Star Wars: Episode VI

Viewed – 25 October 2011  Blu-ray

Return Of The Jedi

Growing up, this was always my favourite of the original trilogy.  Looking back I wonder why.  Perhaps with less mature eyes I was taken by some of it’s more playful, childish stylings, and to be fair, it delivers where it counts.  Something about it is still very cool too.  But with a fresh perspective, and with the full knowledge of the entire saga behind it, just how well does the final curtain call for George Lucas’ famed fantasy really fair?

The rebels are planning an elaborate attack of an unfinished second Death Star, whilst Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill), Leia (Carrie Fisher), Chewbacca etc set forth to rescue their friend Han Solo (Harrison Ford) from the clutches of slimy gangster Jabba The Hut on Tatooine.  Yet Luke’s recent revelations about Vader pull him toward one final confrontation, and the dark side will prove its greatest temptation yet.

Return Of The Jedi starts off great.  The rescue of Solo and all the stuff in Jabba’s palace is very enjoyable (bar the newer CGI band, shudder), yet when things move to the forest moon of Endor, and the Ewoks appear, the movie takes a turn for the worse, coming across like a Saturday morning kids TV show for longer than is comfortable.  Thankfully once things focus on Vader & Luke’s showdown, we’re back on more assured ground.  Mark Hamill seems a slightly awkward fit as the new bad-ass Jedi Luke, and his cocky lines don’t suit the actor.  This is regretful considering it’s exactly where the trilogy has been heading, and perhaps the sudden shift from the still somewhat naive Luke at the end of ‘Empire to this new incarnation is too sharp a change in character.  Just an observation.  Otherwise Jedi has some great moments.  Lando Calrisian (Billy Dee Williams) leading the final attack on the Death Star for example is very exciting, and back on Endor a skillfully shot Speeder Bike chase took my breath away.  Character interaction is still very well observed, with more of a rapport between Luke & Leia this time around.  Yet this remains the weakest of the original trilogy as its focus on the Ewoks and a much more playful, kiddie-friendly mood certainly dampens proceedings, and the Vader / Luke /Emperor conclusion is almost too little too late … if it wasn’t for a very well done moment that brings the entire saga full circle.

The Blu-ray might not have the wow factor of The Empire Strikes Back but detail is still good, and although night-time scenes suffer from a very smudgy look, close-up detail and the many effects on display look very good indeed.  The costumes, set design and monster / creature effects are all top-notch too.  Again the sound design is superb, with loud blaster sounds and explosions and clear dialogue, making me wonder just what was going on during Episode IV.  John William’ score is also very good, and even put a lump in my throat towards the end.  And that theme is just awesome.

Extras again have a commentary by Lucas and the crew, as well as a second commentary created from archive interviews.  Plenty of behind the scenes footage and deleted scenes fill a second disk, as well as a wealth of concept art that’s always a joy to see – as Star Wars remains one of the most aesthetically pleasing movie sagas of all time.  The movie may have it’s faults, but this Blu-ray should still leave a smile on your face.

Verdict:  3.5 /5

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