Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Star Wars The Force Awakes Adoption Movie Review (Star Wars Episode 7)

Themes of family run strong in this one. A new threat to peace has risen from the ashes of the defeated Empire. This threat – the First Order – believes that to ensure victory, they must find and destroy Luke Skywalker, who they believe to be the last Jedi. The forces of peace also desire to find Skywalker, believing that he can lead them to victory. As both sides race to find him, a runaway solider teams with an undiscovered prodigy to help the forces of good against the forces of evil. Conscience-stricken at what his army requires of him, Finn has deserted his forces and run away. Rey leaves her home in a quest to do good, but longs to return because she hopes to be reunited with long-lost loved ones. Another character has renounced the teachings of his parents and has estranged himself from them, which has broken their hearts.

The Adoption Connection

Earlier Star Wars films had strong adoption relevance. Both Luke Skywalker and his sister were the children of an estranged father; they were raised separately, one by relatives, and the other by strangers. In order to fully reach his potential, Luke had to confront his birth father.
This film does rely on family connections, as well. A character who is estranged from his parents prays to his deceased grandfather for guidance. A character is told, “You cannot deny the truth that is your family.” One character explains that she been waiting for a long time, and is “still waiting for my family.”

The evil army fills its ranks by abducting children from their families. We see a glimpse of one abduction; another adult explains, “I was taken from a family I’ll never know.” He notes that his abductors never even gave him a name. The theme of separation from one’s family might be scary for some kids who have tentative attachments to their parents, or for kids who remember being taken away from their birth parents by child protective services workers. 

Several characters are hoping to find long-missing relatives.

A few characters comment that a person’s lineage determines the paths that they are prone to follow in life. Characters on both sides of the struggle try to thrive in spite of having missing relatives.

Strong Points

One character gives sage advice, “The belonging you seek is not behind you, but ahead of you.” It’s helpful to encourage folks to find meaning and connection in their daily lives. Perhaps, though, a more accurate word would have been, “The belonging you seek is both in your past and in your future.”

A new droid character is cheerful and expressive of emotions without words, much like Wall-E.

A character affirms that we do not want to forget those we love that are absent.
Some characters show unexpected bravery and loyalty; you can’t judge someone by their birth or lineage.

Some viewers might particularly appreciate this film’s strong female heroine.


The evil army does require a platoon of soldiers to kill unarmed villagers. This is brutal, but one is conscious-stricken and refuses to comply, at great risk to himself.

There are scenes of fire and gunfire, and one character has a violent and explosive temper – any of these could be scary to kids who’ve experienced violence.

There is a spoiler in the section ahead – it’s probably important to know if your kids are estranged from their birth parents or other parental figures, but I wanted to give ample warning so that you can skip it if you want to:

Weak Points

**SPOILER ALERT *** VEILED SPOILED ALERT --- A character is conflicted between the good that his parents have taught him and the evil that he believes also runs in his family. He is confronted by one of his estranged parents who hopes to repair the relationship, and although he appears ready to reconcile with his father, he murders him instead. These scene could be particularly traumatic for young children who are estranged from one or more of their birth parents or other parental figures.   END SPOILER ***


Star Wars Episode 7: The Force Awakens, opened to a very successful box office and successful critical reviews. The reintroductions of familiar scenes, faces, and characters were quite well done. This is a fun movie to watch. However, there are some scenes that could be traumatic for kids who've experienced trauma, and one scene in particularly which could be very rough for kids who are estranged from a birth parent or from another parental figure. In general, this film could be good for ages 11 and up. Teens with unresolved issues regarding parental separation might not do so well with this one, though.

Questions for Discussion

How much do your lineage and the situation of your birth define you and your path in life? In which ways do they not define you?

It seems like there is always a force trying to do evil, and a force fighting them. Mister Rogers said that, when there is a crisis, it is encouraging to see that there are people who rise up to help. When have you seen this in the real world? (As a side note, I work in San Bernardino, a few blocks from where a recent shooting occurred, and I am genuinely grateful for the brave first responders who made it possible for a sense of safety to return so quickly. If you're one of them - truly, thank you.)

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