Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens Spoiler Free Review and Parental Guide

12/24/2015 House of Geekiness 1 Comments

Star Wars: The Force Awakens Spoiler Free Review and Parental Guide

You can rest easy now that I've finally seen Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens. I can probably put my anti-spoiler memes away!

Spoiler Free Review

First, let me explain that I am an author (which makes me naturally more critical of everything I read and watch than I was before I started writing) AND huge Star Wars fan. I love the books, the movies, and even the video games. I tried (with no luck) to talk my husband into naming our kids after Star Wars characters (but I did get a comic book name or two in!) You could even say that I was destined to become a fan before I was even born. 

When my mom was still pregnant with me, my family lived in the Redwoods near where they were filming Return of the Jedi. 

So, I grew up with countless Star Wars marathons, dreamed of doing a Luke Skywalker diving board jump at every pool I swam in (you know, when Luke's standing on the plank above the sarlacc pit, jumps off but grabs the board on his way down and does a leap with a flip to grab his lightsaber), and hearing stories about how my family ate at the same restaurant as Chewbacca and Han Solo. 

BUT I don't know everything there is to know about Star Wars and, despite my lightsaber ringtone, I'm not completely obsessed. My house isn't packed with mint in the box action figures, and I haven't read all of the books etc. It's just always been something I love. (By the way, The Thrawn Trilogy is one of my favorite series and Knights of the Old Republic is my favorite video game. I love you too, Carth! Luke and Mara forever!) 

Anyhow, back to my review. Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens wasn't the best Star Wars movie ever made, but it wasn't too bad. I'd say it was better than the prequels, but still had some problems—(and here comes the balancing act) which I will try to explain without spoiling the movie. 
  • The overall tone and feel of episode VII felt a lot more like the original trilogy, which makes me happy. :) From the cinematography to the costuming, it fit in much better with the originals. 
  • It was fun seeing familiar faces, aliens, ships, lightsabers, and just being back in the Star Wars Universe again. 
  • Compared to the prequels, The Force Awaken's plot was much more simple and direct. Refreshing!
  • I enjoyed the new characters and being reunited with old favorites.

    • BB-8 isn't the new Jar Jar Binks! He was actually pretty cute. He's still no R2, mind you, but he wasn't nearly the disaster I'd been dreading. 
    • I am still devastated that they uncannonized the story lines from the Star Wars Expanded Universe, and I'm not entirely happy with the changes they've made in this movie, but it's not too bad. (Except for Mara Jade! I'm going to be crying over them not including her for a very, very long time. I mean, she's a freakin' ninja-smuggler-assassin-Jedi, for goodness sake—we need more complex female characters like her!)
    • The writing, while still better than the prequels, still left much to be desired. It just wasn't enough. You'll understand if you've watched it. 

    • The new lightsaber designI was hoping that seeing the movie would help me come to love it, but it just feels like the creators were just trying to come up with something different for the wow factor. Actually, I'll let Lego Darth Maul tell you exactly what I mean:

    (Sorry, that is one of my all-time favorite clips. My kids and I sing that all the time, so I had to fit it in here somewhere eventually!)

    • I'm not crazy about the new smiley-face Stormtrooper helmets either, but they've gotta make money with merchandising somehow. (Reminds me of Iron Man 2, where they changed the arc reactor on his suit from a circle to a triangle, so my kid suddenly just HAD to have the new one.) Yes, yes, I know, some time has passed between movies and there would naturally be some changes after the Empire was destroyed. But still. Smiley faces?? We're going to kill you, but here's a smile to cheer you up. Hard to take them seriously like that.
    • Pacing—While I wasn't so bored that I was falling asleep, there were times I did lose interest.
    • The acting was a LOT better in this movie as well! Thank goodness we didn't have another episode II on our hands!
    Conclusion: Still, not a bad movie. With all of the action, effects, sounds and visuals, you'll miss a fun experience if you don't see it in the theater! Not my favorite, but it's one my family and I will add to our collection and enjoy. 

    Parental Guide

    I'm honestly not sure why this was PG-13. Since, statistically speaking, PG-13 movies make more money, I almost wonder who was bribed to slap that label on this flick. 

    The language, violence, and sexual content in Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens were about the same as in other Star Wars movies, some might say considerably less. 

    Mild profanity—They swear like 2 or 3 times, and nothing that wasn't in the first six movies.  

    Violence—Yes, there is fighting, dying, and destruction in this movie, it IS Star WARS after all, but nothing compared to bloody severed limbs, a rancor chomping down on a Gammorean guard, Darth Maul being cut in half at the torso in a mist of blood (and showing each half fall separately down the shoot), or the Emperor using Force Lightning to repeatedly and brutally electrocute Luke and Darth Vader. There's even a bit of torture thrown in there, but, personally, I don't think it was nearly as scary as the needle droid/probe thing they showed us they were going to torture Leia with in A New Hope. If you're ok with your kids seeing episodes 1,2, and 4-6, Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens should be fine.

    Sexual content—Nothing even remotely close to what we saw in Jabba's palace in Return of the Jedi. No Jabba licking Slave Leia in The Force Awakens
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