A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Slugterra: Rise of the Elementals is a full-length feature based on the popular animated series. Viewers who don't have a general familiarity with the show will have a harder time figuring out the characters and setting than those who are already fans. There isn't anything parents really need to worry about in the movie, but preschoolers not used to violent confrontations in animated stories might be a bit frightened by some of the slug battle scenes, especially when it seems like characters have been wounded or -- in one case -- killed. The slugs can even possess a human's mind and control them like a parasite. The movie, like the show, stresses the importance of teamwork, friendship, and loyalty.
What's the story?
SLUGTERRA: RETURN OF THE ELEMENTALS is a feature-length movie based on the popular Canadian animated series that's broadcast on Disney XD. Eli Shane (voiced by Sam Vincent) is the leader of the Shane Gang, a group of humans and supernatural creatures that protect Slugterra -- an underground world filled with magical slugs -- from villainy. In addition to his regular cohorts -- slug expert Trixie (Shannon Chan-Kent), cave troll Kord (Andrew Francis) and mole-like tracker Pronto (Lee Tockar) -- the team is joined by young Junjie, a "slug fu" master and the slug slinger the gang saved in Ghoul from Beyond. The Shane Gang has to race across Slugterra's 99 caverns in search of the five "elemental slugs" (water, air, earth, fire, and energy), from which all other slugs derive their power, before their enemies gather all the elementals. In the hands of an evil alliance, led by a mysterious Dark Slinger controlled by the Goon (an evil, maniacal slug), the elemental slugs could destroy all of Slugterra.
Is it any good?
Most kids interested in this silly movie will understand what's going on, even if parents can't tell one slug from another. If an underground world where super slugs can control human minds, the weather, and more sounds completely unfamiliar, you've probably never seen the show Slugterra, so Return of the Elementals may not make much sense (unless you -- like this reviewer -- spend a lot of time on the Slugterra Wiki getting up to speed). Unlike other small-to-big screen adaptations, this feature doesn't provide enough exposition to introduce the characters and their backgrounds.
Super-disciplined Junjie makes a wonderful foil for the more laid back Eli, who -- while just as skilled a slug slinger -- isn't as dedicated (there's a funny scene in which the two spar and Eli has to wake up his slugs, while Junjie's are already in precise formation). Trixie is the Shane Gang's sole girl, but she can hold her own with all the guys and is usually the voice of reason while the guys bicker. While Junjie provides the social tension between the forces of good in the story, the Dark Slinger and Dr. Blakk are the surprisingly scary forces of evil. Their single-minded quest to kill Eli, capture the elementals, and control Slugterra is what forces the Shane Gang to overcome their differences and work as a team, newcomer and all.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the popularity of the Slugterra series. Do you think you have to watch the show to fully appreciate the movie? Is the same true for other movie/TV show pairings?
Compare this movie to similar animated adventures. What makes this fantasy story unique? Which of the slugs is your favorite?
If you aren't familiar with the TV show, does the movie make you want to check it out?
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