"Return of the Jedi", of course, is the third
chapter in the first "Star Wars" trilogy. Which
isn't to be confused with the second trilogy,
which takes place before the first trilogy.
This would all be confusing, except that media
hype has ensured that we know all these things
"Return of the Jedi" packed the theaters as
well as its predecessors, becoming the biggest
grossing film of the year. Perhaps the most
sentimental film of the series, the combination
of action, special effects, and the good versus
evil theme again proved to be a winner.
The story picks up where "The Empire Strikes Back"
left off. Solo (Harrison Ford) is still frozen
in carbonite, and hangs on the wall of Jabba's
palace. Luke (Mark Hamill) and Leia (Carrie Fisher)
make separate attempts to free Solo, and after
much peril are successful. The action then shifts
to the Empire's latest death star, which must
be destroyed or the rebellion will be crushed.
The death star is protected by a force field
generated on a nearby planet. Our heroes land
on the planet to disable the shield, on the
way encountering a furry, pygmy tribe called the
Ewoks. Meanwhile, Luke tries to turn Vader
(voiced by James Earl Jones) from the dark side,
but instead is taken to the evil Emperor
(Ian McDiarmid), who has plans of his own for Luke.
After praising the first two films, critics
weren't as complimentary to "Return of the Jedi".
It is much easier to take potshots at "Jedi".
Yoda (voiced by Frank Oz) has lived 900 years,
but dies of old age within ten minutes of Luke's
arrival. While the revelation that Vader is
Luke's father is a shocker, to learn that Leia
is his sister seems bogus, turning the trilogy
into a soap opera. Leia's character, so
independent and combative in the first "Star Wars",
here has been softened and reduced to Solo's
love interest. The Ewoks are a cross between
teddy bears and aborigines, and a sign that
George Lucas may be targeting kiddies rather
than adults. (This marketing trend would be
further in evidence in 1999's "The Phantom
Still, there are many entertaining moments.
Jabba the Hutt is an original villian, the
speed chase through the forest is exciting, and
the final confrontation between Vader, Luke and
the Emperor is suspenseful. And Leia's costume
at Jabba's Palace makes the viewer wish for a
gust of wind.
Copyright © 1999 Brian Koller