Tuesday, December 22, 2015

The Force Awakens IS the Star Wars Movie You're Looking For

Moviegoers: Dude, 40; Mrs. Dude, 40; Little Dude, 6 & Littler Dude, 3

Family Fave Flicks: Beyond the original Star Wars films, some of our favorites to watch together are Toy Story, The Lion King, Despicable Me and most other modern animation flicks.

Fave movies for grown-ups: The Dude’s Faves (that the kids aren’t ready for): Bull Durham, Goodfellas & Old School

What’s the story: A few decades have passed since Luke Skywalker and the Rebels defeated the Empire in Return of the Jedi and a new band of enemies have arisen in the galaxy. The First Order is led by the mysteriously masked Kylo Ren and their mission is to find the now-in-hiding last remaining Jedi Luke Skywalker. Thanks to some old friends and SW-universe newcomers like the rugged scavenger Rey, conflicted Stormtrooper Finn, fighter pilot Poe and next-gen droid BB-8, the battle to defeat the First Order and Kylo Ren has begun.

My group of Star Wars aficionados loved the 3-D effects, updated lightsaber battles and, of course, the lovable BB-8, heir apparent to the iconic R2-D2. My 6 year old was on the edge of his seat for most of the 2+ hours from the opening scroll until the final familiar theme outro. This is definitely the movie Star Wars fans have been looking for and it will leave you yearning for Episode VIII, due in May 2017.

What parents may like about this movie: As a big fan of the original Star Wars trilogy, I appreciated the way this film quickly led us into a totally refreshed universe of exciting new heroes. It was wonderful to see both male and female positive role models that all kids can relate to. The classic Star Wars dilemma of good vs. evil was present, but it’s not too deep to be off-putting to a younger audience and will hopefully be thought provoking and a dialogue starter for older kids/tweens/teens.

What kids will like: BB-8, no question. My boys loved the movie as a whole, but BB-8 was the real deal for them, aided in part by being so familiar with him in advance from the trailers and retail toy departments.

Concerns: This was definitely a much more graphic Star Wars film than all of the previous iterations, except possibly Episode III, containing some epic battle sequences, however, true gore was virtually nonexistent. Intensity might be a concern for some younger kids, or those who haven’t been exposed to other films in the series, so one trick I like to implement before seeing movies that might contain is reinforcing with my kids that what they see on the screen is all pretend.  Humanizing the experience for them seems to help ease any concerns they might have during intense scenes.

Bottom Line: Movie elements ranked on a scale from 1-5, with 1/5 being the least and 5/5 being the highest.

Positive themes: The movie featured several key characters seeking to conquer various hardships without necessarily knowing why they were in those positions. There were also friendships forged among characters who might otherwise have not been connected if not for these adverse conditions. (5/5)

Violence/scare factor: There was a fair amount of violence in this film, though a majority of it was Stormtroopers using their laser blasters so it mostly looks like people getting knocked over. However, for the first time I can remember in a Star Wars film there was a little visible blood (albeit briefly) during one battle scene. Beyond that there was a large monster that captured a character and some other intense scenes involving essentially hand-to-hand combat. There was also a brief dream sequence which was both trippy and surprisingly intense. (3/5)

Sex/Romance: None. Two former paramours briefly embraced and there appeared to be another budding romance, but no action was taken. (0/5)

Bad language: None. Not even anyone being called a half-witted scruffy looking nerf herder. (0/5)

Another parent’s view: Click here for a Fandango mom’s take and another Mom's Movie Minute

Final thought: My wife, who had never seen a single Star Wars movie until we started watching them with the boys less than six months ago, said this just after our screening ended: “I really think we need to see it again, there are so many details I want to rewatch!” Enough said.

This post was written as part of my partnership with Fandango's Fandango Family team. I was compensated for this post, but the opinions contained within are entirely mine and my family's, for better or worse and light side or dark.

Spoiler Alert: If you aren't following @DudeOfTheHouse on Instagram, you might as well go pick up some power converters at Tosche Station.  


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