alt title: STAR WARS VI  
year of release: 1983
cast: Mark Hamill, Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher
rating: ****1/2

Realizing that Lucas, although not the director, was fully in charge of EMPIRE and this: the last of the original trilogy, the more I can see hired director Richard Marquand's input. Being a director of "Eye of the Needle" and other spy thrillers, he adds an particular British element of meticulous, pinpointed, philosophical intrigue and suspense, mostly centered on the lead-up and climax involving Luke Skywalker and Darth Vadar meeting the Emperor in the almost-completed bigger/better Death Star. One shot in particular, now iconic, of an elevator door quickly slides open, revealing Vadar and Skywalker, is a personal favorite moment (image) of the trilogy.

Mark Hamill, better than ever, along with Darth Vadar and IanMcDiarmid as the Emperor owns this one while Harrison "Han Solo" Ford and Carrie "Princess Leia" Fisher provide the working-class action of the B story...

Having landed on the Forest planet of Endor (where lives too-adorably-contrived creatures called Ewoks who, along with overlong expository scenes, slow down the pace until they prove their underdog defense tactics), they have to shut down the Death Star's shields so that Lando, with the aid of Wedge and other pilots, blow up the Death Star... in a dogfight like no other. And the first act, back on Tattoine, in and out of Jabba's Palace, proves that Jim Henson's puppetry does wonder over CGI, a blend of noir and pirate lore kicking things off with a pulpy roar.

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