Star Wars Film Festival: Return of the Jedi (1983)p


In preparation for the release of The Rise of Skywalker, I am rewatching all of the previous Star Wars films in episode order.

Here’s my review of Return of the Jedi, originally published February 29, 2016.

Title:  Return of the Jedi
Release Date: 1983
Director:  Richard Marquand
Summary/Review:

And so we conclude introducing the children to the classic trilogy of Star Wars films.  The kids enjoyed this and certainly got a lot more laughs than the previous two installments.  Return of the Jedi certainly does have more humor and a positive spirit of bonhomie that is a big tonal shift from Empire Strikes Back. On the other hand the Luke-Vader-Emperor scenes have an undertone of menace I didn’t catch as a child (although at least one of my kids was spooked). The portions at Jabba’s palace really creeped me out as a kid, and they’re still pretty creepy (I didn’t recall just how gruesome it is when Leia chokes Jabba to death)

Over the years, Return of the Jedi has gotten a bad rap, but I loved it as a kid and I think it still holds up.  People criticize the Ewoks, but dammit, I love the Ewoks.  Not only are they cute, but the whole success of the Rebellion hinges on the fact that the Emperor is too narrow to foresee that a small, non-human species will ally with the Rebels and turn the tide of the battle.  

Of all the changes made for the Special Editions, this one fares the worst in my opinion.  Give me back my Ewok celebration song and the ghost of Sebastian Shaw! All things considered, it was a delight to revisit this series of childhood memories with my own kids.

Some stray post-rewatch thoughts:

  • In the prequels, Palpatine has a charming public persona and he even plays his “deformity” for sympathy. In Return of the Jedi we only see the cackling, controlling villain. I wonder if he maintained the charming persona for public appearances after declaring himself Emperor?
  • Leia has the fighting and tactical skills equal to the men around her, but her scene with Wicket W. Warrick shows her great diplomatic skills that Han, and even Luke, lack.
  • I’m still angry that Leia clearly remembers her mother and they still had Palme die in childbirth for no reason. I’m surprised Lucas didn’t edit that scene out when he stuck Hayden Christensen in.
  • Speaking of edits, I never noticed that freakin’ Jar Jar is shouting “Wesa free!” in the celebration scene on Naboo. 🙄
  • It never occurred to me how much Han is the comic relief character in this movie, probably cause Harrison Ford does it so well. Perhaps they should have cast Ford to play Jar Jar too.
    Rating: *****

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7L8p7_SLzvU

 

 

 

2019 Year in Review: Favorite Songs


The year comes to an end and with it some great music.  Here are a dozen songs I’ll remember from 2019.

What are YOUR favorite songs of 2019 (or any other year for that matter)?  Let me know in the comments.

Jaimie Branch :: prayer for amerikka pt. 1 & 2

I only recently learned of this tune from the Said the Gramophone Best Songs of 2019 list. Jaimie Branch is a jazz saxophonist and composer based in Baltimore who as some things to say about the state of our country.

Billie Eilish :: bury a friend

This was the first song I heard by Billie Eilish, about a month or so before she was suddenly a BIG DEAL, and it’s still my favorite. Billie Eilish’s music is weird, a little bit creepy, yet you can still dance to it.  I never in a million years expected her to have chart success so good on her for redefining pop music.  And she’s just turned 18.

Ex Hex :: Cosmic Cave

Mary Timony’s latest band returns for a second album of pure, unadorned post-punk rock.

Gato Preto featuring the LusAfro Allstars :: Mendinga Carnival

Afrofuturist music arising from the collaboration of a German producer and a pan-African band of artists.

Alex Lahey :: Don’t Be So Hard on Yourself

Like Ex-Hex, the 26-year-old Australian Lahey brings straightforward pop-punk excellence (and an 80s sax solo!) to this song about resisting the pressure to do it all.

Lil Nas X :: Old Town Road

40+ years ago, rap music emerged as an urban style of music before spreading to the suburbs and exurbs, and into cultures around the world. Lil Nas X has at last brought rap into a thoroughly rural area on this track that – no matter what the Billboard Country Chart says – is thoroughly country.

Lizzo :: Juice

Lizzo, her music, and the fact that she rose to widespread fame in 2019, all give me hope in these dark time.s

Priests :: The Seduction of Kansas

A theme of this year is artists who draw on punk influences to do new things. The Priests musical interpretation of Thomas Frank’s What’s The Matter With Kansas? fits the bill.

Rapsody feat. D’Angelo and GZA :: Ibtihaj

This is another track introduced to me by the Said the Gramophone list. Rapsody, aka Marlanna Evans, is a rapper from North Carolina. The title of this track pays tribute to Ibtihaj Muhammad, a fencer who became the first Muslim American woman to wear a hijab while competing for the United States in 2016 Summer Olympics. It also has an amazing groove.

Sampa the Great :: Final Form

Sampa Tembo is a Zambian-born rapper now based in Australia finds another great groove to back this track of finding empowerment in Black identity.

Sir Babygirl :: Haunted House

Kelsie Hogue, who performs under the name Sir Babygirl and has ties to the Boston music scene, performs intense indie pop where they belt out lyrics with trilling vibrato. This song, as I interpret it, explores the inner emotions an introvert may feel about having to go to a party when they really don’t want to.

Sharon Van Etten :: Comeback Kid

Comeback Kid introduced Van Etten’s new harder rock sound with 80s synthpop styling.  Thematically it’s about trying to assert your own identity when the people you love still see you as a kid.

 

 

Favorite Songs by Year, 1973-2018

1973 1974 1975 1976
1977 1978 1979 1980
1981 1982 1983 1984
1985 1986 1987 1988
1989 1990 1991 1992
1993 1994 1995 1996
1997 1998 1999 2000
2001 2002 2003 2004
2005 2006 2007 2008
2009 2010 2011 2012
2013 2014 2015 2016
2017 2018