Star Wars Episode VI: Return of the Jedi (1983)

This was a great ending. Knowing there’s a sequel, though, I can’t help but feel a little disappointed.

Return of the Jedi was supposed to be the final chapter ever in the Star Wars saga, the story of Anakin Skywalker’s rise, fall, and redemption. Episodes I-III were all necessitated, but Episode VII sort of became the tale of the man’s legacy. I don’t know. Maybe it’s just that Return of the Jedi was treated like an ending, and so there is a dissonance to it now.

There’s nothing really wrong with this film at all, which makes the situation worse. It’s just not a great film like the one(s) before it. Moving on…

Return of the Jedi is about the quest to destroy the Empire’s second Death Star, which is under construction. Emperor Palpatine himself is overseeing the project, and the Rebellion wants to knock them both out at once. Before that happens, though, Luke, Leia, and Lando need to save Han from glutton slug Jabba the Hutt.

Once that happens, each makes his way to the forest planet of Endor, the planet responsible for shielding the new Death Star. Darth Vader tries to turn Luke to the Dark Side, small teddy bears Ewoks help defeat the stormtroopers, and Luke has the world’s most awkwardly executed familial conversation with Leia.

After how many years am I allowed to disclose spoilers everyone knows by now?

Luke is Leia’s twin brother. Yoda dies. Darth Vader throws Palpatine down a reactor shaft before his own death. A rancor dies.

There, I feel better. (Boba Fett dies over the course of a thousand years.) Perhaps the reason this movie falls short of its predecessors is that not enough happens. So much time is spent on or around Endor, even if the moments are all played effectively. And so much ends, unlike the other films where so much began. There isn’t as much variety here, simple as that. There was a tried and true structure to The Empire Strikes Back and A New Hope, one that may be stretched a little thin here.

The main problem with this film is that it came after Episode V.

3.5 Green

The first six Star Wars films are airing on TNT and TBS periodically. Check your local listings.

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