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Home Theater Movie Renter's Guide - September, 2011

ARTICLE INDEX

"Star Wars: Episode VI - The Return of the Jedi" (Blu-ray) - Reviewed by Chris Eberle

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Synopsis

With the Rebel fleet safely hidden, the Empire begins constructing a new Death Star.  Overseeing its completion is non-other than Emperor Palpatine.  Meanwhile, Luke and his friends mount a daring rescue of Han Solo from the clutches of gangster, Jabba the Hut.  After escaping from Tattoine, Luke returns to Dagobah to complete his Jedi training.  The Rebels gain enough information to plan an attack against the new Death Star.  Han and Luke and Leia sneak onto the Endor moon in order to disable the energy shield protecting the battle station.  After befriending the local Ewok population, Luke leaves to face Darth Vader alone.  The Emperor has set a trap for the Rebels and when they show up, the entire Imperial fleet is waiting for them.  Just in time, Solo and his soldiers deactivate the energy shield, the Rebels destroy the Death Star and Luke escapes just in time.  Finally, the evil Empire is defeated and the freedom of the Old Republic is restored.

Specifications

  • 20th Century Fox
  • 1983, Color, Rated PG, 2 Hr 7 min
  • Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1
  • Codec: AVC @ 31 Mbps
  • 1080p
  • English 6.1 DTS-HD Master Audio
  • Starring: Mark Hamill, Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher
  • Directed by Richard Marquand
Rating
  • Entertainment:
  • Video:
  • Audio:
  • Extras:
  • Violence: Yes
  • Sex: No
  • Language: No

Commentary

This is probably the weakest film of the second trilogy but still a classic in every sense.  Yes, the Ewoks are hokey.  Are Storm Troopers really that prone to arrow and club attacks?  C’mon!  The battle scenes are fantastic though and any fan of sci-fi action will enjoy this movie over and over again.  The revelations that Luke has to deal with are very powerful and I always find Mark Hamill and Carrie Fisher’s portrayals very moving as they struggle with their true identities.  The entire plot is tied up nicely with no real loose ends.  Again, it’s a must-own for any sci-fi fan.

Technical

Image quality lags a bit behind Episode V.  I found many of the darker scenes like nighttime on Endor or the Emperor’s throne room to be flat and murky looking.  Contrast is decent but overall, things are a bit soft.  Detail improves later in the movie though and the last half hour looks quite good.  It’s still a revelation compared to the decidedly average DVDs we’ve watched for years.  I really enjoyed the natural and saturated color palette.  And to watch the special effects without line twitter or judder artifacts is a real treat.

Once again, the sound track hits a home run.  I’ve never heard such a dynamic and rich presentation from a catalog title before.  You really can’t tell the age of this movie, it sounds that good.  The space battles just jump out of the screen with tons of LFE and surround effects.  At one point, the sub was cranking so low, my projection screen visibly flapped in the breeze.  The music is lush and beautiful, as you’d expect from any John Williams film score.  Like the others, it’s mixed at a fairly high volume level which I enjoyed.  Any of these discs will make for a great home theater demo.

Extras

Special features are quite extensive and come on three Blu-ray discs.  They cover the entire set and include many hours of documentaries, interviews, deleted scenes and more.  Some of the material is new so fans will have plenty to sink their teeth into.  I’d also like to comment on the packaging which is quite elegant.  The nine discs come in a bound book with each disc on its own page with some really nice artwork.  The discs are held securely but not difficult to remove.  The package designer deserves some real praise for his or her work.