Martens' Movie Reviews

Movie Reviews from an avid movie-goer

Star Wars – Episode VI: Return of the Jedi Review

Release Date: May 25, 1983
Running Time: 2 hours 11 minutes

“Our heroes on a mission to free Han Solo from the clutches of Jabba the Hutt. But the ultimate battle is between father and son, as Luke Skywalker faces Darth Vader one last time in the presence of the Emperor — a powerful Sith Lord who hopes to lure the young Jedi to the dark side and crush the Rebellion once and for all.”

The last of the original trilogy, and the one that’s most debated on as either being a really good movie, or a middle of the road type of movie. There’s a lot of hate for the heavy use of the Ewoks, and the unbelievable way in which they defeated the Empire, and while that is something that could be considered valid. I’m going to borrow a statement from the people over at Honest Trailers in saying “There’s no way that they mighty Empire would struggle against a smaller, poorly armed force.” They then go on and state several times in history the fact that the natives win against the invading army such as Vietnam, Afghanistan, Little Bighorn, The American Revolution as well as others.

Return of the Jedi

Anthony Daniels as C-3PO & Kenny Baker as R2-D2 – Source: Lucasfilm

I think the fact that they were cuddly little puppy bear type creatures and designed that way for the sole purpose of selling merchandise to the younger audience is what some people disliked the most about the Ewoks. Myself, I loved them as a kid, and while I’ve grown up, I don’t outright hate them, I understand the reasoning behind Lucas’ decision for that design. If putting the Ewoks in the movie helped fund his company and movies that wouldn’t have otherwise been made, then I’m all for them. I hate when merchandising is the sole purpose of the movie *COUGH CARS (1,2,3) COUGH*.

This movie, while not being a perfect ending did a satisfying job in concluding the trilogy, while also disappointing some people after the extreme success and expectations garnered after Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back. This movie is my second favourite Star Wars movie and I feel like this is a great movie, with moments of amazing scenes.

Star Wars – Episode VI: Return of the Jedi Trailer – Source: Lucasfilm Ltd.


Cast and Crew

Star Wars – Episode VI: Return of the Jedi was directed by Richard Marquand, who did a lot of work on both television programs and television movies during the 1960s to the mid 70s. His first theatrical movie was ‘The Legacy’ in 1978, he also worked on ‘Eye of the Needle’ in 1981 prior to working on this movie. After Return of the Jedi, he directed three more movies before passing away that include ‘Jagged Edge’ in 1985, and ‘Hearts of Fire’ in 1987.

I’ve written about all that I can about the writing ability of George Lucas over most of the Star Wars reviews that I’ve done in the last week, so I won’t keep going there. Lawrence Kasdan was one of the other writers for this movie and while I briefly went over his other work after Jedi, I only went until 1992 to give me something to write about in this review. Kasdan’s other work that doesn’t include the films that I mention in the Episode V review is ‘Wyatt Earp’ in 1994, ‘Dreamcatcher’ in 2003, and ‘Darling Companion’ in 2012. I’ll mention the work that he did after 2012 in the Episode VII review.

Return of the Jedi

Mark Hamill as Luke Skywalker – Source: Lucasfilm

Cast includes  Mark HamillHarrison FordCarrie FisherAlec GuinnessAnthony DanielsKenny BakerPeter MayhewBilly Dee WilliamsDavid ProwseSebastian ShawIan McDiarmidTim RoseFrank OzMichael CulverChristopher MalcolmDenis LawsonWarwick Davis and James Earl Jones


Review

In the six months since The Empire Strikes Back Luke Skywalker has grown quite powerful very quickly. In a deleted scene, we see him construct his new lightsaber, which I only mention here because it explains how he got a new one after losing his after getting his hand cut off in the previous film. The character of Luke has grown in knowledge, wisdom and strength, displaying the ease in which he uses the Force. He force chokes the Gamorrean guards outside Jabba’s palace, he mind tricks Bib Fortuna into letting him in, his proficiency in with a lightsaber has grown a lot as well.

Luke Skywalker has gone through a lot, and has started to process the fact that his father, the person that he’s been searching for answers about is actually the most evil man in the universe (behind the Emperor of course), Darth Vader. The character arc that he has gone through since that whiny farmboy on Tatooine to the Jedi Knight that ends up saving the galaxy over and over again is staggering, and Mark Hamill did an amazing job in displaying the various emotions and complexities that the character was dealing with.

Return of the Jedi

Harrison Ford as Han Solo and Carrie Fisher as Leia Organa – Source: Lucasfilm

Harrison Ford begrudgingly returns as Han Solo in a movie that he thought his character should have died, to better serve the story. His portrayal of Han Solo is still very charming, and even goes as far as being a good guy in almost everything that he does in this movie. It’s a very big change from the scoundrel who shoots first, to now being a General of the Rebellion. While I can understand the character growth, I feel that Lucas and co. might have gone a little too over the top in making him more likeable to the general audience. He’s also grown more attached to Leia, and while he has bouts of jealousy about her relationship with Luke, he quickly apologizes and comforts her when she asks for it.

Carrie Fisher is Leia Organa / Skywalker. There’s no separation between the characters anymore, and she fully embraces the character. We also get see her in the space bikini, which wowed the male and female audiences everywhere. I know of a few people that still have that picture hanging at the house. She’s grown as the bossy princess of the first movie, into a bigger part of the Rebellion, and shows that she’s already got a connection to the Force several times (in my theory). I really hope that we will get to see some manifestation of the Force from her in The Last Jedi.

Return of the Jedi

Billy Dee Williams as Lando Calrissian – Source: Lucasfilm

C-3PO & R2-D2 are given to Jabba the Hutt right off the bat in this movie, and while R2 was planted there with Luke’s lightsaber in the off chance negotiations didn’t go well, C-3PO was left in the dark because of his big mouth. The interaction between the two continue to be charming bordering on the annoying at times, but I still love those two droids.

Peter Mayhew returns as Chewbacca and was ‘captured’ by Leia, and brought to Jabba in Luke’s master plan to save Han, and it somehow paid off. The character was a mixture of his last two appearances in the series, as he was a smart tactician and warrior when it was needed on Endor and Tatooine, while also being an idiot who fell for the food trap on Endor set up by the Ewoks.

Return of the Jedi

Death Star 2.0 – Source: Lucasfilm

Jeremy Bulloch’s last appearance as Boba Fett, and probably the worst way they could have killed off the character, in a very much Wile E. Coyote type death, when he was hit in the back by accident by Han, and sent flying in Jabba’s yacht and into the Sarlacc’s mouth. It was a disappointing end to a great side villain in the previous movie.

Billy Dee Williams is back as the scoundrel turned General, Lando Calrissian. This time we learn that he’s also got a heart of gold, and that he volunteers to be the one on the front lines to take out the new Death Star. The character itself is shown to be smart in that he figures out that it was a trap first, and alerts the others. He helps save the day along with the unsung hero in this trilogy – Wedge Antilles.

Return of the Jedi

Jeremy Bulloch as Boba Fett – Source: Lucasfilm

Ian McDiarmid’s first appearance as The Emperor was actually in this movie, and I can understand why Lucas really wanted him back for the prequels after such a masterful performance by the actor. The Emperor is the mastermind to everything that has happened since the beginning of the prequels, having started the feud with the Trade Federation to blockade Naboo, overthrowing the Supreme Chancellor, and slowly gaining more and more power until he thought the time was right to let the young boy that he helped in grooming over the years in on his little secret.

That little boy that grew up also turned out to be one of the most powerful Force users in a very long time, Anakin Skywalker. He turns Anakin, and they go on to forge the Empire together, and destroying the Jedi, except for two (there’s more that are shown in the animated television shows as well as the comics that are now canon, but I’m reviewing the movies), Yoda and Obi-Wan Kenobi. He has created the ultimate trap for the Rebels, and was ready to take them out, and gain a new apprentice in the process, but something happens that he did not expect.

Return of the Jedi

David Prowse as Darth Vader – Source: Lucasfilm

David Prowse and James Earl Jones team up again to play Darth Vader in the last movie that would feature the best villain that I’ve ever seen. They did a wonderful job in almost every aspect, and there’s nothing really that you could wish for that could have been better in their performance. The voice of Jones is just so amazing and you can feel the emotions in the robotic type voice, and Prowse does a magnificent job in the physical portrayal of Vader.

Return of the Jedi

C-3PO, Salacious B. Crumb, Leia Organa, Jabba the Hutt & Bib Fortuna – Source: Lucasfilm

 

The scene in the desert on Tatooine with the Sarlacc pit had both very good moments, and very bad moments. I enjoyed seeing Luke’s plan come together and was able to save his friends and the usage of his lightsaber against the gang members was satisfying to watch. I have a theory that Leia was using the Force to strengthen herself when she was choking Jabba the Hutt with the chain, because I don’t think it was possible for her to be able to do it without any help as was shown.

I’ve already mentioned the very stupid way in which Boba Fett met his end, and I won’t go into further detail than that. I think the possibility of him still being alive as some fans would very dearly wish for is ludicrous and just plain silly.

Return of the Jedi

Luke Skywalker wielding his new lightsaber – Source: Lucasfilm

We get to actually meet the Emperor for the first time, seeing the interaction with Darth Vader and seeing this extremely powerful and magnificent villain be submissive towards the Emperor was very shocking. I also enjoyed the little part when Vader told the general that the Emperor would be arriving, that he is less forgiving than the Emperor, making you really wonder at how short that man’s temper must be, especially when we know that Vader is not forgiving whatsoever.

Luke’s return to Dagobah was short lived, and sadly was right before the passing of Master Yoda. It’s a sad scene, where we see age finally catch up with the Master, and sickness kicks in. He divulges the information that there is another Skywalker right before he becomes one with the Force. Luke then encounters the Force Ghost of Kenobi once again, and receives confirmation that he has a sister, and that it’s Leia. Kenobi warns Luke not to underestimate the Dark Side.

Return of the Jedi

Alec Guinness as Obi-Wan Kenobi confirming that Luke has a sister – Source: Lucasfilm

General Solo volunteers to go down to Endor and shut down the deflector shields in order for the Rebellion to be able to destroy the second Death Star. On Endor, they must fight their way through a few Stormtroopers on Speeders. Leia and Luke chase after them, and manage to take them out eventually. I think that Leia’s natural piloting ability that is shown here could well be because of who her father is, and being able to have “Jedi reflexes” in order to pilot the speeder at that speed for the first time (that we’ve seen). She eventually gets knocked out, and is greeted by Wicket played by Warwick Davis.

The Ewoks are cute little furballs, and think that C-3PO is a God. They eventually accept the crew into their tribe after almost eating them first, if it wasn’t for Luke’s quick thinking and use of the Force. Luke informs Leia that their siblings as well as Vader being their father at this point. Han who misreads their interaction gets jealous and thinks that they’re together behind his back, and quickly apologizes after getting upset.

Return of the Jedi

Peter Mayhew as Chewbacca, Leia Organa, R2-D2, C-3PO, Luke Skywalker and Han Solo going to Endor – Source: Lucasfilm

The Battle of Endor is spread out a lot throughout the ending, and it can be summed up like this: Rebels sneak in base, fall into trap, Ewoks save the day with their cuteness, Rebels shut off shield generator. There’s a lot that sort of happens, but nothing major in this battle.

The Rebels thought that the Death Star 2.0 wasn’t operational yet, which is why they decided to go after it before it became too powerful. It’s a Trap! They get ambushed by the Empire’s Fleet, and are left as sitting ducks in the space battle above Endor. The Death Star is fully armed and operational, and takes out a few of the Rebellion cruisers, causing mass panic and set them up against the clock for the Rebels on Endor to do their job to take out the shield generators. Wedge Antilles, the pilot that’s been in every single space battle and survived them all helps Lando in destroying the Death Star after the shield went down. He’s a true unheralded hero of the series.

Return of the Jedi

Warwick Davis as Wicket – Source: Lucasfilm

Luke believing that there’s still good left in his father, decides to go to him, and turns himself in to the Empire in order to try and convince his father to leave with him. It’s an interesting little father and son chat, and I feel like while Luke was closer to saving his father than Obi-Wan ever was, he was still too far gone at this point, and would not be saved so easily.

Darth Vader brings Luke to meet his Master as he was instructed to do, and Luke gets to meet the Emperor for the first time. The Emperor wants to complete Luke’s training and to become his Master. He divulges that everything has been set up to trap the Rebels and himself so that he can end it all in one fell swoop. He taunts Luke over and over again trying to get him angry enough to strike him down, and start down the path of the Dark Side. Luke tries to resist for as long as he can, but eventually grabs the lightsaber to try and strike him down, starting the second battle between father and son.

Return of the Jedi

Ian McDiarmid as the Emperor – Source: Lucasfilm

The Skywalker vs Skywalker 2.0 fight is a lot more emotional than the previous one, especially that now we, as an audience, know the relationship between the two combatants. Luke loses control and goes after Vader very aggressively after being provoked by the Emperor over and over again. After knocking his father down the steps, he realizes what he’s doing, and shuts off his lightsaber, telling his father that he will not fight him.

Vader walks up the steps complimenting his son, but also telling him that he should never lower his guard. Luke is now only defending himself, with no intentions to fight his father, and is eventually knocked down after telling his father that he is not capable of killing his son. Vader starts to go into Luke’s head and learns of Luke’s sister, and that if he will not be turned, maybe he will go after her afterwards.

This launches Luke into a very aggressive and hate filled attack, where he taps into his anger and steps over the line of the Dark Side in order to take down his father once and for all. He shows no hesitation and is attacking his father wildly, attacking him into submission, eventually cutting off his hand, and making Vader ‘defenseless’.

Return of the Jedi

Skywalker vs Skywalker fight 2.0 – Source: Lucasfilm

After Luke realizes that he’s using the Dark Side of the Force to strengthen himself against his father, having cut off his father’s hand just as his father did to him and sees that his father is very similar to him, in that his hand was also robotic, Luke throws away his lightsaber. He tells the Emperor that he will not be turned, that he’s a Jedi just like his father was before him. That wasn’t really the smartest thing to do in terms of self preservation, but I don’t fault him for that.

The Emperor proceeds to use Force Lightning on him over and over again, with Vader now at his side watching his son get tortured and hearing his pleas for help. After struggling with what he wants to do, Vader makes his decision, and lifts the Emperor up and throws him into the big ventilation shaft to his death. The Force Lightning that the Emperor was using had turned to Vader in self defense and most likely messed up the machines that were built into his suit that was keeping him alive. He would pass away not too long after that.

Return of the Jedi

The Emperor falling to his death – Source: Lucasfilm

Sebastian Shaw played Anakin Skywalker in this movie, when his helmet comes off, as well as the Force Ghost at the end of the movie (I still prefer that than the Christensen appearance). Anakin Skywalker has gone through so much, and the first 6 episodes of Star Wars are very much his movies, and his story arc. He lost his mother, wife, his friends and mentor, everything he stood for, and thought that he lost his children. He was horribly disfigured after living life as a handsome young man, had all of his limbs cut off in two different occasions on film. He fell to the Dark Side and committed unspeakable travesties, but at the end, he sought the light that was his children. Luke was able to redeem him in the end. All it took was to see his son being tortured by his master, pleading for his father’s help.

Return of the Jedi

Sebastian Shaw as Anakin Skywalker – Source: Lucasfilm

The galaxy celebrate the end of the Emperor, but as well all know, the war doesn’t just end there, it continued on, and you can learn more from the comic books or the books that they released, or you can just read many of the recaps that exists online. Han Solo tries to reassure Leia that Luke survived the explosion of the new Death Star, and when he asks her if she loves him and gets a yes in return, he actually does the ‘right thing’ and says that he won’t get in the way. I found that to be a very mature thing for the character to do and the fact that she tells him that their siblings makes him question a lot of things about the two of them. An example is how long have they known they were siblings, and that means that she made out with her brother, so many emotions on Ford’s face in that scene.

While the Rebels are having a dance party with the Ewoks, Luke returns to Endor and ends up seeing his father become a Force Ghost alongside his two mentors, Yoda and Obi-Wan Kenobi. In the special edition version of this film, Hayden Christensen reprises his role as Anakin Skywalker, and they replace Sebastian Shaw in that scene, and I didn’t very much like that along with many other fans that were extremely upset with that.

Return of the Jedi

Anakin Skywalker, Yoda & Obi-Wan Kenobi – Source: Lucasfilm

Overall, this movie did not live up to the extremely high expectations that were set up by the phenomenal success of Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back, however I found that overall, the movie was a really satisfying conclusion to the saga, and left the door open for anything that would come after it. The acting, story, music and battles were all really entertaining and well executed. At the end of the day, I would give this movie a score of 8.5/10.

What did you think of the last movie of the original trilogy in the beloved franchise? After looking back on the film, do you have a different opinion than what you had when you first watched it? Do you agree with my score, if not what would you give it? Let me know in the comment section below, I would love to hear your opinions!

Thanks for reading,

Alex Martens

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2 replies

  1. This is actually my favorite of the Original Trilogy, mostly because of the large battle taking place across multiple environments. It was well balanced in bouncing around between them and they all had some sort of emotional element to them. I know there aren’t a lot of fans for this one compared to the other films in the trilogy but I enjoy it quite a bit. Great review, Alex!

    Liked by 1 person

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