Parental Guidance

How Family-Friendly are Dunkirk and Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets?

by | July 21, 2017 | Comments

You may be itching to see Christopher Nolan’s acclaimed new war epic, and you might be tempted to take your kids, considering it’s rated PG-13. But before you do that, have a look at what film critic — and mother — Christy Lemire has to say about it, plus her thoughts on Luc Besson’s colorful and bizarre space adventure, in case your kids see the trailers and beg you to see it.


NOW IN THEATERS

 

Dunkirk (2017) 92%

Rating: PG-13, for intense war experience and some language.

Christopher Nolan’s World War II drama is a masterful, compact pressure cooker of tension and technical prowess. It’s at once intimate and epic – deceptively simple yet dazzling with the kind of complex narrative that’s long been a signature of the writer-director of Memento, Inception and the Dark Knight trilogy. From a trio of interwoven perspectives, Nolan depicts the evacuation of the beach at Dunkirk as Allied soldiers found themselves surrounded and forced to flee. Tom Hardy, Kenneth Branagh, Mark Rylance, Cillian Murphy, and Harry Styles are among the players whose fates intersect. Dunkirk features nearly non-stop violence and peril, as you would expect from a war picture. The soldiers are under attack from the air, ground and sea. Many characters (and extras) are shot to death, but there’s barely any blood. And there’s surprisingly only a bit of language, but that includes the one F-word you get in a PG-13 movie. Mostly, though, the unrelenting suspense on display here is what may disturb younger viewers. That, and the noise – the sound design is exquisite, but the gunfire is very loud, as are the screams as men find themselves trapped, abandoning ships, drowning or burning to death. I brought my 7 ½-year-old son to see it in IMAX (because I’m that kind of mom, and because he can handle heavier material); the one scene that bothered him takes place in a boat as men are being shot at and drowning. Mostly, though, I’d say this is OK for mature tweens and older. And at an hour and 46 minutes, it’s surprisingly short.


Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets (2017) 47%

Rating: PG-13, for sci-fi violence and action, suggestive material and brief language.

Good lord, this is a strange movie. Deliriously, delightfully strange, but still. It won’t be to everyone’s taste but it’s certainly never dull, and it’s frequently a lot of fun. This shiny, colorful extravaganza from sci-fi master Luc Besson is an intergalactic roller coaster ride with bits of snappy (albeit clunky) romantic banter tossed in between. It starts out hundreds of years in the future with the fiery destruction of a beach planet where parents watch their alien daughter perish. But the main story focuses on humans: a special ops team (Dane DeHaan and Cara Delevingne) trying to determine the origin of a hidden force buried deep within Alpha, the aforementioned City of a Thousand Planets. They also have to babysit a rare, miniature dinosaur that poops out powerful pearls. No, really. Characters are constantly in danger, and there are several outer (and inner) space battle scenes. Eventually, Rihanna shows up as an eager-to-please shape-shifter who performs a sexually suggestive dance sequence in a brothel. No, really. There’s a mind-boggling variety of creatures — some of them cute, some of them bizarre, some of them just plain off-putting. At 2 hours and 17 minutes, Valerian will be a long sit for younger kids. And even though it’s based on an influential comic book series, you might find it hard to follow, regardless of your age. OK for mature tweens and older.


NEW ON DVD

 

Kong: Skull Island (2017) 75%

Rating: PG-13, for intense sequences of sci-fi violence and action, and for brief strong language.

Kids around 9 or 10 and older will love this big, dumb monster movie — and I say that as a total compliment. Director Jordan Vogt-Roberts’ action epic has the spirit of a classic Ray Harryhausen film with the benefit of high-tech special effects. It’s about a group of explorers who visit an uncharted island in the South Pacific in 1973 and find more danger than they ever could have imagined. They include an expert tracker (Tom Hiddleston), a war photographer (Brie Larson), the head of a shadowy government agency (John Goodman) and a military team with a no-nonsense leader (Samuel L. Jackson). But you’re not here for the people. You’re here to see King Kong, who rules the island as a fearsome and deadly but ultimately gentle giant. This is not a spoiler: If you’ve ever seen any incarnation of King Kong, you know he’s misunderstood. But he might be super-scary for very little kids, especially as he battles the many other oversized monsters that happen to call this island home. (What’s in the water surrounding this place anyway?) I brought my 7-year-old son to see Kong: Skull Island when it came out theatrically and he had a blast. It is pretty intense, though, with a lot of violence, gunfire, monster action and helicopter destruction, and not everyone makes it out alive. There’s also quite a bit of language, including the one F-bomb you get in a PG-13 movie, courtesy of the great John C. Reilly.

Tag Cloud

kong monster movies Marvel TV Land Pet Sematary Creative Arts Emmys joker Ellie Kemper BBC One TIFF Tomatazos rotten Chilling Adventures of Sabrina child's play Trivia franchise feel good 1990s Pixar medical drama RT History best travel slasher CW Seed Television Academy BET Awards BET RT21 new york Esquire heist movie Women's History Month Spectrum Originals nature crossover CNN saw women boxoffice international Spike TCA Animation Instagram Live football USA Stephen King disaster Marvel Television Reality Paramount Plus canceled TV shows legend Disney Channel live action free movies screen actors guild halloween tv japan CMT Fantasy First Reviews sag awards Awards ratings comic book movie Funimation TCA Winter 2020 live event genre Adult Swim Apple comic Lifetime BAFTA scary movies Discovery Channel Turner transformers E! crime E3 The Walking Dead ITV films The Witch TruTV Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt TV One Sneak Peek die hard emmy awards Musical zombie news war richard e. Grant video Britbox 2018 stoner Academy Awards DC Universe HBO adaptation new star wars movies Opinion comic book movies high school parents natural history Baby Yoda what to watch YouTube Red Chernobyl Nat Geo VH1 basketball ViacomCBS IMDb TV batman deadpool Sony Pictures Photos Year in Review 4/20 historical drama superhero streaming Winter TV anthology Paramount police drama Christmas YouTube Premium cancelled TV series Epix king arthur james bond hidden camera Crunchyroll romantic comedy Comics on TV docuseries social media Pride Month TBS Black History Month TV renewals Pop ESPN supernatural marvel cinematic universe HBO Go christmas movies Exclusive Video Holiday cooking biography National Geographic streaming movies 71st Emmy Awards Podcast binge biopic Extras Watching Series Shondaland Lifetime Christmas movies asian-american kids Starz Holidays PlayStation gangster australia true crime hispanic Calendar Rocky halloween thriller BBC America Sundance Now universal monsters History Sundance TV BBC fast and furious Pirates ID The Arrangement black comedy Quiz Hallmark Fox Searchlight FX on Hulu Bravo cancelled TV shows 90s rt labs critics edition USA Network Legendary Cartoon Network Certified Fresh political drama space Kids & Family television Universal Shudder cops spinoff concert Summer serial killer TCA 2017 comedies crime drama reviews Fox News Marathons posters Lionsgate 2019 indiana jones indie Apple TV+ GIFs Family cartoon game show sequel Fargo Nominations NYCC Toys tv talk See It Skip It pirates of the caribbean Mary Poppins Returns directors Set visit theme song golden globes based on movie GLAAD Broadway royal family Syfy Infographic stand-up comedy Cosplay Neflix Mudbound hispanic heritage month marvel comics Black Mirror Teen docudrama Schedule satire LGBTQ animated Song of Ice and Fire 2017 sitcom Star Wars anime japanese new zealand GoT Election mockumentary 2016 Writers Guild of America OneApp President 007 dexter Endgame Walt Disney Pictures HBO Max remakes movies laika 21st Century Fox dc Amazon Studios NBA cancelled rt archives award winner The Academy Disney venice talk show Martial Arts Nickelodeon spider-man Fall TV rt labs harry potter revenge romance politics Amazon Prime Video VICE festivals unscripted Apple TV Plus fresh Universal Pictures Masterpiece screenings adventure dark sopranos canceled Image Comics 20th Century Fox Biopics Warner Bros. Hallmark Christmas movies Grammys FOX MCU 72 Emmy Awards technology Rock Amazon Prime Marvel Studios diversity king kong ABC Family New York Comic Con X-Men telelvision period drama LGBT TNT Acorn TV Tarantino dreamworks book Trailer YA superman Disney Plus PBS 24 frames Television Critics Association hollywood Valentine's Day strong female leads movie breaking bad spain Vudu OWN finale worst Turner Classic Movies Peacock YouTube hist TCM rotten movies we love 99% mutant Trophy Talk Video Games Amazon Superheroes PaleyFest VOD WarnerMedia Tokyo Olympics lord of the rings casting Awards Tour south america Super Bowl razzies TCA Awards young adult archives nbcuniversal vs. golden globe awards The Walt Disney Company godzilla kaiju renewed TV shows DC streaming service Countdown ghosts quibi dogs jurassic park aapi versus video on demand adenture all-time chucky Lucasfilm El Rey Netflix Christmas movies miniseries Spring TV NBC Music book adaptation Pop TV Comedy Central Reality Competition series IFC justice league Tubi mcc green book Mary poppins zombies blockbuster independent The CW TV movies aliens dragons art house boxing Star Trek 2021 target discovery festival Rom-Com The Purge WGN Emmys SDCC zero dark thirty cinemax doctor who Mystery Red Carpet blaxploitation Elton John 73rd Emmy Awards science fiction ABC Signature cats DC Comics TV FXX critics MTV AMC prank children's TV documentaries latino Hear Us Out criterion Captain marvel Box Office Ghostbusters DirecTV Crackle twilight Comic-Con@Home 2021 suspense spy thriller FX Musicals name the review A24 MSNBC Character Guide Disney+ Disney Plus Heroines Columbia Pictures toronto action-comedy classics Arrowverse witnail Action Disney streaming service Tumblr a nightmare on elm street A&E mob Dark Horse Comics cancelled television Binge Guide Food Network sports Pacific Islander Film game of thrones CBS robots cars dramedy Winners Paramount Network french Mindy Kaling blockbusters APB Avengers 78th Annual Golden Globe Awards comiccon facebook Mary Tyler Moore Showtime Netflix Cannes Thanksgiving Polls and Games CBS All Access Wes Anderson Country Best and Worst singing competition teaser Sundance Oscars reboot Comic Book trailers comic books Ovation elevated horror Premiere Dates mission: impossible cults know your critic obituary vampires Rocketman scene in color SundanceTV First Look psychological thriller Drama sequels jamie lee curtis Film Festival foreign TLC 93rd Oscars debate black rom-coms Superheroe spider-verse Western documentary 2015 Emmy Nominations italian olympics popular DGA psycho critic resources worst movies AMC Plus composers Brie Larson Classic Film Comedy crime thriller IFC Films Interview scary Travel Channel slashers Hulu werewolf Sci-Fi toy story wonder woman San Diego Comic-Con Logo stop motion Freeform American Society of Cinematographers dceu spanish spanish language Anna Paquin nfl ABC 2020 45 Horror comics Alien scorecard SXSW