Movie review by Barbara Shulgasser-Parker, Common Sense Media
Nocturna Poster Image

Common Sense says

age 8+

Unique animated adventure is emotionally intense.

NR 2007 80 minutes

Parents say

age 7+

Based on 3 reviews

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Community Reviews

age 7+

Movie About Confronting One's Fears Delivers Solid Animation, Mediocre Plot

Tim is a young boy who's scared of the dark. When his playmates tell him to retrieve a lost ball that fell into the basement of their orphanage, Tim feels uneasy. When he goes to bed that night, he discovers that the star he looks for each night is missing. This discovery leads Tim on a quest with the 'creatures of the night' to find the lost star and ensure it makes its way back into the sky. This movie takes viewers on a wild adventure where Tim meets the residents of "Nocturna" and must confront his fear of darkness face to face. This movie isn't all that scary despite the "dark" tones. It's relatively lighthearted, save for the movie's threat known as the "shadow". The "shadow" is everything that it sounds like-a large dark shadow that creeps along the walls of the city and has long claws and a menacing presence. It doesn't talk, though, and is far less scary than Disney villains. This show is aimed at young children and doesn't contain any content that parents would find objectionable. 3/5 stars.

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Great role models
1 person found this helpful.
age 8+

Gorgeous film, mediocre plot and message.

In a gorgeous steampunk world, there is a little boy named Tim who loves the stars, but is afraid of the dark. But when he begins to see stars disappearing, he can't sleep. This sets off a chain reaction in the whimsical bureaucracy of Nocturna, the complex system of creatures in charge of nighttime. A child awake could throw the whole balance off kilter, but Tim can't go to sleep without answers. Nocturna is beautifully animated with adorable characters and a lovely soundtrack. Fans of Studio Ghibli will appreciate the weird little critters and moody cityscapes. However, the message was a bit garbled. I think the moral was supposed to be "Avoiding your emotions will only make the problem worse," but it came off as "Asking for help will only make the problem worse." (Spoilers from this point on) It turns out that the stars were disappearing due to a shadowy monster born from Tim's fears. In the climax of the film, Tim has to face the creature alone. He is only successful in defeating the shadow once he has explicitly refused help from his friends. While this message clearly wasn't the intention of the film, I would recommend having a conversation with your kid about how it's okay to ask for help. The film also features some peril and sad moments. There's a scene where Tim's friend is struck down by the monster, and seems to be dead. Before discovering Nocturna, Tim lives in what seems to be an orphanage, and is bullied by the other children for his fears. The adults and authority figures are largely absent or indifferent to Tim's problems. Nocturna is led by the morally grey, priestlike figure Moka, who manipulates Tim and withholds information about the dangers he will face. I say morally grey because while Moka is framed as a villain for most of the movie, he has a moment in the third act that adds some ambiguity. I genuinely cannot tell if it was meant to be a heel-turn or a gaslighting lie, but he has a speech explaining his actions at the end. He did it for Tim's own good, basically. Whether he is telling the truth is not explored. All in all, it's visually stunning, and the plot, while not great, could spark some interesting conversations.

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