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Star Wars: Return of the Jedi Reviews

Reviewed By: Derek Armstrong

Considered by some a mild failure after the tantalizingly unresolved and morally complicated The Empire Strikes Back, Return of the Jedi nonetheless was a gigantic box-office hit and a beloved conclusion to the trilogy that would change science fiction filmmaking -- and, indeed, modern mythology -- forever. Overrun by furry Ewoks, the sixth episode in the planned nine-part story represented George Lucas' turn toward kiddie sensibilities, which he would continue in force with the much-reviled Jar Jar Binks character in Star Wars, Episode I: The Phantom Menace. Still, with C3PO constantly getting himself into slapstick jams that inspired endless doomsday whining, the saga had always included silly bursts of comic relief, and the Ewoks only furthered that trend. Paradoxically, Jedi is in some ways the most adult film of the series, delving into the dangerous morass of Luke Skywalker's mounting hatred, including images of rage and emotional torture to rival those of Empire. The improving special effects were the true stars of the third installment, among them a memorable Tatooine clash with Jabba the Hutt's minions, a breathtaking speeder bike chase through the trees, and the climactic battles with the Ewoks vs. the walking battle droids and the Millennium Falcon vs. the rebuilt Death Star. Of course, more soap-opera style revelations continued to reinforce the grandeur of the epic story line. Often thought of as the least effective of the original three Star Wars movies, Jedi's inferiority is relative, to say the least. Lucas' trilogy created such a vast empire of devoted fans that any chance to see laser blasts and light sabers sent them flocking to the multiplexes, instantly forgiving the sometimes hammy dialogue and overly theatrical acting for the opportunity to absorb more of the magic.