Reviews of Star Wars: Episode VI - Return of the Jedi
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I just watched ‘Return of The Jedi’ again recently in hi-def. As a kid, distraught the the ‘baddies’ had ‘won’ in ‘The Empire Strikes Back,’ I loved Return of the Jedi’s optimism, the colours, the creatures and the sense that the Empire was finally going to get is ass-kicked. As I have gotten older, and seen ROTJ countless times, I do find so e of it problematic: The plot is choppy, there is none of the tetchy dialogue between Han, Luke and Leia that made the original ‘Star Wars’ (1977) a delight, and it stops and starts breaking the pace.As with the below reviews, I do not have a problem with the Ewoks. As a kid and indeed now, I don’t see them as ‘cute’ (barring that baby one that gets scared at C-3PO’s story, aww!), rather, they are simply another set of creatures in the Star Wars Universe, like the Jawas, and it is hard to level the ‘cutesey’ accusations at the Ewoks when they get so stuck into the battle, unafraid to shoot Stormtroopers with arrows, crush Walkers with logs, and lasso Biker Scouts until they smash into trees. One would argue that they are a violent and savage race when it comes to it. And if that weren’t enough of a defence, the Ewoks are NOT rendered in CGI. My defence rests! The problem I do have is in the scenes at The Ewok Village, where the plot grinds to a halt for Luke, Leia, Han and then Luke and Vader to havre some slow scenes. This breaks up the breathless pace, that sense of going from one situation to another that made ANH and ESB so entertaining. And Leia in a bikini? May I venture a controversial view as a male? This is unsesscesary. I was around 4 years old when this came out, so it was never sexy for me, and sadly feels like a precursor of the poor treatment of female characters Lucas woould later dish out in ‘Revenge of The Sith’ where fiesty Leia’s mother dies from a broken heart. Shame on you George. Ther stories of Carrie Fisher’s misgivings about these scenes back this up. Is it sexy for me now? A little. Is it neccessary? No. The more I watch ROTJ, the more I see the flaws, however a part of me that is still a child still adores the bright colours, the vivid greens of Endor, Admiral Ackbar shouting ’IT’S A TRAP!‘, Jabba’s slimy denizens, harking back to the Cantina scene of ANH, and the spectacular space battles. That part of me will always have a soft spot for ‘Return of the Jedi,’ and keeps me coming back for more. I will likely leave it for awhile now as I can get sick of any film, but I know that after a break I’ll be happy to Return to a galaxy far far away, Ewoks and all.
- Currently 5.0/5 Stars.
Let me begin by making one thing clear. I have no problem with Ewoks. The standard rag on Return of the Jedi is that these cuddly teddy bear creatures represented George Lucas’ initial foray into kiddie pandering. First of all, there’s nothing inherently wrong with cute in a Star Wars film (as opposed to stupid which will be discussed in the next review), especially when combined with the sly humor that came to define the trilogy.
Second, the Ewoks conceptually made sense in the context of this movie and the Star Wars Universe. The Empire was consistently shown to have an overwhelming advantage in the hardware department. Only when the quasi-spiritual elements of the force were introduced did the odds somewhat even up. For non-force enhanced rebels, the Ewoks’ use of their natural forest environment in battle delivered the message that even the most advanced technology could be overcome by pure hearts and fighting spirits. It’s the classic David and Goliath tale.
If all this seems to lean a bit much toward the sentimental, so be it. As the climatic installment of the series, Jedi has earned that right, especially since much of its screen time was occupied by two of the creepiest villains since, well since Darth Vader.
Take Jabba the Hut, a bloated reptile slug thing crossed with a 1930’s gangster boss. He was not only a giant leap forward in the art of puppetry on film, but also joined the ranks of Hollywood’s classic monsters. Holding Han Solo prisoner in carbonite and chained to Princess Leia in a fetching bikini, the atmosphere of Jabba’s lair was sufficiently dark to recapture the mood at the end of Empire, while also recalling the alien cantina sequence from the original Star Wars.
With Darth Vader now established as Luke Skywalker’s father, a new symbol of pure evil was needed. The pasty wrinkled visage of the Emperor was the perfect personification of the dark side of the force. Ian McDiarmid, under loads of makeup, managed the difficult task of convincing us that his Emperor is not only more evil, but more powerful that Vader, who had previously personified those qualities.
Those who complain about Ewoks, seem not to remember that their scenes were inter-cut with the harrowing “Last Temptation of Luke Skywalker” sequence. That this final lightsaber fight was not about the Emperor and Vader trying to kill Luke, but instead focused on turning him to the dark side, significantly raised the dramatic stakes, further enhanced by some of composer, John William’s darkest music.
Star Wars was the original and Empire may be the best, but I think Return of the Jedi has a legitimate claim as the most purely entertaining entry in the series. George Lucas and company had already created a universe and changed the world. The story had already been built to a point that its resonance was assured and its conclusion inevitable. In Jedi, they took the opportunity to play around and have fun with it, offering more creatures, bigger space battles and characters we now know well, relishing in their personality quirks.
Star Wars and The Empire Strikes Back were among the finest examples of the adventure film ever to make their way into theaters. As discussed in earlier reviews, that both films could reach those heights was improbable at best. Return of the Jedi should not be penalized for not quite equaling them. It’s a great film in its own right. More importantly, it’s a real Star Wars film that fully captured the spirit of its predecessors and provided a conclusion that did them justice.
- Currently 5.0/5 Stars.
When I was a kid, I absolutely adored RETURN OF THE JEDI. As I’ve gotten older and revisited it, it’s clear to me that it is inferior to the other films in the original STAR WARS Trilogy in every way. There really is no reason that STAR WARS needed to have its original story shoehorned into a trilogy, as RETURN OF THE JEDI short-changes all of the development and build up set up in THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK, filling this movie with on-the-nose direction, moronic revelations, and kid-friendly sub-plots that aren’t going to interest anyone over the age of 13. The scenes with Luke, Vader and Emperor Palpatine are the only truly strong thing the movie has to offer in the way of plot. The epic battles in space are truly breathtaking to behold, however doing a re-hash of the Death Star battle from the first film keeps it from being the great set-piece it could’ve been, it’s a failing of the plot, rather than the special effects or the direction. The movie feels like George Lucas wanted to be done with STAR WARS and didn’t really take time to think about a proper way to finish the story in one film and instead put together something for the kids. What a shame.
- Currently 2.0/5 Stars.