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Star Wars: Episode VI – Return of the Jedi (1983)

Return of the Jedi (short title), Revenge of the Jedi, Star Wars VI: Return of the Jedi, Star Wars: Episode VI - Revenge of the Jedi

The Empire Falls....

Directed by:

Richard Marquand

Rating: 9/10

Running Time: 135 minutes

US Certificate: PG UK Certificate: U

On DVD

Country: United States

All good things must come to an end, and the original ‘Star Wars’ trilogy is better than most (I’m careful to use the word “original” in there because, as we all know, the new ones are plopsy by comparison). ‘Return of the Jedi’, resplendent with soap opera squabbles, fuzzy merchandising opportunities a-plenty and THAT gold bikini, is often branded the weakest of the three films. True, much of it is pre-occupied with tying up loose ends and, by the time it’s reached its conclusion, Harrison Ford looks like he’s given up even pretending not to be bored (compare his going-through-the-motions act here with his electric performance in ‘Raiders of the Lost Ark’ just two years previously), but for this reviewer’s money it’s still a cracker.

Last time, Darth’s evil plans to set up a “Vader & Son” construction company (specialising in Death Stars) didn’t quite come to fruition. As you might remember, that young whipper-snapper of his, Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill), had decided to carry on shunning the family business in favour of following the advice of a decrepit forest troll called Yoda. Kids, eh? When will they learn?

So it’s time for yet more trials and tribulations in the lives of the galaxy’s most dysfunctional clan, as Luke and Princess Leia (Carrie Fisher) attempt to rescue Han Solo (Ford) from sluggy Danny Baker look-a-like Jabba the Hutt, save the universe from the clutches of the evil Emperor (Ian McDiarmid), and make it home in time for elevenses.

Like ‘The Empire Strikes Back’ before it, ‘Return of the Jedi’ is a visual treat – the difference this time being that it’s the array of characters themselves who feed the imagination, rather than the sets and backdrops. As well as the slobbering, pulsating Jabba, there’s the roaring beast kept locked beneath his lair, the giant monster kept waiting for its victims beneath the desert sand, and – of course – the furry, forest-dwelling Ewoks (rumour has it George Lucas stumbled upon the idea for the Ewoks whilst gazing into the bathroom mirror one fateful Sunday morning).

Of course, it’s another edge-of-the-seater, rich in plot, liberal in its use of excitement, and, importantly, bringing closure to what’s gone before it. My only gripe with the film – and perhaps with the trilogy in general – is that it establishes the idea of “The Force” but never really runs as far with it as it could. It’s the key underlying idea behind the entire series, but it’s never really examined or explained in any great depth. A climax exposing The Force, and what is really behind it, could have provided this final instalment with a twist every bit as memorable as the whole “I am your father” reveal in Episode V. Had Lucas been feeling particularly wicked, he could even have hinted in the final scenes that perhaps the supposed “Dark Side” was the right way to go after all?

Oh well, may The Force – whatever it is – be with you.

It's Got: Vader finally removing his helmet… and looking a bit like Humpty Dumpty post wall incident.

It Needs: To ditch the appallingly bad musical interlude in Jabba’s hut(t).

DVD Extras Aside from the audio commentary, all of the good stuff is on the bonus disc. It’s got original trailers & TV spots, exclusive production stills, posters & print campaigns, a shameless amount of plugging for the forthcoming ‘Star Wars’ video games, and additional DVD-ROM content. The extensive array of documentaries and featurettes include ‘The Story of the Star Wars Trilogy’, ‘Episode III Behind the Scenes Preview’, ‘The Birth of the Lightsaber’ and ‘The Characters of Star Wars’. All good stuff. DVD Extras Rating: 10/10

Summary

A wonderful ending to a wonderful trilogy.

3 Comments

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