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IN SHORT: The Greatest Space Battle of Them All.
With the conclusion of the final trilogy of George Lucas' Star Wars opus, Cranky issues to you a very stern warning . . .
. . . Under no circumstance should you make the grave mistake that the family sitting next to me at the sneak preview of the Special Edition of The Return of the Jedi made. Do not, I repeat, do not walk out before the end credits roll. For if you do, you will miss the penultimate demonstration of advanced Computer Graphics than you have seen in Episodes 4 and 5 of the trilogy. By comparison, the additional CGI material of Cloud City in The Empire Strikes Back seems cartoonish.
Or, forget the technology. It all looks exceptionally cool. If the hyper-realism of computer generated cheering crowds is just a jumping off point for what Lucas intends for the next trilogy well then, darn it, Lucas has done it again. He's going to make us wait for an even better ride.
Sorry, Cranky is writing like the nice Jewish boy from Brooklyn that he is, and started at the wrong side.
In The Return of the Jedi Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill) returns to his home planet of Tattooine, and then to the Dagobah home of Jedi Master Yoda (Frank Oz). He must save his friends. He must uncover the deepest, darkest secrets of his genealogy, and he must protect what has been uncovered while he seeks to redeem what has been revealed. Other than that, Jedi is a rock 'em sock 'em set of action sequences populated by the furriest good guys, the two legged terrier Ewoks of Endor, that you'll ever see. Topping it off is the nastiest kind of bad guy, the evil Emperor of the Dark Side of the Force, played to the hilt by Ian McDiarmid.
The problem with knowing that there are CGI enhancements in the first two films is that the mind is too quick to find embellishments in this episode. It happened to me, as I pulled out my Jedi laserdisk to watch the opening sequences again. Everything is copacetic until Jabba the Hutt appears. Only there do the most notable changes occur. The cheesy music played by the alien band has been changed; the performance has been extended with "better" music, and enhanced with additional alien performers. Luke Skywalker's capture and subsequent escape from Jabba's monster appear to have been reedited and, IMO, greatly improved. There are other small fixes throughout the Tattooine sequences which make viewing Jedi all the more pleasurable, even if you know what is coming next.
And, as I wrote three weeks back, Jedi concludes with the greatest space battle ever filmed. That has not changed. As for everything else, the silly little "glubb glubb" song which previously ended Jedi is gone, replaced by a swelling and romantic theme newly composed by John Williams. The action sequences are still state of the art. The Endor battle sequence is still too long; both in length and in Ewok derring do. (Though Cranky was not thrilled when audience members actively applauded when a couple of the critters got blown to smithereens. That's just sick, people!)
Of all the movies in the Trilogy, Jedi is the most improved by the Special Edition revamp. The only thing I truly missed this time around was the joy of joining hundreds of my fellow theater goers screaming "TURN! TURN! TURN!" at the top of our lungs -- and you know exactly what I mean if you went through it thirteen or so years ago. If you don't, you'll know exactly when to do it, when the time comes.
On average, a first run movie ticket will run you Eight Bucks. Were Cranky able to set his own price to The Return of the Jedi, he would have paid . . .
Honestly? Jedi was always, to me, the least ($7.50) of the trilogy, but my rating rules require the perfect number for any film I'd see twice . . . and I did set it up and watch it again, start to finish, when I got home. Didn't mean to, but I did. Rules are rules, and a good time is still a good time. Enjoy.
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