Feb 10, 2012

[Movies] Star Wars Episode VI: Return of the Jedi

Well, it's D-day, or perhaps more like "3D-Day" if you get my drift. By the time this posts, The Phantom Menace would have debuted in local theaters while it's just about ready for release in a few hours over in the US. I can only wonder if people will still line-up for the midnight screenings for a movie they've already seen, albeit in 2D.

But back on topic, this also marks the last of this series of review of all the different Star Wars movies, which has been a rather enjoyable adventure in review blogging for me as well. I've seen all of the movies multiple times (and yes, that includes the prequels) but to really take some time to think about each movie and how I felt about it has certainly been an interesting and somewhat insightful experience.

The bigger challenge is trying to rate each movie relative to the others and yet still in a consistent manner. At least in terms of this exercise, I get to lay out all six movies in a row and sort of go back and forth between them until I come to a decision I like. It would have been a lot harder to have rated the movies as they came out - well, harder mainly in terms of figuring out the scale of things as you go along and as other movies enter the fray in order to provide greater perspective and alternative points of comparison.

But enough of that - let's just geek out about Star Wars now.

Return of the Jedi is the third Star Wars movie release but the last in terms of the movie franchise's overall continuity. It was directed by Richard Marquand using a screenplay by both George Lucas and Lawrence Kasdan.

About a year after the events in The Empire Strikes Back, our adventurers have initiated a plan to rescue Han Solo (Harrison Ford), who is still frozen in carbonite, from the interstellar gangster Jabba the Hutt (Lard Ward). This consists of various familiar characters like C-3PO (Anthony Daniels), R2-D2 (Kenny Baker), Princess Leia (Carrie Fisher), Lando Calrissian (Billy Dee Williams) and Chewbacca (Peter Mayhew) managing to get into Jabba's palace before Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill) himself arrives.

And given what is going on in the rest of the galaxy, they're going to need every bit of help that they can get. After all, the Empire is now building a second and even larger Death Star to exert control over planetary populations. And news has just found its way to the Rebellion that Emperor Palpatine (Ian McDiarmid) himself will be overseeing the final stages of the Death Star's construction, thus making the station an almost irresistible target for the Rebels.

Now the movie gave us a lot of things to really enjoy. From all the undesirables that surround Jabba the Hutt on Tatooine, the Emperor's Royal Guard (all dapper in crimson robes) to the massive space battle towards the end, there's a lot of fun stuff indeed. However this is also the movie that gave us the Ewoks, and that will have a significant effect on the overall rating of this movie. I mean come on - we're talking giant teddy bears who don't speak English and do not have a Care Bear Stare ability. Lame.

The initial rescue of Han Solo is one rather convoluted plan when you think about it. They get all these key Rebel leaders to somehow slip into the Palace in small teams using a wide variety of disguises. Then they have to reconnect and find Han's carbonite chamber. And then they'll have to find a way out. Really, there must have been a better way to do things, but I suppose it did make for good movie entertainment. And it's not like their big plan to slip past the security around the Death Star II was any better.

Beyond the usual share of plot inconsistencies and other related items of interest, the movie did have a strong enough story to help us audience members forget logic for a bit in order to just find out what happens. After all, it's at this point that Luke full understands that Leia is his twin sister and that Darth Vader (David Prowse / James Earl Jones) is their father. And that's heavy knowledge to carry around ever since his training on Dagobah and the who incident on Bespin. So clearly it's not something they've had a lot of free time to discuss about at length. So this movie addresses those points (thus giving the prequels a bit more meaning).

Despite the Ewoks, I have to admit that I re-watch this movie a lot just for the big battle around Endor. And the Special Edition did try to spruce things up even more by better presenting the fact that there were B-Wings in the fleet along with all the other different fighters and spaceship types. And if it means enduring cutaways back to the moon to watch the Ewoks battle fully armed and armored stormtroopers and such, well, then I still go through with it since it's that fun.

Return of the Jedi isn't the greatest Star Wars movie, but it does a good job of trying up the whole series. And this goes for the entire six-movie franchise and not just the original movie trilogy. You have to give Lucaas credit for managing to tie all these movies together despite the huge gap of time between the original trilogy and the prequel trilogy. But because of the ewoks and the changes made to the song and dance number at Jabba's Palace, this movie only gets 3.5 stupid ways for great characters like Boba Fett to die out of a possible 5.

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