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Review: Is 'Star Wars: The Force Awakens' kid-friendly?

Updated on December 19, 2015
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5 stars for Star Wars: The Force Awakens

"Star Wars: The Force Awakens" has a PG-13 rating, which can make some parents wonder if the newest installment in the space saga is appropriate for their young fans, The rating was given for sci-fi action violence. While there is quite a bit of violence, children who had no problems watching the other Star Wars movies should be able to watch this movie.

Like in previous movies, entire villages are attacked with much, if not all, of the population being killed. There are planets that see the same fate as Alderaan. Some people are eaten by large creatures. Plus, there are two notable deaths by lightsaber, one much more emotional and meaningful to the story than the other.

There is also blood and significant battle wounds, consequences of war that were not really explored in past Star Wars films. We also actually see torture using Force mind control.

The worst of the violence exists for the bad guys to prove they are bad. However, there is a plus to the violence in that one of the bad guys sees how wrong the actions are and changes, while another struggles with the choices he's made.

That's one of the great things about this movie- it's not just a battle between good and evil, it's also a movie about the battle within ourselves to do what is right over what we want or what we've been taught.

The Characters

Han Solo, Leia Organa and Luke Skywalker are the old heroes played by Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher and Mark Hamill. Han is accompanied by his co-pilot and friend Chewbacca, played by Peter Mayhew.

Rey, played by Daisy Ridley, is a scavenger with a "classified" origin.

Finn, played by John Boyega, is a Stormtrooper with a change of heart.

Poe Dameron, played by Oscar Isaac, is the best pilot for the Resistance.

Kylo Ren, played by Adam Driver, is the new Sith villain.

Also, don't think Star Wars is just for boys. Like the previous trilogies, there is a strong, confident, intelligent female lead. Girls who love Elsa from "Frozen" may want to be Rey after watching this movie.

While there are no annoying characters (even C-3O's moments are more short-lived nostalgic fun), there are non-human characters children will like. One of the major players is a new droid, BB-8, who little ones will love. Also, with Yoda-esque likability and knowledge is a grandmotherly alien in Maz Kanata.

While older Star Wars fans may be pleased the saga has finally grown up with them, there is definitely something for everyone. There are moments that tug at the emotions of the fans told in such a way to also quickly educate newcomers to the story. There are funny moments and just good fun moments to balance the seriousness and tragedy.

Each trilogy, while being the story of Anakin Skywalker, have highlighted a different generation. Parents who grew up watching the original trilogy should enjoy sharing the first of the new generation of movies with their children.

Note: There is no after credits scene. For this review, I watched the movie with my 12-year-old and 8-year-old. There were several other children who appeared to be around my kids' ages in the theater with their families.

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