The Thrilling Conclusion!: Star Wars Episode 6 Return of the Jedi

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Daniel Maron, Staff Writer

“I am Jedi like my father before me”. Luke Skywalker (played by Mark Hamil) says these words in defiance of the evil Emperor Palpatine (Played by Ian Mcrdurmid) in the chronologically sixth installment in the Star Wars saga, Return of the Jedi. Released on May 25, 1983, and directed by Richard Marquand. Return of the Jedi may not be the best of the Star Wars original trilogy, especially when compared to its predecessor, The Empire Strikes Back, it is still nonetheless an enjoyable sci-fi fantasy action film.

The film begins on the desert planet, Tatooine, with Luke Skywalkers rescue of Han Solo (Harrison Ford), who was frozen in carbonite in the last film, from the clutches of the vile gangster, Jabba the Hutt. Alongside his friends: Princess Leia (Carrie Fisher), Lando Calrissian (Billy Dee Williams), Chewbacca (Peter Mayhew), and the droids R2- D2 (Kenny Baker) and C3P0 (Anthony Daniels). After their rescue of Han, the group meets with the Rebel Alliance who have gained intel that the Galatic Empire has built a second Death Star that is protected by a shield generator on the forest moon of Endor. A strike team is sent to Endor to complete the mission led by Han Solo alongside Luke and Leia. While a fleet led by Lando will attack the Death Star once the shield has been lowered. However, the mission complicated when Darth Vader and the Emperor soon learn of Luke Skywalker’s presence on Endor and Luke is taken to them aboard the Second Death Star. Now Luke and the rebels must redeem Darth Vader and defeat the Galactic Empire.

Like the previous films, the special effects are once-again amazing even in a pre CGI environment. Industrial Light Magic or ILM should be commended for their fantastic work on the original trilogy and rightfully deserve their special achievement award at the 56th Academy Awards in 1984.  Like the previous films, ILM primarily used models for the ships which are showcased beautifully during the space battle on the second death star in the film. The puppetry and animatronics should also be praised especially the Jabba the Hutt puppet which required three puppeteers to manage the large puppet. The other puppets and creatures in Jabba’s Palace are so wild and extravagant that they put the Cantina scene in the first film to shame. The score is also amazing as it excels on those action cues during the sail barge battle and the battle of Endor and creates new themes for the Emperor, Jabba, and the Ewoks. The score delivers on the emotional core especially during the scene where Luke confronts Vader on the second death star.

In terms of story, the movie has a much more emotional undercurrent seeing as this is the grand finale. With Luke Skywalker attempting to redeem Darth Vader, his father. The film fleshes Vader’s character out more and portrays him more sympathetically than in the previous films as he is trying to turn Luke, his son, to the dark side. Despite this, the film tries to lighten up and sprinkle moments of comedy with the Ewoks. Who are the most divisive aspect of the film and while not as contested as say Jar Jar Binks from the prequel trilogy. They do get a lot of detractors for being considered tonal whiplash when their antics contrast with the much more dark father-son dynamic and for the fact that a bunch of teddy bears were able to take on the empire’s best soldiers. In my opinion, I actually tolerate the Ewoks and don’t mind their presence. The idea of a more guerilla and tribal force fighting against a more industrial power is fascinating contributes to a theme of nature vs technology and draws similarities to the Vietnam War.

The film also has a problem with it being much safer and some plot points just being wasted. Han Solo was wasted in this film as he really didn’t contribute anything important or cinematic to the plot once he is freed from the carbonite. This is more of a behind the scenes issue as Han was going to be killed off at the end of Empire Strikes Back but George Lucas didn’t as he had other plans for Han. The film also feels safer than the last two films, the first act at Jabba’s palace does feel like padding and the last act is a repeat of a New Hope. This is also the film that showcased some of the “Lucasisms” that would be more apparent in the prequel trilogy namely in the number of colorful aliens and effects appear on the screen and his philosophy of complete control over his films.

Return of the Jedi definitely works better as a finale to a film trilogy more so than The Rise of Skywalker as all the major plot points are wrapped up at the end. While not the best of the original trilogy, Return of the Jedi delivers everything fantastic about Star Wars with memorable special effects and an emotional story while providing a complete ending to the original trilogy and by extension the series.

 

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