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What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Star Wars: Episode VII: The Force Awakens is the hugely anticipated seventh installment in the big-screen Star Wars franchise, featuring new main characters as well as beloved favorites like Han Solo (Harrison Ford), Leia Organa (Carrie Fisher), and Chewbacca. Directed by J.J. Abrams, the sequel takes place approximately 30 years after the events of The Return of the Jedi, and although there's tons of sci-fi action -- space battles, crashes, explosions, lightsaber duels, and more -- there's less violence overall than viewers saw in Episode III: Revenge of the Sith. Villains do order the mass murder of countless civilians, prisoners are coerced physically and with the Force, and duels lead to injuries and death, but none of it is bloody or gory. With little language ("dammit" and "hell" are as strong as it gets) or sex, this is the kind of epic adventure that will undoubtedly appeal to Star Wars fans of all ages. But while younger kids may be familiar with the franchise and its many spin-offs (like the animated Clone Wars), they might not be ready for some of The Force Awakens' more violent or emotional scenes. (Spoiler alert: One death will hit very hard.)
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