‘Return of the Jedi’

Bland, Mediocre, yet Satisfying?


Niko Pavletic, Film Critic

Since I’m very original I’m going to waste my time rewatching and reviewing all 9 main saga Star Wars movies in order of release.  Now the only real reason I’m doing this is that I’m familiar with most of them and it is good practice for future reviews on other and better movies.  Now I’m not really a big fan of Star Wars and I’m not a Star Wars hater my view on the franchise is neutral even though they’re some of the first films I’ve ever seen.  Now for these reviews, certain sections in some of the reviews will have spoilers as for a lot of these movies I need to list an example for some of my points even if it’s a spoiler, but I will put a spoiler warning before talking about the said spoiler.  Enjoy my nonsensical rambling and praising (mostly rambling). 


Return of the Jedi (1983)


Runtime:2 Hours 11 Minutes


Rating: Pg


Genre: Action Adventure


Director: Richard Marquand 


Main Cast:


Mark Hamill-Luke Skywalker


Carrie Fisher- Princess Leia


Harrison Ford-Han Solo


David Prowse/James Earl Jones-Darth Vader



Here it is!  The first of three finales no one has been waiting for!  I get to review the final installment in the original Star Wars trilogy.  And it just happens to be one of the most mediocre films I’ve ever seen.  Now let me get one thing straight, I don’t think this film is bad even though when I talk about the movie it does sound that way, I just think it’s a massive disappointment.  Comparing this to the first two in the trilogy isn’t fair, because this one is just so average.  It’s not good, it’s not bad, it’s just average.  But before I start this review I actually want to point something out that not everyone knows about this film.  Now what everyone does know is that this movie is called “Return of the Jedi”, but the original name was supposed to be “Revenge of the Jedi” and that’s why on this article’s thumbnail you can see the word “Jedi plastered on to another word.  Ok, that’s the only fun fact I had, I don’t care to look for tiny details or other fun facts because I finally get to do what I’ve wanted to do from the beginning. I finally get to tear up a Star Wars movie because I’m really mean and like complaining.  It’s not possible for me to tear those first two films up because there really isn’t much to tear up, but now there is bad to dig into, but there still is good so I do have to talk about that as well.  So time to start this thing.


I am a lot happier with my Empire Strikes Back review over my episode 4 review so I will mimic the Empire plot analysis here.  So the plot of this movie is after Luke goes back to Tatooine to rescue Han Solo from Jabba the Hutt, Luke and the Rebellion start to begin the final assault on the SECOND death star (so much for original ideas), Luke goes up to the death star to confront Vader one last time and possibly turn him over to the light side, and everyone else begins the final battle both on the ground and in space.  Now there is a lot to go over here so it only makes sense to start at the beginning, Han’s rescue from Jabba’s palace.


This whole opening act with Jabba the Hutt is where a lot of the problems with this movie lie.  See Luke’s plan to save Han is so convoluted and has no right actually working out.  So here is Luke’s plan, spoiler warnings obviously.  So first Luke sends C-3PO and R2-D2 with a recorded message of Luke bargaining the droids for Han Solo, but Jabbas doesn’t like that plan and keeps the two droids anyways.  Princess Leia then arrives (disguised as a bounty hunter) at the palace with Chewbacca as a prisoner (the reason she has Chewie as a prisoner is so she has a reason to enter the palace) and she offers Chewbacca over to Jabba for money.  She then waits until everyone is asleep and unfreezes Han From the carbonite, but then she ends up getting captured.  So now Luke is the only person left so he goes to the palace in which Jabba sends him down a trapdoor.  Luke then fights monster mash in Jabba’s basement, before he and everyone else is taken out to the desert to be fed to a monster in the sand.  WHAT?!  This has got to be the worst plan in the world, it relies on way too much stuff happening perfectly.  So let’s break it down on why this plan is awful.  


Firstly when Luke sends the droids to Jabbas we learn C-3PO doesn’t actually know the plan, which is stupid because why wouldn’t you tell your own friend about the plan?  It could risk things going wrong if C-3PO didn’t know the plan.  What if he panicked and tried to escape, and C-3PO being really slow would get captured, so what if Jabba just disintegrated him, because we can see Jabbas has disintegrated droids in the past.  And when C-3PO and R2-D2 are sent into the droid torture room and are assigned their roles at Jabba’s Palace they put a restraining bolt on C-3PO but not R2-D2.  For those who don’t know a restraining bolt is something that prevents droids from disobeying orders, so if they did put a bolt on R2 he wouldn’t have been able to give Luke his lightsaber when they were taken out to the desert, but for no reason, they don’t put one on R2 (also when I was talking about C-3PO escaping I was talking about before he had the bolt on him, I don’t want to make any contradictions.)


Now the second part of the plan with Leia and Chewbacca is also really dumb.  So Leia who is disguised as a bounty hunter arrives at Jabba’s palace with Chewbacca as a prisoner.  She begins to negotiate with Jabba but when Jabba refuses to give her the minimum price she pulls out a bomb and threatens everyone with it.  What?  Why do you need a minimum of 50,00?  What use does the money have for you?  I mean she’s only there to rescue Han it’s not like she needs the money.  And what was the point of the thermal detonator?  She never uses it again, and it’s not like Jabba would have just given her the fifty thousand if she did use the bomb because he would be dead.  Jabba is a smart guy, he knows that if Leia does end up killing him she won’t end up getting the money at all.  And all this stuff with the bomb and the money is never brought up again so it makes you wonder, why was it in the film in the first place?  So at night, Leia ends up freeing Han from the carbonite and then gets captured herself, so now everyone is captured except for Luke and this leads right into the final part of the plan which just happens to be the dumbest.


Luke shows up at the palace himself and his entrance to the palace is pretty good I’ll bring that up again when I talk about his character, but his plan is stupid.  So he has a conversation with Jabba allegedly just saying “hey if you don’t give me my friends back I’m gonna mess you up” so when Jabba ends up refusing this offer Luke steals a gun and tries to shoot Jabba then and there.  Jabba then opens a trapdoor underneath Luke and Luke fights the giant monster in the basement.  But if you were going to try to shoot Jabba why not just use the lightsaber and fight everyone, I mean he ends up doing that exact thing later in the film so why not just do it from the very beginning?  Then after Luke is captured they are taken out to the desert where they are going to be fed to a hole in the ground that just happens to be a monster.  Why would Jabba try to feed them to a monster again?  He just tried that exact thing and it didn’t work, so why not just kill them in a quick controlled way where Luke can’t escape and start a giant brawl?  And right before Luke is supposed to be killed he’s nodding to everyone, and this tells me he knew this was going to happen.  How could he know everything was going to happen in the exact order it did?  The only way Luke could possibly know this would all happen is if he could literally see the future.  Luke then escapes and starts to fight everyone.  So Leia kills Jabba, Han solo kills Boba Fett on accident (yeah I know Boba Fett is technically not dead), and the way Boba goes down just makes him look like an idiot.  He’s killed by blind Han.  Han is literally almost blind and manages to kill a professional bounty hunter.  And to make it worse when Boba gets eaten by the monster it cartoonishly burps afterward.  A better plan would be to have maybe thirty rebels (including Luke) surround the palace and threaten Jabba if they don’t hand Han over because from what we see of Jabba using threats is the only real way to get Han while using an actual logical plan.  So that’s the first act and I know I went into probably way too much detail and was most likely a little redundant but there was a lot of stuff I had to say, so is the second act better?


The second act of this movie is so boring that I have almost nothing to say.  The only thing that really happens in the entire second act is SPOIlER (ok I’m going to stop announcing spoilers because it’s getting annoying and I’m sure whoever is reading this can assume the review has spoilers) Yoda dies.  Yoda’s death is actually handled pretty well despite being so short, we also learn that Luke and Leia are twins?  This is a really dumb twist because in the last film Leia kisses him, so now that scene is really weird.  But despite this being one of the dumbest plot lines in the film it does lead to one of my favorite scenes in the whole saga.  And the only other thing that happens that is actually important is we learn the plan on destroying the second death star and the rebels go down to Endor to destroy the death star’s shield.  But they don’t destroy the shield because they’re captured by man-eating teddy bears known as “Ewoks.”  I kid you not this actually happens, and it kills the pacing.  The whole portion where our protagonists are at the Ewok village is so dreadfully dull it ruins any sort of interest I had in the film.  All that happens when the Ewoks capture them is our protagonists are let loose and the Ewoks help them fight the battle.  I have nothing nice to say about this second act of the film.  I trash the first act a lot because Luke’s plan is stupid, but it was still interesting, I can’t say I was ever bored during the first act.  The second act, on the other hand, is a sluggish boring portion of an already disappointing film.


Now the third act is a different story.  It is without a doubt the best part of the film.  In this third act, there are three things happening.  Han and Leia are trying to destroy the bunker that controls the shield down on Endor, Lando is leading the main assault on the death star up in space, and Luke is fighting Vader.  Two of these three plot lines are interesting, the battle in space, and Luke’s fight with Vader.  The whole ground battle on Endor sucks just as much as the first two acts.  It’s just Ewoks beating up stormtroopers with sticks.  Remember in the last review where I said the empire actually felt like a threat?  Well, now they’re nothing more than clowns who can’t even survive against teddy bears.  And in this whole movie, I find it weird that the empire isn’t actually searching for the rebels.  The last movie is called “The Empire Strikes Back” but now they just don’t care anymore, I guess they got bored of trying to fight the rebellion because they only fight once the rebels show up, they’re only defending not attacking.  And besides that, the only other thing happening in this battle is Han just standing at the bunker door trying to open it, this whole portion of the final act is just bad.  There really isn’t any other way to describe it besides just saying “it’s bad.” 


Now on the contrary the battle in space is pretty good.  Not only do the effects look really good, but just watching the rebels try to survive until the shield is destroyed is actually really exciting.  And there is this really good reveal of the second death star actually working.  Our protagonists are already struggling in the battle, but when the death star destroys one of their cruisers the stakes rise up even further.  And I have to talk about the second death star.  It’s really stupid, I mean why would you want another one that’s even easier to destroy than the last, yes it is easier to destroy because instead of a small hole you have to shoot a torpedo through, now you just have to shoot down a reactor that takes them like two seconds to destroy once they actually get into the death star.  But really there isn’t much to say about this battle beside it’s pretty cool.


Now the whole confrontation between Luke and Vader is the best part of the whole film and one of the best parts of the trilogy.  It is so well done it almost saves the film (however, it’s a shame the rest of the film is so poor.)  It does take some time for the emperor (I’ll talk about him later) to aggravate Luke to the point in which he is fighting.  You can see how he is slowly breaking Luke down just by mocking him.  Then there is this really great scene.  And is one of my favorite scenes in the entire trilogy.  Luke is hiding from Vader and Vader is walking around antagonizing Luke.  And I said the stupid plotline of Luke and Leia being related ends leads to the best scene in the film.  This is that scene.  Vader starts to talk about how Luke is vulnerable and has a massive weak spot for his friend, especially for his sister.  And says one of the most chilling lines I have ever heard in a film “if you will not turn to the dark side then perhaps she will” and Luke just snaps.  You can tell by the way he’s attacking Vader there is no choreography it’s just pure hatred and anger.  And Luke strikes Vader down and cuts off his hand.  And then there is a really great shot in which Luke looks at his robotic hand the one Vader cut off in the previous film, and at Vader’s now handless arm and realizes he’s becoming his father.  This part of the film doesn’t even feel like the same movie as the other parts, it’s way too good to be surrounded by stuff like the Ewoks.  And that is one problem this whole third act has.  There is just too much going on, and when you have too much happening it makes the film feel tonally inconsistent.  You go through some really good character development with Luke and Vader, and then out of nowhere you see Ewoks being stupid, but I have nothing against the Luke and Vader fight itself.


Another great thing about this film is the character of Luke Skywalker.  Luke Skywalker has developed significantly more from the last film, and you can tell just by his first on-screen entrance.  The first thing he does is choke the guards at Jabba’s palace using the force.  He really is a Jedi in this film, and you can tell he is in control in most situations, but he still isn’t perfect.  The emperor gets into his head and messes with him, and it leads to Luke almost turning to the dark side.  But besides that Luke remains really calm and composed throughout the film, for example when he fights the monster in Jabba’s basement he doesn’t ever seem to panic, he thinks quickly and logically and finds a way to escape the situation.  And I love how Luke just wants to save his father from the dark side.  He’s not even mad at Vader except for that one scene in the fight, he just wants to help him.  It shows just how much Luke has matured.  So yeah Luke is great.


A character that’s not great is Han solo.  Han Solo is a completely different character in this film when he really shouldn’t be, I mean how did his character change he was frozen between this and the last movie.  In this film, he feels more like a character from a 90’s sitcom rather than Han Solo.  He is so strangely passive and nothing that was good about Han Solo in the first two films is present here.  He actually tells Lando to fly the Millennium Falcon before the final battle, and that’s another thing I hate about this film.  Han never has a scene in which he confronts Lando.  Lando left Han Solo to be frozen and to die in the last movie and here Han doesn’t seem to care.  I guess he’s forgiven Lando even though he never had a chance to actually confront him about it?  Ok?  Anyways Han is just a boring moron in this film and Harrison Ford in general really doesn’t want to be doing Star Wars anymore, and it is really apparent here.


I am going to talk about Darth Vader and Palpatine together.  A lot of people say Darth Vader is too soft in this movie, that he’s not menacing enough, but I honestly disagree.  Unlike the last film, he only really spends time around Palpatine who is of higher rank than Vader.  In the opening scene of the film when Vader arrives at the Death Star you can see he is still intimidating to all of the empire.  He talks to the admiral in the same way he would talk to an admiral in the last film so I don’t see the problem, of course, he wouldn’t talk down to Palpatine, Palpatine is literally the most dangerous person in the galaxy.  Now Palpatine is just pure evil in this movie.  And I kind of like that.  I like that Palpatine is just evil, one it gives Vader a reasonable redemption at the end of the film.  If Vader was still the worst person in the galaxy and was redeemed it would be unrealistic.  And two it shows us really how evil the empire is despite them not being a threat in this film.  I mean if this psycho runs the empire then they’re going to seem really megalomaniacal and corrupted.  And I think Palpatine being really evil and nothing more than that is fine because he’s only really there to be a plot device, now usually I hate plot device characters but in this instance, I think it works out fine.


The only other character of interest is Lando.  I like him a lot in this movie, one Billy D Williams is fantastic in this movie, and secondly, I like that he actually has a massive role in this movie, they could have easily pushed him to the side in this film but no he’s actually the one that leads the main assault on the death star.  The only problem I have with him flying the Millennium Falcon is that Han doesn’t really seem to care about this but that is definitely a problem with Han’s character.  And so those are really the only characters that I wanted to talk about, so time to talk about the effects.


The effects in this movie still shock me.  Every single alien in Jabba’s Palace is a highly detailed costume.  Jabba the Hutt himself is a massive puppet that is operated by three people.  The Rancor is made using expert stop motion.  The entire Sarlacc is a real thing, they made a hole in the ground that the stunt doubles fell through in order to film the brawl in the desert.  The battle in space is insane with the effects, for a film that came out in 1983 the battle in space looks really good considering just how much is happening.  And the amount of paintings that were created for the film is quite impressive.  Now the only outdated effect is the blue screen.  The blue screen lining around the actors is really noticeable especially in the speeder chase, it’s just really distracting and looks kind of goofy so that does kind of detract the quality from a few scenes.


Usually, this is where I would talk about the music, but most of the music is just reused themes from the first two.  But the new themes that were added in are really good.  The Emperor’s theme is a really slow and eerie haunting theme, but besides that, the other new themes despite being really good are rather minor themes that are only used once.  But to name a good one the theme when Luke fights the Rancor is pretty good, I liked the theme used for the battle of Endor.  The other good thing about the music is it enhances a lot of scenes, for example, the scene in which Luke starts a brawl on Jabba’s sail barge is enhanced by this blood-pumping, adrenaline-rushing, exciting theme that really gets you excited.


So overall I don’t really like Return of the Jedi that much.  The story is really weak and feels like a worse version of the original film.  Characters like Princess Leia and Han Solo were ruined and turned into boring bland people.  Luke’s plan at the beginning is the dumbest thing ever.  And in general, the film is a huge disappointment especially after the Empire Strikes Back.  But what comes after this tops it for awfulness, the prequels are horrifying movies, they’re so bad that I don’t know if I’m going to survive watching them again, every time I watch them I want to sell everything related to Star Wars that I own.  Thought I was harsh on this movie, well then you might not want to watch the next three reviews because I doubt that I am going to have anything nice to say about the prequels.  So with that, I give Return of the Jedi a 5/10.


Oh, I still have to talk about the special editions?  Fine.  Well if I were, to sum up, the special edition for this film in one word it would be “WHAT” but I guess I have to talk more in detail about the special editions don’t I?  Well this film has the worst special edition, and it’s all because of one scene, sure a lot of the other changes like the horrible CGI remake of the band in Jabba’s palace make me want to never watch a film again, and the fact that they changed Anakin’s ghost at the end is just downright disrespectful considering Sebastian Shaw (the original ghost) had passed away before they made the change, but the change I am about the talk about (and I’m not kidding) sends the film down a point.  The scene in which Darth Vader throws the Emperor over the railing and is finally redeemed is one of the best scenes in all of Star Wars.  The Emperor was just torturing Luke with the force, and without saying a word Darth Vader just silently picks him up and literally overthrows him, well it was silently but they made Darth Vader say “no… NOOOOOO!”  “Now what’s the big deal” you might be thinking, “It’s only one line.”  Well, it ruins the scene entirely, and this is the most important scene in the film if not the whole saga.  Without saying a word we know everything Vader is thinking, and even though he has a mask on him you can tell he’s conflicted, but George Lucas thinks the audience is stupid and needs to be told what the characters are thinking, and killed all subtlety that was present.  I have such a hatred for this change I don’t want to talk about it again.  So with that I just reviewed all three films in the original trilogy, so the Phantom Menace review should be out two weeks from when this review is being published, oh boy I sure am thrilled to watch that movie again, but with that goodbye!