Saturday, July 27, 2013
696. Star Wars: Episode VI - Return of the Jedi (1983)
Running Time: 134 minutes
Directed By: Richard Marquand
Written By: George Lucas, Lawrence Kasdan
Main Cast: Mark Hamill, Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher, David Prowse, Billy Dee Williams
Click here to view the trailer
SAVING THE BEST FOR LAST?
Well, here we go, the third and final installment of the original Star Wars trilogy, put on the map by George Lucas, co-writer of the third script (along with Lawrence Kasdan) and sole owner of everything Wookie and Jedi related. Little did they know in 1983, that sixteen years later and this would cease to be the third installment and instead be the sixth installment. Little did I know before I started watching it last night, that this would be the installment that turned a part of me into a full blown Warsie.
So we're picking up sometime after the events of "The Empire Strikes Back", but it's never established how much time has passed. We know that Han Solo (Ford) is still frozen in carbonite and that Luke Skywalker (Hamill) is now 100% Jedi knight (he dons black attire in this one, letting us know that he means business). It all stars with Princess Leia (Fisher), Lando Calrissian (Williams), Chewbacca (the wookie and Han's sidekick) and C3PO (the paranoid android) going to the palace of Jabba the Hut, who now owns the carbonite encasing of Han Solo and trying to rescue their friend. Eventually Luke joins them and is all like "I'm a Jedi and you'll be sorry, give us our amigo!" and Jabba's all like....well he speaks jibberish, but he basically tells Luke to go suck an egg and that he likes Han Solo decorating his walls. He eventually captures them all and nearly kills them, but Luke pulls out his Jedi tricks and gets the whole gang out of the mess, including a now thawed out and ready for action Han Solo. Out of that mess, the gang regroup with the rest of the Rebel Alliance and get their orders: They are to 1) send a group of fighters, including Lando Calrissian piloting the Millennium Falcon, to blow up the DEATH STAR that is now being rebuilt and is supposedly unarmed and 2) send a group, including Luke, Han, Leia, C3PO, R2D2 and Chewy, to the moon of Endor, where the DEATH STAR'S battle station is located and deactivate the shields of the DEATH STAR so that the fighter's can blow it up, thus ending the Imperial reign and restoring order to the galaxy. Of course, we wouldn't have a movie if everything went as planned and there's complications. Along the way there's a pretty kick ass speeder chase and more importantly, Luke Skywalker, son of Anakin Skywalker a.k.a. Darth Vader (Prowse), believes that there is still good left in his father and plans to turn himself over to Vader, so that he can lure him away from the Dark Side. The Emperor (Vader's boss) has other plans...
Okay, let's take a look at the bad first and then we'll ease into the good, deal?
Let me first say that "Return of the Jedi" started off REALLY bad. There was an overload of those muppets I was referring to in my "Empire Strikes Back" review, as we went inside Jabba's palace and it was just SO silly and cartoonish. Jabba is one thing, but when you add in his cronies and dozens of other silly characters it gets a bit much. Also, it just seemed silly that here you have this group of Rebels, who blew up the DEATH STAR (it just feels right to capitalize that phrase EVERYTIME) and gave DARTH freaking VADER a serious run for his money and here they can barely escape the clutches of this obese, glorified mob boss of the Star Wars world. It sort of devalues the bad assery that is Darth Vader. What's that say about him if Jabba can pretty much handle (at least for a little bit) the meat & potatoes of the Rebel Alliance. Honestly, if they could have just shortened the whole beginning portion (basically everything having to do with Jabba), we would be talking a seriously high rating for this one. There really wasn't anything else that I loathed enough to really bring up. I will say that I think killing off Yoda was a bit premature. I mean, we could have just as easily written him out of the final script, save for a little pep talk with Luke about how "there is another". Seriously, I don't know how Yoda being such a major part of pop culture when he seriously has probably less than thirty minutes of screen time between all three films. Also, what the hell happened to Obi-Wan Kenobi? I seriously did NOT think he was killed in the first one (Episode IV). Am I crazy or did he not give Luke a little look and then disappear from his robe, right before Darth hit him with his light saber, during their battle at the end of "A New Hope"? I thought he used some Jedi stuff and got out of that and just disappeared. I honestly expected him to show back up.
Anyway, despite all that, "Return of the Jedi" was pretty great! I know, I'm just as shocked as you are to hear those words come out of me. I mean, it had everything that I just wasn't feeling from the first two (especially the second one - "Empire"). And how about that freaking finale? That moment when we're basically yelling at the screen, begging Darth Vader to kick the Emperor's ass and save his son. Even before that, the battle between Luke and Vader - it was great! They even told a story within the light saber battle, with Vader sensing that Luke was thinking about Leia and realizing that there is another and Luke getting all pissed and going full force at Vader. And the whole thing with Darth wanting to lure Luke to the dark side, but Luke thinking he can lure Vader back to the good side. It was all just marvelous storytelling and really clever stuff.
Even the Ewoks were fine by me, despite being the most cartoonish thing in all three films. I'd even go so far as to say I liked them. Speaking of Endor (the Ewoks home moon), the speeder chase was brilliant and the big battle between the storm troopers and the Rebels was long enough to be considered very noteworthy and was really well choreographed. Things just clicked for me heavily in "Return of the Jedi". It occurred to me that maybe the first two films were just laying groundwork for the finale, but that's not it. Every one of these films can stand on their own merits, good or bad and they can all be watched alone, really. You can watch "Return of the Jedi" without ever seeing "A New Hope" or "Empire Strikes Back" and it make take a little extra figuring, but you'd get it. This is EASILY the best of the three original Star Wars movies. It had excitement, great storytelling, acting that wasn't blatantly terrible, clever plot twists, emotion and moments that were fitting of a finale. Heck, I couldn't stand Hamill in the first two, but as a full blown Jedi he was quite tolerable.
RATING: 7.5/10 I'd call this the first contender to the next TOP 20 list, a favorite for the "Ten Worth Mentioning" section. This got me interested enough to get a hold of the prequels and give them a watch. I should have mini reviews for them in the August recap, at the beginning of September OR...OR follow me on Twitter, where I'm sure I'll mention them when I watch them.
MOVIES WATCHED: 704
MOVIES LEFT TO WATCH: 297
Beauty and the Beast (1946 - Jean Cocteau)
The Ghost and Mrs. Muir (1947 - Joseph L. Mankiewicz)
The Treasure of the Sierra Madre (1948 - John Huston)
Orpheus (1950 - Jean Cocteau)
Rashomon (1950 - Akira Kurosawa)
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