Rogue One: A Star Wars Story Parent Review

Older audiences, whether they are fans or just casual viewers, are likely to walk away happy from this movie that combines amazing special effects with a strong storyline.

Overall A-

The Star Wars Universe is the setting for this stand-alone tale that follows a new set of characters. Felicity Jones plays Jyn Erso, a member of The Rebellion who takes part in the covert operation to steal the plans to the Death Star.

Violence C-
Sexual Content A
Profanity A
Substance Use A

Rogue One: A Star Wars Story is rated PG-13 for extended sequences of sci-fi violence and action.

Movie Review

On May 25th, 1977, the very first Star Wars movie appeared in theaters. It quickly attained huge box office returns and fan applause. In the 28 years following, another 5 films were added to the franchise, and each met with financial success. In late 2012, Lucasfilm, as well as the rights to nearly all things Star Wars were purchased by Disney. With its money-making record, it only makes sense that the new owner would want to crank out more movies. So, in 2015 the studio premièred Star Wars: The Force Awakens and is on track to release other Star Wars productions every year for the foreseeable future. (A little trivia: 20th Century Fox still owns that first Star Wars movie.)

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Rogue One is the first of a new breed. Instead of being another “episode” (like all previous films have been), this one is a “Star Wars Story” – meaning it is a stand-alone tale based in the same universe, but looking at the galaxy from another point of view, and following events and characters not covered in the past. This script fits into the timeline just before Episode IV: A New Hope. It explains how the Rebel Alliance, with the help of a young woman named Jyn Erso (Felicity Jones), got hold of plans to the Empire’s new super weapon, The Death Star.

With so many long-time fans (myself included), it is easy to understand why some are fearful this different direction may not do justice to the classics. Those worries will be removed as soon as they see Rogue One. Surpassing my expectations, this adventure provides amazing visuals and exciting action, some surprisingly funny characters and moments, as well as a profound storyline with depth and development that we haven’t seen from this series in a long time. The moral dilemmas of war are explored in a thought-provoking way as we see characters struggle to understand if their cause justifies their means. The Rebel Alliance occasionally engages in less than heroic deeds, and extremists break away because they feel the larger group is not being aggressive enough. I found myself realizing that characters are not given the luxury of simply choosing the light or the dark side. Rather they find themselves in a lot of grey space, wondering who and what is truly good or truly evil.

Previous Star Wars films have been criticized for characters that are not relatable or even likeable, and special effects that were often more important than the plot. Fortunately, that is not the case this time. I had no trouble bonding to this band of rebels and caring about them in a real way. Despite living in a far-away sci-fi galaxy, I could appreciate their wrestles with trust issues, family, and even faith as they attempt to find hope in a dark situation.

Parents should be aware that this foray feels a bit more violent than former jaunts in this universe. Although lots of the action is bloodless like before, what makes it slightly more disturbing is that we see the “good guys” do some not-so-good things in the name of their cause. For instance, sequences depict a storm trooper’s body being held up as a shield, an unarmed man shot in the back at point blank, the torture of a suspicious pilot to get information, and an unarmed enemy soldier fired at while attempting to get to his feet. The “bad guys” certainly do their fair share of killing too, including shooting a woman in front of her husband and daughter. The realistic natures of these acts may make this space romp unsuitable for youngsters.

Older audiences, whether they are Star Wars geeks or just casual viewers, are likely to walk away happy from this movie. With incredible special effects backed up by a powerful story, and with an emotional connection to the characters, Rogue One has set the bar high for future productions. I am look forward to seeing if the filmmakers can do it again next time.

Directed by Gareth Edwards. Starring Felicity Jones, Ben Mendelsohn, Forrest Whitaker.. Running time: 133 minutes. Theatrical release December 16, 2016. Updated

Get details on profanity, sex and violence in Rogue One: A Star Wars Story here.

Rogue One: A Star Wars Story Parents Guide

When trying to convince the Rebels to attack, Jyn is asked, “What chance do we have?” She responds, “The question isn’t what chance. The question is what choice do we have?” When have you faced a decision that requires faith to believe you can overcome odds that are not in your favor?

“The Force” plays a major role in the motivations of characters in this movie. How does this power parallel different religions? How does it involve faith? Do you have to be religious to appreciate the role of “The Force” in Star Wars stories?

Are all characters in this movie good or evil? How do the various shades of grey help to make the story more realistic?

What aspects of life in Star Wars are rarely seen? Who builds the various ships? Where does everyone live? Where’s the cafeteria? If you created a Star Wars universe, what would you include?

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