The third and final chapter in the wondrous STAR WARS saga is RETURN OF THE JEDI. Luke (Mark Hamill) must save Han Solo (Harrison Ford) from the clutches of the monstrous Jabba the Hut, and bring down the newly reconstructed--and even more powerful--Death Star. With Solo imprisoned, Luke accompanies his faithful droids R2D2 (Kenny Baker) and C3PO (Anthony Daniels) in a rescue bid, with Princess Leia (Carrie Fisher) and Chewbacca (Peter Mayhew) also lending a hand. After they valiantly disentangle their friends from Jabba's clutches, Luke returns to his Jedi Knight training with Yoda. Meanwhile, the Rebel Troops amass in an attempt to see off the impending threat from Darth Vader (played by David Prowse, voiced by James Earl Jones) and his new Death Star, with the operation being lead by Han Solo. But Luke must face Vader himself if he is to become a true Jedi Knight, and as he enters into a spirited battle with his light saber-wielding enemy, some surprising revelations await the young warrior.
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The always say, save the best for last, and while and I can openly admit that I prefer the New Hope trench run to the “Trap of Death Star II” and the training of Luke to the siege of Endor….Return of the Jedi does, in fact, have the greatest ending of them all with the climactic battle between two sith and a lone jedi. The “filler” up to that just doesn’t add up to it the way it should.
The Story: So, as stated above, the problem lies within taking down the shield generator for the newest Death Star. While an important plot point it is, we get very mislead within the “walking around the forest aimlessly” stuff. The ewoks, while very ‘cute’ to the female audience and quotable to the fanboys, are really quite un-interesting in this reviewers opinion. Upon repeat viewings, you just want to skip over the Jabba stuff or the whole deal with Endor and get right into the Luke/Vader stuff. We have gone through 2 whole movies setting this up and it only goes down in the last ¼ of the movie. In my opinion, there was enough to subject matter to last ¾ of the movie to have Luke and Vader going at it. There is no more of the Vader attempting to convert Luke to help him overthrow the empire. Apparently after telling Luke that he’s his father, Darth Vader figured that wonderful piece of information wouldn’t change Luke’s mind in the slightest to turning to the Dark Side with him. No imaginative tricks or tests are done by Vader to lure Luke away. Instead we have tribal celebration ceremonies by Care Bears. It’s only when Luke comes to face the Emperor, the run-a-way role of the movie, that things really start to get interesting.
Acting: For the most part, it’s the same old same from all the actors. Although, Han Solo isn’t as gruff and pirate-y as he has been in the past. He’s been well, domesticated in a sense. It’s been said in Empire of Dreams that Ford believed Solo should have been killed off, and it really shows in his performance that he doesn’t care much to be there. The newest and really, only main editions are Ian McDiarmid and Warwick Davis as the Emperor and Wicket the Ewok respectively. McDiarmid does a great job making the Emperor the epitome of evil. He’s creepy, malicious and powerful. Davis does some method acting for Wickett. He studied his dog’s mannerisms to show emotion through the mask and act like an animal. Turning his head in various motions to display emotions. Excellent acting for the two newest entries.
Directing: Richard Marquand does an ok job. But there’s a lack of interest in almost every scene. The breath of emotions are just lacking. The only time you really get emotionally captured into the film, is, the end. Now whether it be the writing or the directing or the acting or the placement of those scenes in the shooting schedule, something rattled that production to make an amazing climax to the best trilogy of films of all time. I lean towards the writing and the idea of adding filler prior to it. I’d have been much more apt to seeing a battle between Luke and Vader/Emperor go for 2 hours. Or even have that occur early in the film and the remainder of how the galaxy is rebuilt. Any way you look at it, the director is the sole responsible factor for it all.
Cinematography: Very gritty and realistic. Now while I don’t love the fake CGI worlds of the prequels, Star Wars, in my opinion, requires a scent of imagination to it. Something otherworldly. Somehow, the world of Endor just doesn’t cut it for me. The cinematography is just boring to look at. As is Tattooine. The Death Star, however, is the strongest of all with strong colors and contrast with dark lighting to set the mood. Production Design: As listed above, the worldly stuff is very bland and “meh.” I understand the concepts of the worldly stuff being very primitive and the Empire being technology based. But I am not intrigued with the primitive world unless you provide a focus on it that makes it imaginative and fresh. This production design lacks it.
Editing: Again, lacks any real focus up until the final confrontation. The parallel action that takes place is the best way to have several climaxes going on at once is the best way to tell the story. Cutting out lackluster action and keeping the audience guessing was the best way to go.
Score: John Williams. Any questions?
Special Effects: The best of the un-Special Editions. Special effects can only get better as time goes on. And while the 80’s isn’t well known for having the greatest special effects of all time, Lucasfilm does one of it’s greatest final visual effects jobs with using real ships and green screens to create realistic, yet imaginative, battle sequences.
In closing: Return of the Jedi, on first viewing, is a great film and a grand finale to the Star Wars trilogy. However, unlike it’s predecessors, is a bit lackluster on follow up screenings. You just want to fast forward to the end and the rest is just filler. Filler that doesn’t even hold your attention or have great scenes of interest. Sadly, this will be the last Star Wars film that people really can enjoy the lack of overdone special effects. On a final “happy note,” the film provides one of the greatest and repeated lines of all time, almost as much as “I am your father,” ………….It’s a trap!