Space Warriors

Movie review by
Emily Ashby, Common Sense Media
Space Warriors Movie Poster Image
Inspiring family film has positive messages, some bullying.
  • PG
  • 2013
  • 88 minutes

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Educational Value

The story incorporates facts about the U.S. space program, including references to momentous occasions like the first moonwalk to the tragedies of two shuttle missions, all in an attempt to inspire renewed curiosity about (and support for) continued space exploration. There are also plenty of positive messages about friendship, self-confidence, cooperation, and honest competition to be found in the content.

Positive Messages

Viewers see the rewards of teamwork over individual ambition and the repercussions of cheating your way to the top. All of the characters' missteps have serious consequences, from grounding to the loss of a team's award, but those with the purest intentions emerge as heroes. New perceptions cast a forgiving light on long-held animosity. A group of teens bullies competitors in an attempt to coerce their own victory.

Positive Role Models & Representations

A few of the teens let their own desires cloud their judgment and wind up paying the price for unsavory behavior like lying and cheating. Jimmy's parents are divorced, but they share custody amicably. Adults encourage teens' creative problem solving, which winds up saving the day for everyone. Males and females are nearly equally represented in a story that centers on teen science geniuses.

Violence & Scariness

The movie makes references to space shuttle disasters in 1986 and 2003, and video footage shows the smoke trail left by one of the explosions. A brief skirmish between teen boys ends quickly with an adult's intervention. There's a lot of suspense surrounding the fate of three characters, who, at one point, are believed to be dead. It's said that a character's father died during a flight.

Sexy Stuff

A blossoming teen relationship culminates in one kiss.


No cursing, but name-calling like "dweeb" and "loser," as well as talk of "kicking butt."


The movie is sponsored by Walmart and Procter & Gamble, and you'll see their logos and product names prominently displayed in some scenes. Other product placement (Apple computers, for instance) is less obvious.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Space Warriors centers on savvy teen geniuses (boys and girls) whose smarts rival those of the NASA scientists they emulate. The underdog protagonists are teased, sabotaged, and otherwise tormented by a group of their peers, but this and all other disgraceful behavior brings serious repercussions by the movie's end. There's suspense surrounding the fate of some of the characters, and at times the story toggles between the fictional plot and some real historical events (including the U.S. space shuttle tragedies) in the U.S. space program, so be sure your kids can grasp the difference between fiction and reality with regard to these points. Expect to see some strategic product placement for movie sponsors Walmart and Procter & Gamble as well. Ultimately, though, this story offers families a wealth of positive messages about relationships, responsibility, and fair play.

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What's the story?

In SPACE WARRIORS, 15-year-old Jimmy Hawkins' (Thomas Horn) dream comes true when he earns a trip to space camp and the chance to compete for a visit to the International Space Station. But when he arrives, he finds that his team, the Warriors, is pretty rough around the edges compared to the favorites, the Titans, who delight in rubbing their opponents' noses in their dominance of the competition. The Warriors' luck goes from bad to worse when a string of troubles befalls the members and seemingly puts them out the running for first place, but then a real-life emergency situation aboard the Space Station falls into their hands when the NASA squad under Commander Phillips (Danny Glover) runs out of options for rescuing the astronauts. Can this group of teen geniuses take what they've learned about teamwork and use it to save three lives?

Is it any good?

Space Warriors is an adventure of galactic proportions when it's viewed through the lens of a child's imagination. Adults may have trouble accepting the very far-fetched plot surrounding NASA's seeming incompetence and what amounts to the teens' power coup, but that won't be the case for starry-eyed kids. The heroes of the story are a bunch of brainy, indomitable teens whose acting cast manages to overshadow the likes of grown-up costars Glover, Josh Lucas, Mira Sorvino, and Dermot Mulroney. An impressive feat, to say the least, but no more so than the story's clever illustrations of solid messages about fair play, honesty, teamwork, and grace under pressure. Factor in a classic underdog subplot and the drama of a race against the clock to save some stranded astronauts, and this one will have kids' attention in no time.

Filmed on location at the U.S. Space & Rocket Center in Huntsville, Alabama, and featuring historical footage and accounts of memorable moments in the space program, Space Warriors also acts as a thinly veiled public service announcement for the importance of NASA and continued space exploration. This is bound to start some worthwhile conversations with your kids, but the references to actual events also blur the lines between the fictional story and reality, so unless your kids can discern the difference themselves, you will find yourself explaining it throughout the movie.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the space program. How important is our continued exploration in space? Do our discoveries there have a positive effect on our lives here? What challenges threaten the future of NASA?

  • A recurring theme in this movie is that there are always consequences for behavioral missteps. How do the characters learn from the results of their actions? Would your consequences be similar if you made the same misjudgments?

  • Jimmy's dream is to go into space. What dreams do you have for your future? How will you achieve them? What special skills will you need? How would this kind of work allow you to help others?

Movie details

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Themes & Topics

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