A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
As ever, the main tension is between good and evil, light and dark; characters must decide whether to choose the path they were taught or the "other" side. Just because you were bred/raised to be a particular way doesn't mean you have to accept that. The importance of friendship, courage, teamwork, loyalty, and doing the right thing is demonstrated again and again, whether with old partners or new friends.
Positive Role Models
Rey is strong, capable, and courageous. Finn's sense of morality keeps him from being a stormtrooper; he's frightened of being captured and considered a traitor, but he summons his courage to help save Rey and do the right thing. Brave and skilled, Poe doesn't judge Finn by his uniform but by his actions. Han and Leia forgive each other for old hurts and clearly love each other. Han and Chewie remain the best of friends and staunch allies of those in the right. Kylo Ren is deeply conflicted. The First Order leadership are clearly bad guys -- and, like the Empire before them, they're virtually all white, though there are a few women in their ranks now (including helmeted Captain Phasma). The "good guys" are notably diverse, and there's a female X-Wing pilot now.
Violence & Scariness
Lots of sci-fci action violence on both the largest possible scale (planets obliterated) and much smaller (one-on-one lightsaber duels and firefights/shoot-outs), but hardly any blood/gore (with the exception of bloody fingerprints on a white stormtrooper helmet). There's a weapon that can destroy entire systems, and there are explosive battle sequences in which people die and ships burst into flames. Kylo Ren tortures people, both physically and with the Force. Quick glimpses of dead soldiers and civilians lying around. Laser guns of all shapes and sizes (handheld, ship mounted, etc.); bombs. Chases, crashes, and frequent peril. Large, monstrous creatures rampage through a ship; other creatures look scary/threatening, and the leader of the First Order is creepy. A man orders an entire village of civilians/witnesses slaughtered and cuts down an unarmed man. A young man has debilitating anger issues. Spoiler alert: Supporting characters are injured, one is presumed dead, and there's one very upsetting death.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
An adult couple hugs tenderly. A young woman and a young man bond under intense circumstances that lead to romantic chemistry, but there's nothing more than a kiss on the forehead.
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Infrequent use of words including "dammit," "hell," "little freaks," "murderers," "liars," "thieves," "scum."
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Products & Purchases
On camera, nothing; but off camera, the Star Wars franchise is a merchandiser's dream, with branded/themed apparel, games, accessories, housewares, action figures, LEGO sets, toys, and just about anything else you can imagine.
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
A scene in an interstellar pub shows creatures of all kinds drinking (presumably alcohol) and talking.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Star Wars: Episode VII: The Force Awakens is the hugely anticipated seventh installment in the big-screen Star Wars franchise, featuring new main characters as well as beloved favorites like Han Solo (Harrison Ford), Leia Organa (Carrie Fisher), and Chewbacca. Directed by J.J. Abrams, the sequel takes place approximately 30 years after the events of The Return of the Jedi, and although there's tons of sci-fi action -- space battles, crashes, explosions, lightsaber duels, and more -- there's less violence overall than viewers saw in Episode III: Revenge of the Sith. Villains do order the mass murder of countless civilians, prisoners are coerced physically and with the Force, and duels lead to injuries and death, but none of it is bloody or gory. With little language ("dammit" and "hell" are as strong as it gets) or sex, this is the kind of epic adventure that will undoubtedly appeal to Star Wars fans of all ages. But while younger kids may be familiar with the franchise and its many spin-offs (like the animated Clone Wars), they might not be ready for some of The Force Awakens' more violent or emotional scenes. (Spoiler alert: One death will hit very hard.) To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
Is It Any Good?
Star Wars fans can rest easy; director J.J. Abrams (Star Trek) clearly knows how to stay faithful to sci-fi classics. He focuses not just on fantastic action sequences, but on the heart of these stories: the characters, both new and old. Finn and Rey are, like Luke once was, appealingly naive -- but also a lot more proactive. They're both alone, Finn because he was brought up as a stormtrooper with only one skill (to kill), and Rey because she was torn away from her family as a young child and lives a lonely existence of scavenging for parts. Like Leia and Han, they banter and argue, but they're also refreshingly earnest and encouraging with each other. Boyega and Ridley have an immediate chemistry that's sweet, with just a hint of possible romance.
Finn and Rey (as well as swashbuckling fighter pilot Poe) may be the franchise's new main characters, but The Force Awakens ultimately belongs to Ford, reprising his role as Han Solo. Still smirking after all these years, Han is reunited with his original love, the Millennium Falcon. He and Chewie see in Finn and Rey the urgency they remember from their days with Luke and Leia. Despite considerable emotional baggage between Han and Leia, the couple's reunion will melt fans' hearts. Ford is utterly brilliant as what's arguably his most definitive character; he's the bridge between the new characters and the old. He's the one whose vulnerability and humor make you remember how much you missed these characters in George Lucas' misguided style-over-substance prequels. Featuring John Williams' forever enduring score and the universal themes of the original movies, the Force is back in Episode VII -- and stronger than ever.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.