A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that The Dragon Pearl is an exciting, live-action adventure (with a CGI dragon) that has multiple sequences in which the two young heroes are in danger. Despite these dangers, the film will be appealing and appropriate for most older tweens because the filmmakers have tried to minimize the actual violence using special effects and camera techniques. The dragon -- a heroic character -- snorts, growls, and has a ferocious face, but it is never truly a threat to the children. Set in China, the movie includes a few scenes that use simple subtitles, but the majority of the film is in English.
- Parents say
- Kids say
What's the story?
In THE DRAGON PEARL (a Chinese-Australian co-production), Ling (Li Lin Jin) and Josh (Louis Corbett) meet when they arrive at an archeological dig site in China to spend time with her mom and his dad (Sam Neill), colleagues at work on a major dig. Josh, still trying to adjust to his parents' recent divorce, is defensive and grumpy; Ling isn't impressed by him. The two kids team up, however, after their chance encounter with a mysterious monk, a song that no one but Ling can hear, and a spooky, unsettling visit to the hiding place of a very powerful, celestial dragon. Legend has it that the dragon's magic pearl, the source of all of his power, is lost and the dragon has been stranded on earth for thousands of years without it. Even the most scientifically-minded parents find it hard to believe their kids' unlikely story and Ling and Josh are on their own. They take up the dragon's cause, embark on a search for the pearl, and the truth about what happened to it. But they're not alone on their quest. A surprising villain also wants the treasured gem and will do anything to have it for himself.
Is it any good?
Every effort has been made to keep The Dragon Pearl a family-friendly adventure film. Even the action sequences are designed to be fun rather than scary (i.e., knives stop in mid-air; a comic character wields a broom as a weapon; the dragon is not threatening). The two kids are watchable, likable, and heroic. It's lightweight entertainment, often sacrificing logic to move the plot forward, and with some amateurish effects and camera work. Still, it's always well-intentioned.
Combining martial arts moves, an all-powerful dragon, an ancient legend, and a quest, middle-grade kids should enjoy The Dragon Pearl, and their parents probably won't mind the time spent.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about legendary animals as characters. Besides a dragon, what are some other creatures you've seen on film or read about? Why do you think audiences and/or readers respond to them? Design and draw your own mythical creature and describe its skills.
This movie is set at an archeological site and combines a bit of real scientific exploration with Josh's and Ling's magical search. How did the filmmakers tie these two elements together?
How is the violence in this movie handled? Do you think the filmmakers were able to make it exciting, but not scary? What techniques are used to achieve this?
- On DVD or streaming: June 18, 2013
- Cast: Li Lin Jin, Louis Corbett, Sam Neill
- Director: Mario Andreacchio
- Studio: Hendigan World Studios
- Genre: Fantasy
- Topics: Magic and Fantasy, Adventures
- Run time: 95 minutes
- MPAA rating: PG
- MPAA explanation: adventure action and peril
- Last updated: March 13, 2020
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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.
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