Parent reviews for The Pilgrim's Progress

Common Sense says

Violence, mature concepts in faith-based animated adventure.
Based on our expert review

Parents say

age 8+
Based on 15 reviews

Kids say

age 7+
Based on 9 reviews
Written byAnonymous April 20, 2019

Recasts the Core of the Christian Faith

This is the first review I've ever contributed to CSM and I hope it is helpful.

Pilgrims Progress is a CG feature film that tells the story of Christian as he leaves the City of Destruction for the Celestial City talked about in a "book." Technically, the art and animation is subpar for most CG movies today. The motion is jerky and tends to detract from the immersion. I would put it on the quality level of most CG TV shows for kids.

That could easily be overlooked because nobody becomes Pixar or Dreamworks overnight, but I really struggle to recommend this movie. The primary message that it conveys is this: If you try hard to stay on the path and believe (in what, is not clear) as hard as you can, you can get to heaven.

Regardless of whether you are a Christian, it is beyond dispute that that is not the Christian message and it most assuredly is not what Bunyan intended to communicate in his seminal book. The Christian message is that Jesus Christ bore the wrath of God for our sins, and we are to walk in a posture of repentance and faith until the day that we are called before Him.

I watched the movie with my daughter (11). We had read the real Pilgrims Progress around a year ago, and we both noticed that the words "Christ", "sin", and "repentance" were omitted from the entire movie. How sad, as the Christian message only is good news when people are aware of the bad news about themselves.

Understanding that certain things will be abbreviated for a cinematic format, I will not pick at things left out (the scroll/assurance of salvation, the enchanted ground, the valley of the shadow of death, and many notorious characters like Talkative, Formalist, Hypocrisy and of course, Pope). However I think I can fairly critique those areas where the movie departed from the book enough to change the entire thrust of Bunyan's intended points.

In the book, Christian's burden was his awareness of his own sin. In the movie, his burden represented his "fears." Definitely not the same.

The interpreter, in keeping with our age's repulsion toward any sort of authoritative male teaching, was re-imagined as a beautiful young woman who essentially led Christian on a positivist, brief inductive study, in contrast to straightforward teaching. The man in the cage at Interpreter's house was portrayed as someone who was simply depressed; Bunyan's caged man had sinned himself to a seared conscience that could not repent. Radically different things.

When Christian was fighting Apollyon, in keeping with the overall "try hard and trust your heart" message, he did not quote Holy Scripture to Apollyon (as, importantly, Christian did in the book), but gathered his courage and said something along the lines of "I will rise again." Sigh.

Small thing, but Christian said that "war" was coming to the City of Destruction, rather than the wrath of God. God is not wrathful here.

Big thing, there is no moment when Christian actually looks upon the crucified Savior. He sees a glowing cross in the air and the burden falls off. Again, sigh. What did Bunyan say? "Blest cross! Blest sepulchre! Blest rather be - the Man that was there put to shame for me."

I would almost say that nobody wanted to talk about sin and repentance because this was a movie for families with babies. But I struggle with that because the movie had some really scary, nasty looking demons in there that certainly would have scared babies or particularly sensitive kids under 8 or 9 years old.

It is not my job to go around policing everyone's theology. If people have a man-centered theology, that is absolutely their right. There is much good company for that all over the world, and it is represented well in this movie. My issue here is that this is not Pilgrim's Progress. It's not in the ballpark. It's not even the same sport. It could be called Disney Does Christianity, but it really should not bear the weighty name of Bunyan's landmark work.

I give the movie 2 stars instead of 1 because the movie might prompt someone to familiarize themselves with the book, and by extension, the Bible. I would not call it a loss if it did so.
Adult Written byF Letcher September 13, 2019

Disappointing

What a sad era we live in when a good story - perhaps one of the best - cannot be simply told. Supposedly to keep our kids interested, we have to hype everything up, twist the plot, change the characters and make it so graphic that it terrifies young children! I was so disappointed with this film. While it kept a very small amount of the book plot, almost everything else was sabotaged. It was almost attempting to be a 'Lord of the Rings' or 'Narnia' take-off but it failed miserably. Sadly much of the theology was watered down. Don't bother watching this - especially if you've read the book!

This title contains:

Violence & scariness
Adult Written byPaul J. December 20, 2019

Worldly Watered Down

The official review gave the right rating but for all the wrong reasons. They are completely entitled to their view; however, I see it as somewhat of a misrepresentation. The review seemingly wanted to suggest an anti-women sentiment in terms of women being largely unrepresented and instead, I fear, reflected the Worldy Wisman character better than the movie did of reflecting Bunyan’s work. Women are well represented; however, I’d suggest worldly ‘feminism’ gave rise to swapping out the Interpreter’s male character for that of a woman - consistent with this modern age’s growing abhorrence with strong male characters or voice. Is the only way to uplift women to tear men down or replace them?

On a side note: Scripture is clear that men and women are equally loved and of equal value to the Lord, both are equally saved if they belong to Christ and share equally in the Lord’s riches in heaven, but He apportions different roles to each. Roles which should neither be abused or ignored and re-invented as if the Lord needs to be more ‘progressive’. Why do we always confuse this with the world’s view of equality?

It should also be noted that this is part one of a two part story, the second of which is all about Christiana’s Journey in Christ.

The evil characters in the movie were all white with two or thee of these with black hair and two with black clothing. Yet the review seemed to want to cast concern over this as veiled racism (at least that is how I took their comments). The two christians who journied from vanity fair to the end were a dark skinned character and a light skinned character. I have dark hair and white skin and often dress in black - should I be offended by this movie? My wife, a beautiful Indian woman, was also left confused by the reviewer’s take on this.

Now for the movie as a representation of the book: whilst there are scenes that corresponded with the book, they often scrape the meat off the bones, there is not enough focus on Christ, sin or repentance and Christian seemed more concerned at the end to reunite with his friends than being in complete awe and love for the King who saved him. Please also look to the review by vovchykbratyk on this site, as it is spot on.

I strongly encourage one to read Pilgrims Progress; outside of the bible (which is beyond compare) Pilgrims Progress is the next best written works in history, largely because it is drenched in scripture - meaning it’s value is also solely found in Christ and his word.
Parent of a 10-year-old Written byKaitis1Mom April 20, 2019

The Way to the Celestial City

Great movie! There are definitely some dark parts, dark characters; but that’s the way it is on the Christian journey. Wish it played for more than two days. Would love to see it again!!

This title contains:

Positive Messages
Positive role models
Violence & scariness
Adult Written byDrespencer October 31, 2019

Does justice to the book

I took my two youngest children to see this movie. They are 6 and 5 and have had the book (Family Pilgrims Progress version) read to them many times, and it's a favourite of theirs. I was a little concerned that the parts of the book where the main character Christian meets trials would be more frightening on big screen which, of course they were, but it was worth it. We took blankets and teddies, which came in useful for the 5 year old, who spent some of the scenes under it, but was thoroughly engrossed otherwise. We chose to go at this age because they knew the story and what the scenes meant, and came away very happy and having enjoyed the film.

I thought it was really well done, and conveyed the story faithfully. Pilgrims Progress was written by John Bunyan, imprisoned for his Christian faith. The story is a wonderful allegory of the Christian faith that has encouraged countless numbers on their journey through the inevitable trials. So the fact that Christian leaves his family is not a negative message, just a sad one. It perfectly represents the situation new converts find themselves in when a family doesn't share their faith. It is pointed out to Christian that his journey is much discussed back in the city he came from, and others will follow him, and its his family's own free choice - rightly - whether to do so.

I thought the Legality Hill scene was brilliant. Far from dissuading obedience to authority, it perfectly conveyed the Christian message that the Law of Moses can never be kept perfectly and can only ever trip you up and point out your need for a rescuer - Jesus, the Shepherd. Christian was persuaded by the character Worldly Wiseman to divert off of the narrow path that leads to Jesus cross, and instead try to earn his salvation through his own efforts and law keeping. This was well done in the film.

As a Christian, and a fan of the book, I found this movie to be a wonderful encouragement and very thoughtfully created. I would recommend to parents of younger children only if their children are familiar with the story.

This title contains:

Positive Messages
Positive role models
Adult Written byambelilar April 19, 2019

My kids loved it

This movie provides a ton of food for thought and discussion, so it's definitely a good movie to watch with your kids and be prepared to discuss the topics with them afterwards. However, having said that, my 8 and 12-year olds really enjoyed it. My 8 year old was "rooting" for Christian the whole time. "Stay on the straight and narrow, Christian! No, don't go that way!" Definitely worth watching.

This title contains:

Positive Messages
Positive role models
Adult Written byencanta3 July 14, 2021

A must see movie with the family

This movie has a message of how people live without knowing our Savior and how is the everyday walking of a Christian person: full of dangers, human nature, the people who want to distract you from your journey, also it has adventure and action. Our kids are living in a world lacking of good moral values and this movie shows them and makes you meditate on the important things of life.

This title contains:

Positive Messages
Adult Written byJosephPr February 18, 2021
It is a great adaptation of the Pilgrims Progress Book. Teaches spiritual truths to kids. My 4, 7, and 15 y/o love this timeless classic.

This title contains:

Positive Messages
Adult Written byAmills322 July 5, 2020

Not perfect but still powerful

I read other comments that gave this movie 2 stars or less... I get their reasoning but I think we have to remember it’s a movie, not people’s saving grace. It’s a great movie that puts so many powerful pictures in your mind and brings so many real things we face to life. I too noticed there were a lot of angelic female characters when maybe it should have been a man, but I also heard statements and saw pictures (that you don’t find in most children’s literature or media today) that brought me to tears. It was not perfect and had poor animation but it still carried a powerful message of what it looks like to take the journey of following Christ. I will recommend it to everyone and I think even mature Christians can glean from this movie.

This title contains:

Positive Messages
Adult Written bydculler June 13, 2020

Life Changing Family Favorite! ! !

Our family of all ages agree this may be the best Christian animated movie! Up there next to Chronicles of Narnia. So surprised CS rated it poorly. It holds so much beautiful Biblical value literally at every turn! The animation was great, but story was even better. We laughed, cried, and thought more deeply about our lives during this movie. I HIGHLY recommend!

This title contains:

Positive Messages
Positive role models
Adult Written byMax Rideout April 14, 2020

Better to read the book

Try to find the adapted children's book (beautifully illustrated) called "Dangerous Journey" by Marshall Morgan and Scott
Adult Written byButterflyjoe November 19, 2019

Great anaolgy

Although it is a bit outdated in animation it is a good representation of our Christian walk and the world around us. We encounter many obstacles along our path and some may seem so innocent. This helps to address some of these things with your child and helps them to have a visual to understand. My son is 7 and when we paused it he was not happy to stop watching. He couldn’t wait to begin watching again the next day.

This title contains:

Positive Messages
Adult Written bySheaeh November 13, 2019

Great movie

This movie is very well done with a positive message and very entertaining production. My entire family love this movie.

This title contains:

Positive Messages
Positive role models
Adult Written by4GraceOnline September 2, 2019

Wonderful Story, but HORRIBLE Animation

This is a fantastic story, but it's no Disney / Pixar quality. In fact, it's worse than most video games. The level of detail and clunky animation greatly detracts from the movie. Little kids will love it, but even older children will likely think it's hokey.

This title contains:

Positive Messages
Positive role models
Parent of a 9 and 11-year-old Written byLeslie C. May 3, 2019

Well done!

Wonderful movie!!!
Adult Written bywjbyman April 23, 2019

Faithful to the book in many ways

This is an excellent teaching tool, which will hold the attention of youngsters. I don't see anything bad about it. I will definitely buy the DVD when it comes out later this year.

This title contains:

Positive Messages
Positive role models