Derek Winnert

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This article was written on 02 Sep 2013, and is filled under Reviews.

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Star Wars Episode VI: Return of the Jedi ***** (1983, Mark Hamill, Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher) – Classic Film Review 214

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With a three-year gap after Irvin Kershner’s 1980 The Empire Strikes Back, co-writer/producer George Lucas delivers the third and final part of his original Star Wars trilogy. It’s got its downsides, but it’s written with enough flair, performed with enough pizzazz and directed with enough zest by Richard Marquand to be memorable.

In the continuing tale of the clash between the Rebels and the Galactic Empire, R2-D2, C-3PO and some Rebel forces are sent to try to rescue an imprisoned Han Solo (Harrison Ford) from Jabba the Hutt’s big fat clutches. Disguised as a bounty hunter, Carrie Fisher’s Princess Leia goes along too, with Chewbacca, but she finds herself threatened by the lustful Jabba. No wonder, her gold bikini provided endless fantasies for lustful teenage boys back in the day.

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Meanwhile, the Rebels must try to destroy the seemingly indestructible new Second Death Star, being built by Vader and the Empire. And now Mark Hamill’s space cadet Luke Skywalker sets off to fight Darth Vader (voice of James Earl Jones) and the Dark Side on the moon of Endor, whose Ewok inhabitants assist the Rebels in their battle.

There’s good news and bad news again. The good is that the visual invention, relentless pacing and imaginatively staged set pieces are still as awesome and spectacular as in the first two movies. And the classy stars Hamill, Ford and Fisher continue give the most vigorous and attractive performances.

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But the bad is that this time the movie’s fantasy elements are both more sloppily handled and soppier in tone and content. Things have got a bit slacker and simpler, and many of the elements of the film seem much more directly aimed relentlessly to please younger children this time, particularly the supposedly ‘cute’ Ewoks, which older teens and adults may well find infuriating.

Also the handling this time, while highly professional, slick and extremely glossy, is more self-indulgent and less incisive. And some of the support performances don’t match those of the stars for quality and are over-relaxed and under-realised.

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Nevertheless, for all it faults, the movie is enormous fun throughout. John Williams’s rousing score and the Oscar-winning visual effects (by Richard Edlund, Dennis Murun, Ken Ralston, Phil Tibbett) are once again tremendous assets.

George Lucas provided the story and he worked with Lawrence Kasdan on the screenplay.

The film runs 134 minutes but the cut version runs at 126 minutes. The 1997 Special Edition offers many new effects and is a slight re-edit.

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After an incredibly long wait and a spruced-up release of the first movie, the fourth movie finally followed in 1999: Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace.

http://derekwinnert.com/star-wars-episode-1-the-phantom-menace-classic-film-review-213/

© Derek Winnert 2013 Classic Movie Review 213

Check out more reviews on http://derekwinnert.com/

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