**NB: Revised from original version, post-screening **
Another year, same issue. Is Star Wars Rogue One suitable for kids? The actual rating of the film – PG-13 from the MPAA in the US and 12A from the BBFC in the UK – is the least of it.
Why am I so keen for my not even 5-year-old daughter to see this movie? Same reasons, I wanted her to see The Force Awakens last year at nearly 4-years-old – to reinforce in her that Star Wars isn’t just for boys. As this movie again features another female lead (Felicity Jones as Jyn Erso), it’s even more important to me that she sees it. And my daughter’s an even bigger Star Wars fan than a year ago.
What do parents need to know? IMHO, Rogue One: A Star Wars Story is less violent in tone than The Force Awakens. Yes, there are likely more onscreen deaths – but they are far more in keeping with the less visceral nature of conflict in the original trilogy. Ultimately, this is a story of selflessness and hope.
I have no issue with my (nearly) 5-year-old Star Wars fan daughter watching it, though she may get a bit bored – it is pretty talky. But for any fan of the original trilogy, there is so much that is familiar in the era of this story – Stormtroopers, Yavin-4, spaceships, and other stuff I don’t want to spoil – that they will find plenty to love.
But it still feels ludicrous that movies such as these new Star Wars instalments or the superpowered adventures of Batman, Superman, Spider-Man, and even Ant-Man, should be deemed unsuitable for kids under 12 or 13 (depending on what country you’re in).
Now I know these age ratings are only advisory, and that we as parents know our kids best, but this shouldn’t even be an issue when we are talking about movies of this type. They should first – and foremost – be suitable for kids. If they’re not, what’s the point of having tie-in toys (like this Rogue One LEGO U-Wing)?
But, a film’s certificate only tells part of the story. A film can be rated PG and be utterly terrifying (Jaws). A film can be U and give your kid childhood nightmares (Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, Watership Down).
And, I think the real reason these movies are rated 12A/PG-13 is simple – money. They are seen as more commercial – U & PG look like kids films and may put off adults, 15 & 18 are age restrictive. In the US, while kids can see R rated movies with an adult (it’s a very weird thing to see if you’re not from the US – family trips to see a super- inappropriate movie), it will still put enough people off.
But many of these films are 12A/PG-13 in name only, adding in a little violence or innuendo to get the rating up. In my experience, the majority of these 12A’s are perfectly fine for my daughter. The violence is fantasy, the sexual content is innocent, and while the language can be a bit fruity, this is language she will increasingly hear, and she has yet to repeat (no doubt the first time will within earshot – or to – a teacher).
Where does Rogue One: A Star Wars Story fit into this? To me it is definitely at the lighter end of the 12A/PG-13 scale, where the likes of The Bourne Identity and The Dark Knight lurk at the other end. There was one scene where (yet again) there was a bit of an intense interrogation, but it was brief and fantastical in nature. While there are many deaths on screen, this is all done very much in the vein of the original trilogy. In the past, this could well have been classified PG (or even U if the 1970’s BBFC had been the ones classifying it!)
So is Star Wars: Rogue One suitable for your kids? I think you already know the answer to that one…
FWIW, here is the BBFC advice on Rogue One: A Star Wars Story:
There are frequent gunfights, use of hand-held weapons, explosions and aerial dogfights between spaceships. Blood and injury detail is limited and brief.
Occasional scenes of mild threat include an interrogation and gun threat.
What do you think? Is Star Wars Rogue One suitable for kids?
Image of Felicity Jones from ‘Rogue One: A Star Wars Story’, © 2016 Lucasfilm Ltd. All Rights Reserved.