Information for Parents
Common Sense Media says OK for kids 8+
Kid-centric but violent prequel lacks originals' energy.
What Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that this prequel to the classic sci-fi action trilogy does have a few scary and surprisingly violent moments, although there's no explicit gore. The humor and plotting are aimed at children, but very young kids may not be ready for the movie's darker moments. Widely considered to be the weakest of the films in this franchise, the film will likely entertain children with its straightforward story and imaginative design; though it may also confuse those who've already seen the original films and aren't yet old enough to understand the concept of a prequel. Note: The 3-D version of the movie renders some scenes (like the pod race) more exciting and others (like lightsaber battles) more intense.
- Families can talk about The Phantom Menace's moments of violence and threatening behavior. Is the violence shown in the film important to the story? Why or why not?
- How did you feel watching Anakin leave his mother? Why do you think so many kid-oriented movies involve parents leaving or dying?
- Have you noticed Star Wars merchandise? Does seeing the characters on products make you want to buy them?
The good stuff
Educational value: The film is intended to entertain, not educate, but there are some clear messages around good and evil.
Positive messages: The film's story and characters emphasize personal sacrifice for the greater good. Positive traits like bravery, thoughtfulness, and inner peace are demonstrated throughout by the heroes. A key element of the film's plot hinges on racial acceptance between two alien groups. The villains are sharply defined, and their behavior is cast in a purely negative light.
Positive role models: Characters generally exhibit positive character traits throughout. One of the lead heroic characters demonstrates a disregard for authority, which is the only poor example set by the heroes in the film.
What to watch for
Violence and scariness: Heavy sci-fi violence, although none of it is especially gory or detailed. Viewers see the deaths of at least two major characters on screen, one of whom is sliced in half by a laser sword. The movie's climax cuts together a sword duel, two separate ground invasions, and a space sequence, all of which feature frequent lasers, explosions, and the deaths of minor characters and creatures. A key moment in the film involves the lead character, a boy of about 8, leaving his mother forever; the moment is played as bittersweet, and the character recovers quickly. The film's chief villain is a menacing, silent figure with a frightening appearance.
Sex: Not an issue
Language: Though there are no curse words and very few moments of derogatory language, there's a bit of potty humor -- for example, a lead character stepping in the droppings of an intergalactic creature, or another creature passing gas.
Consumerism: The film takes place "a long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away," so there are no real-world product placements. But the Star Wars film franchise is perhaps one of the most heavily merchandised in the history of film, with action figures, kids clothing and accessories, and every other type of product available even today.
Drinking, drugs and smoking: Not an issue