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Ossus Library Index Science Fiction Movie Index

RETURN OF THE JEDI

Directed by Richard Marquand (1983, 20th Century Fox)
Starring Mark Hamil, Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher, and James Earl Jones

The rebels battle Jabba the Hutt to rescue Han, then fight against the Empire's new Death Star, as Luke attempts to turn Vader from the Emperor.

 

 

August 31st, 2016 on Blu-ray for the 35th time  
    Another enjoyable outing. Even the ewoks, who get a bad rap so often, do a good job here, except for a few poorly executed special effects. The real meat, of course, comes on the Death Star in the battle between Luke and Vader, with the Emperor looking on. It's chilling how evil he truly is.  

 

September 21st, 2014 on Blu-ray for the 34th time  
    I quite enjoyed this movie. Maybe it's the nostalgia, or maybe the sequels are really just that much better than the prequels, it doesn't really matter. This movie, although not as good as The Empire Strikes Back, is still a lot of fun, and has an incredible range of emotions from the actors which really seems genuine. Plus, the visuals are spectacular, with a great space battle as the Empire's fighters engage the rebels at the Death Star.  

 

June 2nd, 2012 on Blu-ray for the 33rd time  
    Watching this movie with my son for the first time gave me a new appreciation of the Ewoks. He thought they were hilarious, but was most impressed with the tricks they used to defeat the Empire. It's not because they are cute and fuzzy that he liked them, but because they were clever, which I think is the more impressive trait. He also thought Luke's plan to defeat Jabba the Hutt was brilliant, drawing everybody outside to expose the gangster and kill him -especially the fact that he his his lightsaber inside R2D2.

It's amazing to see how the movie-makers created a film that is simple and complex at the same time, without the fanciness of the prequels, even in this one. The movie dazzles, without having to go over the top. There are a few exceptions, of course, like the song in Jabba's palace, Boba Fett's "death", and a couple of other instances of comedy that seemed too forced.

 

 

4 stars

June 4th, 2011 on DVD for the 32nd time  
    There is a lot of action in the third Star Wars movie, and it's really good, but is the pacing off? Or else something else might be missing. As I said below, the scenes on Tattooine just didn't seem as interesting as in the past.

This is the first time that I've wondered about the role the Ewoks play in the movie. What kind of enemies do they fight normally with the traps they've set? There are so many specifically designed to take on scout walkers and speeder bikes that I think either inter-tribal warfare is pretty big on Endor, or they have been preparing to attack the bunker for a while. If not, to cut all of those logs and set them ready to swing or fall down the slope, and so many others, they must have had entire villages felling trees through the night! So if the Ewoks were doing that, what does that say about the Emperor's "best troops" for not seeing those things so close to the bunker? It just seems entirely too coincidental that the Ewoks have so many traps ready to go, in just the right format, at just the right place and time to take on the Empire's forces.

Still, I think that space battle is amazing!

 

 

4 stars

December 9th, 2009 on DVD for the 31st time  
    As implied below, I think the combination of ground battle and space battle, in addition to a lightsaber fight, makes the end of this movie more interesting than simply one or two of those alone. I didn't find the Jabba scenes to be very interesting this time around, either.  

 

4 stars

September 30th, 2004 on DVD for the 30th time  
    Hey! This is my thirtieth time watching this movie! Wow!

The space battle in Return of the Jedi has finally been upstaged! Strangely enough, I am happy about it. I still think this is an incredible space fight, but it just has to take second place to the opening scene of Revenge of the Sith. Still, the scope of this battle remains unmatched, as Anakin and Obi-Wan left the battle almost as soon as we were introduced to it. The big capital ships taking out Star Destroyers (though the super Star Destroyer went down way too easily) has such an emotional impact because we've seen these ships in the previous movies, and they were instant symbols of evil.

Most people tend to find The Empire Strikes Back to be the slowest Star Wars movie, mainly because of Luke's training. I disagree; this one is the slowest of the original trilogy, based on the scenes I have mentioned already below, and the poor timing and long setups that are presumably the director's touch.

Revenge of the Sith added a little to this movie, besides the obvious goof about Leia remembering something about her mother. I think when Vader realizes that he was going to lose his only son forever brought back the memories of how he lost Padmé, through his dark actions. This time, it would be through his inaction. So he corrected it.

This is a very enjoyable movie, and an excellent conclusion to the saga.

 

 

4 stars

September 30th, 2004 on DVD for the 29th time  
    I don't know how much I can add to my review below, which is pretty comprehensive. The DVD release of this movie didn't add anything that I could see in terms of audio or video presentation. This is probably because Return of the Jedi looked so good to begin with.

As mentioned below, I enjoyed the new song added to Jabba's palace for the Special Edition, except for the character who sings directly into the camera. This is just a personal thing for me, because I hate when characters acknowledge the fact that they are fantasy, which brings us out of the movie (even in a comedy this is undesirable). The new dance moves, and Boba Fett talking to the girls didn't bother me, though I didn't think they added much, either. I did like seeing Oola enter the rancor's lair, with her look of panic.

Out in the desert, I loved seeing the herd of banthas on the dunes! I also loved the new animated tentacles on the sarlacc. They made it look so much more real, hungry, and angry! You would think that they could do something with the inept Boba Fett, however. He pauses way too long before attacking Luke with blaster and rope. Then, about to use his arm lasers on Luke later on, he takes so long to aim that Han is able to bump his jet-pack into activation. He then screams (!) as he is taken into the jaws of the sarlacc. Yuck.

Strangely enough, I noticed more grey matte lines around the Death Star as it orbited Endor. I thought by this time, they had perfected that, as I didn't notice anything around the fighters, or any at all in The Empire Strikes Back.

I don't think I noticed any more changes in the special editions until the very end. On the DVD, Anakin Skywalker's eyebrows have been removed when Luke takes off his mask, which makes for a jarring image, but I presume it makes sense (or will make sense) given the events in Revenge of the Sith.

As mentioned below, I absolutely love the new music after the battle has ended. The wind instruments feel so peaceful, giving us the perfect speechless ending to the saga. The new scenes above Cloud City, Tatooine and Coruscant (where a statue of Palpatine is toppled -and a great reference to that is made in the comic Mara Jade) show how news of the Emperor's fate spread very quickly. On the DVD, these planets are joined by Naboo, which means that planet survives Episode 3! (Not that I expected it to be destroyed, but you never know.)

The last major change to the DVD comes with the new face to Anakin Skywalker. Hayden Christiansen is a lot younger than Sebastian Shaw, and I wonder why the change was made. I kind of like it (I definitely don't dislike it), I just need an explanation. Was his ghost frozen at the point when he turned to the Dark Side? But he was turned back to the Light at the end of this movie. Anyway, I like the way Anakin looks down at his body; perhaps even he was surprised at his transformation!

I really hope the Force-ghosts are explained in Revenge of the Sith. Qui-Gon obviously knew how to do it, though imperfectly, as he yells "no, Anakin, no!" as the boy kills the Tusken Raiders in Attack of the Clones. Yoda, judging by his reaction to that shout, did not know how to do it until much later in life. Obi-Wan probably perfected it during his solitude on Tatooine. When Vader saw Obi-Wan's body disappear, he probably studied what had happened, and figured out how to do it, himself. I doubt it would have worked on somebody dedicated to the Dark Side, however.

Return of the Jedi is definitely the weakest of the three original movies. Some parts of it feel slow, especially in Jabba's palace, and upon entry to the Ewok village. That is made up for, however, by the terrific space-battle around the Death Star. As mentioned below, I just love watching the multitude of craft spinning around, dodging and attacking, beginning with the TIE-Fighter split around the Millennium Falcon. It is just amazingly-depicted and choreographed.

I wonder why the prequel films have not had real space battles in their finale climax. The Phantom Menace had a little action in space, but we were not emotionally involved until Anakin took part, and then he entered a hanger, and it was no longer a space battle. Attack of the Clones was supposed to have a space battle, but it was cut before being made, as I understand it. I'm sure it would have been better than what we got on the ground.

As with Star Wars, I loved the shock-wave that appeared when the Death Star exploded. It is much more dramatic than the original sparks-explosion. It makes a terrific ending to this amazing saga.

As mentioned in my review of A New Hope, I liked the documentary included with the DVD, though it wasn't exceptional, especially when it came to this movie. What I enjoyed most about the Star Wars section was that we got to see non-Special Edition footage, as well as alternate takes. Unfortunately, Jedi got the same treatment as Empire did: all of the footage included in the documentary was from the special edition version. Even the explosion of the Death Star showed the shockwave, where in A New Hope, the original explosion was shown. We did get to see the original Anakin ghost, though. As with Empire, the Death Star explosion from A New Hope was used in the trailers for this film, which is curious. However, I did enjoy the trailers more than others from movies released around the same time.

 

 

4 stars

April 28th, 2002 on Video for the 28th time  
    Maybe it was just my mood when watching Return of the Jedi, but several sequences left me less than excited. Still, the movie is a visual treat, and it has the coolest space battle, and a terrific lightsaber duel.

Normally, I get quite a kick out of the scenes in Jabba's palace, but this time, I was a little bored with the whole thing. I enjoyed the new musical number from the Special Edition more than usual, but it seemed to me that Luke's plan to rescue Han really worked because of luck, rather than good planning. I wonder how Luke knew he would be able to anger Jabba enough that he could get them outside, where the rescue would be easier. We know from the Tales from Jabba's Palace that serving droids started to go missing (because of Lando) on the Sail Barge, but who was to say that Jabba would not have had Luke and Han simply killed? And Leia must have known her fate when she entered the palace. I do wonder what would have happened if she had succeeded in rescuing Han. Then they would have had to mount a rescue for Chewbacca and the droids! Still, Jabba was menacing enough, and I rather enjoyed the battle at the Sarlac pit.

Strangely enough, my favorite scene in the whole movie is a set-up scene! Partly because of the music, I absolutely love the scene where the Millennium Falcon flies a twisted route through the Alliance ships before they leap into hyperspace. And to see the small ships disappear to lightspeed, followed by the larger ships a moment later, is amazing.

Another of the Alliance plans that should have backfired was the raid on Endor. No wonder the Emperor knew they were on the moon. Even if he hadn't set things up, he would have known. Why? Because the rebels gained legal access to the shield generator, but then didn't officially land! I realize the Imperials we see in the movie are not very bright, but a shuttle gone missing seems to be very suspicious, don't you think? Unless they had word from the Emperor to let it slip through -but then the commander would not have asked Vader for permission to search for Luke's colleagues.

One thing that I did not enjoy from the book Shadows of the Empire was the "fact" that Vader knew about the Emperor's trap for the Rebel Alliance. This movie shows that he had no idea at all, and this is one of the things that I love about it. He asks about the wisdom of sending their fleet into a sensor shadow, comes to the Death Star to tell the Emperor that the rebels have penetrated the shield, and allows his commander to search for Luke's friends. These are all clear signs that he did not know there was a trap.

I have often wished that Irvin Kirchner, director of Empire, had directed this movie as well. Mostly because it could have been so much better. This time watching the film, I wondered why some scenes felt like the timing was way off. The most obvious moment is the interminable amount of time it takes for Luke's lightsaber to travel to his hand as he prepares to strike the Emperor. Another is Leia's "startled" intake of breath when the scout trooper approaches her on Endor. And there are many times, especially when characters are talking and are interrupted (C3PO in particular), when it seems unnatural, partly because they stopped talking before being interrupted.

However, my second-favorite moment in the movie is all-too-natural. The duel between Luke and Vader, once it gets started, is terrific, and is only upstaged by the fight between Obi-Wan, Qui-Gon and Darth Maul in The Phantom Menace. Even then, one moment stands out even above that fight: the moment when Vader lures Luke out to fight by mentioning that he could turn Leia to the Dark Side. This would not be possible, we know, because Leia is an even stronger person than Luke is. But it brings about a fantastic moment, again punctuated by fantastic music, where Luke flies into a rage and pummels Vader nearly to death. This is only ruined in the stupid scene where Luke throws his lightsaber away! Did he learn nothing when Vader told him it was "unwise to lower [his] defences"? Even if he was making a point, it looks really stupid dramatically.

At the same time, the best space battle on the big screen (ever? -definitely of the Star Wars series so far) is taking place. The sheer volume of fighter-craft, large and small, is overwhelming. It is awesome to watch, both when they are fighting for time, and after they enter the superstructure of the Death Star. And now that we know it was Tycho Celchu (Rogue Squadron) who started leading the TIE Fighters "back to the surface".

A couple of smaller notes... A part I love: Obi-Wan's "certain point of view" speech, though it has been overused in the New Jedi Order books. A part I hate: characters speaking important things with their last dying breaths. Both Yoda and Vader do it in this movie. A part that leaves me neutral: the ground battle with the Ewoks. Some parts were really good, others were really bad, still others were simply cute or fun. I never hated the Ewoks, just as I don't hate Jar-Jar. But the scene in their hut getting initiated into the tribe went on for a little too long.

Return of the Jedi didn't suffer in any way because of the Special Edition -in fact, it became a little better. The two songs (except for the character in Jabba's palace who sings directly into the camera) were excellent replacements for what was there originally. I always cringed at the "Yub-nub" song on the original version. The winds music that replaced the ending, showing us Tatooine, Cloud City and Coruscant, was amazing, and is the main reason why I bought the soundtrack CD. Was this my introduction to wind instruments, which led to me loving the music for Titanic and The Fellowship of the Ring? Perhaps. It is very soothing, whatever the excuse.
 

 

5 stars

May 4th, 1999 on Laserdisk for the 27th time  
    I still love the ending music of the special edition!  The new scenes are just teasing, when I know The Phantom Menace is coming out in less than three weeks.  We'll have to visit these movies again after Episode I.  

 

5 stars

October 24th, 1998 on Video for the 26th time  
    Special Edition makes this movie much better than ever before.  I love the ending replacement song!  
   

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