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Return of the Jedi

movie reviewmovie reviewmovie review out of 4 Movie Review: Return of the Jedi

Starring: Mark Hamill, Harrison Ford
Director: Richard Marquand
Rated: PG
RunTime: 132 Minutes
Release Date: May 1983
Genres: Sci-Fi/Fantasy, Action, Classic

*Also starring: Jeremy Bulloch, Carrie Fisher, Billy Dee Williams, Anthony Daniels, Alec Guinness, Peter Mayhew, Sebastian Shaw, Ian McDiarmid, David Prowse

Review by Brian Koller
3 stars out of 4

"Return of the Jedi", of course, is the third chapter in the first "Star Wars" trilogy. Which isn't to be confused with the second trilogy, which takes place before the first trilogy. This would all be confusing, except that media hype has ensured that we know all these things already.

"Return of the Jedi" packed the theaters as well as its predecessors, becoming the biggest grossing film of the year. Perhaps the most sentimental film of the series, the combination of action, special effects, and the good versus evil theme again proved to be a winner.

The story picks up where "The Empire Strikes Back" left off. Solo (Harrison Ford) is still frozen in carbonite, and hangs on the wall of Jabba's palace. Luke (Mark Hamill) and Leia (Carrie Fisher) make separate attempts to free Solo, and after much peril are successful. The action then shifts to the Empire's latest death star, which must be destroyed or the rebellion will be crushed.

The death star is protected by a force field generated on a nearby planet. Our heroes land on the planet to disable the shield, on the way encountering a furry, pygmy tribe called the Ewoks. Meanwhile, Luke tries to turn Vader (voiced by James Earl Jones) from the dark side, but instead is taken to the evil Emperor (Ian McDiarmid), who has plans of his own for Luke.

After praising the first two films, critics weren't as complimentary to "Return of the Jedi". It is much easier to take potshots at "Jedi". Yoda (voiced by Frank Oz) has lived 900 years, but dies of old age within ten minutes of Luke's arrival. While the revelation that Vader is Luke's father is a shocker, to learn that Leia is his sister seems bogus, turning the trilogy into a soap opera. Leia's character, so independent and combative in the first "Star Wars", here has been softened and reduced to Solo's love interest. The Ewoks are a cross between teddy bears and aborigines, and a sign that George Lucas may be targeting kiddies rather than adults. (This marketing trend would be further in evidence in 1999's "The Phantom Menace".)

Still, there are many entertaining moments. Jabba the Hutt is an original villian, the speed chase through the forest is exciting, and the final confrontation between Vader, Luke and the Emperor is suspenseful. And Leia's costume at Jabba's Palace makes the viewer wish for a gust of wind.

Copyright 1999 Brian Koller

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