The end of an era is here. Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker (Episode IX) hits theaters THIS Friday, December 20th. And like most epic story conclusions, it’s a lot to take in. Be prepared for an edge-of-your-seat, mind-blowing emotional rollercoaster. With that, there are some things that parents should mindful of before taking kids to this movie. So, read on to see my no-spoilers thoughts on what to expect from last film in the beloved Skywalker saga – as well as information for parents about whether The Rise of Skywalker is ok for kids. Before we get into any sort of review dish or my initial movie thoughts, I just want to make it clear that you won’t find any spoilers here. I sincerely hope that everyone (who wants to) is able to see the film in the same way I was able to at the advanced press screening – with NOTHING but your own guesses and theories going in, so that you can be surprised in all the same places I was! And holy WHOA were there A LOT of surprises! So, I’m doing my absolute best to share some thoughts and tips with you today without giving anything away more than the trailers already have.
About Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker
Lucasfilm and director J.J. Abrams join forces once again to take viewers on an epic journey to a galaxy far, far away with Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker, the riveting conclusion of the seminal Skywalker saga, where new legends will be born and the final battle for freedom is yet to come. Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker opens in U.S. theaters on December 20. The film stars Carrie Fisher, Mark Hamill, Adam Driver, Daisy Ridley, John Boyega, Oscar Isaac, Anthony Daniels, Naomi Ackie, Domhnall Gleeson, Richard E. Grant, Lupita Nyong’o, Keri Russell, Joonas Suotamo, Kelly Marie Tran, and Billy Dee Williams.
If you get goosebumps, chills, and/or choked up by seeing anything in this trailer, then chances are you already can sense that this is going to be an emotional film.
Initial Star Wars: Rise of Skywalker Reaction
Emotional it is! Like whoa. Don’t you think for one second that you already know every single thing that’s coming in this movie. You don’t. When I shared the trailer, someone commented that they felt like the entire movie was given away from watching it. And I’m here to confirm that is NOT the case. Not the case AT ALL. I’m still barely processing, but this photo pretty much sums up how I felt during the movie and after leaving the theater. As my look may suggest there, this movie is “A LOT”. Good, bad, or otherwise, there is SO much to unpack with in Rise of Skywalker. It seriously was one of the craziest emotional rollercoasters I’ve ever been on in the movie theater – in some ways similar to the craziness of Avengers: Endgame, yet somehow even more stressful/emotional in many ways. Again, without spoilers, it’s a bit hard to fully explain. But as the movie ended, I turned to my colleague sitting a seat away – a dad and mega Star Wars fan – and neither of us could find the words, wiping tears from our eyes. Then one of us said, “That was A LOT.” “Dude. A LOT”. Really, it was about the only way we both could sum it up.
A lot of action, a lot of violence, a lot of emotion, a lot of fan service, a lot of story arcs, a lot of nostalgia, a lot of surprises, a lot of tears – A LOT. So suffice it to say that Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker gives you a lot to process.
10 Thoughts about Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker
- It’s A LOT. In case I hadn’t already made that clear, Lol! This is worth repeating just so you’re as prepared as possible going in. I don’t think I was fully prepared for the level of action-packed, emotional rollercoaster that it is. The movie really is non-stop action from start to finish. This makes the movie both wildly entertaining and simultaneously exhausting to watch. That level of non-stop action doesn’t really allow for many slower plot or character development scenes. So, be prepared for A LOT of Star Wars epic adventure – light saber duels (one particularly fabulous one), chase scenes, battles, hyperspace travel and more. But, don’t expect much in the way of being able to catch your breath and relaxing. Also, it seemed like there was a bit less comedic relief in this one than the others in the new trilogy.
- With that said, yes, I liked it. In fact, I liked it quite a lot and I can’t wait to see it again! And given just how action-packed this movie is, I think you’re going to need to see it more than once to fully take everything in. I can’t wait to see what I pick up on in my 2nd viewing (when I’m not so emotional and in shock from it all).
- For me, it’s the BEST film overall in this new trilogy. That’s not to say that it’s without flaws, but I think it succeeds overall in giving fans one heck of a final ride and tribute to characters that some of you have loved longer that I have even been alive. The nostalgia and fan service in the movie are next level – so many cameos, easter eggs, callbacks, and more. To quote myself again, “it’s a lot”. Sure, you could get critical about whether it was all “necessary” or it always worked seamlessly. But for the most part, all this “fan service” is what makes the movie extra fun and more emotional than some of the others. And overall, I loved it!
- Rey is a bada**. As I said back for Force Awakens, Daisy Ridley as Rey is BRILLIANT!!! (<–click for our exclusive interview with her). So, in case you didn’t know that from before, it’s REALLY clear now. She had to do a lot of heavy lifting in this film (literally & figuratively). And, well – she is stellar.
- Adam Driver (Kylo Ren) once again wins “best actor” in this film – and in this trilogy overall. That is not to discount Daisy Ridley’s performance at all. I LOVE Rey, but Kylo Ren really has been the most intriguing character to me in the series – I think due in part to the incredible acting done by Adam.
- General Leia (Carrie Fisher) on screen after death. The fact that she’s in it – it’s REALLY her, not CG, well – it’s just another integral piece of the mind-blowing, emotional rollercoaster that is this film. The fact that had the footage they did of her – well, it really is incredible how they were able to pull it off they way they did. Was it perfect? Absolutely not. Did I want more from Leia? Yep, I sure did. But I think they did as well as they could with what was an absolutely impossibly tragic situation. It was both heartwarming and incredibly heartbreaking every time she was on screen.
- There are MULTIPLE twists and surprises that I was NOT expecting (can’t say any more about that, you’ll have to go see it to find out). But whoa.
- Visually, the film is stunning. There are some new planets with visually interesting landscapes, epic light saber wielding, scenes with beautiful richness in color contrasted with others almost devoid of color (a very literal play on the light vs. the dark themes of Star Wars), and some epic cinematography throughout. Between the fabulous John Williams score and all the incredible visuals, it certainly makes this one a movie best viewed on the big screen.
- If I had to compare the film to the others, I’d say plot wise it most closely resembles Return of the Jedi (sometimes maybe a little too closely), but there is also some darkness/graphic violence in this one that comes closest to me to Revenge of the Sith. Like some REALLY dark stuff!
- Key questions are answered, but in doing so, new questions have emerged (and aren’t answered or even really addressed in the film). Given this, I have a feeling that the level of satisfaction with this film is going to differ wildly from person to person and critic to critic.
Honestly, I think J.J. Abrams had an impossible job in making this movie (read our Star Wars interview with J.J. here). First of all, hardly anyone likes goodbyes – especially goodbyes to beloved characters. And where Marvel pulled off the most incredible feat of almost seamlessly tying over 20 films together, Star Wars has never been that franchise — even when it was the story’s creator at the helm. So, this movie (and this trilogy in general) was NEVER going to please everyone. But, I think J.J. succeeds in giving us an overall satisfying conclusion to a beloved tale. I was 100% engaged, emotionally invested, and at the edge of my seat the whole time. I cannot wait to see it again. And there really is SO much more I’d like to say, but I can’t really say any more without giving anything away. No spoilers! So, instead, read on for a few watching tips and a note for parents!
The Rise of Skywalker Viewing Tips:
- Bring some tissues. Yes, to a Star Wars movie. Really. I cried multiple times. My female colleague sitting next to my left was crying. My male colleague on my right was crying. Our crying count was at least 6 times in the movie. So, if you get emotional at movies, be prepared for it in this one!
- Buy your tickets for opening night if you do not want anything spoiled. It will be worth it to save yourself from spoilers!
- Go with someone (or better yet – a group of people) because you will need someone to talk freely with after (just please talk freely in private so you don’t spoil the movie for other people) – whether you love it or hate it, you’ll probably want someone to talk to about it!
- Go to the bathroom DURING THE PREVIEWS. At a 2 1/2 hour time, this movie is a fairly long one. But, you cannot leave the theater at any point during this movie or you will miss something. It’s THAT action-packed. Without seeing it again, I don’t even have a good recommendation for you on best time for a potty break. So do your best to hold it if you can.
- Buy tickets NOW to see again. With so much to process and so much action, this is one of those movies that I feel like I HAVE to see more than once to fully appreciate. I can’t wait to see it again (actually we have tickets for 3 showings with different family members & friends over the course of the next few days).
Parent Perspective – Is Rise of Skywalker OK for kids?
On the one hand, this question is a little unnecessary. If your family is full of huge Star Wars fans who have seen the other movies, then of course you’re ALL going and you’re taking the kids. We’re no different. Our kids have seen all of the movies (with the exception to the end of Revenge of the Sith). So we all will be going to see Rise of Skywalker together (for reference, my boys are now 7, 9, and 12). But, that is NOT to say that everything in this movie is perfectly “appropriate” for young kids, because it’s not.
Star Wars:The Rise of Skywalker is rated PG-13 for sci-fi action violence. Just like the original movies, you’re not going to find even a hint of R-rated themes. No nudity, no bloody gore, no overt sexual content (though this one does have some noticeable flirtation and kisses between a man and a woman and between two women), and almost no profanity (the only “bad” words you’ll hear in this are “ass”, “damn”, and “hell” – and I think those are uttered less than 5-6 times in the whole movie).
So, like all the Star Wars movies that came before it, the “action violence” is ONLY reason it has that rating. But, that is not to say that they all have the same level of action or violence. And Rise of Skywalker rates on the high end for both. As I mentioned earlier, I’d liken Rise of Skywalker to a combination of Return of the Jedi AND Revenge of the Sith (with possibly some Rogue One mixed in) in terms of the level of intensity, peril, dark themes, etc.
From a parent perspective, I still feel like Revenge of the Sith (the 3rd prequel) is the darkest, most violent, etc. of all the movies in the franchise (hello, killing younglings). And while Rise of Skywalker doesn’t quite reach THAT level of dark themes and hard-to-watch bodily harm, it does come really really close. There are some really dark and scary scenes in this movie. So with that said, here’s a few examples of content that parents/younger viewers might be especially sensitive to:
- Violence. Though the violence isn’t overtly gory (nothing even to the level of “gore” you see in a Marvel movie like Avengers: Endgame), there is more graphic violence than usual it seems for a typical Star Wars movie. Examples include watching people die or get injured very close up, seeing an entire field of people dead bodies after a battle, a beheading (with the head thrown on a table), up-close looks at various wounds, someone’s face melting off (very akin to a particularly similar Revenge of the Sith scene or something similar from Indiana Jones). So, there are definitely multiple scenes in this where the younger crowd or the more sensitive kids especially may be scared or upset by what they’re watching on screen. There’s plenty of nightmare-worthy material, that’s for sure.
- Death. With graphic violence comes death. So, you most definitely need to be prepared for death in this film too. And I think it could REALLY be an issue for some younger kids (especially if you have sensitive ones). Without spoiling it for you, I will say that there was one particular “death” scene in this film that absolutely DEVASTATED me and those sitting around me. It was honestly so shocking in that moment that I found myself completely unable to focus on what was happening for a few moments after. I was ANGRY and shocked and just heartbroken (for me, it was actually worse than the infamous Han scene in Force Awakens). And all I could think about in that moment was how I would console 3 devastated boys when they see this in a few days. So, there are some HEAVY moments in this film.
With all of that said though, I think I can safely say (without giving anything away), that I think kids will be feeling better by time the credits roll. But, you NEED to be prepared for the possibility of some really emotional kids during this movie.
So, would I recommend take a young kid to this movie that hasn’t seen the majority of the other Star Wars films? No way! But, if your kids know and love the Star Wars movies (and have grown up with THIS trilogy), then this supposed last installment in the saga is an absolute must-see for the whole family.
Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker arrives in theaters everywhere this Friday, December 20th!
Happy movie-watching and May the Force be with you, always.