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REVIEW: A spoiler-free parents guide to ‘The Last Jedi’

December 15th, 2017 / By: Michael Foust / comments

REVIEW: A spoiler-free parents guide to ‘The Last Jedi’

When the first Star Wars movies were released four decades ago, it was easy to avoid spoilers and leaks. There was no Facebook or Twitter. There wasn’t even an Internet. As long as you stayed away from newspapers and magazines, you were fine.

Nowadays, though, it’s not so easy. In fact, it’s downright difficult.

For the last few weeks, I have avoided all news about The Last Jedi. I haven’t even read headlines. Why? Because I wanted to be as surprised by the twists and turns on opening night as I was back in 1980 when Darth Vader said those famous words: “I am your father.”

I know I’m not the only one like that. But there’s a problem with this strategy. If we know nothing about the movie, then how are we to know if we should take our children? Sure, we could study the movie’s rating – it’s PG-13 -- but those are often as useful as a wet paper bag. 

That’s where this review comes in handy. In the next few paragraphs, I’ll give you a broad overview of the content in The Last Jedi without revealing a single surprise, spoiler or plot. I won’t even tell you what the opening scroll says.

And in the final paragraph, I’ll tell you if I liked it or not. I’ll also reveal where it ranks in my list of all nine Star Wars movies. Ready?  

Violence/Disturbing Content

Moderate. The violent/disturbing content in The Last Jedi is on par with The Force Awakens and Return of the Jedi, and less than that in Revenge of the Sith. One particular character is as spooky as the Emperor, and we see him several times.

There are multiple space battles and some light saber duels, too, but the violence remains bloodless. One character slaps another character.

I took my 9-year-old son to watch The Last Jedi. I’m not sure I’d take my 6-year-old son. Maybe. If kids aren’t bothered by The Force Awakens or Return of the Jedi, then they’ll be fine in The Last Jedi.

Sexuality    

None. A female character gives a male character a peck on the lips. A male character is seen shirtless.

Language

Minimal. I counted six coarse words: h-ll (2), da—it (1), d—n (1), ba—ard (1), a—(1). While minimal, it is a record number of swear words for a Star Wars film. That’s disappointing, even if the language often is in noisy scenes where kids might not notice. (If you’re curious: Rey curses once; Poe and Finn say the other words.)   

Other Stuff You Might Want To Know

There’s a bar/casino scene, where we see drinking and gambling.  

On the positive side, though, The Last Jedi continues its racial diversity trend with a prominent (and new) Asian character. There also are female pilots on the good side.    

Life Lessons

Self-sacrifice, courage and determination are the primary lessons.

Worldview

We see characters do never-before-seen things with the Force, which we are told is the “energy between all things” that binds the “universe together.” That sounds a lot like pantheism, the unbiblical belief that holds that everything and everyone is “god.” Hinduism and some strands of Buddhism are pantheistic. In this film, the Jedi teachings also are called a “religion.”

There is no personal God in the Star Wars universe – something that might be worth discussing on the ride home.

Sponsors

For children, General Mills – which makes several popular cereals -- is the most prominent sponsor.

Family-Friendly?

It’s family-friendly for teens and most older children. As for younger kids, that’s a parental decision.  

Thumbs Up … Or Down?

Thumbs up.

Final Verdict

The first hour of The Last Jedi was slow at times – so much so that I was losing hope in this newest installment. But the final hour more than made up for it. In fact, the final hour is as good as any 60-minute stretch in any Star Wars film, as it includes multiple surprising twists.

I’ll tentatively place The Last Jedi No. 4 on my list of Star Wars movies. My full list: 1. The Empire Strikes Back, 2. A New Hope, 3. The Force Awakens, 4. The Last Jedi, 5. Return of the Jedi, 6. Rogue One, 7. Revenge of the Sith, 8. The Phantom Menace, 9. Attack of the Clones

Entertainment rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars. Family-friendly rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars.

The Last Jedi is rated PG-13 for sequences of sci-fi action and violence.