Parents' Guide to

Rogue One: A Star Wars Story

By Sandie Angulo Chen, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 11+

Epic but violent adventure offers diversity, role models.

Movie PG-13 2016 133 minutes
Rogue One: A Star Wars Story Poster Image

A Lot or a Little?

What you will—and won't—find in this movie.

Community Reviews

age 11+

Based on 59 parent reviews

age 12+

Often Excellent Dark Star Wars entry for Older Audiences

Star Wars has always been a series for not only children, but the child that lives in the heart of adults as well. It's escapism between good people who show their faces and believe in life, and evil people who mask their faces and wish to oppress those that are not among their numbers. It's simple, endearing and satisfying, and not just in a cathartic sense. However, Rogue One is different, and by this I don't mean that it fails - instead, it takes a different approach from the start. This is sort of a lighter version of the era (late 80's through the 90's) when child-friendly entertainment had to receive ultra-mature, gritty and dark reinterpretations so that the fans of the original material could feel like the material itself matured with them. But in almost all of those cases I would say it was just pandering to a crowd that simply wanted some kind of verification that they still enjoy what was once a children's property, but Rogue One instead takes a more sophisticated approach. Not to say that the movie itself is particularly sophisticated, nor am I even saying that the movie is always interesting and engaging. But I will say that its new angle is a good one, and when this movie works, it's genuinely excellent. In terms of just pure critique, I can just point out that the action is very engaging, the characters a bit flat but endearing enough and operate well as cogs in the gears of the story itself, the visuals are outstanding and the performances solid. It was nice to see Donnie Yen used more for acting than for kung-fu, and Ben Mendelsohn was excellent as a villain who isn't evil, but instead prideful and aggressive. And that last part is one of the things that makes me recommend this movie for families of teenagers -- The lessons in this movie are actually very good. The heroes act in a very morally grey area, performing what are sometimes really bad acts of violence in hopes that the ends will justify the means, and in the final act of the movie, the heroes genuinely question if they are right to do this. Heck, one of the main characters continues fighting simply because giving up means that the horrible things he has done was for nothing; he simply couldn't live with himself for the things he has done if it amounted to nothing but sudden acts of violence. And with that, the movie portrays violence in a much more unpleasant light, with almost no survivors and several deaths played as tragedies rather than just the inevitability of action. At times it's actually moving in an almost unpleasant way, but this only makes such things more effective. With that, there is a great element with the villain of the movie, in that he is a villain because he is proud to the point of near-narcissism, and his fate is sealed largely because he demanded he have things his way. On the other side of the spectrum, many of the heroes know that what they are doing, for the greater good, is a suicide mission, and they act with courage in hopes that their sacrifice will help those that come after them. I think that these are great things to teach older children because the single most important lesson in life is that actions have consequences, and that options are always open, but things don't always happen as you hope; sometimes you need to make a stand, sometimes you should leave well enough alone, and sometimes you can do something but maybe should not.
age 9+

So yes, many of the main characters die, but the concept that the good guys always make it through is flawed and the message that some people are willing to chance their lives to protect the freedom and lives of others is still a valuable one. There is some amazing acting and it serves as an action packed and fun (well mostly) segway between episdoes 3 and 4 in the Star Wars Saga.

Is It Any Good?

Our review:
Parents say (59 ):
Kids say (170 ):

This is the Star Wars story you were looking for but may not have even known it. For decades, devoted fans have wondered why the Death Star had a design flaw that the Rebel Alliance could even think about exploiting. Rogue One answers that question. While there have been plenty of rumors about the characters and events in this stand-alone "bridge" between Episode III and Episode IV, the reality is that this story is very much in keeping with that you'd expect from that precarious moment when the Empire was basically at its most powerful. Jones and Luna are wonderful as Jyn and Cassian, both of whom have complicated pasts. In some ways, they're the opposite of Leia and Han, with Jyn the roguish heroine with a spotty reputation and Cassian the tried-and-true Rebel with a Cause. Their banter isn't quite as funny as Leia and Han's, but for that there's K-2SO , who drily states the probability of success in any given situation -- or why he thinks partnering with Jyn is a bad idea.

The supporting characters in Rogue One are a refreshingly diverse ensemble, with Chinese martial artists Donnie Yen and Wen Jiang playing blind warrior monk Chirrut Imwe and his assassin bestie, Baze Malbus. They're a fierce but comedic pair of old friends who have each other's backs. The Night Of breakout star Riz Ahmed plays an Imperial pilot who wants to help the Rebellion, and veteran actors Mendelsohn, Mikkelsen, and Forest Whitaker have pivotal roles on both sides of Dark and Light. The odds are against this lot of revolutionaries from the start, and the movie's epic battle sequences are the most violent of any Star Wars installment, sometimes bringing to mind the final Hunger Games films. The violence may be too much (and the Shakespearean-level of deaths too sad) for the youngest moviegoers, but otherwise this is a well-executed piece of Star Wars lore.

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