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 Giant King is an animated battling robot film with plenty of cartoon action and jeopardy, alongside well-defined characters, lots of humor, and upbeat music. Very clear (and repetitive) messages about friendship and fulfilling one's dreams provide motivation and teach important lessons. Violence occurs in the form of bot attacks: crashing, crushing, firestorms, treacherous falls, lightning, a giant menacing magnet, and even a prolonged battle between a heroic robot and the sun. The predominance of comic "life-and-death" action, as well as some crude humor (a discussion of boogers, buttocks jokes) and insults, make the movie best for older kids. It's definitely not for those who cannot yet differentiate between real and make-believe. This version of Yak: The Giant King, a hit in Thailand, where it was made, arrives with the jokes, characters, and cultural references well translated for English-speaking audiences
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What's the story?
Zork (Russell Peters), a giant, multiarmed robot who dreams of being a kindergarten teacher, and Pinky (Bella Thorne), a small robot with prominent eyebrows and no dreams at all, are revived many years after being buried during a giant robot battle in THE GIANT KING. With no memory of each other or how they got there, the two are aghast to find that they're chained together. What's more, no matter how hard they try, the chain can't be broken. And so they set off to find Ram, the creator of all robots, and seek his help. Along their journey across a vast robot land, populated by assorted oddballs and comic predators, Zork and Pinky become heroes; their bravery and cunning keeps saving innocent bots from tragedy. As they get closer to their goal, they begin to connect and care about one another. Then, little by little, the two remember the past -- a past that threatens their newfound friendship and, scariest of all, Zork's very existence.
Is it any good?
Imaginative animation and quirky comic characters keep this message-heavy robot movie from combusting during its many explosive, and sometimes too-long, action sequences. An abundance of robots occasionally complicates the plot (at times it may be hard to tell Pinky and Rusty apart), and audiences may not remember which "dreams" belong to which robot. But Melanie and Mychal Simka, the English-speaking adaptors of this movie from Thailand (loosely based on the Sanskrit poem "Ramayana," in which a giant robot wanders in a desert after a great war) have done a nice job with the material they were handed. The jokes and the characters are fresh and culturally relevant to Western audiences; it's a seamless transition. The movie is best for middle-grade-level kids and tweens who like a lot of smash-'em-up bot battles and enjoy some name-calling and a booger joke or two.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about how Pinky changed over the course of the movie. Who was she at the beginning, and how was she different by the end? Which experiences made her a better person/robot?
Many movies for kids give human qualities to nonhuman characters (animals, robots). What are the human qualities of Zork, Pinky, and Rusty? How do filmmakers use this "personifying" device (also called "anthropomorphism") to spark your imagination and make the stories relatable for audiences?
The filmmakers attempted to combine comedy with lots of action. Were they successful? Think about some of the unusual characters. How did they make a battling-robot movie funny?
- On DVD or streaming: December 22, 2015
- Cast: Russell Peters, Bella Thorne
- Directors: Melanie Simka, Papas Cholsaranont
- Studio: Lionsgate
- Genre: Family and Kids
- Topics: Friendship, Robots
- Run time: 104 minutes
- MPAA rating: PG
- MPAA explanation: action, violence and mild crude humor
- Last updated: March 13, 2020
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