Star Wars: Episode VI - Return of the Jedi

on May 25, 1983 by Jimmy Summers
Print
   "Return of the Jedi" wraps up the "Star Wars" trilogy with a bang by delivering everything audiences expect and more. And those who pay closer attention to the boxoffice than the screen will be happy to hear it's packed with so many new characters, sets and pieces of hardware that it's going to take second and third viewings just to see it all.
   When the movie begins, Han Solo (Harrison Ford) is still held captive in a frozen state by the evil gangster Jabba the Hutt, a giant, vile caterpillar who eats live frogs as snacks. Chewbacca (Peter Mayhew) and Lando Calrissian (Billy Dee Williams) have been sent to rescue him, but they've since disappeared. The Laurel and Hardy of androids, C-3PO and R2-D2, next arrive at Jabba's lair to inquire of Han's whereabouts, but they're quickly put to work as an interpreter and a waiter. Princess Leia (Carrie Fisher) sneaks in at night and manages to defrost Han, but they're captured and imprisoned.
   Finally, Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill), now garbed in the hooded cloak of a Jedi Knight, arrive and insists that Jabba release his friends. Instead, Jabba takes Luke prisoner and flies him, Han and Chewbacca across Tatooine to be fed to a man-eating hole in the ground. At the last minute and during a literal cliffhanger, Luke, with the help of Lando (who has been hidden in disguise) and R2-D2, saves the day and the bad guys are dumped in the hole.
   Luke travels to Yoda's swamp to visit with his old teacher and receives some startling information from the dying Jedi master. The spirit of Obi-Wan Kenobi (Alec Guinness) also visits to shed some light on the past life of Luke's father, Darth Vader.
   When Luke rejoins the rebel forces, they are preparing to attack the Empire's new armored Space Station, which promises to be many times more powerful than the dreaded Death Star. Because the station is being protected by an energy shield projected from a nearby moon, Luke, Han, Leia, Chewbacca and the androids are sent to deactivate it. Lando, meanwhile, has been given control of Han's old ship and is heading the attack squad against the station.
   On the moon, our crew encounters a race of teddy-bear-like creatures called Ewoks. The Ewoks are not very friendly until they spot C-3PO and mistake him for a god. Although the android insists he hasn't been programmed to be a deity, Luke and Han persuade him to demand a bit more hospitality from the Ewoks.
   Luke realizes Vader has arrived in the area, and blames himself for attracting his father during a critical stage in the rebellion's plans. He flies up to the space station, turns himselfin and is brought before Vader and the Emperor. The Emperor forces Luke to watch as the rebellion's forces are drawn into the Empire's trap, and tries to talk him into giving in to his anger and desire for revenge, thus giving in to his dark side.
   Down on the moon, Han and Leia discover there was indeed a trap set. But, thanks to help from the brave little Ewoks, the rebellion forces manage to regain control and destroy the origin of the space shield. Just as Lando grabs the opportunity to attack the station and destroy it, Luke resolves his precarious situation and escapes. The Empire is crushed, and the rebels gather for a party in the Ewoks' forest home.
   It should be no surprise that "Return of the Jedi" is one of the most exciting, entertaining, eye-popping movies of the year. There could be some relief that we haven't been let down, but with the memories of past Lucas works still fresh in our minds it certainly shouldn't be a surprise.
   The most noticeable element this time around is the apparent effect on Lucas by Muppet veteran Frank Oz, the man behind (or rather beneath) Yoda. The Muppet-like creations, from the odious Jabba the Hutt and his entourage to the lovable Ewoks, far outnumber the featured humans in the movie and make Yoda, who seemed propelled by nothing less than magic in "Empire," a primitive puppet in comparison. With these creatures populating the screen and diverting your attention, paying attention to the story is occasionally a chore.
   But the story is nonetheless there and once again in solid, bigger-than-life form. The Lucas philosophy of good and evil is also laid out once more, giving children something more to think about than which Star Wars toys to beg for. (The merchandising folks at Kenner must be doing backflips.)
   Although the human actors are occasionally upstaged by the new creatures and hardware, they still do an excellent job of both staying true to and having fun with their characters, who by now have become our old friends. Mark Hamill especially does a fine job of pulling off his coming-of-age soliloquies.
   After finishing "Return of the Jedi," which is "Chapter VI" in the "Star Wars" series, Lucas has said he wants to wait awhile before he goes back and produces Chapters I, II and III. He's probably right that it needs a rest and, though it'll be a little disappointing not having a new one to look forward to in the near future, we'll still have the past three to keep us company in endless revivals.
   As usual, "Jedi" has been rated PG for stylized violence. Starring Mark Hamill, Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher, Billy Dee Williams and Anthony Daniels. Executive produced by George Lucas. Produced by Howard Kazanjian. Directed by Richard Marquand. Written by Lawrence Kasdan and George Lucas. Released by 20th Century-Fox. Fantasy, rated PG. Running time: 133 min. [On March 14, a digitally updated "Return of the Jedi" arrives in theatres. Here's a look back at what Boxoffice had to say about the original May 1983 release.]
Tags: No Tags
Print

read all Reviews »


0 Comments

No comments were posted.

What do you think?