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Return of the Jedi

A movie directed by Richard Marquand

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The Weakest of the Original Trilogy But Still a Strong Film

  • Jul 6, 2009
  • by
Rating:
+4
Return of the Jedi originally came out in 1983, and marks the end of the original Star Wars trilogy.  At the time of its release it was critically acclaimed and well accepted.  At least more so than The Empire Strikes Back when it first came.  Nowadays it is often considered the weakest of the original trilogy.  Although people will always be debating what the best Star Wars movie is.  Return of the Jedi, despite some of its problems has some of the most emotional moments within the entire trilogy.

A lot has happened between The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi.  Luke is now a Jedi and can use the force very well.  The only thing that remains for him to fully be recognized as a Jedi is to defeat Vader.  More than that, Luke believes there is still some good in Vader--his father.  But before he can even begin to do any of this, he needs to rescue his friend Han from Jabba the Hutt.  I imagine that Luke was given the Golden Rebel Credit for worst plan ever.  First he sends the droids, Threepio and R2 to get captured (after Lando has already snuck in).  Then Leia, dressed as a Bounty Hunter, takes Chewie to Jabba and they are captureed.  After Leia unfreezes Han, she's discovered and also captured and forced to be Jabba's slave.  After that, Luke goes to Jabba's palace where he is nearly killed.  I understand that everyone has to be there, but it seemed like a needlessly complicated plan.  Oh well, putting all that aside, Luke does battle with the Rancor and wins.  After this, Jabba decides that Luke, Han and Chewie need to be fed to the mighty Sarlaac (I know I spelled THAT wrong) where they will be slowly digested for 1000 years.

It is here that R2 gives Luke his reconstructed lightsaber and Luke, Han, Chewie, Lando and Leia all battle things out on Jabba's sail barge.  Despite being one of the most popular characters, it's kind of sad that Boba Fett was defeated by a guy who couldn't really see. 

Those are all nitpicks but it's interesting to see that with how the first two movies played out, there would suddenly be a bit more complicated of a plan that should've been a bit simplar to pull off.  But these opening moments are very exciting and very fun. 

The Empire, however, has constructed a NEW Death Star... that the Emperor is now on board.  The rebels, getting wind of this, decide it's time to finish the fight once and for all.  But things are more complicated than before.  On the moon of Endor is a shield generator which must be destroyed before the Death Star's defenses are down.  Only then can they go to the core and destroy it.  But how to get to Endor?  Well, they've got an old imperial cruiser to help them out.  Han, along with Luke and Leia, will lead a strike team on Endor, while Lando leads the battle in space against the Death Star.

Things turn out fine for Han and company as they land until their cover is nearly blown.  Luke and Leia chase after the stormtroopers on speeder bikes, but as with Empire... they get separated. 

It's about here where Jedi gets just a little weird.  How badly was Lucas scraping at the bottom of the barral by this point?  Leia meets an Ewok, and there's a whole tribe of them.  Leia and the Ewoks are eventually united with Han, Luke, Threepio, R2 and Chewie... and the Ewoks believe Threepio is some kind of god.  Top that off with Lucas throwing in that Luke and Leia are brother and sister and once again we can bring up the debate as to whether Lucas actually planned this all out or not.  It's not so much that Luke and Leia are twins, but more that it just feels like they threw it in there.  There's no hint to the two of them being related in anyway.  Not a feeling in the force.  Obi-Wan never mentions something about it within the first two films.  The only hint we get is Yoda stating in The Empire Strikes Back that "There is another" (referring to another Skywalker) but that's hardly a hint (for all we know Yoda could've been referring to some other random last hope).  It just feels like something that came right out of left field.  

Luke, upon realizing his own destiny, decides to leave and surrender himself to Vader so that he can be taken to the Death Star and have one final duel with his father and hopefully stop the Emperor once and for all.

Return of the Jedi is perhaps where Lucas began to lose some of his creative spark.  There's a lot to the plot.  It takes place on three fronts.  There is first the plot of Luke trying to rescue his father.  This is by far the most interesting portion of the movie, and filled to the brim with emotion.  From the intense battle between Vader and Luke to the fantastic climax.  The second front is the front to destroy the shield generator.  And this is perhaps one of the less interesting.  We have to watch as Han and company go about it.... and a war breaks out on Endor.  A war the Empire loses to a bunch of Ewoks using far inferior technology.  Are sticks and stones (yeah, sticks and stones... pretty much) really all it takes to take down the all powerful Empire?  The Empire that, in the first two films was far more threatening?  And then there's the third front... the battle which takes place in space.  This is fun and exciting but you don't really get to see that much of it.  The sense you get from Return of the Jedi is that it's reaching higher than it actually can.  There's so much in it that the movie feels a little long.  It's fun at least.

Though the whole Ewoks taking down the Empire is still quite questionable.  How can an Empire such as this lose to essentially a bunch of teddy bears? 

Nevertheless, while it does run a little long because of being so packed full of things, it's still a relatively fun movie to watch. 

As with the first two, there were special editions.  In 1997 and 2004.  In '97 Jedi was given the least amount of tweaking.  Probably because this was the closest thing to perfection any of Lucas's Star Wars movies got.  But in 2004 it was given some of the biggest changes.  The first being the eyebrows on Anakin Skywalker missing.  Again, for the sake of continuity.  But the biggest and often controversial change, was replacing Sebastian Shaw at the end (Anakin's ghost) with Hayden Christensen.  This seems a little disrespectful to Sebastian Shaw, but more than that... Hayden isn't exactly a favorite to the Star Wars fans.  Some argue that it makes sense, but it is quite a big change, and one that many many Star Wars fans still cry out over (that and the "Who shot first?" in Episode IV). 

Return of the Jedi is fun, it just tries to reach a little too high.  Perhaps it tries to hard to outdo Empire.  The characters themselves are still likeable and fun, but there's nothing really done here to develop them.  The love that blossomed between Han and Leia in the second film hardly gets a look.  And along with Luke and Leia being twins, there's no growth.  The characters are still, by and large, interesting.  It's just that with the push made to develop them so far in the second film, it's a shame that very little of that character development is brought over to the third and final film.  You can argue that the characters don't need anymore development by the end... but what about characters such as Lando?  Or the Emperor?  These are considered important characters but we know about as much about them as we knew in the second film.  Perhaps I'm being picky here, though.

Regardless of anything, Return of the Jedi is fun.  It most certainly isn't the best of the original trilogy, but it is still better than anything we ever got from those prequels.

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July 07, 2009
I think Return of the Jedi as a whole is weaker than the other two, but some of my favorite scenes from the original trilogy are also from Jedi (The Luke/Vader duel and the space battle), the second half of the movie is excellent, too bad we have to sit through the first half..
July 07, 2009
Oh yeah, of all the moments of the original trilogy, the duel between Luke and Vader is among my favorite moments. It's by far the best duel of the original trilogy.
 
July 07, 2009
Nice review! I have to disagree with you however as Return of the Jedi is my favorite of the original films.  I like the way you write your synopsis'.  Nice write up!
 
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More Return of the Jedi reviews
Quick Tip by . January 07, 2010
Uneven and dul in a few spots maybe, The third Star Wars movie is still a step above many of it's peers.
review by . July 28, 2009
posted in Movie Hype
Han and Luke captured by Jabba's thugs
Want some cheese to go with that whine?      It's really hard to guage Star Wars fans sometimes.  Some fans are diehards and will love ANYTHING that comes out the pipe like Attack of the Clones or the Special Editions.  Some are so tempermental that they get a bug up their behind about ANYTHING even from Empire Strikes Back.  One thing is certain though and thats universally Return of the Jedi is seen as the bottom of the original three films.  Even seeing …
review by . May 29, 2005
Pros: Includes every aspect about Star Wars we love     Cons: Sometimes looks like George Lucas was too ambitious for its own good     The Bottom Line: One more Star Wars movie to review...     There’s a reason Return of the Jedi was snubbed for any Oscar nominations back in 1983: From a purely technical standpoint, this is one of the worst movies I’ve ever seen. The performances just aren’t as good as they were previously, …
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Sean A. Rhodes ()
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I'm a more analytical person. I believe that the purpose of the review is not for me to give you my opinion but for me to give you an analysis and help you decide if you want to get it. If you reading … more
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The third and final chapter in the wondrous STAR WARS saga is RETURN OF THE JEDI. Luke (Mark Hamill) must save Han Solo (Harrison Ford) from the clutches of the monstrous Jabba the Hut, and bring down the newly reconstructed--and even more powerful--Death Star. With Solo imprisoned, Luke accompanies his faithful droids R2D2 (Kenny Baker) and C3PO (Anthony Daniels) in a rescue bid, with Princess Leia (Carrie Fisher) and Chewbacca (Peter Mayhew) also lending a hand. After they valiantly disentangle their friends from Jabba's clutches, Luke returns to his Jedi Knight training with Yoda. Meanwhile, the Rebel Troops amass in an attempt to see off the impending threat from Darth Vader (played by David Prowse, voiced by James Earl Jones) and his new Death Star, with the operation being lead by Han Solo. But Luke must face Vader himself if he is to become a true Jedi Knight, and as he enters into a spirited battle with his light saber-wielding enemy, some surprising revelations await the young warrior.
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