Star Wars: Episode VI: Return of the Jedi Film Review

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Star Wars: Episode VI: Return of the Jedi

Starring: Mark Hammil, Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher, Billy Dee Williams, Anthony Daniels, Kenny Baker, Peter Mayhew, Alec Guinness, Ian McDiamird, and the voices of Frank Oz and James Earl Jones

Screenplay: George Lucas and Lawrence Kasdan
Story: George Lucas

Directed by: Richard Marquand

The finale of the original Star Wars Trilogy was yet again another questionmark. Where do you go from Empire? The decision it seems was to try to take it back to it’s roots and in all honesty, it wasn’t the greatest choice. But despite the few stumbles, unoriginality, and definite marketing ploys injecting themselves into the plot, the fact remains that Jedi still finishes off the saga with class and actually in some cases deliver some of the best sequences of the saga.

The opening sequence in Tatooine is a definite mixed bag if only because of how it connects to the rest of the film. The sequence itself is a top notch rescue scene as Luke shows off his newfound badassness as he leads a rescue mission to save Han Solo from the evil clutches of Jabba the Hutt. It’s a fun thrilling sequence that actually reminds me of the tone of A New Hope quite well.

However, when you are hurtling towards a big climactic finale of an epic saga…it seems if not a waste of time, a way to crunch the more immediately important events of the story into less time.

This is further exacerbated by the way the story slows between Tatooine and the final battle sequence. The scenes between are important, especially Luke’s visit back to Dagobah, but the pace does slow to a trickle.

Once the Rebellion reaches Endor it would seem that it would pick up until the introduction of the single biggest effect of marketing on a movie up until that time. The Ewoks. For those who panned Jar Jar as the worst thing to happen to Star Wars…please get some perspective. Originally supposed to be Wookies, George got the great idea of cutting them down about 2/3 and rearranging the letters to get the cute teddy bears that can overtake the Imperials’ so-called best legions of troops.

Sigh. But then Luke has an impassioned discussion with Leia, recently revealed as his twin sister about possibly saving their father. And it all turns to gold again.

The final sequence involving Luke, Vader, and Palpatine is the best the saga has to offer as the battle goes well beyond lightsabers and into verbal sparring and psychological warfare that Palpatine excels at.

We get to see Palpatine’s grand plan unfold. As heartless as he is, we learn he doesn’t plan to simply seduce Luke, but instead to have Luke replace Vader as his right hand man by having the young Jedi kill his father. He can finally have the complete powerful apprentice he was going to have in Anakin prior to Mustafar.

Watching the battle it is clear to see that Vader is allowing the young Jedi upstart, who is nowhere near the warrior he would have to be to seriously take Vader down, to engage him trying to draw the anger out of him as he too tries to seduce his son for his own purpose, to replace the Emperor.

But it is at that moment where Luke sees the choice his father had and Luke chooses to remain on the light side much to Palpatine’s anger.

And it leads to my favorite sequence in film history. As Palpatine chooses to unleash his anger and the full power of the dark side onto Luke who screams and writhes in pain, Vader is forced to watch on. Luke begs his father for help, the once good and true hero, Anakin Skywalker. It always amazes me and I don’t know if it is my own imagination or the music, or the cameras or what, but I swear I can see more emotion in that still lifeless black visage than I see in most actors during the sequence. His struggle is heartbreaking as he wills himself free of the twenty odd years of chains holding him down and then names the movie.

Most people think the title Return of the Jedi is about Luke becoming a Jedi Knight and bringing the Jedi back from extinction. I don’t believe that for a second. Knowing that the Star Wars Saga is the story of the rise, fall, and redemption of Anakin Skywalker, Return of the Jedi is just that. The return of THE Jedi. The chosen one. Anakin Skywalker choosing to fulfil his destiny despite all the evil he had chosen to do (with help from the manipulations of Palpatine).

It is punctuated by the choice of John Williams’ score when Anakin makes the decision and attacks Palpatine, throwing is former master down the shaft.

Williams’ plays the Jedi theme.

Perfect. As Williams usually is and Jedi is no exception.

Overall there are certainly stumbling blocks. It is far from perfectly executed as Empire Strikes Back is but it is a fitting finale.

I actually have to cheat a little in grading this as I HAVE to mention that the final sequence gets an A+. But since I have to grade the movie as a whole I would give it a solid…

B+

- Paul Talon

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