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The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What 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.
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but don't let the trailer fool you, this movie is a total piece of crap. First... Continue reading
What's the story?
STAR WARS: EPISODE IX: THE RISE OF SKYWALKER starts off with the usual scrolling exposition: In a galaxy far, far away, what remains of the Resistance regroups after the devastating losses of The Last Jedi, while Rey (Daisy Ridley) trains with the Force and new Supreme Leader Kylo Ren (Adam Driver) and the First Order look for a secret Sith lair that's broadcasting pro-Emperor Palpatine propaganda. Poe (Oscar Isaac), Finn (John Boyega), and Chewbacca continue on their mission to subvert the First Order and help Rey save the day. Kylo Ren attempts to lure Rey to the Dark Side, believing that their special supernatural Force connection means they're destined to share a throne and rule together. In battle after battle, the two forces fight for the future of the galaxy.
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.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the violence in Star Wars: Episode IX: The Rise of Skywalker. Do scenes of explosions and space battles affect you differently than those of close-up, one-on-one lightsaber duels and killings? Why do you think that is? What makes more of an impact: violence or loss? Why? How does this movie handle both topics?
How is diversity -- and a lack thereof -- used to indicate the values of the opposing sides of the conflict in the Star Wars series? Why is it notable that the First Order has very little diversity, while the Republic has a lot of it?
Talk about the themes from the previous movies that repeat themselves here. Why are issues of good vs. evil, mentorship, and so on so important to this series? How do they play out on-screen?
What are your thoughts on the way the Skywalker Saga ended? What do you think happens in the future for the characters, the Force, and the galaxy?
- In theaters: December 20, 2019
- On DVD or streaming: March 17, 2020
- Cast: Daisy Ridley, Adam Driver, John Boyega, Oscar Isaac
- Director: J.J. Abrams
- Studio: Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures
- Genre: Science Fiction
- Topics: Adventures, Friendship, Space and Aliens
- Character strengths: Courage, Teamwork
- Run time: 141 minutes
- MPAA rating: PG-13
- MPAA explanation: sci-fi violence and action
- Last updated: March 19, 2021
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