Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Review: "Return of the Jedi" is the Ultimate Summer Movie

TRASH IN MY EYE No. 139 (of 2004) by Leroy Douresseaux

Return of the Jedi (1983)
Running time: 134 minutes (2 hours, 14 minutes)
DIRECTOR: Richard Marquand
WRITERS: Lawrence Kasdan and George Lucas; from a story by George Lucas
PRODUCER: Howard Kazanjian
EDITORS: Sean Barton, Duwayne Dunham, and Marcia Lucas
COMPOSER: John Williams
Academy Award winner


Starring: Mark Hamill, Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher, Billy Dee Williams, Anthony Daniels, Peter Mayhew, Sebastian Shaw, Ian McDiarmid, (voice) Frank Oz, (voice) James Earl Jones, David Prowse, Alec Guinness, Kenny Baker, and Denis Lawson

Return of the Jedi is a 1983 epic science fiction film and is the second sequel to the film, Star Wars (1977). It is also the concluding film in the original Star Wars trilogy. Personally, Return of the Jedi is the one for which I am most nostalgic.

The original Star Wars saga concluded with Return of the Jedi (also known as Star Wars Episode VI – Return of the Jedi). As the film begins, Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill), Princess Leia Organa (Carrie Fisher), and Lando Calrissian (Billy Dee Williams) lead a charge to rescue Han Solo (Harrison Ford) from the gangster Jabba the Hutt, a giant, nasty, slug-like creature.

However, the fight against the Empire also continues. The Rebel Alliance has received sensitive data about the Empire’s new Death Star satellite, so our favorite rebels head for the Forest Moon of Endor on a mission to cripple the Death Star’s defense systems. But Luke must once again confront his father, Darth Vader, (David Prowse and voiced by James Earl Jones), the evil face of the empire, and Darth Vader’s master, The Emperor (Ian McDiarmid). Are the heroes walking into a carefully orchestrated trap, and will they win the day?

As with the other two original films, Return of the Jedi is a thrilling ride in the tradition of matinee serials, or serialized adventures in general. The film moves at a fast, brisk pace, and the script tightly and concisely moves through the plot. The film has two glaring weaknesses. First, some of the acting is terrible, and in a few scenes the actors deliver the dialogue with a total lack of inspiration. Secondly, the inclusion of the new characters, the Ewoks (basically a tribal group of human dwarf-size teddy bears), is a painfully obvious attempt to sell toys, because that’s what the Ewoks are – toys and merchandising.

Otherwise, Return of the Jedi is a very entertaining film; it is the least in terms of quality of the original trio, but it’s still great and fun entertainment. It gets better with age, especially when one considers that as the closing shot gives way to the credits, this signals the end of an era – the original cinematic run of the original Star Wars films.

8 of 10

1984 Academy Awards: 1 win: “Special Achievement Award” (Richard Edlund, Dennis Muren, Ken Ralston, and Phil Tippett for visual effects); 4 nominations: “Best Art Direction-Set Decoration” (Norman Reynolds, Fred Hole, James L. Schoppe, Michael Ford), “Best Effects, Sound Effects Editing” (Ben Burtt), “Best Music, Original Score” (John Williams), and “Best Sound” (Ben Burtt, Gary Summers, Randy Thom, and Tony Dawe)

1984 BAFTA Awards: 1 win: “Best Special Visual Effects” (Richard Edlund, Dennis Muren, Ken Ralston, and Kit West); 3 nominations: “Best Make Up Artist” (Phil Tippett and Stuart Freeborn), “Best Production Design/Art Direction” (Norman Reynolds), and “Best Sound” (Ben Burtt, Tony Dawe, and Gary Summers)



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