Once upon a time, a wonderful king ruled the lands. After a terrible accident, his overwhelming grief split the world in two. The world above went on as usual, but in the world below time stood still and darkness spread. In this darkness a creature called the Shroud (Gabrielle Chan) gained power, striking fear into hearts and turning creatures to stone.
Now in the present day, 12-year-old Peter (Sam Everingham) has just moved with his family to a new ramshackle house in his father’s old neighbourhood. Peter suffers from anxiety and fear, and he is having terrible nightmares. His 9-year-old sister, Verity (Alyla Browne), sees the move as a fabulous adventure and imagines countless wonderful possibilities. Peter struggles to see the positives. One day Verity drags Peter into a shop where he finds a strange object with special markings. Peter buys the object. That evening his bedroom cracks apart and he and Verity fall down a huge hole and land deep underground. Here Peter learns there is a prophecy, and that he and Verity have been expected. They must make their way across the land, helped by a pangolin called Pling (Darius Williams), a crafty dragon called Mendax (Matt Drummond) and a 2-headed turtle called Ego (Beth Champion) and Ergo (Rowland Holmes). As they go, they must collect pieces of a puzzle that will help restore time, bring back light and peace and banish the Shroud forever. Will Peter be able to conquer his fear? Will he succeed in his quest? Will he save his sister and will it even matter?
Grief; separation from a loved one; paralysing fear and anxiety; letting go of trauma
The Secret Kingdom has some violence. For example:
- Cracks spread in Peter's bedroom until the floor underneath his bed gives way and he and Verity fall into a place deep inside the earth. The bed crashes to the ground and they are suddenly surrounded by an army of pangolins. The children are quickly rushed away as the Shroud chases them. The pangolins destroy a bridge which acts as a barrier, allowing them to escape.
- Verity, Peter and Pling fall down a rocky slide and Pling nearly falls off the edge of a cliff.
- Mendax hits pillars with his tail, crumbling or damaging them.
- When Peter's courage fails he keeps mistakenly destroying lightbulb creatures that can form into things that help him in his quest.
- A metallic clock army throws spears at Peter.
- Mendax grabs at and smashes the clock army with his tail.
- Peter sends a lightbulb creature after a clock soldier that is running away. The creature destroys the soldier by breaking it apart.
- The floor of a temple begins to rise and fall and disappear depending on Peter's ability to play a memory game. Pling clings to his little patch of floor that has not fallen away as he tries not to get knocked into a dark abyss.
- Peter animates a flying bulb creature which destroys a regiment of numerous giant hands. The hands, cheating in a game, have threatened to kill Peter if he doesn't win.
- Mendax, transforms into the Shroud, attacks Peter, damages his last bulb and destroys parts of the citadel.
There are no sexual references in The Secret Kingdom.
Alcohol, drugs and other substances
There’s no substance use in The Secret Kingdom.
Nudity and sexual activity
There’s no nudity and sexual activity in The Secret Kingdom.
There’s no product placement in The Secret Kingdom.
There are some insults in this movie, including ‘oaf’ and ‘coward’.
Ideas to discuss with your children
The Secret Kingdom is a fantasy adventure. The plot is predictable, but it contains a few twists that you might not see coming. The movie tackles the concepts of anxiety and grief in an unusual, yet powerful, way and reminds us that everyone gets scared but not everyone chooses to do brave things. The movie is best suited to pre-teen audiences.
These are the main messages from The Secret Kingdom:
- We belong only to ourselves.
- Grief and tragedy can make time stand still and fill our world with darkness, but we all hold the key to set ourselves free, to conquer our fears and live the lives we have dreamed of.
Values in The Secret Kingdom that you could reinforce with your children include loyalty, courage, persistence, ingenuity and love.
The Secret Kingdom could also give you the chance to talk with your children about the importance of talking about their fears and anxieties instead of keeping them bottled up inside, and the importance of finding ways to overcome them.