Quite frankly, if whoever is doing your reviews gave this movie only two stars, then he or she knows next to nothing about good science fiction. This movie is one of the, if not the, best science fiction flicks ever made. It forces us to face the moral implications of scientific and technical advancement - a question which so many in today's tech-happy society would love to avoid - and if forces us to recognize that there is so much more to we humans than can be explained merely by our genetic code.
Hereafter, there be spoilers.
Gattaca is set in a future where genetic engineering has become the norm, even of humans. Genetic and reproductive science has advanced to the point that people select the traits their unborn children will have so that they will be as close as possible to genetically perfect. People who have been engineered in this fashion are called, "Valids," and the world is their oyster. But of course, people being people, from time to time someone gets conceived the old-fashioned way, and they are the In-Valids. If you are an in-valid, you have no future to speak of. You cannot get hired to any meaningful job (despite laws against discrimination based on genes), and you are, in all meaningful ways, a second class citizen.
Vincent Freeman (Ethan Hawke) is an in-valid. He dreams of going to outer space, and will not let his genetic inferiority prevent him from reaching his dream. Vincent goes to the genetic black market to get the perfect DNA he needs, and through careful manipulation (and outright fraud) of testing procedures, finds himself in the astronaut program of the Gattaca Corporation - and scheduled to go into space.
Vincent's younger brother, Anton, is a Valid - his genes were genetically engineered to be as perfect as possible, and he has become a homicide detective - and has no idea the ruse his brother has been pulling off for years.
Vincent's about to achieve his dream when an executive with Gattaca is murdered, Anton is assigned to the case, and the evidence begins to point to Vincent (he's innocent by the way). Now Vincent's ruse must also include fooling a cop who is his own brother, and as the noose closes in, brother meets brother, and we learn that the movie's tag line - which I put as the title above - is so very true - there is no gene for the human spirit.
This movie is extraordinarily well made, and every time you watch it, you will catch telling details you missed the previous times (like the staircase in the shape of a strand of DNA at Gattaca headquarters). It is well written and well acted, incredibly well filmed, and while is doesn't have the shoot-em-up action found in so many sci-fi movies, it is filled with tension and suspense thick enough to cut with a knife, and with questions which stick with you and make you think about what it is that truly makes us human, and why that matters. It is also a movie which is proving to be prophetic about the role of science and technology in modern society, and about the amoral way in which science is coming to view humanity.
I checked the positive message icon because it's message is that we are all, regardless of our limitations, so much more than our constituent parts, and I checked the good role model icon (despite his breaking the law - is that immoral when the law itself is either immoral going immorally unenforced?) because of the courage Vincent displays in the face of discrimination by a society which will never view him as anything more than his genetic code, and because he is willing to risk it all, including his life, to achieve his human potential. I rated it 14 and above for the brief sex scene (which contains no explicit nudity).
The fact is that if your child loves science and science fiction, and if they are willing and able to consider the moral implications of scientific and technological advancement in a world where so many try to blur the lines between right and wrong, then this movie is not merely "on" for 14 and above, it goes beyond that into a new category I'm creating right now - "Required Viewing" for 14 and above.