The (Science Fiction) Force Awakens In My Son

A list of nostalgia-inducing science fiction movies to watch with your kids. Someone get the popcorn!


AsianScientist (Jan. 22, 2016) – *Do not fear, this is a spoiler-free zone.*

You’ve probably watched The Force Awakens. If not, stop reading this column and go watch it right now.

Seriously, it’s that good.

My husband and I weren’t sure if the movie would be too scary for our seven-year-old son Jordan, so we went to watch it by ourselves the first time. We still weren’t sure after we watched it, as—and I’m not giving anything away here—there were some pretty epic battle scenes as well as chilling confrontations.

Would Jordan be able to cope with some of the darker themes?

We discussed it at length with Jordan, who felt that since he’d watched The Lord of the Rings trilogy, he should be able to handle The Force Awakens. In any case, as he reasoned, Santa gave him a Yoda Pez dispenser for Christmas so if things got too scary, at least he’d have some candy to see him through.

So watch it he did. Weeks later, he remains enthralled with George Lucas’ universe, so lovingly recreated by J. J. Abrams, and can’t stop talking about the Force, the eternal tussle between light and dark, as well as the jaw-dropping technology used by both sides in battle.

Witnessing his curiosity and fascination unfold firsthand has been a major highlight of my parenting journey so far. It also brought me back to my first discovery of science fiction as a kid, and how, more than 30 years on, as I watch my own kid experience alternative worlds and universes for the first time, I just can’t wait to share with him the movies and books that have shaped my own life.

I’ve told him that 2016 will be the year where we’ll start having regular movie nights as a family. And in the spirit of this promise, I thought I’d make a list of some of the best sci-fi movies for kids. This list is by no means exhaustive, I’ve picked these movies as they’re the ones still seared in my brain long after I first experienced them).

(Note: some of the movies I’ve listed have mature themes, much like The Force Awakens. Most of these I watched as a pre-teen, and have emerged from them relatively unscathed. Ultimately, when it comes to age-suitability, you’ll know your own kid best.)

Mushroom Mum’s Science-Fiction Movies for Kids

  1. Honey, I Shrunk the Kids (1989)
  2. A stereotypical mad scientist accidentally shrinks his and the neighbor’s kids into bug-sized proportions. Can they survive the treacherous journey across their backyard back home to safety?

    A funny, crowd-pleasing introduction to sci-fi that’s fun for the whole family. It made me view by surroundings differently, and triggered an early awareness that there was beauty and complexity in the minutiae of life.

  3. E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial (1982)
  4. We tried to introduce this to Jordan about a year ago but he found it quite slow-going at the start. It’s one of the most magical movies of all time though, and we might give it another shot this year.

    I think it’s worth watching for the soaring soundtrack alone. Still gives me goosebumps every time.

  5. Back to the Future (1985)
  6. I know I’m starting to show my age here, but this is another seminal movie series that is requisite viewing for any self-respecting aspiring scientist.

    Aside from the fact that it is HUGELY entertaining, it also takes viewers on a mind-bending exploration of the space-time continuum. It captured the imagination of an entire generation, and 30 years later, caused general mayhem on the Internet on October 21, 2015, aka Back to the Future Day—the day that Michael J. Fox’s character Marty McFly time-travelled to in the second movie.

  7. Space Camp (1986)
  8. Slightly more obscure movie, but no less entertaining.

    If your kid, like mine, is into astronomy, this movie is perfect Friday evening popcorn fare. The basic premise: a group of kids attending a space camp at the Kennedy Space Center are accidentally launched into orbit and must make their way back to Earth. Can they rely on their knowledge and fledgling skills to save themselves?

  9. WALL.E (2008)
  10. Hugely affecting animated film that takes us through a dystopian future where earth has become uninhabitable. I’ve never seen a cuter, more charming protagonist than this waste-collecting robot, and the main thought running through my head as I was watching it was, “this entire story and universe was invented by someone, how cool is that?”

    I loved how the movie turned a bleak premise (humans have destroyed their own habitat) into one that evoked a sense of innocence and wonder. It left me feeling optimistic for the future, which the best sci-fi movies often achieve (Jodie Foster’s Contact anyone?)

    Which brings me to the last movie on the list. This is one that decidedly bucked the trend in my young life and was bleak from start to finish, but was so thought-provoking and powerful I think all kids should watch it…

  11. Planet of the Apes (1968)
  12. Charlton Heston goes from NASA astronaut to loin-clothed captive of an intelligent ape species some time in the future. Tackling issues ranging from evolution, to animal testing, slavery and what constitutes sentient life, this movie doesn’t shy away from addressing some bold themes. But it is as fast-paced as it is cerebral, and watching it as a 12-year-old (thereabouts, I think) I remember just an overall sensation of being thrilled.

    And that final iconic scene before the screen fades to black? Surely one of the most shocking images in cinematic history. I remember I gasped, and immediately rewound the tape (back in the days of VHS) to start it again.

    And now, a generation later, I can’t wait to watch these movies again through the eyes of my son.

This article is from a monthly column called Mushroom Mum. Click here to see the other articles in this series.


Copyright: Asian Scientist Magazine; Photo: S3ISOR/Flickr/CC.
Disclaimer: This article does not necessarily reflect the views of AsianScientist or its staff.

Dora Yip lives in Dunedin, New Zealand, and is mom to six-year-old Jordan and two-year-old Jonah.

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