Star Wars: Episode 6 - Return Of The Jedi

Star Wars: Episode 6 - Return Of The Jedi

***

Reviewed by: Scott Macdonald

Return of the Jedi, is if anything, disappointment. It looks slick, and there is some solid artisanship in the storytelling. Nevertheless, after the colourful and fun space operas, and astoundingly fertile character developments of Empire, Jedi chooses to adopt an all-too cloying resolution. It feels like the writers were running out of ideas.

The charming and interesting love triangle is shattered with a blunt pen - Leia being Luke's sister smells of a writer's ploy to push Luke into rage through Vader - and the all-too obvious repeat of the A New Hope assault on the Death Star belittle the imagination of the previous two films. Even if it is quite possibly, the best-looking and orchestrated space battle ever committed to film.

Copy picture

There is a lot of charm and good cheer in this one though, and it climaxes with a fantastic revelation of Vader's redemption through Luke Skywalker. The Skywalker dynasty's narrative threads from The Empire Strikes Back are nurtured, and challenged by the superbly venomous Emperor Palpatine (Ian McDiarmid).

The cancerous triangle of the dark side of the Force is placed under the lens, thrillingly and emotionally gruelling for the temporally helpless Skywalker. Palpatine and Vader's torturous provocation and Skywalker's eventual explosion of emotion is horribly chilling - especially through that wonderful low choral work by Williams, easily a highlight of the trilogy, and definitely of Jedi - and places an astonishingly powerful responsibility right on giving into and embracing the shackles of rage and aggression. Indeed, Luke's passive strength proves to be what kindles the destruction of the Emperor and the eventual redemption of Vader. At this, Jedi seems almost as powerful as Disney's Pinocchio at delivering its moral stance for its intended audience. Far from a technological triumph of warfare, Lucas has provided a far richer moral climax to this part of the story.

Mark Hamill's performance in Jedi, as Luke, is more accomplished and proficient, but to be honest, he is about the only one who looks like he is putting in any effort. Harrison Ford's Han Solo has lost much of his playfully sarcastic touch, looking downright lobotomised and unhappy to be there, and Carrie Fisher, in spite of that fabulously risqué slave girl costume, seems to be reading her lines off the trees of the forest of Endor. The one thing that I genuinely enjoy seeing in an actor is the joy of performance, and this is sorely missing.

There are moments of well realised emotional storytelling in Jedi - Yoda's passing, Luke and Vader on the landing platform walkway, the final five minutes wrap up nicely - but in retrospect, it's plain to see that the film is overlong, and on autopilot most of the time.

Reviewed on: 04 May 2005
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Finale to the space saga.
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Director: Richard Marquand

Writer: Lawrence Kasdan, George Lucas

Starring: Mark Hamill, Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher, Billy Dee Williams, David Prowse, Ian McDiarmid, Anthony Daniels, Kenny Baker, Frank Oz, Alec Guinness

Year: 1983

Runtime: 134 minutes

BBFC: U - Universal

Country: US

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