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Is Star Wars Rogue One suitable for kids? Does the age rating matter?

**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…

We're off to the movies 😀 #starwarsrogueone #reycosplay #forceawakenscosplay

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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.

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What do you think? Is Star Wars Rogue One suitable for kids?

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Image of Felicity Jones from ‘Rogue One: A Star Wars Story’, © 2016 Lucasfilm Ltd. All Rights Reserved.


16 thoughts on “Is Star Wars Rogue One suitable for kids? Does the age rating matter?”

  1. So there are two things I want to say.
    1. I love Star Wars films and will watch this with my boy (11). Not my girls, who don’t like Star Wars.
    2. It’s great that the leads are female BUT it really bugs me that they’re in such a minority. Why aren’t say 30% of Storm Troopers female? My girls notice this stuff and don’t want a story about one girl surrounded by boys.

    1. Yeah, it’s a fair point. All I will say is that it’s getting better. At least the last one actually had female Stormtroopers. It’s a start…

  2. Because girls have rail upon rail in clothes shops, pink everything, frozen, tangled, Cinderella, sleeping beauty, and basically everything else. Boys have starwars and football (which we don’t like either) lol

    1. I’m calling BS on that. Girls have princesses, fairies, butterflies, maybe ponies. Boys have sports, space, vehicles, insects, most other animals, dinosaurs, and superheroes. Girls have rail upon rail, yes, of impractical and often inappropriate clothing telling them to be pretty and sweet and decorative. Boys have clothes cut and designed to tell them to be brave and strong and outgoing and funny and clever.

  3. We are going as a whole family to watch the film. 🙂
    Me, hubby and our 3 kids who are 4, 6 and 12.
    We’re a huge Star Wars fan family! 😀
    Really looking forward to the film – the trailer is promising. 😀

  4. I also started my daughter on Star Wars at the age of 4. We watched every movie in the series in the months after her sister was born. She’s now 5 and I plan on taking her to opening night of Rogue One this Thursday.

    I was actually searching the web to make sure Rogue One wasn’t somehow far more violent/etc. before taking her when I stumbled upon your post.

    I too like seeing strong female role models in the new Star Wars movies. My daughter loves pink and barbies… but the good news is she also loves sports, Star Wars, rock music, etc. Well-rounded is the way to go!

    1. It is more violent it’s pretty much a war movie of sacrificial death and carnage. Whereas with the other movies the significant deaths were mostly off screen or at a distance this movie has people dying in arms saying final words and also a lot more hand to hand combat.

      I’d suggest watching it yourself first before taking any child aged under 8.

  5. Really glad I read this. My eldest is 5 and a total Star Wars fan (I am so proud). I wouldn’t take her to Force Awakens until I had seen it. I knew when I saw it that she wasn’t quite ready for it. The reason? One of her favourite characters is Han Solo and she was going through a phase where she was worrying about people dying – especially mummy and daddy. We waited until it was on DVD, and whilst she was still upset by that scene, it was right to do it that way. I love the fact that she ADORES Rey and I know it will be the same with Rogue One.

    1. FYI, if she still feel the same then perhaps you should check the movie out first again. But to me, the overall tone is much more like the OT.

  6. My experience was very different. My daughter 7 had to be taken out from the cinema she was so distraught and scared. She cried for a long time after. She has watched and loved all the star wars movies and saw the force awakens in the cinema too. The tone of this is darker – its much more about the brutality of war from the soldiers point of view. I dont advice kids below 9-10 to see this no matter how big a fan they are

    1. I don’t agree – not about your experience, but about it being darker. That’s why it’s an advisory rating, so it can be interpreted by parents.

  7. I took my three year old boy to see it. He loved it and now likes to listen to the soundtrack while playing with his lego. He also goes about saying “I am one with the force, the force is with me”. My opinion on movies is that if they stimulate their imagination then it is fine for a child to see it. I don’t get the idea that there is a magic age where it becomes ok to see violence. Most of the internet seems to disagree.

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