Plenty of people hate the newest installment of “Star Wars.” “Episode VIII: The Last Jedi” debuted Friday after two years of hype and the reviews have been, well, mixed. That’s because the reviewers aren’t children.
Kids don’t have the baggage of their elders when it comes to “Star Wars.” They’re not tied down by what is and isn’t a “correct” way to use the Force, or if so-and-so should or shouldn’t do something. They can appreciate “Episode VIII” for what it is: a new way of doing things.
This movie doesn’t care about what we adults thought was going to happen. It doesn’t care what we thought we knew about “Star Wars.” That’s the whole point. This universe, the movie says, is bigger than a single famous family. It’s bigger than a legend. It’s bigger than our baggage.
Which is what makes it so exciting. The movie, all two hours and 33 minutes of it, covers a lot of ground, much of it new territory. Our characters, both beloved and hated, grow more complex, their motivations more ambiguous and their challenges more existential. That doesn’t sound like fodder for kids. We’re underestimating them.
Without spoiling anything, there’s a scene at the end that reminds us what “Star Wars” is: It’s a story. And stories are powerful. They’re what inspire, comfort and teach us. They’re the earliest — and, I’d argue, the best — way we learn about the universe. They introduce us to our Lukes and Leias — the people we aspire to be, sometimes to the point of purposely ignoring the fact that even heroes are human.
So, don’t let the haters stop you. Go see this movie. Don’t take little kids (say, no younger than 10). This is an action film, after all; death and destruction make an appearance in that bloodless way special to movies set in space. Then, after you’ve watched it, ask your kids their opinion. This is a “Star Wars” for a new generation. What do they think?
Age recommendation for “Star Wars: The Last Jedi”
“Star Wars: The Last Jedi” is rated PG-13; Common Sense Media recommends it for ages 10 and above. It’s light on the bad language and sex, heavier on the violence.