Secret Kingdom, The

image for Secret Kingdom, The

Short takes

Not suitable under 7; parental guidance to 9 (themes, scary scenes, violence)

classification logo

This topic contains:

  • overall comments and recommendations
  • details of classification and consumer advice lines for Secret Kingdom, The
  • a review of Secret Kingdom, The completed by the Australian Council on Children and the Media (ACCM) on 4 May 2023.

Overall comments and recommendations

Children under 7 Not suitable due violence, themes and scary scenes.
Children aged 7–9 Parental guidance recommended due to violence, themes and scary scenes.
Children aged 10 and over Ok for this age group.

About the movie

This section contains details about the movie, including its classification by the Australian Government Classification Board and the associated consumer advice lines. Other classification advice (OC) is provided where the Australian film classification is not available.

Name of movie: Secret Kingdom, The
Classification: PG
Consumer advice lines: Mild fantasy themes
Length: 98 minutes

ACCM review

This review of the movie contains the following information:

A synopsis of the story

Once, there was a wonderful king who ruled the lands above ground as well as the ones below. Sadly, after a terrible accident, his overwhelming grief split the world in two. The world above went on but in the world below, time stood still and darkness spread. It was here that a creature, known as the Shroud (voice of Gabrielle Chan), gained power, striking fear into hearts and turning creatures to stone. The story begins in the world above where Peter (Sam Everingham), plagued by anxiety and crippling fear, is having terrible nightmares and is not happy about moving to a ramshackle house from his father's childhood. His 9-year-old sister, Verity (Alyla Browne), sees the whole thing as a fabulous adventure and, while Peter struggles to see the positives, she imagines countless wonderful possibilities. Verity drags Peter into a shop one day and he encounters a strange object with special markings that he is persuaded to buy. That very evening, Peter's bedroom cracks apart and he and Verity fall down a huge hole, landing deep underground. It is here that Peter learns of the prophecy and that he and Verity have long been expected. Guided and assisted by a pangolin called Pling (voice of Darius Williams), a crafty dragon called Mendax (voice of Matt Drummond) and a two-headed turtle called Ego (voice of Beth Champion) and Ergo (voice of Rowland Holmes), they make their way across the land collecting 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?


Children and adolescents may react adversely at different ages to themes of crime, suicide, drug and alcohol dependence, death, serious illness, family breakdown, death or separation from a parent, animal distress or cruelty to animals, children as victims, natural disasters and racism. Occasionally reviews may also signal themes that some parents may simply wish to know about.

Grief; Separation from a loved one; Paralysing fear and anxiety; Letting go of trauma.

Use of violenceinfo

Research shows that children are at risk of learning that violence is an acceptable means of conflict resolution when violence is glamourised, performed by an attractive hero, successful, has few real life consequences, is set in a comic context and / or is mostly perpetrated by male characters with female victims, or by one race against another.

Repeated exposure to violent content can reinforce the message that violence is an acceptable means of conflict resolution. Repeated exposure also increases the risks that children will become desensitised to the use of violence in real life or develop an exaggerated view about the prevalence and likelihood of violence in their own world.

There is some violence in this movie, including:

  • Cracks spread in Peter's bedroom until the floor underneath his bed gives way and he and Verity plummet to 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 gives chase. 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, inadvertently, destroying lightbulb creatures that are capable of transforming 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 as he attempts to retrieve the final block piece. 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, transforming into the Shroud, attacks Peter, damages his last bulb and destroys parts of the citadel.

Material that may scare or disturb children

Under fiveinfo

Children under five are most likely to be frightened by scary visual images, such as monsters, physical transformations.

In addition to the above-mentioned violent scenes, there are some scenes in this movie that could scare or disturb children under the age of five, including the following:

  • The Shroud is extremely sinister and disturbing. It is made up of numerous, shape-shifting blobs of black that can come out of nowhere and transform into anything, and it is always accompanied by dramatic, foreboding, music. The Shroud transforms into Mendax, a creepy-looking, dragon-like creature that Peter trusts but who continues to exude an evil demeanour.
  • Mendax transforms into the Shroud, showing how he can become anger and rage. The Shroud is the living embodiment of fear and when it transforms back into numerous blobs its dragon-like face can still be seen with glowing, yellow eyes and mouth. Peter is terrified until Verity helps him find the courage within himself to face the fear and defy the dragon.
  • Peter hides from Mendax who looks intent on destroying them all. Mendax is searching for them, occasionally only centimetres from where Peter is hiding. Peter is terrified to the point that it seems as if he is having a full-blown panic attack.
  • There are quick bits of visual imagery such as a creepy, gnarled and hairy hand, reaching out of nowhere, spidery shadows moving along a wall and a disturbing eye looking up from beneath the floorboards in Peter's bedroom. Peter is generally skittish and freaked out and these sightings make him all the more anxious and scared.
  • Verity is turned to stone. It begins with a hand going cold and marble-like. She is scared when she is unable to move it. She becomes increasingly pale, quiet and tired. Slowly, as they walk towards the final clue, she completely turns to stone. Peter is horrified and devastated.

Aged five to eightinfo

Children aged five to eight will also be frightened by scary visual images and will also be disturbed by depictions of the death of a parent, a child abandoned or separated from parents, children or animals being hurt or threatened and / or natural disasters.

In addition to the above-mentioned violent scenes and scary visual images, there are some scenes in this movie that could scare or disturb children aged five to eight, including the following:

  • There are quick flashbacks that indicate (before their underground adventure even began) Verity was in an accident and that she didn't survive. There are quick glimpses of her in a hospital, of a grieving family and of a headstone with her name on it. While not scary, the scenes may be confusing and upsetting to some children.

Aged eight to thirteeninfo

Children aged eight to thirteen are most likely to be frightened by realistic threats and dangers, violence or threat of violence and / or stories in which children are hurt or threatened.

  • Nothing further noted.

Product placement

  • None noted.

Sexual references

  • None noted.

Nudity and sexual activity

  • None noted.

Use of substances

  • None noted.

Coarse language

There is some coarse language in this movie, including:

  • Repeated use of the word, “Oaf”.
  • “Coward”, used as an insult.

In a nutshell

The Secret Kingdom is a fantasy adventure. The plot, while predictable, contains a few twists that you may not see coming. It 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 film is best suited to tween audiences.

The main messages from this movie are that we belong to ourselves and not to others; and that grief and tragedy can make time stand still and fill our world with darkness but at the same time we all possess the key to set ourselves free, to conquer our fears and live the lives we have dreamed of.

Values in this movie that parents may wish to reinforce with their children include:

  • Loyalty
  • Courage
  • Persistence
  • Ingenuity
  • Love.

This movie could also give parents the opportunity to discuss with their children the importance of talking about their fears and anxieties instead of keeping them bottled inside and the importance of finding ways to overcome them.