Australian Council on Children and the Media

Rogue One: A Star Wars story

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Short takes

Not suitable under 13; parental guidance strongly recommended 13 to 15 due to violence and disturbing scenes.

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This topic contains:

  • overall comments and recommendations
  • details of classification and consumer advice lines for Rogue One: A Star Wars story
  • a review of Rogue One: A Star Wars story completed by the Australian Council on Children and the Media (ACCM) on 21 December 2016.

Overall comments and recommendations

Children under 13 Not suitable due to violence and disturbing scenes.
Children 13 to 15 Parental guidance strongly recommended due to violence and disturbing scenes
Children age 15 and over OK for this age group

About the movie

This section contains details about the movie, including its classification by the Australian Government Classification Board and the associated consumer advice lines.

Name of movie: Rogue One: A Star Wars story
Classification: M
Consumer advice lines: Science fiction violence
Length 134 minutes

ACCM review

This review of the movie contains the following information:

A synopsis of the story

Rogue One is set just prior to the very first Star Wars film A New Hope. Following the film’s obligatory opening text “In a galaxy far far away…” we find a small young girl Jyn (Beau Gadsdon) running towards her home after seeing an Imperial ship fly over. Upon reaching home she finds that her parents are already aware of the danger and are preparing for a hasty exit. Jyn’s father Galen (Mads Mikkelsen) says goodbye to Jyn while her mother Lyra (Valene Kane) sends a message to a rebel named Saw Gerrera (Forest Whitaker) telling him “They have come”. Jyn and Lyra escape and run into the hills while Jyn’s father Galen goes to confront the Imperial soldiers.

The Imperial force is lead by Orson Krennic (Ben Mendelsohn) an Imperial Senator, who insists Galen return to the Empire to finish building a super weapon ( the Death Star) that will enable the Empire to destroy all who oppose it. At first Galen refuses, but after Krennic orders Lyra shot dead and Jyn to be hunted down and captured, Galen relents and submits to Krennic.

Several years later, however, we find Jyn (Felicity Jones) who is now almost an adult, held captive in a cell by Imperial troops. Jyn is rescued by rebel forces, who then use her to flush Saw Gerrera out of hiding. Jyn locates Saw, and in the process discovers that her father Galen, while pretending to be working for the Empire was in reality designing and building a device hidden within the Death Star which could set off a chain reaction and destroy the entire station. Galen has sent a message imploring the Rebel Alliance to steal the plans to the Death Star and then use the plans to destroy it.

Believing in her father, Jyn pleas with rebel commanders to send a force into an Imperial stronghold and to steal the plans to the Death Star. The remainder of the film is devoted to Jyn achieving just that, but at a tremendous cost.

Themesinfo

Children and adolescents may react adversely at different ages to themes of crime, suicide, drug and alcohol dependence, death, serious illness, family breakdown, death or separation from a parent, animal distress or cruelty to animals, children as victims, natural disasters and racism. Occasionally reviews may also signal themes that some parents may simply wish to know about.

Oppression and tyranny; rebellion; weapons of mass destruction; the supernatural

Use of violenceinfo

Research shows that children are at risk of learning that violence is an acceptable means of conflict resolution when violence is glamourised, performed by an attractive hero, successful, has few real life consequences, is set in a comic context and / or is mostly perpetrated by male characters with female victims, or by one race against another.

Repeated exposure to violent content can reinforce the message that violence is an acceptable means of conflict resolution. Repeated exposure also increases the risks that children will become desensitised to the use of violence in real life or develop an exaggerated view about the prevalence and likelihood of violence in their own world.

The film contains intense extended sequences of battle violence including the depiction of multiple deaths, executions and assassination, mass destruction and the endangerment of young children. The leading characters die. Examples include:

  • An unarmed man approaches several armed soldiers. One on the soldiers threatens the unarmed man as we see a woman point a gun at the soldier threatening the unarmed man. The woman is shot in the chest with the woman then shooting the soldier in the shoulder; we see a charred holes on their clothing both the soldier and the woman fall to the ground the woman is dead while the soldier mildly injured. 
  • In a crowded market a man uses a handgun to shoot two soldiers dead and then murders a third unarmed man by shooting him in the back at close range (we see a bright flash of light) after first telling him that everything would be fine.  
  • We see a young woman handcuffed and chained to a prisoner transport vehicle. An explosion blows off the door of the vehicle and rebels wielding guns enter the transport and shooting dead a guard. The rebels then release the chained girl, who immediately kicks one rebel in the stomach while bashing two other rebels over the head with a shovel. As the girl jumps from the back of the vehicle a human-like droid grabs her by the throat and slams her to the ground; she is winded but uninjured.
  • An alien with a squid-like head and multiple long tentacles approaches a chained man. We hear that the creature can read another person’s thoughts, learn their secrets and cause them to lose their mind. The creature’s tentacles twist around the prisoner’s neck and torso.   
  • In one chaotic and furious battle scene a four-year-old girl is standing in the middle of the battle crying, and a young woman runs out into the gunfire, picks up the little girl and carry her to safety. A large explosion occurs near the little girl and the young woman uses her body to shield the young girl from falling debris.
  • During a battle soldiers are shot dead at close range and grenades are thrown into groups of soldiers, hurling them through the air. A rebel grabs a soldier from behind and tasers the soldier in the neck - we see a blue electrical discharge.
  • A young woman uses a staff to attack and defeat a dozen Imperial soldiers. She uses the staff to bash troopers in the head and body while shooting a number of other troopers with her handgun.   
  • One scene depicts a blind monk using a staff as a weapon and stylised fighting to fight off a dozen Imperial troopers. We see the monk using superhuman speed, reflexes and acrobatic moves to dodge gunfire, and using his staff to hit troopers in the chest, body, head and feet. We see the monk grab one trooper by the arm and twist his arm (we hear the sound of bones snapping) and we see the monk then use the trooper as a shield with the trooper struck several times in the chest by gunfire; we see flashes of gunfire exploding on the front of the trooper’s armour. Eventually two dozen troopers surround the monk at which point rebels appear from nowhere surround the monk and open fire killing all imperial troops within seconds.   
  • In a couple of scenes a man and young woman are taken hostage and have hoods placed over their heads.    
  • A weapon of mass destruction destroys a city. Flames, smoke and debris rise up into the atmosphere where the city once stood. Entire landscapes heaving up into the air while the initial blast radiates out. A man standing in a cave entrance on the planet’s surface watches as a wave of land and mountain ranges crashes down on him.
  • A group of twenty unarmed scientists in a group stand in front of armed imperial troops. On a signal given by a commanding officer the troopers open fire, killing all of the scientists; we see flashes of light as the scientists are hit.
  • A couple of extended scenes depict intense air battles between all manner of large and small spacecraft. Ships spin out of control and crash into cliffs or each other and explode. Soldiers are flung through the air as ships are hit by cannon fire and men are vaporised when they are engulfed in flames. Hundreds of soldiers are incinerated in one explosion.  
  • A droid smashes his fist down on top of the heads of soldiers, picks soldiers up and slams them into walls or hurls them through the air.
  • In one scene a blind monk calmly walks through a gauntlet of laser fire, cannon fire and explosions without injury. When the monk reaches his destination and pulls a lever, an explosion hurls the monk through the air and we see him lying on the ground with scorch burns to his clothing and a bloody cut to his forehead.
  • One scene depicts Darth Vader attacking rebel soldiers with his light sabre. He kills dozens of rebels with stabs, slashes, cuts and impalement through the back. We see Vader using ‘the force’ to pin soldiers against the ceiling and deflect blaster fire with his hands.  Darth Vader also uses ‘the force’ to strangle an officer. Vader stands several metres away, making a gesture as if squeezing his hand and the officer hold his throat and gags then drops to the ground on his hands and knees.

Material that may scare or disturb children

Under fiveinfo

Children under five are most likely to be frightened by scary visual images, such as monsters, physical transformations.

In addition to the above-mentioned violent scenes, there are some scenes in this movie that could scare or disturb children under the age of five, including the following:

  • The soldiers look scary. They are dressed in steel armoured suits similar to medieval armour and helmets with breathing masks and tubes, and have handguns and other weapons hanging from their belts.
  • There are a number of alien creatures that have threatening and scary appearances. Some have tentacles or animal heads with tusks and speak in an alien language using a metallic sounding voice. One alien has a head resembling a fish. One man is depicted as a human/machine hybrid.
  • In one scene we the image of a man-sized glass cylinder filled with smoke Darth Vader inside.  
  • Several scenes depict ships travelling through hyperspace in tunnels filled with light.    

Aged five to eightinfo

Children aged five to eight will also be frightened by scary visual images and will also be disturbed by depictions of the death of a parent, a child abandoned or separated from parents, children or animals being hurt or threatened and / or natural disasters.

Children in this age group are also likely to be disturbed by the above-mentioned scenes and particularly by:

  • A child witnesses her mother being shot dead. The young girl then runs away and hides from searching soldiers.
  • A man's wife dies in his arms, and later a father dies in his daughter arms

 

Aged eight to thirteeninfo

Children aged eight to thirteen are most likely to be frightened by realistic threats and dangers, violence or threat of violence and / or stories in which children are hurt or threatened.

Children in this age group may also be disturbed by the above-mentioned scenes and particularly by the deaths of main characters

Over thirteeninfo

Children over the age of thirteen are most likely to be frightened by realistic physical harm or threats, molestation or sexual assault and / or threats from aliens or the occult.

Younger children in this age group may also be disturbed by some of the above-mentioned scenes

Product placement

Nothing of concern in the movie, but a large amount of associated merchandise is marketed to young children for whom the film is unsuitable

Sexual references

Nothing of concern

Nudity and sexual activity

There is a brief hologram image of a humanoid alien female dancing in a seductive manner on a table top

Use of substances

Men drink in a bar

Coarse language

Nothing of concern

In a nutshell

Rogue One is a prequel to the Star Wars films that explains how the Death Star came to have a design fault which enabled it to be destroyed. With its strong female lead, the film is likely to be enjoyed by an older adolescent and adult audience, but contains too many violent and disturbing scenes for children under thirteen, including the deaths of leading characters. Parental guidance is strongly recommended for the 13 to 15 age group because some children in this age group may also find it too disturbing.

The main messages from this movie are:

  • Always maintain your dreams and keep up hope.
  • We make our own prisons.

Values in this movie that parents may wish to reinforce with their children include selflessness, friendship and trust.

Parents may wish to discuss how although the film was depicted as having a good and an evil side, both sides were responsible for deaths and atrocities.  

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