“Star Wars: The Last Jedi” (Disney)

John Boyega and Gwendoline Christie star in a scene from the movie "Star Wars: The Last Jedi." The Catholic News Service classification is A-II -- adults and adolescents. (CNS/Disney)

By Catholic News Service

Engrossing sci-fi epic in which the leading general (Carrie Fisher) of an embattled group of rebels sends a messenger (Daisy Ridley) to the distant planet on which her brother (Mark Hamill), a famed warrior, is living in self-imposed exile to summon his help in the desperate struggle against their fascistic enemies (led by Andy Serkis). Though he refuses to join the conflict, the veteran fighter does agree to train the envoy in the ways of the Force, the mysterious spiritual energy from which he derives his prowess. She will need its power when she eventually confronts her leader’s son (Adam Driver), an originally good person who has gone over to the side of darkness, but whose ongoing moral struggle has the potential to sway the outcome of the intergalactic war.

Though it gets off to a slow start, once it hits its stride writer-director Rian Johnson’s eighth episode in the saga initiated by George Lucas in 1977 sweeps viewers along with stirring action and audience-pleasing plot twists. Teens able to take the “Jedi religion” as no more than the mythos of a fantasy world will benefit from lessons about the value of hope and the true nature of heroism.

Frequent but bloodless combat violence, a scene of torture, a couple of mild oaths, a few crass terms. The Catholic News Service classification is A-II — adults and adolescents. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is PG-13 — parents strongly cautioned. Some material may be inappropriate for children under 13.

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