The final film in the original Star Wars trilogy, Return of the Jedi, Lucas (who thankfully didn’t direct this film) brings his first story to a close. The Rebel Alliance is successful and has defeated the evil Galactic Empire in the galaxy far, far away.
I remember this film because I got my picture in my local paper by waiting in line to see the film at my local mall. I also got to skip school in order to go see Return of the Jedi. That hasn’t happened before or since, so it was kind of memorable. All my friends were jealous. I also had Revenge of the Jedi merchandise, though it has been lost in the mists of time now.
Unlike many others, I actually like the Ewoks. Sure, they are a bit goofy, but I thought they worked for the most part, and who doesn’t love Wicket? I thought the costuming was top-notch in this film. The sets were awesome, the effects were awesome, and I loved that they filmed a good portion of the film in the redwood forests of Northern California, not too far from where I was born.
I found the story interesting, and it gave all the main ensemble characters good screen time. Anthony Daniels was especially fun as C-3PO in his role as the shiny Ewok god for part of Return of the Jedi. I found his “showing my power” scene especially amusing.
Mark Hamill finally hit his stride in this film. He started hitting it in The Empire Strikes Back, but I thought he finally clicked in the role while confronting Darth Vader and the Emperor, as well as in his night scene with Leia. In Star Wars, he was rather obnoxious and annoying, which—perhaps—was the point, but it still didn’t endear him to me at first.
I again loved the score by John Williams. As I have stated in other reviews, I can’t imagine any of the Star Wars films without his music. The main theme, “Overture”, is so iconic now, and the music is easily recognizable within just a few notes. “The Imperial March” and “Rebel Fanfare” are favorites of mine, and I often just listen to the soundtracks. They are true classics, and Williams is a master.
One part that really bothered me when I first saw Return of the Jedi—and it still bothers me to this day—is Darth Vader’s death bed confession and absolution. After personally or vicariously killing millions (if not billions) of mostly-innocent people, Darth Vader gains absolution at the end of the film and joins the good Jedi ghosts just because he did a good deed at the end of his life by saving the life of his son. I found that to be a cop-out and lazy writing.
Overall, this was the weakest film of the original trilogy, but I really enjoyed Return of the Jedi. It was a fun ride all the way through, and a good ending to the original trilogy despite its flaws. I hope the new film is similar in quality to the original trilogy than the prequels were.
Release Date: May 25, 1983 (USA)
MPAA Rating: PG
Original Title: Revenge of the Jedi
Language: 1 (very minor)
Nudity: 0 (though Jabba doesn’t wear anything)
Sexuality: 1 (slave girl Leia)
Violence: 2 (ground and space battle scenes, death, nothing graphic)