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Star Wars: Return of the Jedi

Star Wars Episode VI: Return of the Jedi

What he said:

He

A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away, this was once the final chapter of the Star Wars saga. Then Lucas made the prequels. Ok, it still is chronologically speaking....wait, that's not true anymore either. The sequel trilogy changed that. My point is that when this movie first came out it was a big effin’ deal. Star Wars captivated the world when it was released and this was its swan song. This was the last Star Wars movie ever made and it remained that way until 1999; which no one knew was coming. So it was a huge event. We all know The Rise of Skywalker isn't going to be the last one, the same couldn't be said of Return of the Jedi in 1983. People genuinely thought this was it. 

The last time we saw the Rebel Alliance, things didn’t look so great. Han Solo had been captured, frozen in carbonite, and was on his way to be delivered to Jabba the Hutt by the notorious bounty hunter Boba Fett. Leia had just lost Han after recently revealing her feelings for him. And Luke had lost his hand in a fight with Darth Vader - and that wasn’t even the worst part. It turns out Vader is his old man. Talk about a bad day!  

The first order of business for the gang is Han’s rescue. Lando takes the initial steps, but doesn’t actually make an attempt to rescue. He has infiltrated Jabba’s palace and is posing as one of his henchmen. He seems to have succeeded in this recon mission. 

Star Wars: Return of the Jedi

Leia is the first one to attempt a rescue. Disguising herself as a bounty hunter, she brings in Chewie to collect on the bounty on his head. Things seem to be going well until she is caught freeing Han. She’s able to set him free from his frozen state, but shortly after that Jabba and his gang capture the both of them. Unfortunately for her, but not for the male viewers hey–oh, Leia is captured and forced to be one of Jabba’s slave girls. The gold metal bikini was iconic. It still is. The PC Police wouldn't allow something like this to happen today, but geeks, nerds, and any man (or lesbian) with a pulse still drools over it to this day.

When that fails, Luke gives it a try. The first part his plan is to offer the droids to Jabba as a gift, in an attempt to soften Jabba up. After a failed attempt to convince Jabba to release Han, Luke is captured as well, which almost seemed to be intentinoal; something people pointed out over the years as bad writing.

What happens next is a series of fun events that is all too familiar to a Star Wars film by this point, but entertaining nonetheless. Luke is a full-blown Jedi at this point. Though he never finished his training with Yoda, he knows what he’s doing and is mowing through all Jabba’s goons left and right. Soon enough, Chewie, Lando, Leia, and a partial blinded Han (due to being cryogenically frozen for so long) join in the fun. Chaos ensues. Aside from the very controversial death of Boba Fett, it is some good, old-fashioned, Star Wars kind of fun.

Star Wars: Return of the Jedi

After that, the gang regroups and begins to plan their next move in their on-going battle against the Empire. The Empire has also been busy. They are building a second Death Star in their efforts to wipe out the Rebel Alliance once and for all. Much like before, the Alliance has captured information that would allow them to exploit some of the Death Star’s weaknesses.

Now some find this plot point as a flaw in the movie, but I don’t totally agree. I can agree that it isn’t exactly the most creative or original idea to bring back the same exact weapon that was blown to bits in the first one. But I have to admit, it really doesn’t bother me much at all. In the context of the movie, it kind of makes sense. The Empire had the schematics and manpower to build the damn thing, so why invest a lot of resources in trying to build something new and random? It even makes sense from a more real world point of view too. Does the military stop making planes, boats, and other vehicles each time one is destroyed? Of course not.

Before regrouping with the Alliance, Luke heads back to Dagobah to complete his training. Yoda is dying, not to mention he doesn’t have much more to teach Luke. Luke wasn’t there to learn anyway, he just wants to know if what Vader said is true. Yoda reluctantly confirms that Vader is indeed his father, which complicates things. Vader is undoubtedly one of the bad guys, but he is still Luke’s father, and Luke struggles with the thought of killing his father, no matter how much evil he has committed. Luke is convinced there is still good in him. Soon after Yoda’s passing, Obi Wan appears and shares some more details on Vader’s past. Luke is upset he never knew the truth and is quite conflicted about the whole thing. The Empire has committed atrocities across the galaxy for decades. They have killed countless people, literally. They have to be stopped. However, Vader is the number two guy for the Empire, and Luke wants to try and save his father, rather than eliminate him (I always hated that to be bonest).

The movie’s final act is an exciting and chaotic (not in a bad way) group of events that closes out this chapter in all these characters lives.

Star Wars: Return of the Jedi

Lando is leading the attack team that will attempt to destroy the Death Star. Much to Han’s dismay, Lando will be taking the Millennium Falcon on the mission. Han actually offered the Falcon to Lando, but he did so reluctantly. The Falcon is a legendary ship and Han thinks she can be great asset in the battle, but he’s nervous he’ll never see "her" again.

Han, Leia, Chewie, Luke, and the droids are on their way to a nearby moon that is close to the Death Star. Their mission is to destroy the shield generator that powers the Death Star’s force field. They have been joined by a local species – the Ewoks – in their attempts to take this Imperial outpost. Luke actually ends up leaving the mission when he surrenders himself over to the Empire. He hopes to destroy the Emperor and convert his father over to the Light Side in the process (again, I hate this).

Now the Ewoks are a bit of a controversial topic amongst fans. Some are outraged over their very existence.  The fact that they were able to overtake the Empire’s forces so easily is a very big complaint by many. I’ve got to say, whenever I hear that complaint, I call bullshit. Did they forget that Star Wars – amongst other things – is an adventure flick? A fantasy one no less? Adventure flicks are notorious for moments of light and comical action.  This series is no exception. Not to mention the fact that storm troopers are this franchise’s version of red shirts. These movies were made for our inner child, not to represent the finer aspects of military strategy. Plus, the Ewoks didn’t exactly do it alone. There were several dozen Rebel Alliance troops helping them. They're hilarious too.

Star Wars: Return of the Jedi

The final element of this climatic act to the series takes place on the Death Star itself. Luke is forced to not only confront is father once again, but deal with his master and leader of the Empire, Emperor Palpatine. Finally, we get to see the force the drives Vader and are given an epic lightsaber battle to boot! The Emperor spends most of the time trying to seduce Luke to the Dark Side. When he fails, a battle ensues between Luke and Vader. Then when Luke refuses to kill his father in anger, Palpatine unleashes his fury on Luke, forcing Vader to make a choice. The whole thing is just so dramatic. Notice the way Luke emotionally reacts when Vader threatens Leia.  That’s just raw emotion as he’s hacking away at Vader. A few short minutes later, he’s begging his father to save his life. Everything in the series is coming to climax and in such a grand fashion too.  Ian McDiarmid’s portrayal of this truly evil character is everything you hoped it to be and more. We've only heard him mentioned and only briefly saw him in the previous movie. Finally we get to see more than just a glimpse of the Emperor and McDiarmind’s performance really lived up to our hopes. He is truly a master of evil.

The only thing I never liked about this movie was Luke being hell-bent on saving his, mass-murdering, father. The Luke of the first two movies would not have hesitated to kill Vader... because you know, Vader is an awful person. But then he finds out Vader is his old man and it's like, "Oh, it's ok everyone. He's my Dad. This is not how life works. What was Luke hoping to accomplish? Did he think the galaxy would welcome Vader with open arms (if he survived)? It's just so stupid and lacks thought.

Aside from that, I always really like this movie. It has a certain fun factor the others didn't. I'm not saying the others aren't fun, I just mean that it's very enjoyable to me.

If you are someone who has never seen these movies or simply a fan who hasn’t seen them in a while, I highly recommend a viewing the entire original trilogy. They are made of pure goodness. They are guaranteed to take you to a place you haven’t been since you weren’t a kid. I already want to watch them again.

Rating: Thumbs up

This movie review was originally written a long time ago in a galaxy far far away, but was recently revised on December 22, 2019.

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