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 Thinning: New World Order is a YouTube 2018 dystopian science fiction movie that's a sequel to the 2016 YouTube movie The Thinning. There are some moments of graphic violence, including a bloody death by a box cutter and extended MMA-style fight scenes leaving characters bloody and with broken limbs and bruises. In a prison-like underground labor camp, bullies encourage a boy standing on a ledge to fall to his death. A security force, clad in black with black hockey masks, enforces order by clubbing teens, resulting in a broken leg for the lead character. Teen bullies in the underground labor camp pick fights and belittle those around them. "F--k" is used once. A minor character is distinguished by his overuse of the word "bitch." While the movie, like the original, is a low-budget science fiction movie that uses the future to mirror and illustrate points about current political and technological realities, much of this is overshadowed by controversies surrounding the movie's lead character, internet celebrity Logan Paul. The movie's release was delayed in the aftermath of a vlog Paul posted in January 2018 in which he went into a forest in Japan known for being a place where people commit suicide; upon finding someone who had recently committed suicide by hanging from a tree, Paul was shown behaving inappropriately and was roundly condemned for treating someone's suicide as "clickbait" for his vlog. Considering the millions of young fans Paul has, rather than discussing the movie, it might be more worthwhile to discuss suicide prevention, how the controversial video had received hundreds of thousands of likes before it was taken down due to massive public outcry, and whether or not someone like Logan Paul should even be given a second chance in light of his actions.
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What's the story?
In THE THINNING: NEW WORLD ORDER, due to environmental catastrophe and overpopulation, the UN has required all the countries of the world to reduce their populations by 5 percent. In the United States, this is accomplished through a controversial practice called "The Thinning," in which kids take an annual test, and those who do the worst are taken away to be executed. Blake Redding (Logan Paul), a teen who deliberately failed the test and is now presumed dead, has actually been taken to an underground prison work camp with other teens, engaged in slave labor on the manufacture of smartphones and other technologies. Meanwhile, his father, the governor of Texas and a pro-Thinning candidate, is on the verge of becoming the next President of the United States. Meanwhile, Laina Michaels (Peyton List), working with young resisters trying to stop The Thinning, has gone undercover as a spokesperson for Governor Redding, with the goal of hacking into his computers to find out what really happened to Blake. Her closest ally in this fight is her best friend Kellan, now an ambitious intern for a TV network news channel. While Blake tries to inspire a revolt against the prison labor camp, Laina and Kellan must find a way to show the world that The Thinning is only the beginning, and that the technology corporations are exploiting the practice for their own evil ends.
Is it any good?
Like most sequels, this isn't as good as the original. There was enough of a premise to the original to give one hope that maybe something fresh and unexpected would emerge, despite the small budget and the apparent belief that haircuts, fashion, and technology will be pretty much the same in 2040 as they are now. But, alas, with The Thinning: New World Order, the truth is revealed: This is an amateurish execution that borrows a little too much from, wait for it, The Hunger Games.
The plot twists are obvious well in advance. And while most of the acting is decent, Logan Paul, when acting and not vlogging, has the emotional range of a narcoleptic flounder. The two concurrent stories -- the prison labor camp and the aboveground resistance to The Thinning -- clash against each other and veer off into too many detours. The result is a story that could have easily been told in one movie, but is apparently going to be stretched out into a trilogy.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the controversies surrounding Logan Paul's vlog. In light of his incredible insensitivity to suicide, should his status as an "internet celebrity" be reinstated after being banned, shunned, and roundly criticized? Should he get a second chance? Do you think this experience will make Paul a more empathetic person moving forward?
How do Paul's controversies seem to mirror the very points The Thinning: New World Order is trying to make about technology exploited for cynical and financial gain?
Movies set in the future often use the future to address contemporary social and political concerns. How does this movie address issues such as technology, education, and politics to reflect current realities?
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