Return of the Jedi: a mixture in many ways

James King, A&E Writer


Return of the Jedi has some of weirdest tonal whiplash I’ve ever seen in a movie. I’ve tried to review these movies as if they were a movie that came out this year while giving them a little slack because these movies came out in the late 70s and early 80s. I liked this movie it has some of my favorite moments in the original Star Wars trilogy. I loved Luke bargaining with Jabba and Luke struggling with the dark side in the new Death Star. That’s kind of the problem with this movie.

This movie suffers from some scenes that clash hard with each other in their tone. The movie has these really dark moments like when Yoda dies or when Luke and Han are being marched off to their 1000-year deaths from the Sarlacc pit. On the flip side of that, you have the moment where Leia meets the Ewoks and they have a party where the retell the events of the past two movies, which is then followed up with more dark moments. It isn’t bad to have scenes that have different tones as it allows the audience to feel the more emotional moments that much harder. Yet, It becomes bad when there is only one tone or those tones are so divorced from each other it feels like different movies are being watched. The scenes on the forest moon of Endor don’t really match the scenes that happen outside of it.

I don’t mind the Ewoks as a concept. I like the idea of a tribal society taking out much bigger much stronger, much more technically advanced bad guys. The size doesn’t bother me as they are about the height of Yoda. My issue is that the movie portrays them as innocent teddy bear-like simpletons. They’re almost childlike and that may have been on purpose, an appeal to the younger fans of the franchise to see themselves as the characters in the movie, but I feel it doesn’t really work. They come off as comedy relief more than anything else and it just feels unneeded. Neither are bad, but they make the two competing stories in the movie of the literal star war in space and the one of the planet feel disconnected.

I really enjoyed watching the trilogy. The special effects in them are all great the costumes and makeup are superb and the model work is excellent. The CGI add-ons are a weak link though and are often really distracting because it doesn’t look like anything else in the movie. The dialogue is where the movie shines and the movie is still pretty quotable. The story overall had some problems. The story is slow to start and doesn’t quite hit the landing, but the journey getting there is the best part of it all. Going into this I thought I had a good handle on the story and the reasons for the popularity, but actually sitting down to watch the original trilogy has changed my mind on them as a whole. I do like Star Wars just as casually as I did before, but I understand the attraction of the far, far galaxy of a long time ago     

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