A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Watch the Sky is a 2018 science fiction movie in which a pair of brothers inadvertently contact aliens. Brief violence includes when an elderly man is shown getting covered in slime before aliens pull him through a field while his wife watches in horror. Two of the characters are shown getting pulled out of their car by unknown assailants. Images of dead cows in fields might be disturbing for some viewers. Infrequent profanity includes "s--t," "ass," "pissed," "damn," "goddamn," "hell," and "for Christ's sake." In one scene, the older college-age brother complains to his younger brother, "I just wanted to get laid tonight!" Overall, the plodding story and awkward dialogue often get in the way of any potential for action, thus making this difficult to watch, especially for those expecting more action overall.
What's the story?
Obsessed with space and aliens, young teen Shawn has convinced his college-age brother, Michael, to help launch a weather balloon with a camera attached 20 miles high so they can WATCH THE SKY. While skeptical of the undertaking, Michael agrees to help, if only to keep Shawn busy as he continues to struggle with the untimely passing of his mother and his new life with their father and stepmother (Renee O'Connor). Meanwhile, their father, the sheriff of their small California coastal hometown, has just learned of the mysterious disappearance of an elderly man whose wife witnessed him getting covered in slime and then rapidly dragged through a cornfield. While Shawn and Michael launch their balloon and wait for the results, their father has learned that dozens of cows throughout the area have mysteriously died, with no trace of blood or injury. As the weather balloon leaves the atmosphere, the mystery deepens, and Shawn reveals that he lied when he said that he had gotten the permission of the FAA to launch the balloon. When Shawn and Michael get a lot more than they bargained for with Shawn's experiment, Michael makes a terrible discovery, and the two brothers must immediately find their father to tell him what's happening.
Is it any good?
This is a clinic on how not to make a movie. It's only 83 minutes long, but could easily be half that length. There are scenes that serve no discernible purpose. There's dialogue that's clunky and repetitive and does absolutely nothing to advance the story. Attempts at humor are awkward at best, excruciating at worst. With enough editing, the central story of two brothers bonding on an extraterrestrial adventure could have been something. Instead, that story gets lost in the morass of flat scenes that go on way too long.
And for kids expecting to see some aliens, the wait for that to happen, coupled with the amateurish slow pace of the movie, might have them literally watching the sky instead of the screen. Minutes of the movie are wasted getting to know minor characters when their introductions could be dispensed with in seconds. Instead, with the introduction of each new character, any story momentum comes to a screeching halt. The result is a plodding disappointment. But rest assured: The movie's Hunger Games franchise-style cliffhanger ending leaves no denying that a sequel is intended. Here's hoping that everyone involved with Watch the Sky learns from their mistakes.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about science fiction movies with aliens. How does Watch the Sky compare to other science fiction movies centered on the search for extraterrestrial life?
This movie was based on a book. What would be the challenges in adapting a book into a movie?
How have movies about aliens changed over the years? How have they stayed the same?
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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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