After the collapse of the Galactic Empire a power struggle has gripped the galaxy. The evil First Order has arisen and seeks to seize control. The Rebel Alliance badly need the help of Luke Skywalker, but the legendary Jedi has disappeared and it is up to a motley crew of wannabe heroes to try to track him down and tackle the new threat creeping across peaceful space.

Star Wars: The Force Awakens (2015) – Director: J. J. Abrams

Is Star Wars: The Force Awakens appropriate for kids

“Star Wars The Force Awakens Theatrical Poster” by Source. Licensed under Fair use via Wikipedia – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Star_Wars_The_Force_Awakens_Theatrical_Poster.jpg#/media/File:Star_Wars_The_Force_Awakens_Theatrical_Poster.jpg

Rating: 12

Running Length: 135 mins

Starring: Daisy Ridley, John Boyega, Harrison Ford

Genre: Science Fiction, Action Adventure

REVIEW

The long-awaited seventh ‘Star Wars’ movie has had fans of the previous six films fit to burst but with opinions divided on the three prequels, the hype was always tinged with an air of anticipated disappointment. One of the main criticisms with the prequels was that the focus was confused; they swayed too far into the territory of overt kids’ movies with silly, childish characters, some characters’ traits accused of racism (e.g. an alien with a stereotyped Jewish accent and appearance who was obsessed with money) and that the darkness of the ‘dark side’ went too far when it was otherwise a film for children.

Thankfully, now that J.J. Abrams has taken the helm, all of these issues have been addressed and are no longer present. What Abrams does best is characters and ‘The Force Awakens’ is no exception; the movie is driven by the rapport that is quickly built and continued throughout. The characters’ motivations are solid and the leads, Daisy Ridley and John Boyega (who are two relatively unknown names), easily carry the movie on their young shoulders. The plot itself doesn’t exactly break new ground (borrowing heavily from ‘A New Hope’, which is probably the best source material to lift wholesale!) and is quite predictable but it is never boring and doesn’t take anything away from this otherwise great film.

‘The Force Awakens’ is an excellent mix of action, humour and character and while it was always going to be a hit with fans of the franchise, it is likely to gain plenty of new fans. For the first time in a long time, the hype surrounding a Star Wars movie is to be believed and with a follow-up adventure promised by the ending of this film, any future instalments have a lot to live up to.

IS ‘STAR WARS: THE FORCE AWAKENS’ SUITABLE FOR CHILDREN?

There is a lot of shooting and killing throughout the movie, this is mostly incidental background characters who are unknown to the audience and often wear helmets that cover their faces entirely. These deaths are not lingered upon and, although some kids may be upset by the sheer amount of deaths, most of them happen during action sequences so any distress is likely to be allayed by all the excitement on-screen.

A prisoner is strapped tightly to a chair and it is strongly implied that he has been tortured for information. He does not show too many signs of suffering and remains in high spirits, refusing to relinquish anything he knows. A villain approaches and holds his hand in front of him, the man quickly loses his composure, grunting and groaning in pain and concentration; after a few seconds he cries out loudly in pain.

Two men are involved in a crash landing and, when one tries to save his friend, the wreckage is quickly swallowed by quicksand before he can do anything, taking everything inside with it. The survivor appears sad but is forced to move on quickly and he doesn’t have time to properly mourn.

A huge, aggressive monster-like alien is attached to a ship and, when the ship flies away, it goes through the alien, splitting it in half. Parts of it cling to the ship for a couple of seconds but are quickly dragged away by the speed of the ship. This creature does not show any suffering and there is no blood so the gore is kept to a minimum.

Several characters receive mortal wounds when lightsabres are thrust through their chests. Some of these are incidental characters whose faces are not seen and their suffering is minimal, however one is a known character and they are unexpectedly attacked. Their shock is evident on their face which is shown in close-up for ten to twenty seconds.

CAN I SEE A CLIP?

VERDICT

‘The Force Awakens’ is a hotly anticipated and highly enjoyable movie that is bound to be a hit with anyone who enjoys some good action with an impressive sci-fi backdrop. With some violence and scary moments, we recommend that this movie should be suitable for kids aged six and over.

  • Violence: 3/5 (A terrified man is choked, gasping and gagging on-screen for around three seconds. His death isn’t shown but it is implied that he is killed. A ‘good’ character grabs someone (who has previously tried to kill him) and throws him into the jaws of a large alien in order to save himself and his friend)
  • Emotional Distress: 2/5 (a character briefly describes his past saying that as a baby, ‘I was taken from a family I will never know’. A child screams and begs for someone (presumably a loved one) not to leave them but is held back by an unseen adult who is unsympathetic to their distress)
  • Fear Factor: 3/5 (there are a few ‘jump scares’ but they are more humorous than frightening. The head of the First Order is known as ‘The Supreme Leader’, who is enormous, towering over their followers. They have a skeletal head with a large scar on their forehead and an abnormally wide, evil mouth)
  • Sexual Content: 0/5       
  • Bad Language: 1/5 (infrequent mild blasphemy)
  • Dialogue: 2/5 (a ‘good’ character suggests putting a prisoner into a trash compactor (which from a previous film is shown to be a room where the walls slowly crush everything inside it with little chance of escape) and another laughs, saying that this is a good idea. The prisoner appears shocked by this suggestion and, as nothing more is mentioned and this character is not seen again, they have possibly gone through with this which is an unnecessarily brutal killing)
  • Other notes: Deals with themes of taking a stand against evil, fighting for good even when the odds are against you, friendship, loyalty, seeking truth and never giving up.
  • One of the cinematic trailers before the movie began was for ‘Deadpool’. This contained several strong curse words and, although ‘The Force Awakens’ is rated 12A, much of the audiences are likely to be made up of children under 10 and therefore this trailer was very inappropriate and parents may be unhappy for them to see it.

Words by Laura Record

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