Return of the Jedi
The weakest of the three Star Wars films returns in a disappointing update which
demonstrates the flaws behind all the new Special Editions. Let me start off by stating
that Return of the Jedi is a great film, highly entertaining and full of superb special effects (that hold
up even under today's standards). However, compared to its two predecessors, it
is somewhat of a letdown. Jedi plays more like a greatest hits album than a new
chapter. From Star Wars, we have a return to Tatooine, lots of aliens ala the Cantina scenes,
another Death Star, and another all out assault on the same. From Empire, we have
more Boba Fett action, a return to Dagobah and another visitation with Yoda, have more action with Imperial Walkers, and Luke and
Vader battle yet again. There are a few new thrills: the Rancor battle, the Sarlac
pit, the speeder bike chase, and, most notoriously, the Ewoks. But, although
some of the revisitations make logical sense (once they had the capability, why
would the Empire build only one Death Star?), their impact is duller the second time around.
Of the three films, Jedi has the least amount of tinkering overall for the Special Edition.
There are two changed scenes: an extended song and dance number at Jabba's Palace that
while showcasing new digital effects doesn't significantly add anything. A bit more
promising is an extended ending sequence, featuring celebrations on multiple planets
(I guess the Imperial forces throughout the galaxy simply gave up once their leader
was deposed). Again, the changes don't add anything too significant to the film
(though they may help tie together the prequels when they are released), but they
are neat to watch. And, there are plenty of areas of the film that needed cleaning
up, but instead are left untouched (particularly the poorly matted Rancor scenes).
Instead of improving and enhancing the film, the decision was made to devote the
time, energy and funding to creating new scenes of dubious value. The same held true
for Star Wars, in which there were several obvious uncorrected flaws, but the Special Edition
effort was spent creating the new, redundant Jabba scene. Yet, overall, the enhancements,
while disappointing, don't detract from the trilogy as a whole. With or without
the additional scenes, to have the three films (including Return of the Jedi) again
on the big screen is an opportunity you shouldn't miss.
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