A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
The movie's ultimate message is that the world needs to be in balance in order to sustain life. Good triumphs over evil, and the cycle of life is necessary for survival.
Positive Role Models
The heroic wizard who leads the forces of good is loyal, brave, honest, and loving. He's guardian to a teen who has both a good side (with all the attributes above) and a dark side, capable of pure evil, which at intervals "steals his body." The females are mostly seen cooking, cleaning, tending to the sick, and getting captured, though one young girl shows some courage in defending herself and others.
Violence & Scariness
Lots of action sequences, beginning with a bloody battle between two dragons that's quickly followed by a young boy stabbing his father to death. Major characters are in jeopardy many times, including scenes in which wolves with teeth bared chase a teen, structures collapse with heroes inside, evil henchmen capture citizens and imprison them as slaves, sword fighting to the death (in one shocking swordfight scene, a severed hand flies into the air and bleeds copiously), a nightmarish sequence in which a wizard is shown drowning in black oil, and a ghostly monster capturing a young girl.
Did you know you can flag iffy content? Adjust limits for Violence & Scariness in your kid's entertainment guide.Get started
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
In one scene, as a dealer tries to entice the film's hero with an addictive recreational drug, a group of young people can be seen under its influence, barely conscious.
Did you know you can flag iffy content? Adjust limits for Drinking, Drugs & Smoking in your kid's entertainment guide.Get started
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that this animated movie -- based on the classic fantasy novels of Ursula K. Le Guin -- is rated PG-13 for a reason: It has many violent/scary scenes, including two dragons in a bloody aerial battle, a teenager stabbing his father to death, a character being chased by wolves, slave traders capturing innocents and holding them in chains, lots of sword and knife fighting (with lots of damage and blood), and a wizard morphing into a series of monsters, beasts, and skeletons. The movie deals with complicated mythic concepts and mature ideas such as "to deny death is to deny life" that aren't fully explained and could be hard for younger kids to grasp. Female characters mostly fill traditional roles, and there's one mention of child abuse, with the resulting facial scarring visible on a young girl. To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
Is It Any Good?
Given the violent nature of the imagery and the incomprehensibility of the plot and messages, there's little to appreciate in this effort. Using the classic Earthsea novels by Ursula K. Le Guin as inspiration, director Goro Miyazaki (son of acclaimed Japanese director Hayao Miyazaki) has created a beautiful mythic kingdom and brought it to life with a good versus evil theme, lots of stunning derring-do, and striking imagery. But sadly, visuals aren't enough. There are many ideas searching for expression here -- far too many to execute successfully. Complex notions are given very short shrift, and several story lines are never resolved; some are even contradictory. Characters' motivations are loud, but not logical.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.
Suggest an Update
Our Editors Recommend
Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.See how we rate