Return of the Jedi
My rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars
Return of the Jedi completed the one of the greatest film trilogies in film history, though it could not reach the level of either one of the previous two films that is by no means it is not a good film in and of itself. Once again coming up with the film’s story, George Lucas joined Lawrence Kasdan in writing the script while tapping Richard Marquand to sit in the director’s chair.
The film begins a year after Han Solo’s capture and arrival at crime Lord Jabba the Hutt’s palace. C-3PO, R2-D2, Princess Leia—who frees Han from the carbonite only be captured—and Chewbacca arrive through a variety of methods joining Lando Calrissian undercover. Luke Skywalker arrives attempting to negotiated with Jabba but is almost killed by a rancor before being captured by Jabba’s guards. Jabba attempts to kill Luke, Han, and Chewbacca by feeding them to the Sarlacc, but after R2-D2 reveals Luke’s new lightsaber allowing him to free himself and his friends. During the chaos Leia strangles Jabba to death before joining her friends in escaping Jabba’s exploding sail barge. As the others go to rendezvous with the Rebel Alliance, Luke returns to Dagobah and learns from a dying Yoda that Darth Vader is the former Jedi Knight Anakin Skywalker and reveals he has a sister. Obi-Wan Kenobi’s Force spirit then confirms Luke’s suspicion that Leia is his twin sister before telling him that he must face Vader again to finish his training and defeat the Empire. The Alliance learns that the Empire has been constructing a second Death Star under the supervision of the Emperor, which is being protected by an energy shield from the forest moon of Endor. The Alliance plans to strike, not knowing that it’s a trap planned by the Emperor. Han leads a strike team which includes Luke, Leia, and Chewbacca on Endor; they encounter a tribe of Ewoks, gaining their trust after an initial conflict. Later, Luke tells Leia that she is his sister, Vader is their father, and that he must confront him. Surrendering to Imperial troops, he is brought before Vader failing to convince him to reject the dark side of the Force, and Vader takes Luke to meet the Emperor who intends to turn him to the dark side by killing his father. Han’s initial assault on the generator results in their capture by Imperial forces, but the Ewoks free them through a counterattack resulting in a wide-ranging battle just as Lando Calrissian in the Millennium Falcon and Admiral Ackbar lead the Rebel assault on the second Death Star, finding its shield still active, the Imperial fleet waiting for them, and the Death Star fully operational. The Emperor goads Luke to give into his anger, Luke attempts to attack him but Vader intervenes. During the resulting lightsaber duel throughout the throne room, Vader senses the existence of Luke’s sister and threatens to turn her to the dark side. An enraged Luke defeats Vader by severing his prosthetic hand, a gleeful Emperor entreats Luke to kill Vader but Luke refuses. A furious Emperor tortures Luke with Force lightning but unwilling to see his son die Vader throws the Emperor down a reactor shaft to his death though mortally electrocuted in the process. At his father’s last request, Luke removes Vader’s mask, and the emancipated dark lord dies. With the Ewoks tying down the Imperial forces, Han’s strike team destroys the shield generator allowing Lando and X-win fighter pilot Wedge Antilles to fly into the Death Star’s core and destroy the main reactor, escaping before the station explodes. Luke escapes in a shuttle to Endor where he cremates his father body before reuniting with his friends. As the Rebels celebrate their victory, Luke looks cheerfully upon the Force spirits of Obi-Wan, Yoda, and the redeemed Anakin Skywalker.
After the end of Empire there was two big issues that needed to be done by the end of Jedi, the fate of Han and the intertwined conclusions to the Galactic Civil War and Luke versus Vader. The rescue of Han was a fun adventure before the real seriousness begins, the battle for the freedom of the galaxy and the soul of Anakin Skywalker. While the action, drama, special effects (except for one instance), and the abundance of alien life came together to create an enjoyable film, there were issues. The first big issue was another Death Star, the first instance of a return-to-the-well that occurred in the franchise. The second was the Ewoks and their role in the Battle on Endor, I understood what Lucas was aiming at however it would have been better to have a different species to joining Han’s strike team. While Mark Hamill, Harrison Ford, Billy Dee Williams, and the debuting Ian McDiarmid gave good performances, Carrie Fisher did not seem to have the same screen presence as she did in the previous two films. The elements of the screenplay written by Lawrence Kasdan and George Lucas based on the story created by the latter were good and Richard Marquand directed a fun film, unlike the previous two installments there seemed to be something lacking.
Return of the Jedi had a lot to live up to, though the least of the original trilogy, only one of the next six films in the saga even reached its overall quality thus enhancing its reputation of the years.