A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that "Ghoul from Beyond" is a 44-minute episode of the animated Slugterra series, being marketed as a single DVD -- "The First Slugterra Movie" is emblazoned on the DVD package. Some familiarity with the Slugterra concept and characters would definitely enhance viewers' connection with this entry; there's very little in the way of introduction or back story here. It's a shoot-em-up from start to finish, with lots of humor, likeable heroes, and assorted slugs from the Slugterra "catalogue." Slugs are the tiny creatures who "morph" from adorable to powerful when they are launched from the blasters that the heroes carry. Villains come in all shapes and sizes: some archly evil, some comic, others simply overpowering -- none really scary for kids who understand cartoon violence versus real. Characters are exploded, set afire, smashed into things, electrified, and, in one important plot element, subject to mind control. Though everyone takes at least one hit in this movie, all the heroes are restored by Boon Doc, a healer-slug. The baddies lose their battles, but it's promised that they'll return for more. Made in Canada, Slugterra sells a line of toys, games, and products, most based on a large number of individual "slugs" (not unlike the Pokemon franchise).
What's the story?
Eli Shane, the human protector of the Slugterra universe made up of 99 Caverns deep underground, and his allies face one old enemy, who is quickly vanquished, only to be immediately faced with a brand-new villain who comes from a land the heroes never knew existed. In SLUGTERRA: GHOUL FROM BEYOND, an evil goon slug and his army of ghoul slugs invades Slugterra, bent upon enslaving its inhabitants and making Eli his personal "slinger" using mind control. But the goon didn't count on the power of Eli and his crew's slug warriors (headed by Burpy the mightiest slug of all) who when launched from their blasters can accomplish amazing feats of bravery and power. It's a battle for Slugterra's very existence, and the resourceful, funny, and charming heroes must use all their tricks (and chirping slugs) to prevail.
Is it any good?
To truly understand and enjoy this short DVD, it's best to have at least a limited acquaintance with the concept. This "movie," which will most certainly turn up as an episode of the TV series (commercial breaks are already "marked"), continues the saga of Eli Shane and his team. Though it may stand alone enough to entertain new viewers who enjoy watching battle after battle of cute characters and distinctive villains, there's no real context here. Burby, Doc, and a few slugs take part; Eli and company are up to their usual good humor and good deeds; still none of the parameters of the Slugterra universe (or terms like "mega-morph" or "slinger') are explained.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the connection between movies for kids and the products those movies sell. How does your family deal with requests for all things Slugterra (or Pokemon or Toy Story)?
Pick one animated movie you like. Make a list of all the things you can buy in that brand (i.e., sheets, lunch boxes). How long is your list? Does that surprise you?
Be creative and design your own Slugterra Slug. What are its special powers?
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