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Overall Rating

Worth A Look: 18.24%
Just Average: 9.43%
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4 reviews, 135 user ratings

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Return of the Jedi
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by Rob Gonsalves

"It's better than Episode I, but then what isn't?"
2 stars

It's clear that George Lucas had more or less run out of ideas by the time "Return of the Jedi" rolled around. You have the destruction of a new Death Star, a return to Dagobah (all so that we can watch Yoda croak out a few hints and then die), another Luke-Vader duel, another familial revelation (Leia is Luke's sister!) -- we'd seen it all before.

The only truly new element -- and isn't this a sad commentary -- was the teddy-bear-like (and much-derided) Ewoks. Dramatically and imaginatively, Jedi is on about the same level as the Lucas-produced Willow. Despite all the characters and crosscutting and shifting allegiances, Lucas really didn't have enough story for a trilogy (let alone two trilogies).

Jedi kicks off with a visit to Jabba the Hutt's lair (of course, Jabba's appearance here is now robbed of its mystery because Lucas inserted him into the Special Edition of Star Wars, but never mind) and some Raiders-style swashbuckling aboard a desert skiff. Director Richard Marquand tries for Spielbergian thrills and mostly botches them -- with Luke improbably deflecting laser blasts from mere feet away and Han slowly, slowly regaining his sight, the action is just flat-out clumsy -- but at least it's a shot of adrenaline, if a derivative and shallow one. Once it's over, though, Jedi plunges into boredom, never to return.

The boredom infects the actors. Harrison Ford shows it most obviously, sometimes looking downright disdainful of his surroundings; the raffish grin of Han Solo has been replaced by the sarcastic I'm-getting-paid-for-this-shit grin of a furiously bored Jack Nicholson straining to keep himself amused in the hallways of the Overlook. Ford never looks so disgusted and lost as when he's surrounded by the nattering teddy-bears of Endor: he may have been receiving a dark vision of his future as a half-an-actor headlining kiddie movies (possibly why he went for Witness with such gusto two years later). Carrie Fisher has never looked more radiant than she does here, not just in her fan-favorite slave-outfit scenes but in the forest of Endor, her hair cascading down her back; she looks like a faerie princess, and by then Fisher had completely dropped the clipped diction she employed in Star Wars -- she sounds womanly, earthy. But she, too, sounds bored. She can't even manage to work up much surprise at the news that Leia and Luke are siblings. (Ironically, Ford's best moment here comes when Han finds out; he seems more stunned than Luke and Leia.)

As for Mark Hamill -- what the hell happened? He gives what is immediately recognizable as the most irritating lead performance in a blockbuster film in recent memory. What happened to the eager Luke of Star Wars or the frightened, unsure Luke of The Empire Strikes Back? His Jedi prowess has made him smug and arrogant. "This is the last mistake you'll ever make," he snorts at Jabba ("Yeah, and this is the last blockbuster you'll ever make," the less charitable among us may retort to the screen). Yet if we're meant to see that Luke is heading for a fall because of his new cockiness, nothing comes of it. He flies back to Dagobah to finish his training with Yoda, and he also apparently has premonitions of his own death ("Soon I'll be dead," he tells the Emperor, "and you with me") that don't come to pass. Exactly how much of this script was rewritten and then not reshaped? We're continually set up for a darker denouement than we get. (Recall, too, that for a while the pre-release title was Revenge of the Jedi, even though Luke takes no revenge -- though he may have at some point in the early drafts, I assume.)

Jedi is an indistinct blur of event and hype (yes, hype -- the script keeps hyping itself, telling us of terrible things that are going to happen but never do). The luscious visual majesty of Empire is gone, replaced by lots of blinking-lights interiors and leafy Endor exteriors (it was a bad mistake to set most of the outdoor scenes in a forest that looks pretty much the same from scene to scene, and aren't there any life forms on this moon of Endor besides the Ewoks and some lizards?). We waste some time when Luke, Han, C-3PO and R2-D2 are captured by the Ewoks (gee, some Jedi -- Luke can't get out of a crude net?), and we waste some more time when the Ewoks take C-3PO as a god and decide to sacrifice Luke and Han to him. Meanwhile, Lando Calrissian and a gloopy-faced alien command the Millennium Falcon, leading Rebel forces into the Death Star Version 2.0. (Despite Lando's and Han's checkered pasts as mercenaries and scoundrels, they have conveniently been made generals in the Alliance, which apparently isn't too picky about leadership.)

What we're all here for is the final confrontation between Luke and Vader, which doesn't have a tenth of the emotional heat and urgency of the duel in Empire. Luke keeps saying he feels the goodness in his father, which is mighty big of him considering dear old Dad was responsible for the deaths of Luke's aunt and uncle, and the destruction of his sister's adoptive home planet. (If Leia has any feelings of revulsion at the news that the man who made her watch the genocide of her people is her father, we aren't briefed on them.) The climax is ridiculous -- the Emperor is the embodiment and vessel of the Dark Side, and Vader just picks him up and drops him down a hole? Yeah, that'll take care of him. But, improbably, it does, and we get a scene where Luke sees Vader -- Anakin -- with his helmet off. What's underneath is just a bald guy who went wrong; I think his countenance should've been left to the imagination, but then one of the selling points of Jedi (as if it needed any) was that we'd finally get a peek behind Vader's mask.

The real mask, though, is Lucas's. If Luke is Lucas, then what we see onscreen is an arrogant man whose triumph comes with little effort -- Dad saves the day, redeeming both himself and Luke's idealism. What little idealism there was left in Lucas, anyway. Jedi expresses nothing so much as distrust of the audience to the point of giving it whatever worked before.

Lucas had started to become Anakin -- tired-looking here, and ready to leave. Lucas was certainly ready to leave the "Star Wars" saga behind, but he would later return to it, of course, seeming more tired and insecure than ever. Excitement, adventure -- Lucas craved not these things, not any more.

link directly to this review at https://www.hollywoodbitchslap.com/review.php?movie=212&reviewer=416
originally posted: 12/22/06 21:16:41
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User Comments

11/29/19 Paul L I love it, the best Star Wars movie IMO! 5 stars
5/07/18 Suzanne The Luke/Darth Vader battle is thrilling; the Ewoks are cute. 4 stars
12/22/15 Lisa H Hugely disappointing.The tone is too childish and the pace drags. 2 stars
3/22/15 HunterB return of the king kick jedi and randall ( clerks 2 ) ass everyday. 1 stars
3/02/15 james hictchock the plot was terrible: death star destroyed and then death star comeback 1 stars
2/27/15 ewoks the worst star wars film in my opinion 2 stars
2/26/15 dylan gordon there's only one return this ain't the king it's of jedi LOLZ 1 stars
2/16/15 eywa only one truly good film in this world in my life 1 stars
2/14/15 juan bastian i remember randall saying in clerks 2" that's only one return" LOL 1 stars
2/14/15 jason gracio i really found twilight are better 1 stars
6/22/14 M W star wars 5 stars
12/01/09 pnclshrpnr Lucas might have been out of ideas, but the gaps were filled and its still quite enjoyable 5 stars
8/08/09 jim star wars shit. 1 stars
12/09/08 andy 'jedi' comes as a huge disappointment after the much more intense and emotional prequel 1 stars
10/21/08 Shaun Wallner Great Film! 5 stars
7/02/07 Jimster only one return!im so convinced lol 1 stars
4/18/07 Stevo UK Earth to lucas: STOP MAKING KIDDIES SHITE. 1 stars
1/27/07 David Pollastrini never a big fan 4 stars
1/19/07 droidshit!! should crawl back to the shallow-end of the film makeing genepool 1 stars
12/23/06 del There's only one RETURN and that's OF THE JEDI. Now go whip out your "precious"!!! HAHAHA 4 stars
7/24/06 David Cohen It was this was that began the dumbing down of the franchise, which continues to this day 3 stars
5/25/06 drydock54321 love it but too many puppets 5 stars
5/12/06 chris f ditto with hunts review 5 stars
1/13/06 hunt my favorite part about star wars movie is when darth vader kills the darth sidious 4 stars
12/04/05 cody in my opinion the best of them all, yes l like the ewoks, a great ending to boot 5 stars
10/27/05 chris great film with a great ending 11/10 5 stars
9/12/05 Zack rally good 5 stars
9/01/05 ES Lucas obviously was never a genius, enjoy your millions you hack 3 stars
8/27/05 Quigley the ewoks were so incredibly lame. they appeared, like, everywhere! Empire is much better. 3 stars
8/25/05 EZ Great film and even better triolgy 5 stars
6/20/05 R as for the DVD, hayden at the end is a disgrace. (so why didn't obi wan regress in age?) 5 stars
6/11/05 Gecko Fanfoot Wow! Those Ewoks are SOOOO realistic! Fooled me completely! 1 stars
6/10/05 Stan awesome movie. not as good as ep. 4 and 5. but still great ending. 5 stars
6/08/05 Naruto horrible 1 stars
6/04/05 Ubu the Ripper Lucas was more involved on this than Empire, and it shows. Warm puke. 4 stars
5/24/05 JFK great end of the best trilogy of sci fi cinema 5 stars
5/19/05 Jonny Sissys vote for Empire, real men back Jedi 5 stars
4/25/05 Pippin007 Good Movie! 4 stars
4/19/05 Cassander Empire should have won 5 stars
3/24/05 indrid cold Secretely I always liked this one the best of the three. 5 stars
2/16/05 Cody my favorite star wars movie, the empire falls! great movie! 5 stars
2/03/05 Dan FUCKING AWESOME!!! 5 stars
1/12/05 Tom Benton Nearly killed by the Ewoks, "Jedi" is a great film, albeit the worst of the trilogy. 5 stars
1/02/05 t-1000 jabba's and the ewok's scenes are rubbish 1 stars
12/08/04 Kristina Williams fuck the ewoks 5 stars
11/05/04 gray good 5 stars
9/23/04 Clock Quality of this movie made me question my faith... 2 stars
9/20/04 Vicious THe Empororor was an awsome villian. 5 stars
9/13/04 Travis Masterpiece. 5 stars
8/21/04 Peter James I think it is the best in the Star Wars series 5 stars
8/18/04 courtney well done by the cast a must see to fit the others 5 stars
7/09/04 Bobbo First two were better but a fitting ending to the series. Anyone who says differently sucks 5 stars
5/31/04 Nobody DON'T DISS THE EWOKS!!!!!!!!!! 5 stars
5/28/04 Brian Jacobson Best Star Wars film ever! 5 stars
5/05/04 dead next door love the battle between father and son. 3 stars
2/20/04 Joe My least favorite of all the Star Wars flicks. 1 stars
2/04/04 c.r My most favorite star wars movie of all time, I love the ewok battle! 4 stars
1/24/04 Elena I cried when I saw this in theatres because it was so amazing. I'm not a nerd.. uh, i swear 5 stars
1/13/04 Eric Really silly and boring. 1 stars
12/08/03 john more of a kids movie - could not stand on its own - disappointing 2 stars
11/03/03 American Slasher Goddess The weakest of the series, but still pretty good. 4 stars
10/06/03 DM Wonderful- but the weakest of the original trilogy 5 stars
8/10/03 Mike Krasienko Niggas I got bluud on ma dick cuz i fuckin luved dis movi. Y'all sum bitches! 5 stars
4/17/03 Jon "Thumb the Toad" Lyrik Oh, come on. The Ewoks were only in the movie for like a minute. 5 stars
3/31/03 Luke Skywalker I blew up the Ewoks... 5 stars
3/03/03 Jack Sommersby More of a Muppet Mice than an adventure. Weakly acted and bloated. 2 stars
11/26/02 Ahhhhh!!!! This will definitely go down as the worst Ep. Such a weak culimination to the series - sad. 1 stars
11/06/02 Joe Stark (Bio Man) I love the Ewoks to death! I wonder if they can be dissected? Hmm........ 5 stars
10/18/02 Ewok Lover Deluxe A perfect way to end the saga, and features the best space battle of all time! 5 stars
10/17/02 Flynn How did Ewoks armed with sticks beat soldiers in body armor? 3 stars
8/14/02 Tim This movie totally makes attack of the clones look like a puppy. 5 stars
7/20/02 KMG ------------YAWN------------- 3 stars
7/04/02 gary vidmar Scene at end with emperor and vader/luke was one of the best ever. Best SW film to date! 5 stars
6/14/02 Mama Vidmar If I were not married, I would totally go for Palpatine! Whatta movie! 5 stars
6/06/02 Joe Levy This is another unbelievable addition to the already epic Star Wars Saga! 5 stars
4/26/02 maximal01 That bloated bastard Darth Vader may have killed the Emperor, but he should've killed Luke. 5 stars
4/03/02 Priscilla Postlethwaite Best in trilogy for absence of garbage scene & miscast Fisher has less chance to screw up. 5 stars
2/27/02 Shrike Not as good as Ep4 and Ep5 but still good 4 stars
2/19/02 Brian Jacobson oh, gag me. 1 stars
1/03/02 Matt Utt This movie is just a great ending to an already epic saga. Unbelievable!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! 5 stars
12/07/01 Axe Murderer i agree with connoisseur......the movie is fun 5 stars
12/05/01 Andrew Carden Good Ewok Scenes, but Slow Screenplay and Too Many Subplots. 4 stars
12/02/01 travis r. sorensen ewoks are too cute and can rocks and arrows really kill stormtroopers? 4 stars
9/13/01 D'Morph Its a shame the Imperials get treated so badly. They make cool badguys. But the ewoks SUCK! 3 stars
9/05/01 spaceworm Watch it agian after contemplating "Phantom Menace." 4 stars
8/06/01 Mr. Hat (formerly Joe Zappa) This is great! 4 stars
7/14/01 Rampage more kick-ass than ID4! Curse those Ewoks! 5 stars
7/09/01 TLsmooth I would love to wipe my ass with an Ewok, those little fucking satans. 5 stars
6/03/01 keith langman just as fun to watch as the others but not as good weakest of the two 4 stars
4/01/01 Jesse L Just hated the Ewoks but a great flick 4 stars
2/21/01 waldiddy a decent action film, but a disappointment next to the first 2 Star Wars films 3 stars
2/16/01 Michael Nicholls Once you've overcome teddy-bear hatred, this is a perfect conclusion... 5 stars
2/14/01 KyLe*BrOfLoVsKi A perfect end to a timeless sci-fi epic. 5 stars
1/19/01 viking The final battle between Luke and Darth Vader was great. The Ewoks sucked. 5 stars
1/06/01 The Evil Penguin the most likeable in the trilogy 5 stars
12/27/00 Turtle The best Star Wars movie so far. Harrison Ford at his best! 5 stars
12/21/00 Destruction Worker Yeah, it's pretty good but.....WHERE IS THE DVD?!? 5 stars
12/14/00 Tom How many trilogies link so well that it feels like they are the one movie?! Wonderful! 5 stars
11/27/00 Cristopher Revilla It wasn't that great, but it was still good, the new music in the end kinda sucks 4 stars
11/20/00 The Bill Head Excellent third installment manages to uphold the quality of the series...Menace killed it 5 stars
10/29/00 Big Al my fav movie of all time, empire number two,star wars # 3 5 stars
8/10/00 Brian Jacobson The Weakest film of the Original trilogy. 1 stars
8/06/00 Jed Sorry David but I did like this film. But why do people hate the ewoks? THEY RULE! 4 stars
6/30/00 Deckard From the utter majesty of 'Empire' to THIS?What a disappointment. 1 stars
6/04/00 Will the new ending song sucks, bring back the old ending song. 3 stars
5/30/00 danilo great ending, it's better than star wars but not as good as Empire 5 stars
5/13/00 Bat My personal favorite. 5 stars
4/19/00 malcolm worst of the middle three. best lightsaber and starfighter battles. TheMole is a dumbass. 3 stars
4/12/00 Rita All I wanna know is How Boba Fett got so fucking big! He was in it for like 2 damn seconds! 4 stars
4/02/00 perverted pixie Luke gets very creepy, but hey! It has ewoks and a happy ending! 4 stars
3/01/00 Ionicera The ending just doesn't give satisfactory closure to this incredible series 4 stars
2/06/00 Kyle Broflovski One suggestion, though: Keep Sy Snoodles & Yazzum, ditch the fucking Ewoks. 5 stars
1/18/00 Jedi15 A perfect ending to the Trilogy! 5 stars
11/11/99 alyssa A classic. Not able to act? I have 2 words for ya - Capt. Kirk. 5 stars
11/09/99 Gary Durso See it you will, yes hum. 5 stars
7/04/99 Ben Leostein Rating: *** (out of ****) Category: "Good" 4 stars
6/09/99 Hungry Hungry Hippo Nice to see a Jedi kick some arse. More dead ewoks would have been nice. 5 stars
5/27/99 Bob, Lord of Evil Gungans vs Ewoks. Ewoks you don't have to even bother figuring out what they're saying. 5 stars
5/26/99 Allen Paulsen Luke acted like to much of a fruit cake, I don't care if he was at peace with the force 3 stars
5/21/99 Cage What is the deal with the hate against the Ewoks? Are we the only species? Give it up. 5 stars
5/09/99 Arkansas Jon Appropriate ending to trilogy. Even Ewoks can't derail the holy trilogy. 5 stars
1/28/99 Vick Di Brecci Best exploration of Darth Vader's character, best Mark Hamill perf, on a par with other two 5 stars
1/11/99 I.P. Freeley Mark Hamill was great! Even the Ewoks were funny! 5 stars
1/09/99 Dasha Not bad, but Mark Hamill is no dramatic actor. 3 stars
10/29/98 Silent Rob Better than your average Star Wars rip-off, but a rip-off none-the-less! 3 stars
9/24/98 Jeff Hayward The saga of the slave owning Rebellion ends, at last. 1 stars
9/16/98 Trav This movie was always lame, and the Special Edition is WORSE! 1 stars
9/10/98 The incredible, edible GKR The best of the 3 5 stars
9/07/98 Swan Ugh! GL sold out 2 the toy companies! Goddam EWOGS! I'll never trust GL again! Slime! 1 stars
8/20/98 The Man With The Helmet Not the best of the holy trilogy 3 stars
8/16/98 Johny Works on once viewing only, awful in others 2 stars
8/16/98 J-Guy (The MFC) Good flick. I enjoy it, but only after watching the first two. 4 stars
8/16/98 {{{OZ}}} Luke is such a pussy-ass ho. Still a great movie though. He loses a hand n'shit. 4 stars
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  25-May-1983 (PG)
  DVD: 12-Sep-2006



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