Parents' Guide to

LA 92

By Jeffrey Anderson, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 16+

Graphic, real-life violence in powerful Rodney King story.

Movie R 2017 114 minutes
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The images in this documentary -- which consists entirely of archival footage -- are powerful and heartbreaking. And while there's no denying their impact, contemporary commentary or historical context would have been an invaluable addition. Produced by National Geographic for the 25th anniversary of the King verdict and ensuing riots, and boldly assembled from of hundreds of hours of footage by Oscar-winning filmmakers Daniel Lindsay and T. J. Martin, LA 92 certainly adds up to a potent experience. The emotion-filled images largely speak for themselves. Perhaps none is more powerful than the single tear shed by a Black man as he watches the four police officers going free.

The music score by Danny Bensi and Saunder Jurriaans helps underline the images' intensity and helps drive the narrative flow. A prologue and epilogue tying the Watts riots of 1965 to the events of 1992 offer a pessimistic view that not much changed in 30 years -- and offer a foreshadowing of equally tragic events to come, such as the 2020 murder of George Floyd. If LA 92 had broadened its viewpoint a bit, offering a modern, sobering perspective like Ezra Edelman's brilliant O.J.: Made in America, it might have been even more apparent how long and how far back the systemic problems on display here have been in play.

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