Hesitant to take our seven-year old to watch the new Star Wars movie, I’m glad we did. I never thought I’d write an unofficial movie review but I don’t watch many movies and Star Wars The Force Awakens completely won my heart. It is so relevant to today’s world and encouraged my heart.
Why on earth would you take a seven-year old to a PG-13 movie?
Are we bad parents because we took him before age thirteen? Are we setting a precedent of bending rules for our pleasure? Nah. We don’t pay much attention to ratings because we generally do not view shows that warrant a memorable rating. Because our kids aren’t familiar with the rating system I don’t believe we set any precedent by taking our son.
A few trusted friends watched the movie and gave us reports on what we value most: Language, sex, modesty and over-arching theme of right and wrong. I also asked specifically if it was dark like episode three (which our son has not viewed). We were comfortable with the responses, but took I it a step further.
“You can take breaks or leave at any point you want.” This permission was given several times because I know my son’s heart. As mischievous and active as he is, evil burdens his heart. There’s nothing worse than feeling trapped- I’ve been there before. I care more about our son than the amount paid for admission. Building self-awareness comes at a cost. Ultimately he took two breaks for intensity during the movie and three potty breaks.
Keep in mind, that means I took five breaks and haven’t had a second viewing (yet). It’s possible I missed something. Let’s start with the obvious:
1. Clean Language. The writing was story driven and didn’t include even accepted offensive words. The language streaming through your television is worse than what you will encounter in this movie.
2. No Sex. A couple near kisses, but we’re not lost in a romantic tangled mess and clothes on the floor. Even the clothing in Maz’s cantina is modest, not akin to Jaba’s scantily clad dancing-girls. Clothes stay on and we’re left to enjoy the story.
3. Violence. You know I hate violence (I wrote about it here I even removed the pictures because I couldn’t handle them floating about Peacequility) so how did I handle this?
The violence wasn’t gory, blood wasn’t covering the screen and it wasn’t purposefully grotesque. JJ Abrams didn’t go out of his way to embellish scenes with carnage.
Yes, the movie begins with the mass extermination of a village, but here are two reasons I don’t object to this scene:
This is happening around the globe right now. ISIS isn’t the only group singling out groups to be exterminated. As heartbreaking as this is, we must rise above our feelings and fear. We must pray and take whatever actions we are called to.
This scene doesn’t show blood and guts, but does reveal the heart of a Storm Trooper, Fin, who has courage enough to not participate. It takes strength to recognize something as wrong and abstain. A scared Fin looks for an escape and his imperfect efforts are refreshing to see on-screen and an example for viewers.
The scariest part for our son was the rathtar escape on Han Solo’s ship. These gigantic octopus-meets-alien creatures grab men and eat them. The scene could have included blood, limbs lying about and worse, but aside from the surprise of it appearing, we’re left with an empty boot.
“Fin getting grabbed and nearly eaten is too scary.”- Will age 7
4. Great Characters. WOW I really loved these characters! Rey presents a young woman who girls can look up to. She’s not bossy, nerdy, whiny or trying to prove she can keep up with the men. Leia, who I grew up with, was a product of the feminist movement of her era. She had a chip on her shoulder and was pushing her way forward.
Rey demonstrates strength through who convictions. Early on she stands out by keeping BB-8 instead of selling him for an amount of food that would have provided for a long time. Rey’s pattern of choosing what is right despite making her life more difficult draws viewers in.
Fin, the Storm Trooper who doesn’t participate in the village genocide, grows from a man running to protect himself to a man courageously fighting for what is important to him.
Han Solo. We will never outrun our transgressions. Smooth talking can only take us so far. When we don’t follow through on what we say, we lose the trust and the support of those around us.
Kylo Wren. Oh his tantrums! If ever there was a teaching moment for self-control! He reminds us that what we purposefully follow will grow in our hearts. He plucked light from his life and was left with darkness. His desire to be full of darkness instead of light reminds me of our world.
Talking with my son a week after watching the movie Kylo Wren was at the front of his mind. “He’s way too creepy. He’s so evil and kills his dad.”
Po. Our son’s favorite character. He’s a great leader, pilot, loyal and strong enough to resist the force when Kylo Wren attempts to extract information from him. He manages to bring humor to a torture scene and doesn’t allow fear to control him.
5. Scary. The movie is scary because it portrays and confronts evil. Kylo Wren and Snoke present an opportunity to talk frankly about evil. Our world glosses over, even glorifies evil and this movie demonstrates the allure, power and terror of what evil truly is without going over the edge.
The scenes with Kylo Wren torturing Po and the fear of what he’ll do when he holds Rey as a prisoner pushed me. I’m super sensitive to torture scenes because it is happening around the globe. However, it is encouraging to encounter characters willing to endure for the protection of others. Po and Rey set an example of courageous loyalty.
6. Political Messages. The entertainment industry is usually used for pushing agendas that I don’t agree with. This movie is reminiscent of classic movies that survive because they’re built on a good story.
We’re reminded of Hitler and THIS IS GOOD. It is good to remember what happens when power is abused and people manipulated. Such leaders exist in our world making headlines regularly. Such leaders are not going away and it is good for kids to understand early on leaders will misrepresent ideas to get what they want.
7. The Power of Good to Triumph. At the end Rey is nearly overcome by Kylo Wren’s force, but she pauses directing her focus to the force and is strengthened. Bouncing back and nearly defeats Kylo Wren. When we turn our eyes toward God, when we rely on God’s strength, we can overcome. We need to take time to pause and use God’s strength.
8. Ethics/Teamwork. Survival depends on teamwork and collaboration. Working together, being all-in, the people are saved.
9. Abducted Kids. Fin was taken from his family at a young age and Rey was separated from hers. In the real world, this is happening on all scales. From African boys snatched from villages to become trained killers to kids being separated from family through divorce. We must fight to protect our kids from within.
If you’re on the fence, go preview the movie. The story is so good it’s likely you will want to see the movie again.
As for our son, he doesn’t want to see it again until he’s 18, is absolute that his sister shouldn’t watch it until she’s at least nine, but that’s one of the reasons I’m really glad we took him. This was a safe way for him to learn sometimes the things we most want aren’t the best choice. I’m glad he could gain a notch of learning without being exposed to graphic abuse.
What do you think? Do you talk about ratings with your kids and use them as guidelines for your family? What did you think of the movie?