Movie Review – Return of the Jedi

1983 Twentieth Century Fox

Three Stars
Six years after the first movie was released the third and final film of the original trilogy made its appearance. I skipped out of school early on opening day and went to an afternoon showing with some friends to see this. I remember feeling excited as the lights went down in the theater and the conclusion of the story began. When I left the theater that feeling was gone, replaced by extreme disappointed. Return of the Jedi for me had failed to live up to the promise of the first two movies. To a teenager who had grown up anticipating the next Star Wars movie this was terrible shock.
The movie starts with the entertaining but occasionally too silly rescue of Han from the evil clutches of Jabba the Hutt. The story then shifts to the rebellion’s effort to mount an attack against a new “even more powerful” Death Star. Meanwhile Luke must face his father yet again. It’s bad enough that the story is a retread but on top of that this movie is written and directed in such a ham handed way as to make it nowhere near as good as Star Wars and The Empire Strikes Back. The characters for the most part do not continue the growth seen in the second movie and even the special effects take a hit in quality.
The main problem of this movie in my opinion is that many details are ignored or done very badly. Han’s “defrosting” sequence is lacking in emotion and the special effects are cheesy and ill designed. The revelation that Luke and Leia are brother and sister is just lazy writing as is Obi-Wan’s lame “certain point of view” speech. The end battle sequence is fun from a pyrotechnic and effects standpoint but is a joke in terms of believability; I just cannot believe cute little fuzzy creatures with primitive weapons could overcome well-armed and armored troopers. In the space battle it’s clear that the Imperial forces outgun the rebel ships even without the Death Star. Some of these things could have been overlooked if the story and characters were handled with more respect but they are not. The character of Han Solo is reduced to being the comic relief in this movie, Harrison Ford looks bored and uninspired and I can’t blame him. Luke is treated better but Leia is not quite the independent strong willed person she was in the first two movies and Lando is almost forgotten.
There are some good things to be found; the speeder bike chase and the throne room scenes are very well done and have a vitality and spark that is missing from the rest of the film. As mentioned previously Han’s rescue is still entertaining even though certain parts are weak. John Williams delivers another good score although I could have done without the too cute Ewok music cues.
Not a terrible movie but it could have been so much more. I wish Irvin Kirchner could have directed this one and Gary Kurtz, producer of the first two movies, would have stuck around but it was not to be for whatever reasons (there are many rumors but who knows what’s true?). Another Star Wars movie in three years was also not to be as Lucas abandoned his original production schedule. It would be sixteen years before he would revisit his creation again. To be continued…
The good:

The opening scene on board the new Death Star is terrific.

Great scene. Nice set.

The rescue of Han sequence is entertaining(although somewhat frustrating). It’s full of really good moments (that keep getting interrupted by not so good moments).

I like the green saber.

Despite the ludicrous nature of the speeder bike scene it really is a fun sequence.

The throne room scenes are very well done. It’s too bad this quality didn’t extend to the rest of the movie.

The end space battle is great except for a few idiotic moments such as the all too convenient destruction of the super star destroyer.

Carrie Fisher looks so cute.

The Ewok in the middle is the only cool Ewok ever. The rest all suck.

The not so good:

The special effects are nowhere near as good as the last movie.

There are some really good special effects…

…but a lot of sloppy looking effects and matte paintings bring down the overall quality.

This is cool…

…but this is awful.

There didn’t seem to be a lot of thought put into certain effects scenes. Why is there light coming out of Solo’s face?

This is just plain bad.

The explosion effects look pathetic in this scene.

Star Wars does not need burp jokes and crying Rancor keepers.

The over the top sound effects of the Rancor keeper crying totally ruin this scene. They are about as subtle as killing a bee with a guided missile.

Good acting dude playing Bib. Very nuanced.

Boba Fett’s death is so anti-climatic and stupid it’s insulting.

The scene of C3PO and R2 buried in the sand is pathetically fake looking.

This is sad. Nice backdrop. What a lucky coincidence that the skiff was equipped with two magnetic lifts placed side by side.

The Death Star again? Really?

There is no way the Ewok’s should have defeated well armed Stormtroopers if the end battle had been written with an ounce of intelligence. As it is no Stormtrooper appears to fire a shot at an Ewok. The AT-ST’s do but not the Stormtroopers. Idiotic writing and poor direction.

Nope not firing at anything. Just running around. Good training.

More aimless wandering.

Were they saving ammunition?

Random thoughts and observations:

This is the only scene where Han Solo seems to be the Han from the previous two movies. Ford must have been having a good day.

The Emperor is a strategic idiot.

Luke and Leia brother and sister? Really? Is Han their freaking cousin?

“She was very beautiful, kind, but sad. I remember seeing her face once when I was 25 seconds old.”

Why do many movie villains have a need to put human females in sexy and tiny outfits? Not that I mind seeing it as Carrie Fisher looked great but it doesn’t make much sense in this case.

Yes Leia looks hot but would a giant slug be attracted to her?

Yes Leia looks hot but would a giant slug be attracted to her?

Harrison Ford really does not seem to give a shit about being in this movie.

This is pretty much the same expression Ford has on his face throughout the entire movie.

I think maybe he was in shock after reading the screenplay.

So a little arrow fired by a little fuzzy teddy bear thingy can penetrate the armor of a Stormtrooper? Good quality stuff there.

Why is it that if anyone riding a speeder bike is distracted for one second they will slam into a tree except the stupid Ewok who can ride about five miles without even knowing how to operate the bike and bouncing all over it?

Let the slapstick commence. This is only a preview of the kind of nauseating humor you will encounter in the next Star Wars movie sixteen years from now. You heard me right…sixteen years!

Chewie’s Tarzan yell is very out of place. References to our pop culture do not belong in Star Wars.

What happened to the bulk of the Imperial Fleet that was still left after the Death Star was destroyed? I always thought it would have been hilarious if they swooped in and wiped out the remaining rebel ships as they all partied.

I see somewhere between twenty five to thirty Star Destroyers plus Vader’s command ship. I doubt these ships were all destroyed. This isn’t even the entire Imperial Fleet.

What the hell is Boba Fett firing at? He can’t even hit someone in the back from twenty feet away. Why is he so feared? His only impressive action in both this and the previous movie was to track the Millennium Falcon to Bespin. That is all he did. Then he died like a wimp.

Why did Chewie even bother firing at this guy?

This A-Wing goes out of control a long way from the Super Star Destroyer…

…but these officers seems to know it’s on a collision course with the bridge when it’s only a barely seen speck.

Wow they were right. What a stupid scene.

“The weapon of a Jedi and everyone else in the galaxy. Much like your fathers in that cylindrical tube shaped kind of way.”

Where was Luke hiding? He pops up right in back of the staircase…

…that Vader had just passed by.

So they live in trees, worship golden idols, but have the capability of flight? Weird evolution on this planet.

The skiff is hit by blaster fire and Solo falls off feet first…

…but then he’s hanging upside down, his feet tangled in whatever the hell that is. Sloppy.

Luke’s hand is wounded before the blaster hits it.

Later the damage moves closer to the wrist.

Why would you bring a medical ship to a battle? Kind of like putting a MASH unit directly on the front lines.

Vader’s light saber is a bit crooked…

Luke has changed into some muscular dude.

Interesting little detail when Vader is being hit by the Emperor’s lightning. He appears to have mechanical parts inserted into his body. This creates a contradiction with the prequels (shocking I know) where it appears he was just thrown into his suit while he was still piping hot fresh out of the lava.

Sorry no redemption for you. The prequels made you too much of a cowardly weak willed scumbag for you to ever be redeemed. Go to hell, go straight to hell, do not pass go…

The Special Edition:

As usual with the Special Editions there is nothing of any real value added but at least they fixed a couple special effects blunders.

Many people don’t like the new music number in Jabba’s Palace and think the original one was better. I say they’re wrong, both versions suck.

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