‘The Last Jedi’ delivers for local crowd

Special screening of latest Star Wars movie treats Yavapai Big Brothers Big Sisters

Kristin Potts, left, from Dewey, brought her light sabre on opening night of Star Wars “The Last Jedi,” and faced off with resident Alicia Hull, who dressed as Princess Leia, at the Harkins Theatres in Prescott Valley Thursday night.

Photo by Les Stukenberg.

Kristin Potts, left, from Dewey, brought her light sabre on opening night of Star Wars “The Last Jedi,” and faced off with resident Alicia Hull, who dressed as Princess Leia, at the Harkins Theatres in Prescott Valley Thursday night.

The verdict is in on the new Star Wars movie — at least among local Little Brothers and Sisters and their “Bigs.”

“It was, like, the best Star Wars movie ever,” 10-year-old Maddy said after watching a special screening of “The Last Jedi,” Saturday afternoon, Dec. 16.

And she should know; she has seen all of the previous Star Wars episodes after being introduced to the movies by her grandfather.

Maddy’s Big Sister Lesley Alward was less familiar with the genre, but no less charmed by the movie. “I saw the original Star Wars decades ago,” she said, adding that she especially liked “The Last Jedi’s” funny moments.

“I thought the comedy gave it a little balance,” Alward said.

As in previous Star Wars episodes, “The Last Jedi” introduced a number of adorable new “critters” — a feature that both Maddy and her Big Sister appreciated.

The highly anticipated “Star Wars: Episode VIII – The Last Jedi” officially opened Friday, Dec. 15, and early showings took place late Thursday.

Saturday’s screening for Yavapai Big Brothers Big Sisters was sponsored by Victory Wealth Services of Prescott. Company financial advisor James Hait said the crowd included nearly equal numbers of matched Bigs and Littles and clients at his firm.

From the time he introduced the movie — to cheers and fist-pumping from the enthusiastic crowd — until the end, the 250 or so people in the Harkins Theater in Prescott Valley paid rapt attention to the action-packed, two-and-a-half-hour movie.

Afterward, a number of the adults commented on the movie’s classic match-up between the dark side and the light. “I love the battle between good and evil,” Big Brother Ben Maki said after watching the movie with his Little Brother Daniel.

For Daniel, it was an all-around thumbs-up. “It was awesome,” he said.

“The Last Jedi” is the second film in a Star Wars sequel trilogy, and it picks up largely where the first sequel, 2015’s “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” left off.

As expected from the dramatic end of that movie, original character Luke Skywalker plays a pivotal role in the movie, after young Force prodigy Rey finds him in “the most unfindable place in the galaxy” — a rugged island on a remote planet, Ahch-To.

Many of the old favorites are back: C-3PO, Chewbacca, R2-D2, and BB-8, along with popular young characters Finn, Poe, and Rey. The movie also includes appearances by the late Carrie Fisher playing Leia Organa, and Mark Hamill reprising his Skywalker character.

Action lovers won’t be disappointed by “The Last Jedi,” and 10-year-old Tristan pinpointed one of the movie’s prominent features. “I loved the loud explosions,” he said. “It was really good.”

His Big Brother Marshall Case agreed, and he commended Victory Wealth Services for providing the screening. “They did a really good job treating us,” he said.

Hait noted that, along with being a client-appreciation event for his company, the screening also fulfills a need he sees in the community — “to help support the youth.”

Hait, who grew up watching the movies and collecting Star Wars toys, said the screening also comes with another reward. “Also, it’s just fun,” he said.

Lesley Jenkins, director of philanthropy for Big Brothers Big Sisters, estimated that about 80 matched Bigs and Littles attended the screening.