Return of the Jedi (1983) ★★★★★ 3/5
Once my favorite of the original trilogy, it has been removed of that title. Not by time, but rather by George Lucas himself. Because of his meddling in the film over time, it has completely ruined it. While in music it is a fairly common practice to remix and revise songs as time progresses, this practice does not hold true for movies. Upon their creation and release, the audience has the choice to either embrace it or disregard it. When Return of the Jedi was released, I embraced it. Now, I disregard it because of revisions made to the movie.
Over the course of time, George Lucas has altered the film repeatedly. Whether it be sharpening the imagery, adding effects, or worst of all completely altering scenes, his actions after initial release have ruined everything about the film.
The story is that of Han Solo's (Harrison Ford) rescue from Jabba The Hut. The entire cast reunites in the beginning of the film for an epic battle involving beasts, bounty hunters and odd creatures. However so much has changed. There is a ridiculous dance/music number by Sy Sootles and a bunch of other superimposed new characters. There are wide panning shots in the exterior with herds of mythical creatures. The shot looks so incredible animated and fake to begin with it doesn't even belong in a film. It looks like it should be in a video game. The Sarlac Pit where Solo and Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill) are sentenced to die is a bizarre pink color and suddenly has a head that looks like it was borrowed from Little Shop of Horrors. I had no idea what I was watching.
With the help of C3-PO, R2-D2 and Chewbacca, Solo, Skywalker, Princess Leia (Carrie Fisher) and Lando Calrissian (Billy Dee Williams) are saved. The group teams with the Rebel alliance to help destroy the newest Death Star being built. The main action occurs on the Ewok's planet Endor. On the ground, Solo, Leia, the driods and Chewbacca work with the Ewoks to battle Imperial troops on the ground in a effort to disarm the protective shields around the Death Star. In air, Calrissian and the Rebels attack the Death Star. Meanwhile Skywalker is on the Death Star battling his Father Darth Vader (James Earl Jones & David Prowse) as the Emperor (Ian McDiarmid) cheers for the Dark Side of the Force.
In the overall experience of the full 6 part series, Return of the Jedi does a wonderful job of closing the story line. The first 3 films in the series (which actually follow the release of Return of the Jedi) really do a nice job of tying in the characters and bringing us to the point where we see Palpatine go from a corrupt Senator to an evil Emperor. If this movie would have been left in it's original state and not tampered with, I would have easily given it 5 stars. There is too much damage done though and the film does not allow viewers to savor the originality of the film. Furthermore, the final scene has been altered to the point where it can not be fixed. As the Rebels celebrate, a ghostly image of Obi-Wan Kenobi (Alec Guinness), Yoda (Frank Oz) and Anakin Skywalker (Sebastian Shaw) smile onward. It is a beautiful conclusion and all is well. Or is it? In the new version of the film, Anakin is shown in his younger years as played by Hayden Christensen in the recent prequels. He doesn't fit at all. It looks awkward in every way possible. This alteration made me feel sick. It completely ruined a fine and tender moment in the trilogy. Horrid.
George Lucas has cheapened and ruined his film. His alterations do far more damage then good and I can only hope that no other director or producer decides to go back and take such liberties with other films. Complete disgrace!