Return Of The Jedi (1983)

Rating: ***
Director: Richard Marquand
Music: John Williams
Special Effects: Industrial Light & Magic
Cast: Mark Hamill, Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher, Alec Guiness, Anthony Daniels, Kenny Baker, Peter Mayhew, David Prowse, Billy Dee Williams

The final chapter in the "Star Wars" (1977) trilogy is a bit of a disappointment, but that doesn't mean that it's not one hell of a film. All questions are answered and all issues are resolved, and by the end of the film it looks like our heroes have earned a well deserved rest and that peace has been restored to the galaxy (but when is that ever the case with social upheaval and government reform?). Unfortunately, the film falls apart in three places. The first being that the characters are all out of character and have somehow ended up on the planet of bad acting. Mark Hamill's performance is particularly bad and Han Solo suffered a severe personality change during his time in carbon freeze. The addition of goofy humor also makes the film suffer, and clearly seems like a ploy to better appeal to the masses by making them laugh. Lastly, the decision to make the Ewoks cute and cuddly ruined the film for everyone but the kiddies. But with the bad acting and lame humor, using the Ewoks for comedic relief only seems natural. Let me stress, however, that the film is not without merit. The effects are spectacular and brilliantly realized by the ILM team. In particular, the space battle scenes (courtesy of Ken Ralston) are the most amazing special effects compositions I've ever seen, and no one has even come close to achieving that level of precision since then. Sure, current computer technology makes creating complex battle scenes a simple task, but today's effects artists don't have a good cinematic eye for movement, framing, and overall composition. Most of the recent space battles I've seen are confusing jumbled messes that are not pleasing to the eye and are generally exercises in excess.