Star Wars rewind: Return of the Jedi

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Star Wars rewind: Return of the Jedi

David Eckstein-Schoemann and Kenny Eckstein-Schoemann

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After The Empire Strikes Back left audiences on a major cliffhanger, you can probably imagine the expectations people had for the next one. What we got was Return of the Jedi, an overall satisfying conclusion to the now famous Star Wars trilogy. Most people, while liking it, claim that this is the lesser of the three movies. While still good, it’s generally not placed on a high pedestal like the previous two. But in our opinion it still holds up. While it is flawed, the elements that are good in it are in some ways better than the other films.

The film starts with Luke and the gang rescuing Han Solo on Tatooine from the nefarious gangster, Jabba the Hutt. After a surprisingly long opening involving everyone getting captured and fighting monsters, they escape and rejoin the Rebellion. Our heroes learn the Empire is building a second Death Star over the forest moon of Endor. Only this time the leader of the Empire, the Emperor, will be overseeing construction. The mission is to go down to the moon and blow up the shield generator so the rebel fleet can destroy the battle station. The team on the moon ally with furry little creatures called Ewoks to fight the Empire, while Luke separates from the group to confront Darth Vader and the Emperor alone.

On paper this finale seems like a good setup, but the one issue we have that everyone has pointed out is that there are so many detours in the film. The opening at Jabba’s palace takes up a good portion of the movie. For some reason our heroes decide to go in one group at a time only to get inevitably captured just so Luke can come in and save them. Just when you think it’s over as Luke defeats a big monster, they’re taken into the desert to face another monster. We could see this working if the opening played a part with the rest of the film, but it doesn’t. When it’s over, it’s never brought up again. Despite all that, we as well as a lot of people enjoy these scenes, mainly because Jabba is a cool villain. He’s this gargantuan slug who does whatever he wants. He holds big parties, has guards feed people to monsters, puts Leia in a sexy slave outfit and he gets away with it. It’s a different type of character we haven’t seen before in this universe. Looking back on it, it is nice to see our heroes finally have a major win after suffering many losses in the last film. We just wish it could have been shorter or played a bigger part in the plot.

When the opening is all said and done, we move on to a familiar setup of the first film where our heroes have to blow up another Death Star. Only this time we have Ewoks thrown into the mix. While we don’t think the Ewoks themselves are bad characters, we understand why a lot of people don’t like them. We go from the dark and gritty tone from the last film to having these little teddy bears running around. But in all fairness, and you guys are going to think we’re crazy for saying this, but the Ewoks actually contribute to the plot and serve the story. When you think about it they’re the ones who are fighting the Empire, and the idea of nature vs. technology is a constant theme in most science fiction. Though we will admit it is pretty immature how they throw rocks at Stormtroopers and beat them down like they’re made of plastic. It’s silly but still entertaining to watch.

With that said, not only does this film have the best effects out of all three movies, it also has some of the best dramatic moments. Luke’s arc throughout this story is a perfect example of that. The moment this character shows up on screen for the first time you know he isn’t a simple farm boy anymore. You look at him and realize this guy means business. His arc gets all the more interesting when he confronts his father, Darth Vader, in the slightest hope that there is still good in him. If that wasn’t dark enough, he has to deal with the Emperor himself. The actor (Ian McDiarmid) they chose for this role is perfect! He’s this old and frail figure, but he commands so much presence whenever he’s on screen. The way he cackles his voice and stares at you with those beady yellow eyes, you feel like you’re facing the devil himself. His performance is menacing, chilling, and intimidating in all the right ways. Occasionally it could get a little goofy but it never goes too far. It also helps that you’re forced to sit in this cold and dark environment as you dive deeper into Luke’s psyche as he struggles to control his rage. The visuals and acting completely support it, even though there’s this big starfleet battle going on, this part of the movie always keeps our attention. From the atmosphere to the dialogue to the music, everything in this scene is flawless!

Despite all the gripes people have against it, we think this wonderful ending wraps everything up nicely. Sure it has flaws and not everything connects but it has a lot of really enjoyable scenes and some great storytelling. Even elements like the Ewoks aren’t nearly as bad as people make them out to be. While it is more light hearted than the previous films, we still get a lot of dark elements and themes that will keep every fan satisfied. This movie also has some of the best moments in the series and succeeds in creating a good ending. That is a lot more than we can say about some films and shows nowadays. With the original trilogy now complete, fans thought this was the last time they would see anything Star Wars related on the big screen. Little did they realize that in the following decades more films both good and bad were on the horizon.

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