Star Wars: Episode VI – Return of the Jedi

Yup, I finally get to remove this Star Wars shaped monkey off my back and finish the saga. As Vader himself once said in A New Hope : “The circle is now complete. Now fuckin’ die you bearded tosser.”

Star Wars: Episode VI – Return of the Jedi (1983) 

I’ve got a proper love/hate thing going on with Jedi. On the one hand, it has some of the trilogy’s best scenes, on the other it’s clear that this was where things started to become less focused on telling a kick-arse story and more on how many new merchandising opportunities could be introduced. It’s also the film that’s suffered the worst additions, be they from the Special Edition or the recent Blu-ray tinkerings.

“I see you have constructed a new lightsaber. Your skills are complete. Indeed you are powerful as the Emperor has foreseen.”

Anyway, Han Solo (Harrison Ford) is still frozen. Luke (Mark Hamill) is still not a Jedi and Leia (Carrie Fisher) has gone to rescue Han from the clutches of gangster slug-thing Jabba the Hutt (Susan Boyle). Meanwhile, the Empire are in the process of building a new Death Star and the Rebels led by Solo and Lando (Billy Dee Williams) plan to attack before their weapons are functional. The story’s a decent end to the Star Wars trilogy, it’s just a shame it had to involve Ewoks.

So, where to begin? Well, the first hour of Jedi rocks the shit. We go from Jabba’s Palace to an old school monster smackdown with a Rancor and then we’re whisked off on Jabba’s sail barge to a sequence taking place in the desert over the Pit of Sarlaac- a fantastic creature that eats men whole and digests them slowly over 1000 years. From there we’ve got Luke saying his goodbyes to Yoda, the great speeder bike chase through the forest of Endor and then…we hit a brick wall in the form of Wicket W. Warrick (Warrick Davies) a cuddly space teddy bear. Nothing against Davies at all, but the Ewoks are shit. Yeah, it’s predictable that I was going to pick on the Ewoks, but they stop me enjoying the film. Despite the baffling Blu add-ons and the crusty anus of a musical number “Jedi Rocks” (which reported cost Lucas a cool $1 million to add to the film back in ’97), it’s classic Star Wars. It’s clear the Ewoks were added to appeal solely to kids. Lucas knew the sweet dollars were from gullible parents who would buy their screaming sprogs any old bit of fuzz to shut them up. This is when Lucas turned. He’s more cash machine now than man.

The Blu-ray changes here are unforgivable. It’s like a middle finger from Lucas that we had to pay for the privilege to receive. When I heard the rumours of the Blu-ray changes, I dismissed them as a joke. After all the addition of “blinking Ewoks” and “a larger door to Jabba’s Palace” sounded like just the sort of thing Lucas was infamous for, but just out there enough to be unrealistic. However, it was all true. All of it. Even the shit that didn’t make sense and just raises further questions. That door for instance- wouldn’t have noticed it before. Now the perspective’s fucked and it looks as fake as hell. Why is he doing this to us?The worst change though is in the climactic scene with Vader, Luke and the Emperor. Palpatine is frying Luke with Force lightning and Luke tries to appeal to his father beneath the machinery.Vader looks from his dying son to the Emperor, who has a look of pure hatred on his face. We sense the conflict in Vader, despite his face being covered. Suddenly, Vader picks up the Emperor and heaves him over a railing to his doom, redeeming himself and saving his son in the process. It was one of my all time favourite Star Wars moments. I hate to sound like a whinging fanboy here, but Lucas ruined it for me. For some fucking bananas reason he decides to echo one of Vader’s lowest points (excluding this debacle) and having him shout “Noo!” a bunch of times. This is proof to me that either Lucas doesn’t understand his own creation or he hates his fans. I’m not sure which one is worse.

I didn’t want to finish my Jedi review on a sour note though. The film is mostly great. It’s the weakest of the three, but still a lot of fun. As I said, it contains some of my favourite trilogy scenes. The speeder bike chase is great, the all out space battle is awesome too. My favourite of all though is Luke’s showdown with Vader. It’s pitch perfect and Luke’s slow realisation that the Emperor is turning him into a Vader replacement is so fantastic I’m genuinely having to fight the urge to stop typing these words, stick the film on and skip to that bit.

“And now, young Skywalker… you will die.”

Star Wars has meant and still means a considerable amount to me. As a kid, it opened my mind to fantastical planets, aliens and adventure, as well as inspiring me to strive to be as heroic as Luke is. As an adult, it shows me that great films can remain so, despite outdated effects and corny ideals. As a fan, I’ve learned that I’m done with George Lucas, who continually disappoints all but his completely feckless fans by trying his best to sully what little good there is left in the Star Wars name. The film’s still good despite the inherent Ewok problems and the added nonsense, I just wish it was left alone for me to enjoy.

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