(Spoiler Free) After a bit of research and deliberation, we decided to let the kids go with us to see Rogue One on our first viewing, unlike The Force Awakens where the adults went to see it first.
I will try my darndest to talk about the movie without giving anything away, but please do read at your own risk.
There were 4 adults and 3 kids in our party: 13, 9 and 5 years-old. Everyone liked the movie except for the 5-year-old who said it was a boring and too scary (more on that later). The consensus was the The Force Awakens was a bit better, but that Rogue One still had A LOT to offer – and that any Star Wars fan HAS to see it. I don’t think it is a great stand-alone movie like The Force Awakens is – Rogue One should really be seen in the context of A New Hope.
So going forward, I am going to assume you are a fan of the series and that your kids have already seen The Force Awakens…. because, you know, why wouldn’t they have?
The Awesome Parts:
Though darker than all other Star Wars movies (well, maybe tied with Ep III, Revenge of the Sith), there is still opportunities for some real fun. If you know A New Hope well, you will find lots of Easter Eggs and visual references.
K-2SO is fabulous. Well designed, funny, grouchy and absolutely the kids’ favorite character (and mine too).
The cast is wonderful. It is the most diverse cast ever assembled for a Star Wars movie, and I’m thrilled to see that. Making movies that will be seen by kids and tweens is a much bigger responsibility than making movies just for teenagers and adults. Kids emulate, are influenced by, and relate to the characters in a way older teens and adults don’t do. So as a parent, I am grateful that Disney takes this responsibility seriously, and that they try to get actors with different ethnic backgrounds to represent our society as a whole. This is especially important when it comes to they toy lines. You want your kids to have the opportunity to play-act with action dolls who look both the same and different from themselves – it is a fantastic way of teaching them not just tolerance, but inclusivity.
Then of course we have Jyn as our heroine. After Rey, having another female lead was perhaps a surprising choice, but it does make a lot of sense. Think about the other freestanding movies in production or discussion: Han Solo, and maybe Boba Fett and Obi-wan Kenobi. All male heroes. So this might have been Kathleen Kennedy’s only chance to have a female lead for a while. The only complaint I have is that I don’t think Rogue One passes the Bechdel Test. (If you are not familiar with that test you should definitely read up on it here). There are women talking in a group, but I don’t think 2 women talk privately with each other.
The final battle at the end has some amazingly cool space battle scenes, with lots of throwbacks to A New Hope. Space action never looked better! Very exciting stuff!
The Scary Parts:
(again, no real spoilers ahead, but read at your own risk…)
There was some real disagreement between the adults as to which movie was scarier: The Force Awakens or Rogue One. The isn’t MORE violence in Rogue One – but the violence is different. Here there are less lightsabers and fantasy weapons, but more guns and explosions. Rogue One does not have scary sith or really bad guys (except for short snippets of Darth Vader), like The Force Awakens does, but it has some quite scary and emotional scenes.
The kids were in agreement however: Rogue One was scarier. All 3 kids were taken aback and surprised by it . If you are 9 or 13, this is not necessarily a bad thing – just a very different movie experience. When you are 5, it can be enough for nightmares. Leaving the theater there were many more questions than cheers.
Despite some real fun kid-oriented moments, the movie is more adult-themed than all the other Star Wars movies (though tied with Revenge of the Sith). The first act of the movie was actually a bit boring, and pretty confusing for the younger kids (my son said he was bored and tired). The middle act is more similar to what we have come to expect of Star Wars: action, fun one-liners, and some emotional scenes sprinkled in. The last act was very exciting, fantastic movie-making, but thematically MUCH darker than anything we have seen before in Star Wars (again, the Anakin/padowan + order 66 scene in Ep III excluded).
Read the list below for specific scary parts:
– The opening scene with Jyn as a young girl, can be scary for younger kids.
– In the first half or so, there are several times our heroes end up having to fight to survive. I would say all these scenes are on par with what we saw in The Force Awakens. The movie looks darker and grittier, but if your kids watch and enjoy the Avenger movies for example, you have nothing to worry about.
– In the middle, there is a dark scene involving a research center on a cliff. As an adult you will know what is coming, so you might want to consider hugging your kids a little harder.
– The last third or so of the movie is very different from the rest. It is more violent, and the violence looks more real than what we are used to in Star Wars. There is really no gore or blood however, and SOME of the scariest bits happen just off-screen or are left to the imagination. However I should warn you there are some very emotional scenes. Again, as an adult you will see them coming a bit ahead of time, so you’ll want to pay attention to how the younger ones handle them.
– In some ways the lines between good and bad guys are less clear here than what we are used to seeing in Star Wars and Disney movies. Seeing good guys do bad things can be confusing for kids.
– And, just like the other Star Wars movies, there is death depicted in a few scenes, and you should expect to talk to you child about it.
Our kids have seen most of the Avenger movies, and I would put this at the same violence level as Captain America: The First Avenger, which I think is the scariest of the bunch. If you don’t think your child is ready to see those, he or she is not ready for this movie.
Of course each child is different. There is no way we would have brought our daughter to see this at 5. At the time, she was still terrified of animated Disney villains. I think we would have waited until she was 7 or even 8. Our son however, loves the Avengers series, so we decided it would be fine for him. And it was OK – he wasn’t that scared – he just did not enjoy it very much.
The short of it is, this is not a movie for young or sensitive kids. If you are unsure of how your child might react, you should watch the movie first.
If there are additional scenes that concern you or troubled your child, please share them with us, so people can read them in the comment section.