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30. July 2013 04:58
by jedi1

Siskel & Ebert Review Return of the Jedi - Twice

30. July 2013 04:58 by jedi1 | 0 Comments

30th anniversary tribute to Return of the Jedi

In this first video from 1983, Siskel and Ebert are both very enthusiastic about Return of the Jedi, calling it "a combination of strong plotting, lots of action, swashbuckling melodrama... and also the most mind boggling special effects in the history of movies."

Ebert goes on to say that "beneath the technical achievements, Return of the Jedi is a wonderful movie filled with a lot of new and imaginative characters. There's the reptillian and loathsome Jabba the Hutt, the cuddly little Ewoks, and the nasty little rat like aliens who scurry around in the corners of the movie. This movie answers all of the basic questions we've been asking for the last two movies... we finally learn the secrets of Darth Vader, Luke Skywalker and Princess Leia and with this third movie now the stories of those human characters comes to a close. Although Lucas says he eventually hopes to make six more Star Wars movies and based on what he's done so far I sure do hope that he does."

Siskel agrees and says he "can't wait to see this one again and I want the other ones to come out much quicker than one every three years." Siskel goes on to say that he is in awe of a movie like this in which "every level of the movie from the sound to the music, the acting, the storytelling, everything is hitting at the highest level" and that is why these simple stories with their universal themes are so good, and so successful, a theme they would expand on later in the year when they recorded their Star Wars special.

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This second video is from 1997 and is ostensibly a review of the Special Edition re-release of Return of the Jedi, however, all of the clips they show are from the 1993 Definitive Laser Disc Edition of the movie and they don't mention a single one of the Special Edition changes, so I can't help wondering if they even bothered to watch the Special Edition before recording this review, or if they just went back to their laserdisc for a quick refresher. In any case, Siskel starts out by saying that this is his "least favorite of the three episodes, but that doesn't make it bad, the others are just a lot better. My problem with the picture? I don't like those fuzzy little Ewoks."

Having just watched his enthusiastic review above, this now sounds like something he has heard other people say so often, that it has now become like dogma, everyone you talk to about Jedi seems to have something bad to say about those cute and cuddly Ewoks, when the reality is probably that kids who saw Star Wars when they were 10 years old, were by now 16, and 16 year olds don't care for the Ewoks. However, if they had still been 10 when they saw the film, it would not have bothered them. (I was 10 when I first saw Return of the Jedi and they didn't bother me at all, but as a teenager, I would watch Jedi only occasionally, because by then it did all seem a little childish).

Both Siskel & Ebert conclude their review with the shared hope that this re-release of Star Wars may "shame the other Hollywood studios into putting a little more thought into their action spectaculars in summers to come instead of just blowing stuff up."

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Personally, I also rank Jedi third in the trilogy and not because of the Ewoks. The challenge of any sequel is to find the right mix the familiar and the new, and I think Jedi contained just a little too much of the familiar, and not enough of the new. In some ways Return of the Jedi almost feels like a remake of Star Wars since it shares so many parallels: It begins on Tatooine with the two droids, Jabba's palace is full of strange creatures - much like the Cantina in Star Wars but with arguably better makeup, it ends with a lightsaber duel to the death, an epic space battle and a death star exploding. It's almost as if Lucas wanted to revisit some of those aspects of the original movie and show us how they could have been if he had had the time and money to do them the way he envisioned them the first time. Because of this, you can’t help feel a little bit of déjà vu as you watch it which ultimately steals a little of its thunder.

Having said all of that, I don’t think it is a bad film at all, the production values are extremely high, and the whole redemption of Vader Story works very well. Like Siskel and Ebert, I'd argue Jedi is in fact a great film - just not quite as awesome as the first two.


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