Information for Parents
Common Sense Media says Iffy for 16+
Not a superhero movie; a dark, gory, complex morality tale.
What Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that this non-animated adaptation of the beloved cult graphic novel isn't just another superhero story and is absolutely not for kids. Even the director has said that he purposely made the movie intensely gory to make a point about the consequences of violent behavior. Sex is paired with graphic violence in a near-rape scene, and characters act in ways that seem highly amoral. They also swear constantly (including "f--k" and "s--t"), smoke, and drink. There's plenty of nudity, with some very graphic sex scenes and a computer-enhanced character who walks around nude (sure, he's blue, but he still has a normal male anatomy). Both the novel and the movie examine complex issues of morality, humankind's basic nature, and the specter of nuclear holocaust. Not light stuff, and certainly not for anyone who expects a simple good vs. evil story. If your teens can tackle heavy philosophical questions, they might be mature enough to make sense of the film's complicated plot. Finally, the movie clocks in at 2 hours 41 minutes most of which are chock full of in-your-face violence, darkness, and peril.
- Families can talk about the movie's portrayal of human nature. Are people good? Bad? All of the above?
- If your teens have read the book, ask them how the movie is different -- and what impact having real people in the roles has on the story.
- According to director Zack Snyder in an interview with Entertainment Weekly, "I wanted to make sure everyone understood: This is not a kid movie. Violence has consequences. And doing that with a PG-13 just dilutes that message." Do you agree? Does the violence in this movie have more impact because it's not illustrated?
The good stuff
Positive messages: Dark, complex messages about issues like morality, humankind's basic nature, and the specter of mass global destruction. There's not much here that falls into clearly "right" or "wrong" categories; it's all muddled and ambiguous.
Positive role models: Unlike traditional superhero films, which draw clear lines between the evil villains and the valiant heroes, the characters here are all very complex antisuperheroes, with complicated motivations and sometimes questionable ends. They all believe they're doing the right thing, though to accomplish their goals they may have to break the law, beat up a few people, or worse; the climax presents a huge moral dilemma, as one character concocts a heinous plot aimed at achieving a noble aim -- but at an enormous cost.
What to watch for
Violence: Several intense martial arts fight scenes with close-up, slo-mo shots of limbs breaking, faces being smashed into walls and furniture, and people being stabbed, punched, and kicked across the room. The film opens with a man being beaten severely and then thrown from a high rise window to his death. A woman is savagely beaten and almost raped. One character seems to relish carnage, whether it's on the battlefield or during an urban riot, while another shows no emotions as he methodically attacks people in inventive and painful ways, including pouring boiling oil on one attacker, sawing off someone's hands and electrocuting him, and taking a meat cleaver to a child rapist. A young child's corpse is eaten by dogs, and the ashes of the rest of her remains are shown in a furnace.
Sexy stuff: A few long, intimate close-up sex scenes include partial male and female nudity. The only character who's computer enhanced wears no clothing at all and walks around with his penis visible (it's blue, but it's definitely a penis). A prostitute propositions customers on the sidewalk, graphically flashing her breasts. Porn magazine Hustler is visible on a coffee table.
Language: Plenty of swearing, including "goddamn," "f--k," "s--t," "prick," "bastard," and other choice words.
Consumerism: Tie-in to vast quantities of related merchandise. Almost nothing except for a fleeting glance of Fuji Film (remember the non-digital camera days?).
Drinking, drugs and smoking: Some characters smoke; one has a fondness for cigars. Several scenes feature bars and drinking. One woman seems to have a drinking problem and is rarely seen without a drink in her hand.