It's the film of the moment: James Cameron's Avatar is nominated for eight BAFTAs, nine Oscars and has already become the highest grossing movie ever. The adverts are everywhere, and so inevitably, my son (who enjoys spaceships and blue-skinned aliens) has asked if he can go and see it in the half-term holidays. From his perspective, it's Smurfs in Space.
The only trouble is, my son is six-and-a-half, and the film is a 12A. This means that, whilst children under 12 can see it, they must be accompanied by an adult. It also implies that the content is more grown up than your average U or PG film. Avatar is an action adventure set on an alien world, so it looks like it has all the ingredients that children love.
So would you take your child along to see it?
Having now seen Avatar myself, I can see there's lots to it that young children would enjoy. The world it conjures is beautiful. The storyline has been criticised for its simplicity, but this means that the plot is easy enough for children to follow.
There are no explicit sex scenes, and little in the way of unsuitable language. The main elements that make it not right for younger children are the violence and fight scenes. If you've seen the remake of King Kong, you might remember Kong's fight with the dinosaurs, and some of the scenes in this film are similar – fantastical beasts with bared fangs fighting in a jungle-like landscape. Sensitive children would definitely be disturbed. Those that enjoy they scarier episodes of Doctor Who probably wouldn't.
And what about not so sensitive children? I really don't think my six-year-old would be bothered by the violence in this film, whilst his ten-year-old sister would be terrified. But is not being bothered by war scenes something to encourage?
Younger children may appreciate this film better on DVD, and I think my son is going to have to wait for that. It's a different experience to being enveloped in the dark of the cinema, where you are really transported to the film's world. Sometimes it's better for children to keep one foot in the real world. Also, at around two-and-a-half hours long, how many children are really going to sit through the whole film without a break?
What do you think? Would you take your child to see Avatar?