Chances are, if you grew up in the late 70s, Star Wars was the first time you ever saw severed limbs on screen. If you grew up a child in the 90s, you endured the slow crippling burnt flesh that saw Anakin Skywalker forever confided to a suit of black armor, turning him into a totalitarian monster in Revenge of the Sith. Star Wars has always been a dark place to inhabit, especially for kids. But the franchise has always been in inclusive affair, and was meant for youngsters first and foremost by child at heart George Lucas. With some recent official news breaking in terms of Star Wars: The Last Jedi and the story it tells, many parents are wondering if the next sequel in the Skywalker saga is too dark for younger children. Director Rian Johnson has answered that question.
We live in different times. No less scary than the 70s or 80s in terms of what is happening in the real world, the MPAA has changed a lot since A New Hope was slapped with a PG rating back in 1977. Now, the Star Wars movies get rated PG-13. And in the last big screen outing, the spin-off Rogue One, all of the main characters and most of the new villains met an honorable yet no less horrible death. It is perhaps the darkest Star Wars movie to date. But it sounds like Last Jedi goes a bit darker. So, can your 7 year old safely see it without waking up, screaming from nightmares after you bring them home? Well, sounds like that all depends on you and your parenting skills.
Director Rian Johnson was asked by one concerned Dad in Australia just what we can expect from this sequel, which will be a bit less lighthearted than The Force Awakens. His concerns seem genuine. He asks if the movie is appropriate for the under teen set. Here's Johnson's open answer.
"It really depends on the 7 year old. There are intense things in the movie, but I don't think anything worse than in the OT or prequels."
Thinking back, there is plenty of dark, cruel things in the first 7 Star Wars movies build around the Skywalker saga. But so far, we've also seen a healthy does of kids only material for The Last Jedi that make it way more kid friendly on the surface than the previous movies. Like Joe Camel selling a pack of cigarettes. The recently introduced Porgs look like they were made specifically for the preschool set. And the Jedi caregivers that inhabit Luke's exile planet of Ahch-To appear as a beginners course for any child wondering exactly what a Nun is and does in this day and age, where we don't see too many on the street any more. Especially with their cute fish faces.
Chances are, there is not anything in the movie that will go darker than Anakin getting burnt alive, Obi-Wan severing all four of his limbs off. The first two movies innocently hint at incest between a brother and sister, twins no less. And the movies have always been full of death, kicking off with the gruesome charred remains of Luke's Uncle Owen and Aunt Beru, perhaps one of the most nightmarish images in any Star Wars movie, and it comes early in the series. But that was a different time. When Jaws was sold as a family movie and a lot of PG rated movies contained full frontal nudity. Yes, they did. Don't argue. So, will The Last Jedi be too dark for your kid? It all depends on the kid and how s/he/it was raised.