Rogue One: A Star Wars Story is set just before the very first Star Wars movie, A New Hope. After the movie’s opening text, ‘In a galaxy far far away …, the story begins with a young girl, Jyn (Beau Gadsdon), running towards her home after seeing an Imperial ship fly over. When she gets home she finds that her parents are already aware of the danger and are preparing for a hasty departure. 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). The message says, ‘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 led by Orson Krennic (Ben Mendelsohn), an Imperial senator. Krennic 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 to be shot dead and Jyn to be hunted down and captured, Galen relents and submits to Krennic.
Several years later, Jyn (Felicity Jones) is almost an adult and is being held captive in a cell by Imperial troops. She’s rescued by rebel forces, who use her to flush Saw Gerrera out of hiding. Jyn locates Saw and discovers that Galen, while pretending to be working for the Empire, was in reality designing and building a device hidden within the Death Star. This device can 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 use them to destroy it.
Believing in her father, Jyn pleads with rebel commanders to send a force into an Imperial stronghold and steal the plans to the Death Star. The rest of the movie follows Jyn as she achieves this aim, but at a tremendous cost.
Rogue One has intense and extended sequences of battle violence that include many deaths, executions and assassination, mass destruction and the endangerment of young children. The leading characters die. For example:
- An unarmed man approaches several armed soldiers. One soldier threatens the unarmed man, and a woman points a gun at the soldier. The woman is shot in the chest, but she also shoots the soldier in the shoulder. There are charred holes on their clothing. Both the soldier and the woman fall to the ground. The woman is dead, but the soldier is only mildly injured.
- In a crowded market a man uses a handgun to shoot two soldiers dead. He then murders a third unarmed man by shooting him in the back at close range (we see a bright flash of light) after telling him that everything will be fine.
- A young woman is handcuffed and chained to a prisoner transport vehicle. An explosion blows off the door of the vehicle. Rebels with guns enter the transport and shoot a guard dead. The rebels 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’s winded but unhurt.
- An alien with a squid-like head and many long tentacles approaches a chained man. The creature can read people’s thoughts, learn their secrets and cause them to lose their minds. The creature’s tentacles twist around the man’s neck and torso.
- In a chaotic and furious battle scene, a four-year-old girl stands in the middle of the battle crying. A young woman runs out into the gunfire, picks up the little girl and carries 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. Grenades are thrown into groups of soldiers, which hurls them through the air. A rebel grabs a soldier from behind and tasers the soldier in the neck. There’s 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 several other troopers with her handgun.
- A blind monk uses a staff and stylised fighting moves to fight off a dozen Imperial troopers. The monk has superhuman speed, reflexes and acrobatic moves, which he uses to dodge gunfire. With his staff he hits troopers in the chest, body, head and feet. The monk grabs one trooper by the arm and twists his arm (we hear the sound of bones snapping), and then the monk uses the trooper as a shield. The trooper is struck several times in the chest by gunfire – flashes of gunfire explode on the front of the trooper’s armour. Eventually many more troopers surround the monk. 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 heave up into the air when 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.
- Twenty unarmed scientists stand in front of armed imperial troops. On a signal given by a commanding officer the troopers open fire, killing all the scientists. There are flashes of light as the scientists are hit.
- Some extended scenes show intense air battles between 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. Men are engulfed in flames and vaporised. 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.
- 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. He lies on the ground with scorch marks on his clothing and a bloody cut on his forehead.
- Darth Vader attacks rebel soldiers with his light sabre. He kills dozens of rebels with stabs, slashes and cuts. He also impales rebels through their backs. Vader uses ‘the force’ to pin soldiers against the ceiling and deflect blaster fire with his hands. He also uses ‘the force’ to strangle an officer. Vader stands several metres away, making a gesture as if squeezing his hand. The officer holds his throat and gags, then drops to the ground on his hands and knees.
Content that may disturb children
In addition to the violent scenes mentioned above, Rogue One has some scenes that could scare or disturb children under five years. For example:
- The soldiers look scary. They are dressed in steel armoured suits similar to medieval armour. They wear helmets with breathing masks and tubes. They also have handguns and other weapons hanging from their belts.
- There are several alien creatures that look threatening and scary. Some have tentacles or animal heads with tusks. They speak in an alien language with metallic voices. One alien has a head that looks like a fish. One man is a human-machine hybrid.
- There’s an image of a man-sized glass cylinder filled with smoke. Darth Vader is inside.
- Several scenes show ships travelling through hyperspace in tunnels filled with light.
In addition to the violent and disturbing scenes mentioned above, Rogue One has some scenes that could scare or disturb children in this age group. For example:
- A child sees 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’s arms.
Children in this age group might also be disturbed by the scenes mentioned above and particularly by the deaths of main characters.
Younger children in this age group might be disturbed by some of the scenes mentioned above.
None of concern
Alcohol, drugs and other substances
Rogue One shows some use of substances. For example, several men drink in a bar.
Nudity and sexual activity
Rogue One has some nudity and sexual activity. For example, there’s a brief hologram image of a humanoid alien female dancing in a seductive way on a table top.
There’s no product placement of concern in Rogue One, but a lot of merchandise associated with this movie is being marketed to young children, for whom the movie is unsuitable.
None of concern
Ideas to discuss with your children
Rogue One is a prequel to the Star Wars movies. It explains how the Death Star came to have a design fault that enables it to be destroyed.
With its strong female lead, the movie is likely to be enjoyed by an older adolescent and adult audience, but it contains too many violent and disturbing scenes for children under 13 years, including the deaths of leading characters. We strongly recommend parental guidance for children aged 13-15 years, because some children in this age group might also find the movie too disturbing.
These are the main messages from this movie:
- Always maintain your dreams and your hope.
- We make our own prisons.
Values in this movie that you could reinforce with your children include selflessness, friendship and trust.
You might like to talk with your children about how the movie presents good and evil. That is, both sides in the conflict are responsible for deaths and atrocities.