A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this TV show.
The movie (and the show on which it's based) is built upon pseudo-Mayan legends with a smattering of Greek myth; parents may wish to impress upon young viewers that this is all made-up nonsense and not a real religion practiced by historical people.
The kids bicker but ultimately help each other out. The show describes the main attribute of a "great king": "He would take care of our people."
Positive Role Models
Sadie, Dudley, and Noah are brave, but sometimes foolhardy, in their attempt to free the civilization trapped in the Hidden Temple.
Violence & Scariness
A battle over a temple artifact is fought with clubs, but most of the combat involves knocking henchmen over; a king turns his empire to stone, which creeps over the bodies of characters; a giant stone face has glowing red eyes, which may frighten young viewers. Many scenes take place in darkness; characters are told that making mistakes in the Temple can lead to death or being trapped for eternity. Challenges are scary: leaping across an abyss on a vine (they fall into a huge pile of leaves), navigating a pit with human skulls, ferocious jungle cats, darts, quicksand. A man we're told is bad falls hundreds of feet down a waterfall and presumably dies.
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Young characters insult each other: "Last one to the temple's a dingbat."
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Legends of the Hidden Temple: The Movie is a live-action dramatic retelling of a 1990s competition show for children. Yeah, weird premise, but somehow it works reasonably well. The stakes are high -- a trio of young characters are told that making mistakes during a temple quest can lead to death, and a "bad guy" seemingly dies after falling hundreds of feet down a waterfall. The quest itself is also fraught, with many scenes taking place in dark, scary locations and involving dangers that may spook young children: poison darts, vicious snakes, quicksand. A stone face with glowing eyes issues instructions, and a rebellious group of Temple guards reads as an ethnic minority whom we're told is bad but who don't behave much differently than the "good" guys. Kids call each other "dingbat" but learn to work together harmoniously. Brothers and sisters fight but are there for each other in the end. The Temple's theology is a mishmash of Mesoamerican theology with a smattering of Greek myth and magic thrown in; parents may wish to impress upon young viewers that it's all made-up nonsense.
Is It Any Good?
With plenty of touchstones for the series' original fans -- and rollicking kid adventure for the uninitiated -- this special is solid whole-family watching. Thirty-something viewers of the original game show may find themselves pointing and pausing to explain the significance of silver snakes, Temple guards, or a great big stone head that sets the siblings off on their quest by narrating the temple's backstory. Don't expect anything great on that front -- Olmec's (Dee Bradley Baker) reason for purposely turning his entire kingdom into stone turns out to be a conflict between his good son Zuma and his bad son Thak, even though we're never told exactly why Zuma's so good and Thak's so bad. Never mind, and never mind that Thak's a cardboard villain and he and his group of henchmen are primarily distinguished by face makeup and ragged costumes; this is a show about adventure, not emotion or realism.
There's adventure aplenty, too, with a new challenge awaiting in each room of the Temple: quicksand, snakes that have to be placed into empty spots in Medusa's hissing stone crown, a giant chasm that stands between the adventurers and the next quest -- not the mention the fact that Noah, Dudley, and Sadie have parents who are worried their kids are lost inside a crummy old theme park set. Bypassing each challenge is generally a matter of pushing a button or bravely attempting a jump rather than them using their wits, and everything works out predictably. But for nostalgia and Goonies-lite thrills, this production scores.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.