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A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
As with whole Star Wars franchise, main tension here is between good and evil, light and dark. Characters discover nuances of humanity and how people aren't generally all one thing or the other. Story underlines idea that everyone has a choice about which moral code to believe in, which mission to accept. Your family/background doesn't determine your destiny. Promotes transformative power of hope, and importance of friendship, courage, teamwork, loyalty, trust, listening to others, faith.
Positive Role Models
Rey continues to be strong, capable, courageous, but this time also deals with inner conflict. She must decide whether to follow the path of the Jedi or indulge in her newfound sense of anger and frustration. Other female characters -- including General Leia, Rose, and some new faces -- are well represented making tough decisions, leading bravely, and more. Finn and Poe learn to lead together and to put mission above personal conflicts. Their friendship and teamwork fittingly rallies the Republic around helping Rey. First Order is depicted as mostly male and largely white, while Resistance is notably diverse both in skin color and in various species, with women in leadership positions.
Violence & Scariness
Tons of sci-fi action violence, both large-scale space battles/explosions and one-on-one duels, shoot-outs, tense chases/crashes. A few explicit but not bloody deaths: A non-human severed head is unceremoniously presented to the First Order (some greenish goop, but no red blood), a traitor is summarily executed, an entire field of Resistance forces is shown dead, a character's skin and face crumble/melt away, Kylo Ren kills and maims many enemies with his lightsaber. One character's wound is shown close-up; a skeleton is seen. Both sides sustain lots of casualties. Spoiler alert: Several primary and supporting characters are killed, and nearly everyone is injured at one point. A couple of key characters are presumed captured or killed. A few deaths will be extra emotional for audiences. Many weapons are used in addition to lightsabers: blaster guns, planet-killer weapons, bombs, grenades, daggers, arrows, fighter planes. An officer orders an entire fleet destroyed. A leader orders an entire planet destroyed. Creepy villain, dark/scary locations, and a couple of large, scary worm-like monsters. Frequent peril and danger. Arguments.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Two characters continue to have an intense, supernatural bond that sometimes feels romantic. Poe comedically asks another character for a kiss two times. Several charged/longing looks. Embraces/brief kisses (both opposite-sex and, extremely briefly, same-sex).
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Infrequent use of insults and words of exasperation including "ass," "damn it," "hell," "stupid," "shut up," etc.
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Products & Purchases
Nothing in the movie, but off camera there's an entire universe of merchandise available, from branded/themed apparel, board games, video games, accessories, housewares, action figures, Lego sets, food, toys, and just about anything else you can consume that can be a tie-in.
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Star Wars: Episode IX: The Rise of Skywalker is the ninth and final film in the four-decade-long Skywalker saga (and the third installment in the current trilogy). Following the events of Episode VIII: The Last Jedi, the film focuses on the battle between the villainous First Order, led by Supreme Leader Kylo Ren (Adam Driver), and the virtuous Resistance fighters, embodied by the last Jedi, Rey (Daisy Ridley). Everything is on the line in this installment, which means the sci-fi action violence is ratcheted up a notch: You can expect even more major space battles, high-stakes destruction, tense chases/crashes, peril, injury, and fierce lightsaber duels (plus blasters, arrows, cannons, and other weapons). This movie feels a little more intense and darker than the previous two in this trilogy, with creepy villains and locations and a few explicit (but not bloody) deaths, including a beheading, a point-blank execution, and a body crumbling to bits. Spoiler alert: Several primary and supporting characters are killed, and a few of those deaths will be extra emotional for audiences. There are also some scenes with lots of flashing lights, which could be difficult for those with photosensitivity. While there's not a lot of romance, the film does include some longing looks, embraces, and a couple of kisses. Language isn't frequent, but you will hear "ass," "hell," and "damn." Women continue to hold strong positions in the Resistance, and there are strong messages of courage, teamwork, hope, and loyalty. To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
Is It Any Good?
Technically slick and impressively performed, this final installment is definitely entertaining, but the considerable fan service and nostalgic callbacks make it less epic than we might have hoped. Audiences will marvel at the elaborate set pieces, the plentiful Easter eggs, and the intricately choreographed battle sequences (the storyboarding must have been amazing). The talented stars are all back -- even the late Carrie Fisher as General Leia Organa. Hopefully they were so bountifully compensated that they can now go on to long careers doing whatever film they want. It's telling, though, that of Driver's three big roles in 2019 (alongside Marriage Story and The Report), this is his least extraordinary. That's because, despite the buddy-adventure humor of the Poe-and-Finn storyline, the fascinating plot revelations (no spoilers here!), and the Game of Thrones-style intrigue, the story and writing can occasionally become unwieldy as director J.J Abrams overstuffs the movie that signals the end of an era.
Speaking for those who don't possess encyclopedic knowledge of every character name and subplot of the three Skywalker trilogies, it's possible to enjoy this film without total recall of the earlier movies -- but those who do remember the meaning of particular characters, species, locations, and vehicles will feel extra rewarded. To spell those particulars out would be to spoil several applause-worthy moments, but if moviegoers have the time, they might re-watch The Empire Strikes Back, Revenge of the Sith, and The Last Jedi to maximize their understanding of the story in Episode IX. The best part of Rise of Skywalker might be the satisfying nostalgia, but it's ultimately about another central trio of friends with sketchy backgrounds (a former scavenger, a Stormtrooper, and a spice runner) who answered a higher calling for themselves, the Force, and the galaxy.
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.