A lot has been made about Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, the first “stand-alone” Star Wars film, being the grittiest and darkest of the overall franchise, and this isn’t unfounded. There is darkness. There is grit. There is even standing alone. However, where Star Wars: The Force Awakens was set amid fire and ice, Rogue One is set on the galaxy’s version of Hawaii, and one can’t help but assume that as soon as the fighting is over somebody is going parasailing.
The movie is a story in two parts: The first is spent methodically establishing plot points and connecting them. The second blows everything into space bits. As a whole, the film tells a fluid tale of good standing up against evil, despite overwhelming odds—as well as the doing of what’s right, because what’s right needs to be done.
The vast majority of the characters are new to the Star Wars universe, many of them destined to become fan favorites, with at least one becoming a late addition to holiday wish lists everywhere. Maybe two.
Rogue One: A Star Wars Story is sandwiched between the animated Star Wars Rebels series and Star Wars: A New Hope. You know how it ends, but you may have a few questions about the journey, especially parents concerned about the PG-13 rating. Here are some answers:
Positive themes: Rebellion gets a bad rap, and, granted, rebels can work in some fairly gray areas (that is very much the case here). But in Rogue One, we’re talking “for the greater good” stuff. That said, the means are more or less justified by the end, and along the way we are treated to an arc of trust and friendship that unites differences and inspires acts of sacrifice and bravery. Also, heroes aren’t just white dudes—women and people of color can bring it (obviously).
Violence/scare factors: There is a lot of fighting. Bad guys die. Good guys die. Apparently Stormtroopers used to have better aim. There isn’t any gore or blood, but there is plenty of heartache.
Sex/romance: There is only one scene with any sort of romance, and it isn’t going to embarrass anyone.
Bad language: Not even a “nerf herder.”
Rogue One: A Star Wars Story might be a bit heavy, but there is enough humor and bright beach activity that kids will probably be okay with it. The film is very entertaining, offering plenty for diehards while still allowing for those who are less familiar. Younger kids may be a bit bored in the beginning and/or a little overwhelmed toward the end, but the rest of the family should be happy with this (Rogue) one.