The Last Jedi

I'm a bit late to this party, I know, but I'm contemplating a Star Wars marathon of all the movies over the next few weeks, which would, of course, end with The Last Jedi.

I went to see the film shortly after it was released, continuing a tradition that a friend and I started with Revenge Of The Sith, of seeing every Star Wars film at the cinema. I was apprehensive, I'll admit, after seeing The Force Awakens. To me, that one felt like a "do-over" of A New Hope (and I've moaned plenty about being able to "see the joins" in the script), but having Han and Chewie back on screen was something special, something I genuinely thought I'd never see in my lifetime. I'll admit, I left the cinema feeling a little emotional after Han's demise, but I also walked out ready to forgive the films flaws, and absolutely dying to know what was going to happen in the next chapter.

When the time came around for The Last Jedi, my feelings were mixed: was it going to be a rehash of The Empire Strikes Back? Was it going to kill another of my favourite characters off? Was it going to be any good? They'd tried something different with Rogue One, and, while I appreciated that, I wanted something more...familiar from The Last Jedi. I'd tried valiantly to avoid spoilers and reviews, sticking to the trailers to get me hyped, and letting the anticipation build, so I could go in cold.

And then I saw it.

And I was completely blown away.

It felt like a Star Wars film, but it did things that the franchise never had before, it moved things around in a way I never expected and created a unique experience that left me gagging for more.

Was it flawed? Of course. The whole Canto Blight sequence doesn't quite work, and they still couldn't find anything interesting to do with Phasma, for starters, but there was so much more to it all. The characters felt more developed, the story felt...right and it did something the previous film didn't: it passed the baton to the next generation of fans.

But, for me, it was Luke's story arc that brought everything home. It felt natural to me, someone who hasn't invested anything in the Expanded Universe stuff (well, OK, I read the original trilogy by Timothy Zahn and decided I'd stick with the films, thank you very much); the way it was brought to the screen by everyone involved just left me with a whole mixture of feelings - sadness, joy, pride, hope. This was a Luke struggling with the expectations placed on him and deciding to just do his own thing - which is hard not to see as something meta about Rian Johnson's involvement, but maybe that's just me.

The icing on the cake, though, was seeing Yoda appear.

I remember feeling a swell of pure joy at seeing the little guy on screen, and I could genuinely feel tears welling when I heard his voice.

As I said to someone afterwards, I was surprised at how emotional the film left me.

But, over the intervening year since it was released, it's become even more emotional to me.

It's the first Star Wars film I never got to watch with my mam.

Back in 2016, she was diagnosed with cancer. It was caught early enough, and, after successful surgery, she was fighting fit again. But a year later, she found that it wasn't completely gone, so she went back for more surgery, worried sick, but never really letting it show and determined to beat it again.

Early this year, she found out the cancer was still there and making her sick. After a couple of false starts thanks to the "Beast From The East," she was admitted to hospital to get it taken care of, so she could start chemo. She was expected to make a full recovery and get started with the treatment shortly there after.

Only, cancer's a sly fucker.

It became clear the cancer was aggressive and after a few weeks, it became clear to the doctors there was nothing more they could do.

In April, she passed away quietly at the age of 64.

During the aftermath, when I was trying to deal with everything, a single, stupid though popped into my head that's stuck with me ever since: "she'll never see Yoda come back."

Yoda was one of her favourite characters in Star Wars, and his death in Return Of The Jedi was always a moment of genuine sadness for her. I kept his return in The Last Jedi secret, because I wanted it to be a surprise for her; I wanted to see her face light up when he appears.

I'm typing this out on Christmas Day, unsure if I'm going to post it or not. The film has become such a personal thing for me, now; it's part of a huge ball of emotions rattling around inside me, and - as much as I'd like to put the film on and watch it again, I'm genuinely reluctant. I really don't know whether I'll be able to make it through the entire thing in one piece.

But one thing I am sure of is that I'm glad it exists in the world, because I know it'll bring the same kind of joy it brought me and my mam when we watched all the previous films, to other families. It'll help forge the same kinds of bonds the previous films forged with us - which to me, is - and always has been - the legacy of Star Wars.
The Last Jedi The Last Jedi Reviewed by Lee on 12:25 pm Rating: 5
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