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Rogue One: A Star Wars Story; A Parent Review

A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away…

“Wait, why aren’t there more yellow words?” Lily whispered to me as we sat in the theater on one of our days off from school. This Star Wars movie was starting differently than all the others; there wasn’t an explanation of the story’s setting scrolling up the screen as in past Star Wars movies. I had been hesitant to bring my daughters to this movie, since the reviews said it was more warlike than the previous movies. But let’s be honest; the other movies had plenty of lasers from blasters firing across the screen. I still can’t believe I let Lily and Emmy watch Revenge of the Sith, when Anakin Skywalker transforms into Darth Vader. There is definitely a lot of darkness in that movie. So in then end, I took them to see Rogue One: A Star Wars Story on our day off from school.

It was very interesting to this lifelong Star Wars fan to get my daughters’ perspective about Rogue One. WARNING: Some of our conversation includes SPOILERS!

The beginning of the story begins when Jyn Ers0 is a little girl. It is obvious from the beginning that her family has a secret. Barely ten minutes into the movie, Jyn becomes motherless. Her father is taken away by the bad guys and Jyn is left with a gruff caregiver. We don’t really know what happens to Jyn at this point, and the next time we see her is in prison. The movie bounced around from setting to setting in the beginning, and it made for a very confusing plot at first.

Lily really wanted to see more of a backstory on Jyn and wanted to know more about her as a little girl. Although this would have made the movie much too long, in a way I agree with Lily. Jyn’s childhood is a mystery, and if we knew more about her character, her actions as an adult would be even more heroic.

Emmy, on the other hand, wanted to see more of something entirely different! To Emmy, Star Wars means light sabers, and there was not enough “swordplay” for Emmy. The fact that all the Jedis were dead or in hiding at this point in the Star Wars saga didn’t convince her about the lack of lightsabers.

At the end of the movie, (this really is a spoiler!) the Death Star is destroying the base that the rebels have overtaken. Our two main characters are swept up in a fiery golden glow. When I was lamenting that they had died, Emmy said, “What? I thought that was love!” No, honey, that Death Star ruined any chance of love!

Some people have said they they liked this movie more than The Force Awakens. Personally, I really liked both movies, but each movie had a different vibe. Are you a Star Wars fan? What do you think?

 

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Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them; a Parent Review

fantastic-beasts

Yes, we went to see Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, even though it is rated PG-13. Ed and I don’t let Lily and Emmy watch PG-13 rated movies, but we made an exception with Star Wars last Christmas, and made another exception this weekend (perhaps because I really wanted to see this movie myself). What did I think? Well, it’s a mixed bag.

First of all, I didn’t realize that this movie isn’t adapted from a book. J.K. Rowling wrote the 41 page Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find them for a charity, and it is a “textbook” that Harry Potter used at Hogwarts. As I was reading an article on USA Today about the movie, I realized that yes, I am your parent that has this book in the basement, as a caption of a photo explains. I bought it, along with Quidditch Through the Ages, from Scholastic Book Club when I was teaching second grade many years ago. While I was a avid Harry Potter reader and read all the books as they were published, I didn’t have any interest in reading these little side books. The actual story of Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them is only available as a screenplay and is not a novel.

Since I read the Harry Potter books so long ago and have only seen the first three movies (Lily wants to read each book before seeing them), I am happy to report that you do not have to read the Harry Potter books to understand what is happening in this movie. The Harry Potter references are there but not critical. Lily reports that the spells were familiar and Dumbledore is mentioned once. Grindelwald is an important name in the movie; unfortunately I didn’t remember who he was since he has a minor role in the books, but it didn’t spoil my understanding of what was happening.

So, should you take your kids to see this movie? The beasts themselves actually were fantastic, and it was fun to watch them all interact with the main character, Newt. Some beasts escape from Newt’s magical suitcase, and Newt needs to recapture them. That alone would have been enough of a plot for me, but there was also a much darker plot woven into the script. The story line included fantasy violence and death which I was uncomfortable with, and frankly, was unnecessary. The ending was very ominous and would also be hard for younger children to understand. I think my 9 and 12 year old girls were okay with it, but I’m glad they aren’t younger.

The characters in this movie, however, were an absolute delight. I enjoyed “getting to know” the four main characters: Newt, Tina, Queenie, and Jacob Kowalski. Katherine Waterston, the actor that played Tina, reminded me so much of Maura Tierney, especially when she had a little mustard on her lip from eating a hot dog! However, I couldn’t find any connection between them, except for an adorable picture of Maura Tierney attending the movie’s premiere. It must have been just my imagination.

Overall, it was a fun movie, but if you are hesitant to take your kids to see it, I would recommend either seeing it yourself first or waiting until it comes out on DVD. If you have seen it, what did you think about Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them?

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