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 Walking Dead: World Beyond is the latest television spin-off of the popular The Walking Dead series. The zombie apocalypse drama features a younger, primarily teenage cast of characters, including two sisters -- one white, one Black -- from an African-American family. The young protagonists are portrayed as intelligent, strong survivors who look out for their family and friends. That said, they do get up to some trouble and break rules. One of the teenage girls crafts illegal alcohol, which she drinks in excess with her sister. She's also briefly imprisoned for the offense. As is typical of the franchise's other shows, there's plenty of ghoulish, gruesome zombies on display. The undead attack, and are attacked, in a graphic and gory manner. A mother is shot and killed in front of her young daughter; the daughter, in turn, shoots and kills the woman responsible for her mother's death. Inappropriate language includes "ass," "sucks," and "hell."
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What's the story?
THE WALKING DEAD: WORLD BEYOND is the latest spin-off of The Walking Dead franchise, which also includes Fear the Walking Dead, as well as the flagship series. Unfolding ten years after the start of the outbreak, it features a new community of survivors based in Omaha, Nebraska. Its story is focused on a group of teenagers, including sisters Iris (Aliyah Royale) and Hope (Alexa Monsour,) who were very young when the zombie apocalypse began. The siblings are concerned for their father, a scientist working with the secretive Civic Republic Military, led by the mysterious -- and possibly nefarious -- Elizabeth Kublek (Julia Ormond.)
Is it any good?
The primarily teen cast delivers strong performances, and Ormond's Civic Republic Military heavy makes for a convincing frenemy, but a threadbare plot and sluggish pacing doesn't do this show any favors. Early on in The Walking Dead: World Beyond, a woman runs over a zombie with her vehicle. She's annoyed by the undead creep shuffling toward the grill of her Jeep, but no more so than she might be by a traffic jam. It's a brief scene, but one that highlights the double edged sword the new The Walking Dead spin-off struggles to overcome. Ten years after the outbreak struck, the series' Nebraska-based community -- secured within a walled college campus -- is a pretty safe place. After following the harrowing lives of the other two series' characters, it's initially interesting seeing a society not just survive, but thrive in a time where walkers are more nuisance than threat. But that compelling set-up is challenged by having to tell stories not dependent on characters being under the constant threat of having their brains eaten.
And while walkers -- called "empties" in World Beyond -- are certainly still in the mix, their once-shocking impact is starting to reach the point of diminishing returns. The two previous series have famously survived slow and uneven seasons -- often returning better than ever -- but World Beyond beginning in a slump isn't encouraging. Coupled with the fact it's the third show in a decade-old franchise, its uninspired storytelling and familiar foes don't bode well for its future.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about The Walking Dead: World Beyond's teenage characters. What are their lives like in the post-apocalypse? Has it changed how they attend school and learn? How do they balance surviving in this dangerous world with participating in everyday activities with friends and families?
What is the relationship like between sisters Hope and Iris? In what ways are they different? How are they alike?
How does Iris cope with the loss of her mother? How do her feelings about the loss maniifest themselves? How does the doctor help her deal with her feelings?
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