid and his classmate Melanie (Yara Shahidi) find themselves responsible for the safety of the babies and on the run from both Arcannis and soldiers led by the commanding General Blazerhatch (Gabrielle Union).
Is it any good?
The plot, action, and animation are all engaging, but what really sets this film apart is how much fun the voice actors seem to be having with their many one-liners. Union is especially amusing as General Blazerhatch, the power-hungry commander of the special task force assigned with capturing the errant aliens. Blazerhatch has been gifted with a stockpile of unreasonable demands (like being handed a clipboard every two minutes), a blustery cluelessness, and laughable expressions of wonder like "poop just got real" or putting out an APB on "infants of mass destruction."
In addition to the entertaining characters, the film has a good soundtrack and some fun asides, like that the space babies can only be soothed by the music of "national treasure" Lionel Richie. Though Fearless starts off with an action scene that's a little disorienting until all the characters are properly introduced, the story really clicks about 30 minutes in, when the two teens take off on the run from Dr. Arcannis. The deepening relationship between Reid and Melanie, their care for the babies, and the lessons they learn about themselves on their adventure provide a sweet storyline to balance out the action.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the idea of applying skills from video games to real life, like Reid does in Fearless. Can you think of any skills or lessons you've learned from playing games online that you've used in real life?
The movie offers positive representations of Black characters. Have you seen that often in animated or superhero movies? Why is representation in the media important?
Which parts of the movie did you find scary? How much scary stuff is OK for kids?
- On DVD or streaming: August 14, 2020
- Cast: Gabrielle Union, Yara Shahidi, Miles Robbins
- Director: Cory Edwards
- Studio: Netflix
- Genre: Family and Kids
- Topics: Superheroes, Adventures, Friendship, Space and Aliens
- Character strengths: Courage, Perseverance
- Run time: 89 minutes
- MPAA rating: NR
- Last updated: August 18, 2020
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