Review: Star Wars Episode VI: Return Of The Jedi [1983]

a review by the Swan(!).

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OPENING CRAWL

We now come to the final instalment of the original trilogy (well, until the prequel and sequel trilogies several decades later), where everything comes to a close. Originally titled, “Revenge of the Jedi”, the movie was re-named as a Jedi Knight does not seek revenge (Hmm, how noble of them). Return of The Jedi was released on May 25th 1983 and grossed between $475 million and $572 million worldwide[1]. It is a film that perfectly balances its dark and light moments, as well as introducing new characters (e.g.: Admiral “IT’S A TRAP” Ackbar).

The film also focused its target on children by introducing creatures such as Ewoks. Like Empire, the movie was filled with dramatic revelations and character developments. This made for an entertaining, engaging and a somewhat emotional two hour, eleven minute adventure.

So, let’s strap our seats in for the third time, make the jump to lightspeed and begin…


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THE BATTLE OF ENDOR

WARNING: THIS SECTION CONTAINS SOME SPOILERS

So, after the opening crawl, we see Darth Vader (body filled by Dave Prowse, voice supplied by James Earl Jones) arriving on the second, incomplete Death Star, where he tells a nervous Imperial officer to get on with building the thing. The reason for the rush is that the Emperor is coming to oversee developments and “[he’s] not as forgiving as (Vader)”. Yeah, I like that piece of dialogue. It sets the character up to be terrifying and literally the worst person in the galaxy.

Meanwhile, Lando Calrissian (Billy Dee Williams) C-3P0 (Anthony Daniels), R2-D2 (Kenny Baker), Princess Leia (Carrie Fisher) and Chewbacca (Peter Mayhew) have ventured to Tatooine to rescue Han Solo (Harrison Ford) from Jabba the Hutt’s palace. Apart from Lando, the gang end up getting captured themselves and it’s up to Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill) to essentially bail them all out. Now that I’m reasonably older, I do find the scenes surrounding Jabba tiresome and at times, cringey. But I suppose the musical cues at the palace are cool to listen to and it’s nice to see Luke undergo a change in character development. Gone is the naive, whiny protagonist from the previous two movies. Now, we have a mature, calm individual that no smart/dumb arse would fuck with. Well, except for Jabba, of course.

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Once the Rebels leave Tatooine, Luke travels back to Dagobah to finish his Jedi training. He’s informed by a dying Yoda (Frank Oz) that in order to be a full Jedi, he needs to confront Darth Vader. Yoda also confirms that Vader is Luke’s father and that he has another sibling. Yoda then vanishes into thin air and Luke is left to ponder over his destiny. It’s a touching scene compared to the cheesy, drawn out scenes with Jabba. Obi-Wan Kenobi (Alec Guinness) returns to provide Luke with some background information about his father and to expand on Yoda’s revelation concerning Luke’s sibling. If you’ve seen the prequel trilogy, don’t get surprised. That’s all I’m saying.

At the same time, we’re introduced to one of my favourite characters of the series: Emperor Palpatine (Ian MacDiarmid). His arrival on the Death Star provides a very chilling introduction and once he discusses plans with Vader over how to turn Luke to the dark side, he lets out an evil, terrifying laugh. Now, that’s a good villain!

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Meanwhile, Han and the other rebels are briefed by a couple of Rebel leaders, Mon Montha (Caroline Blaikston) and Admiral “IT’S A TRAP!” Ackbar (Timothy Rose is the puppeteer, while Erik Bakersfield is the voice actor). The Rebels are told to travel to the forest moon of Endor and destroy the shield generator protecting the Death Star. At the same time, the rebel fighters (led by Lando) will fly into the Death Star and knock out the main reactor, thus destroying it. Seems the Empire have learnt from their mistakes when they were running the first Death Star from the first movie. I like that.

Once Luke re-joins his companions, the entire Rebel fleet split up to complete their own missions. Luke, Han, Leia & co. travel to Endor and after an exciting speeder bike chase involving Imperial scout troopers, they run into a tribe of teddy-bear like creatures known as Ewoks. Regardless of what people think about the Ewoks, I really couldn’t give a toss about them. Anyways, they eventually agree to help the Rebels destroy the shield generator, while the Rebel fighters engage the Imperial fighters in an exciting dogfight above the planet.

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Luke, meanwhile, has his own dilemma as he surrenders himself to Darth Vader, in the hope of bringing his father back to the light side. Luke and Vader are subsequently brought before the Emperor on the Death Star. Cue evil gloating, laughter and clashes of lightsabers! These scenes surrounding Luke, Vader and the Emperor provide the right balance of tension, emotion and dramatic twists.


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THE REBELS

Luke Skywalker: 9/10

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Hamill provides a mature performance, as he fills the shoes of Luke for the third time. He truly is a real Jedi Knight. Although, there are some darker aspects to his personality. The first few scenes have him Force-Choke one of Jabba’s minions, before demanding that Jabba release his companions! One of the best scenes involving Luke takes place towards the end of the movie. Vader threatens to turn Leia to the dark side and Luke goes bat-shit crazy, attacking his father during their final duel aboard the Death Star. The  music taking place during the duel between Luke and Vader provides a fitting soundtrack to the young Jedi’s dilemma, as well as telling the audience that Luke has his own flaws/demons just like any other normal person.  However, the character of Luke retains a strong moral compass throughout the majority of the movie and it’s good to see that he’s got rid of the whiny trait to his personality.

Han Solo: 9/10

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Ford once again provides a strong performance as Han Solo. He’s still sarky and bad-ass as ever, while providing a caring side of his character.

Princess Leia Organa: 8.5/10

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I’m about to reiterate a reason why I like this movie so much and that is character development! As Luke becomes more mature, Leia becomes less sassy and more reserved. Does she lose the bad-ass trait to the character? Nope. Nor would I want her to, either. Plus, she makes perfect eye-candy in Jabba’s palace.  Her slave girl outfit is likely to ignite many boners, as opposed to lightsabers.

SPOILER ALERT INCOMING

Well, not r-re-eally…: In this movie, Leia is revealed to be Luke’s twin sister. So, if you cast your minds back to the scene in Empire where Luke and Leia had a brief snog… yeah… it’s kinda incestuous, if you think about it shudders.

Chewbacca: 8.5/10

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Chewie continues to be a loyal, useful companion to the Rebels. It’s also nice seeing him get on with the Ewoks, as well. Those scenes make me think that they’re somewhat related.

C-3PO + R2-D2: 7/10

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Ehh, they’re alright. R2-D2 provides some use to the story, while C-3PO is just… there. Although the scene where the Ewoks think he’s a god is somewhat amusing!

Lando Calrissian: 8.5/10

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Billy Dee Williams once again fills the shoes of Calrissian. The scenes involving Lando are fun to watch, but I do feel the character has been given less to do in this movie, compared to Empire. Still, Lando’s likeable and hope to see him either in Episode VIII or Episode IX.

Admiral Ackbar: 7/10

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“IT’S A TRAP!” Yeah, I’ll stop doing that now. The Ackbar character’s okay, but apart from briefing the heroes and shouting orders from his ship, he doesn’t do very much in this movie.

Mon Montha: 7/10

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Like Ackbar, this character doesn’t do very much in this movie. She’s hardly even in it, apart from the briefing scene and the victory celebration scene. Although, Montha has one piece of quotable dialogue: “Many Bothans died to bring us this information”.


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THE EMPIRE

Darth Vader: 9/10

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Even Vader has some character development in this movie, as we find out that he’s actually… an alright guy.

SPOILER ALERT (well, if you’ve seen the prequels):

He was once a fallen Jedi Knight named Anakin Skywalker who made a series of fuck-ups and turned evil. The scene where Vader redeems himself through the love of his son is quite endearing and emotional. (Pass me a tissue!)

Emperor Palpatine: 10/10

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Man, I love this guy. He’s just the epitome of evil and a complete sociopath. The way he talks, the way he moves, the way he manipulates almost everyone (even Luke to a small extent) to do exactly what he wants.

McDiarmid does a fine job in providing a hammy performance as Palpatine,  as well as making him a complete sociopath. This is a guy who pretends to be warm and welcoming, but once things don’t go his way, he ends up zapping you with electric lightning. Poor Luke, man.

Jabba The Hutt: 6/10

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Jabba’s an alright villain, I suppose. Lecherous? Check. Rapey. Check. Vile as foook? Check!

I mentioned earlier in the review that I find the scenes with him somewhat tiresome. But I suppose he makes a competent villain for the first half of the movie.


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CLOSING THOUGHTS

So, Jabba and Ewoks aside, Return of The Jedi is my favourite Star Wars movie to this day (Empire is a very close second). It’s got character development, exciting battle scenes, and a fitting conclusion that warms the beating heart.

I suppose I really like this movie due to it’s moral values. Everyone makes mistakes (no matter how big or small), but redemption and forgiveness sets you free. I’ve done my best to apply these moral lessons in my personal life, as I believe there is good and bad in everyone. And it’s all thanks to Star Wars. Can’t wait for the upcoming Rogue One next month and the forthcoming Episode VIII next year!

May The Force Be With You… Always.

Final rating: 8.5/10

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