Friday, October 21, 2016

Sci Fi Top 100, #75: "Return of the Jedi" (1983)

Movie Stats:
Released 1983 (USA)
American, in English (a bunch of made-up alien languages, some translated and some not)
Director - Richard Marquand
Stars - Mark Hamill, Carrie Fisher, Harrison Ford, and many others

Plot Summary:
In the third installment of the original Star Wars trilogy, our Rebel heroes make the final push to defeat their evil Imperial foes. Hamill stars as Luke Skywalker; Fisher as Princess Leia; and Ford as Han Solo.

Violence; very minor gore.

Bad Stuff:
It’s definitely the goofiest of the original trilogy. I prefer my Star Wars on the serious side.

I think it’s a cop-out that the end objective of this film is that same end objective as “A New Hope” (and, let’s be honest, also the same end objective as the newest film, “The Force Awakens”).

On the one hand, it feels a little unfair to complain about this, but since the original versions of the movies are basically no longer available, I think it’s allowed. I absolutely hate that Lucas added scenes/effects to these films in the 1990s and now insists that they must only be released in this form. The added visual effects look terrible. They’re easily identifiable. Just look for the bad CGI. However, the worst of these additions is the “NOOOOO!” It ruined a scene where David Prowse (the actor who portrayed Darth Vader; James Earl Jones only did the voice) managed to perfectly convey what his character was thinking/feeling using only his body language.

Good Stuff:
The actors have such great chemistry. They really seem very fond of one another.

Great pacing.

If you ignore the bad tacked-on CGI, the visual effects are actually quite impressive. Most of it still looks good. I particularly enjoy the light saber battle. Also, the film is pretty to look at.

The Verdict:
First, a story. My mom didn’t approve of modern movies. She thought they were trash. So I didn’t go out to the theater much when I was a kid. “Jedi” is one of the few films I saw in the theater as a child. I always assumed that my brothers begged her to take us but when I told her that many years later, she said that it was me who pestered her into going. I can only imagine that everyone else in school had seen it and I didn’t want to be left out. Funny thing is, at that point, I hadn’t seen the other two (I recall watching an edited-for-TV version of “Empire” several years later; I can’t recall when I first saw “Hope”).

At any rate, I remember liking this when I was eight and I’ve seen it several times since then. I do like all of the original trilogy. I would say that “Hope” is my least favorite, “Jedi” is in the middle, and “Empire” is on top. While I’m of the opinion (also stated in my review of “Hope”) that these films are a little weak in general - or at the very least they’re not the grand masterpieces they’re often made out to be - I also think that they’re both important to and influential of the genre. Additionally, they’re immensely enjoyable. If you’ve somehow never seen the original trilogy, you should rectify that.

I give it 3.75 stars.


Patricia said...

My mom has VHS copies of the non-edited original trilogy. I'm of the strong opinion she should never get rid of them.

Even though the editing turned out to be not-so-great, I have very fond memories of how excited I and many of my friends were when these were re-released. We hadn't seen a Star Wars movie in the theater since 1983! I recall that the theater had a way to make sure only people who bought tickets went to the screening. I think we were given a standard raffle-style ticket when they tore our official tickets, then we waited in line and handed off the second tickets to get into the theater.

balyien said...

She definitely should NOT get rid of those tapes. It's so difficult to find them in their non-edited versions!

Getting to see the edited originals in the theater is one of Dan's top memories. He was too young to see them in the theater the first time around!