Nearly every adult in America has one thing in common: We were all raised on Star Wars. Now, with a new film in the canon, many (most? all?!) parents are excited to find out if The Force will awaken inside their kids just as it did all of us. But, different than Episodes IV through VI, Episode VII is PG-13. So, as Yoda might ponder, OK for your young Padawan The Force Awakens is?
Here’s what you need to know:
Stormtroopers: In the previous films, Stormtroopers behaved more like programmed robots, therefore, seeing them blasted to death is meaningless to the viewer – especially young ones. Now, we learn Stormtroopers are not necessarily a clone of Jango Fett and that joining the First Order isn’t always a choice. Therefore, watching Stormtroopers getting shot into a lifeless pile of white armor carries a little more weight.
Blood: Part of what makes the original trilogy suitable for children is that there’s no blood or graphic violence. When Luke Skywalker’s hand is whacked off by a lightsaber he moans in pain, but there’s no blood spurting out of his veins. Death by blaster, saber or laser is clean, quick and painless. It’s like pulling a plug. In Episode VII, things get a bit bloodier.
Death: Remember when the Death Star destroyed Alderaan by superlaser? We saw Princess Leia’s reaction, but not the horror of the people of Alderaan. Also, in the past, the only characters who die are Jedi, therefore, they actually live on. Let’s just say death can be harsher in the Star Wars universe in 2015.
Torture: A couple of torture scenes exist, but it’s not the same as in past films. Previously, Vader strangled failing personnel to death with his mind. However, our new villain is more likely to take his anger out on a computer console than a military underling.
Scary creatures: Star Wars movies are monster movies in disguise. Whether it be Wampa, Sarlacc or Rancor – there’s plenty in the saga capable of scaring small children. Episode VII keeps the trend going.
Small children, think early elementary and younger, may be frightened by this action fantasy, but most important, they may also be bored. The story is a bit complicated. To that end, moviegoers can follow The Force Awakens if they’ve never seen a single Star Wars movie, but it won’t be nearly as fun.
For older kids, The Force Awakens brings value beyond entertainment. Just like the prior Star Wars movies, it’s about youth discovering they are more powerful and capable than they ever imagined. They are respectful to their elders. Women are touwise, respected leaders and it’s not an anomaly. Diversity is a way of life, not a goal to pursue. Conformity is shown as a negative, and critical and independent thinking is celebrated.
Our real world grows more frightening by the day and our kids are becoming more and more aware of it. The comparison kids can take away is that a dark side always threatens the way of life of good citizens, but we must consciously choose the light: evil empires have always collapsed.
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