LIHUE — Fear drives the plot of the newest installment in the Star Wars saga as the universe struggles between the light and dark side of the force.
The film opens with a space battle between the Resistance and the First Order, featuring Poe Dameron and his trusty sidekick, BB-8, on a mission to destroy a dreadnought warship.
It’s a fiery fight throughout which the commanding voice of General Leia demands true leadership over heroics — a theme the oprincess drives home over the course of the entire film.
At this point in the story, the Resistance has dwindled to almost nothing, and the scrappy remnant of freedom fighters can’t get out of the First Order’s sights.
As General Hux chases Leia and the rest of the Resistance across the universe, Poe sends First Order defector Finn and Resistance mechanic Rose on a dangerous and undercover journey of their own, and Rey continues her mission to find Luke Skywalker.
The past comes back full force in the interplay between Luke, Rey and Kylo Ren. As they struggle with their demons in their own ways, Rey attempts to lure Luke into teaching her the ways of the Jedi and Kylo Ren struggles to earn the respect of Supreme Leader Snoke.
Epic failures, skin-of-your-teeth championships, and overwhelming odds are interwoven with the striking scenery, vivid imagery and creative creatures that have always been synonymous with Star Wars.
True to form, lighthearted moments pepper The Last Jedi as well, like the Porgs — which were inspired by real world puffins from the island of Skellig Michael, off the coast of Ireland.
The reunion of Luke Skywalker with R2D2 and C-3P0 brought a tear and a smile, and the loyal Chewbacca made sure to stick around for The Last Jedi, too.
The two-and-a-half-hour film moves fast, with twists and turns that come out of the blue if your attention happens to lapse. While the spirit of the dialogue was intriguing, many characters over-explained themselves. Moments of dialogue were too introspective in the midst of a battle to preserve the freedom of the universe.
“Star Wars: The Last Jedi” was simultaneously a continuation of the saga and a tribute to one of the series’ most iconic actors, Carrie Fisher.
She’s on deck of the Resistance cruiser in the film’s opening scene and is a steady rock through its entirety, and the beautiful tribute to the beloved actress satisfied the need for true fans to see her face on screen just one more time.
But honoring Fisher in the movie was heavy-handed, and the same affect could have been accomplished without some of the extra emotional layers. Perhaps an even greater impact could have been made with a simpler approach.
That said, keeping the spark alive — both Fisher’s spark and that of the Resistance, is a staunch theme throughout the film.
Thursday’s 10 p.m. showing was a packed house, and the earlier 7 p.m. showing drew a large crowd as well. As they left the theater, many said it’s a Star Wars movie that shouldn’t be missed.
“There were a lot of twists that I didn’t see coming,” said Manoah Burroughs, an avid fan who watched the first showing of “Star Wars: The Last Jedi” at Kukui Grove Cinema.