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Movie Review: “Star Wars: Episode VI - Return of the Jedi”

There are many movies that are worth seeing, but there are a lot of stinkers as well. My goal here is to weed out the good from the bad.

Star Wars: Episode VI - Return of the Jedi

Theatrical Release: 5/25/1983

Theatrical Release: 5/25/1983

Synopsis

The Rebellion was able to destroy the Death Star at the battle of Yavin, but the Empire has not given up on the idea of the planet destroying super-weapon. Thus, new Death Star is under construction off of the forest moon of Endor. The Empire will surely fix the design flaw that the Rebellion exploited last time, so if the Empire is able to complete the new Death Star, the Rebellion will have no hope of destroying it. If they want to destroy this new Death Star, the Rebellion will have to act now before the Empire has a chance to complete construction.

Meanwhile, Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill) has completed his Jedi training. However, Han Solo (Harrison Ford) is being held by Jabba the Hutt on Tatooine. Luke, Leia (Carrie Fisher), and Chewbacca (Peter Mayhew) hatch a plan to save their friend, but the threat of the Empire still hangs over them. Luke is still reeling over what he learned about Darth Vader. As he prepares himself for another confrontation with the Sith Lord, Luke knows that there is still good somewhere beneath his mask. However, the Emperor has his dark grip wrapped tightly around Darth Vader, and he now hopes to do the same with the powerful young Luke Skywalker.

Official Trailer

The Pros & Cons

The ProsThe Cons

Jabba’s Palace (+8pts)

Luke’s Training (-2pts)

Luke & Vader (+10pts)

Underestimating The Ewoks (-4pts)

Endor & The Death Star (+8pts)

C-3PO & The Ewoks (-2pts)

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Pro: Jabba’s Palace (+8pts)

Jabba's Palace was a great way to start this movie. The filmmakers wasted no time in throwing the audience right into some intense Star Wars action in the middle of an interesting new setting. Jabba the Hutt was a really effective antagonist and obstacle that the protagonists had to try to overcome. His palace was also filled with interesting aliens, it felt like it had serious history in the area, had some monsters that Jabba the Hutt uses for executions, and it was really just an interesting setting.

I also enjoyed the rescue mission that the protagonists were going for. Han Solo is an important member of their group, and his friends are risking a lot to try to rescue him. Jabba's Palace is not one that will be easy to infiltrate, and the protagonists are well aware of this, so it was interesting to see how they would try to do that. The story moves on from Jabba the Hutt and his palace, as this was really just the first act of the movie, but it was a fun setting to explore, was filled with entertaining action, and was a great way to set up this movie. Although the story moves on from Jabba's Palace after just the first act, this setting provided a ton of memorable moments for the Star Wars franchise.

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Con: Luke’s Training (-2pts)

This is something that the movie kind of just glosses over. When we leave Luke at the end of Star Wars: Episode V - The Empire Strikes Back, he had still only scratched the surface of his Jedi training. Then we see him at the beginning of this movie, and we see that he has a ton of confidence in his ability and seems to be incredibly comfortable using the force. There just seemed to be a gap in Luke's training that the filmmakers sort of just skipped over.

I understand that plenty of time had passed between the two movies, and I get that this movie was already over two hours long and that the filmmakers did not have time to dive deeper into Luke's training. However, it was more than just Luke's familiarity with the force that evolved off-screen between the two movies. The character seemed to have grown a lot between the two movies which meant that, as he felt like a much more calm, wise and patient Luke in the beginning of this movie. In other words, in addition to leaving Luke's training off-screen, the filmmakers also left a lot of character development off-screen as well. Was this a huge issue? Absolutely not, you get over it pretty quick due to everything happening on screen, but it was an issue that was certainly worth noting.

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Pro: Luke & Vader (+10pts)

These two characters are great, and by this movie, they have history with one another. Luke popped up on Darth Vader's radar in a big way in Star Wars: Episode IV - A New Hope and then the two had a epic and emotional duel in Star Wars: Episode V - The Empire Strikes Back. By this movie, the two are certainly familiar with each other. However, as Luke has grown as a character, the relationship between these two characters has grown as well.

In the previous movies, Luke saw Darth Vader as absolute evil. We revisit these characters for the third time, but Luke's view of Darth Vader has changed drastically. He no longer believes that Darth Vader is absolute evil, and actually believes that there may still be some good left in the Sith Lord. I liked the feud between these two characters in this movie, and I enjoyed seeing it play out on screen. Luke's new viewpoint made seeing a second duel between these two characters feel very new, and it added tension and emotional depth to a feud that was already tense and emotional. To put it simply, I enjoyed the feud between these two characters in the last movie, but this movie raised the stakes in this feud in a really fantastic and personal way.

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Con: Underestimating The Ewoks (-4pts)

Okay, the Ewoks get a lot of hate for being annoying. I think the characters worked at keeping kids entertained, but I had issue with the filmmakers using them as a massive plot device. I had issue with how much the Empire underestimated a race that was clearly advanced enough to make their own weapons. I also had issue with how effective the Ewoks' weapons were against the Empire. It all just felt really convenient for the protagonists. In reality, a militarized group like the Empire, with all of the Empire's weapons and resources would have mopped the floor with the Ewoks. I am not saying that I wanted to see that happen, these little creatures taking out Imperial Troops so easily just felt really convenient for the plot of this movie, while simultaneously diminishing how intimidating Storm Troopers and AT-STs could be.

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Pro: Endor & The Death Star (+8pts)

I liked all of the settings of this movie’s climax. With The Death Star, we had Luke going after Darth Vader and The Emperor. I have already mentioned what I liked about the relationship between Luke and Darth Vader, and the Emperor was an interesting new player in that story. Then there was the space battle, with the Rebels trying to destroy the new Death Star, which was the epic space battle that you would expect from a Star Wars movie.

The Rebellion used everything they had in this assault, but I liked the concept of the Empire having a shield generator on the forest moon of Endor. This forced the battle into a third location. While you needed Luke inside to deal with Darth Vader and the Emperor, and you needed the Rebellion fleet to destroy the space-station, you also needed Rebels on the ground to bring the shields down. This split up the climax into three different sections, but each felt like an essential part to the overall plan. This allowed the filmmakers to use all of the movie’s protagonists in a way that felt like they each contributed, while also providing a climax that felt fresh and exciting.

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Con: C-3PO & The Ewoks (-2pts)

This is going to be more of me hating on the Ewoks a bit. Again, however, I really do think that they are effective at being cute little characters to entertain kids and I do not find them as annoying as some do. I just think the filmmakers used them poorly in terms of their involvement in the plot of this story. They definitely should not have been anywhere near as effective as they were against the Stormtroopers, but I also thought the C-3PO stuff was ridiculous. Sure, it was supposed to be silly, but the Ewoks' reaction to seeing C-3PO was as ridiculous as it was convenient for the protagonists. It was not a major issue on its own, but was just more evidence of how poorly the filmmakers used the Ewoks. They were, as a group, one massive plot device that the filmmakers used to deliver silly moments and to lazily write themselves out of corners.

Grading Scale

GradeCategoryPoints

A+

Amazing

95-100

A-

Great

90-94

B+

Good

85-89

B-

Decent

80-84

C+

Average

75-79

C-

Watchable

70-74

D+

Bad

65-69

D-

Terrible

60-64

F

Garbage

45-59

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Grade: A- (93pts)

There were high expectations going into this movie, and it mostly delivered. Sure, the Ewoks were used poorly, but I do not think they deserve the level of hate that they have gotten. It was unrealistic for them to be so effective against imperial forces, and their reaction to C-3PO was ridiculous, but these characters were intended to keep kids invested and they were effective at doing so. The filmmakers also sort of just glossed over Luke’s training in addition to some off-screen character development, but you end up getting over that pretty quickly.

These were all minor issues, as there was a lot that the movie did well. The feud between Luke and Darth Vader evolved in an interesting and personal way since the last movie, and it was interesting to see the Emperor coming into this equation. Jabba’s Palace served as a really great first act of the movie by delivering a pretty intense rescue mission. Then there was the climactic third act that consisted of a massive battle on three different fronts, which gave all of the protagonists something relevant to do and the whole thing was executed very well by the filmmakers. Each part of the battle felt important, and the filmmakers balanced them all together masterfully. The movie was not perfect, but it was another intense, epic, and entertaining chapter in the Skywalker saga.

Best of the Star Wars Franchise

RankMoviePoints

1

Star Wars: Episode V - The Empire Strikes Back

95pts

2

Star Wars: Episode VI - Return of the Jedi

93pts

3

Star Wars: Episode IV - A New Hope

92pts

4

Star Wars: Episode VII - The Force Awakens

90pts

5

Rogue One: A Star Wars Story

89pts

6

Star Wars: Episode III - Revenge of the Sith

87pts

7

Star Wars: Episode IX - The Rise of Skywalker

86pts

8

Star Wars: Episode VIII - The Last Jedi

83pts

9

Star Wars: Episode II - Attack of the Clones

79pts

10

Solo: A Star Wars Story

78pts

11

Star Wars: Episode I - The Phantom Menace

77pts