Star Wars: Episode VI – Return of the Jedi

Welcome to the 16th edition of My Fortnightly Movie/TV Thoughts!  Last fortnight, I reviewed Star Wars: Episode V – The Empire Strikes Back (1980).  This fortnight, I’m reviewing:

  • Star Wars: Episode VI – Return of the Jedi (1983), rated PG for mild science fiction violence

That is the Australian rating; in the United States, it’s rated PG for sci-fi action violence.

As usual, I’ll give the trailer and a clip at the end.

And as usual, I offer the following disclaimer JUST to be safe:

WARNING: POTENTIAL SPOILERS AHEAD.  PROCEED AT OWN RISK.

Star Wars: Episode VI – Return of the Jedi

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The finale of the original trilogy – and until The Force Awakens, the finale of the Skywalker Saga – is widely beloved, yet still gets a bad rap.  While it’s certainly the weakest of the trilogy, it really is great!

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After the events of The Empire Strikes Back, the main characters must return to Luke Skywalker’s (Mark Hamill) home world of Tatooine, where Jabba the Hutt (Larry Ward) is holding Han Solo (Harrison Ford) frozen in carbonite.  Luke sends in C-3PO (Anthony Daniels) and R2D2 (Kenny Baker) as a trade, while Princess Leia (Carrie Fisher) gets in disguised as a bounty hunter.  She unfreezes Han, but is captured by Jabba.  Luke shows up and is captured; after killing the rancor Jabba feeds him to, he, Han and Leia are sentenced to be fed to the Sarlacc.  Our heroes fight themselves free – with the help of Lando Calrissian (Billy Dee Williams).

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Luke – who is still struggling with the revelation that Darth Vader (David Prowse, James Earl Jones and Sebastian Stan – and in the 2004 Special Edition, Hayden Christensen) is his father Darth Vader, heads to Dagobah to seek out Master Yoda (Frank Oz) again.  In the meantime, Han and Leia join up with the Resistance, and learn that the Emperor (Ian McDiarmid) himself is supervising the construction of a second Death Star near Endor.  The Rebellion is organising a complicated and risky strike.

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This is the final confrontation between the Rebellion and the Empire.  Either the Rebellion will overthrow the Empire, or the Empire will crush the Rebellion.  It’s do or die.

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OK, I’ll start by getting my main complaint out of the way: the Jabba the Hutt sequence (which I know I summed up poorly).  It felt overlong, and I was actually uncomfortable.  I didn’t mind it as much the second time, although it’s still possibly my least favourite Star Wars scene.  (Although the fight at the end of it was really good.

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However, once they’re free, the film really picks up, and the plot works nicely.  Sure, it borrows a few elements from A New Hope, but it works.  Especially with Luke a Jedi Knight, and the raised stakes.  The filmmakers certainly know how to make a good story.

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Like its predecessors, Return of the Jedi‘s special effects were quite ahead for its time, although some of them have aged somewhat – probably more so than its predecessors, ironically.

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One of the main things that stood out to me, though, was the spiritual/thematic element.  All the Star Wars have a good spiritual/moral element, but (in the original trilogy) I especially noticed/appreciated it in Jedi.  Strong themes about good versus evil, temptation, etc (OK, I intended to word it better than that).

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Mark Hamill gives his best performance (of the original trilogy) as young, not-so-naive Luke Skywalker, who struggles with his parentage, and senses good in Vader.

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Harrison Ford is once again excellent as Han Solo.

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And Carrie Fisher as usual shines as Princess Leia.

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Ian McDiarmid, however, in his introduction to the franchise, gives a particularly fantastic – and menacing – performance as the mysterious Emperor, the “shadow villain” of the franchise, embodying the evil of the Dark Side.  His is easily one of the film’s best performances, alongside Hamill.

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David Prowse, James Earl Jones, and Sebastian Stan together pull off a fantastic and fitting performance as the ever-famous Darth Vader/Anakin Skywalker.

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And I LOVE the Ewoks!  They’re cute, and fun to watch.  What is it with the hatred for them?!  SPOILER Some claim that they’re role in defeating the Imperial troops is unbelievable.  One or two moments of the Ewoks’ role in the Battle of Endor may slightly stretch the imagination, but small CAN beat big.  (Especially when they’ve had time to carefully observe their technologically superior intruders – which they had plenty of before the Rebels showed up.)  Plus, the Endor scenery – shot in the Pacific Northwest, I think – is gorgeous.  (Fun fact: Peter Mayhew, who plays Chewbacca, when in costume, reportedly had to be accompanied by men in bright suits so he wouldn’t be mistaken for a Bigfoot and shot.)

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Probably not my best review, but Star Wars: Episode VI – Return of the Jedi is a fun, exciting, spiritually resonating, and all-round satisfying finale to the original trilogy.

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The trailer:

A clip:

[What do you think of this film?  Be sure to let me know in the comments!  Also, send me your review of any movie – in the comments section – and I’ll post it on Blockbusters Reviewed.]

Index of films

31 thoughts on “Star Wars: Episode VI – Return of the Jedi

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