Classic Film Review: Star Wars: Episode VI – Return of the Jedi (1983)

Star Wars: Episode VI – Return of the Jedi

Directed by: Richard Marquand

Starring: Mark Hamill, Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher, Billy Dee Williams, Anthony Daniels, David Prowse, Kenny Baker, Peter Mayhew, Frank Oz

 

The final instalment in the original Star Wars trilogy, Return of the Jedi unfortunately disappoints after the last two films. Luke (Mark Hamill, The Empire Strikes Back), who has been training in the year since The Empire Strikes Back, sets about rescuing the frozen Han Solo (Harrison Ford, The Empire Strikes Back) before the rebels force an attack on the newly-built death star, while Luke confronts his father, who is joined by the Emperor Palpatine (Ian McDiarmid).

While an entertaining film, coming off the back of A New Hope and The Empire Strikes Back it doesn’t hold up to their standards. The opening scene of rescuing Han Solo took 35 minutes in total, before another lengthy chase and then Ewoks came and more lengthy stoppages, and it took away from the war that should have been the focus of time, rather than getting to the battle. While all the chases were going down on the planet, Luke surrendered himself to Darth Vader (voiced by James Earl Jones, The Empire Strikes Back, acted by David Prowse, with Sebastian Shaw as the unmasked Vader and Hayden Christensen, The Revenge of the Sith, as the ghost of Anakin) and is confronted by the Emperor. The Emperor wants to personally convince Luke to join the dark side, as his father did, and it does bring on a nice little dilemma in Luke: he is told to save his friends he should join the dark side, then he is told should he kill Darth Vader or the Emperor then he will join the dark side, and it ultimately forces Luke to have an array of emotions, all leading to an epic release of anger in his battle against Darth Vader. Between Luke’s battle with Darth Vader and his emotional dilemma, it really helped solidify his character as the good and pure version of Darth Vader, especially after watching The Revenge of the Sith and seeing those same tactics used on a teenage Anakin who succumbs to them.

The battle scenes were nice, but a lot of it took place on a planet, rather than in space, which was a little disappointing, especially considering the involvement of Ewoks (I’m not a major fan of them), and the whole feeling towards their victory or defeat is vastly different than in Empire Strikes Back, in this film I always had faith they would win, whereas in Empire Strikes Back they are battered so much you can’t see a way of them surviving. Between the sheer amount of time dedicated so some scenes, the lack of shock at the Skywalker family reveals (neither Han, Leia or Darth Vader seem surprised to find out anything), nothing scenes such as Luke leaving for training but being told he is fully trained (they could have had this happen at the start before he sets off to rescue Han), the lack of care about Yoda’s death, the wipes and Hayden Christensen’s appearance, it ultimately disappointed when presented next to its predecessors, but is still a pretty solid film overall, with fine acting and dialogue, a nice story being told, some emotional dilemmas and beautiful music and special effects, even for the early 1980’s.

 

Plot: * * *

Acting: * * * *

Writing: * * * *

Presentation: * * * *

Overall Rating: * * * ¾

 

Other films in the Star Wars series:

 

Five Positives:

  • Some nice surprise reveals.
  • Score and special effects.
  • Luke vs. Darth Vader.
  • Luke’s emotional dilemma when faced with turning to the dark side.
  • The Emperor.

Five Negatives:

  • Wipes.
  • The opening scene of rescuing Han Solo took 35-minutes , which was too long.
  • Luke left for training and immediately is told he doesn’t need training and Yoda dies.
  • Nobody seems surprised by the Skywalker family reveals.
  • Doesn’t seem as dramatic.
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