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....
Running Time: 135 minutes
US Certificate: PG UK Certificate: U
Country: United States
All good things must come to an end, and the original Star Wars trilogy is better than most (Im 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 its reached its conclusion, Harrison Ford looks like hes 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 reviewers money its still a cracker.
Last time, Darths evil plans to set up a Vader & Son construction company (specialising in Death Stars) didnt 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 its time for yet more trials and tribulations in the lives of the galaxys 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 its the array of characters themselves who feed the imagination, rather than the sets and backdrops. As well as the slobbering, pulsating Jabba, theres 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, its another edge-of-the-seater, rich in plot, liberal in its use of excitement, and, importantly, bringing closure to whats 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. Its the key underlying idea behind the entire series, but its 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 Jabbas hut(t).
DVD Extras Aside from the audio commentary, all of the good stuff is on the bonus disc. Its 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
Alternatives:Star Wars: Episode II Attack of the Clones, Star Wars: Episode I The Phantom Menace, Star Wars: Episode III Revenge of the Sith, Star Wars: Episode V The Empire Strikes Back
A wonderful ending to a wonderful trilogy.