Review: 'Star Wars VI: Return Of The Jedi' (1983) Dir. Richard Marquand
Capping off a trilogy that captured the world's imagination, full of iconic moments and new characters for all to enjoy...
After a daring mission to Tatooine, led by Jedi Knight Luke Skywalker (Hamill) and Princess Leia Organa (Fisher), to rescue Han Solo (Ford) from ruthless crime lord Jabba the Hutt, the Rebel Alliance is brought together for one final assault on the evil Galactic Empire.
With Emperor Palpatine (McDiarmid) overseeing the final stages of the construction of the dreaded second Death Star, the Rebel Alliance launches its daring plan.
General Lando Calrissian (Williams) leads the Rebel attack from space, Han and Leia command ground forces on the Moon of Endor, and Luke confronts Darth Vader (Jones) to try redeem his fallen father from the Dark Side and bring down the Emperor once and for all…
Upon watching this final film of the current 6 episode arc, it continued to puzzle me why this is one that really splits opinion as the "weaker" of the three. I think it’s clearly just the end of a winning trilogy and so it combines everything about the first two films into one, so appears that nothing is new and thus it becomes “ordinary”? I am not sure, but I enjoyed this just as much as ‘The Empire Strikes Back’. It’s not as dark, but it retains the excitement, the fun and the thrills that made ‘A New Hope’ just as iconic.
The opening 45 minutes focus on the rescue of Han Solo from Jabba the Hutt in a wonderfully staged action sequence on Tatooine, which is a nice change of pace from another Rebels vs Empire skirmish. We see some great fantastical creativity, outrageous creatures and more evidence that Boba Fett looks tough, but can’t cut it as a fearsome bounty hunter.
This is blockbuster cinema magic for the whole family; some slapstick humour for the youth, but also plenty of emotion and fast action for the grown-ups.
Hamill, Fisher, Ford and Williams continue to show they still have passion and fun for the story they are telling, and they come across perfectly evolved once more as the characters we met 6 years earlier.
Divided neatly in two, the intermission to the two great action sequences serves as time to reflect with Luke, Yoda and Obi-Wan Kenobi once more about the fate of what lies ahead, and has some real tender moments and haunting messages that echo across the prequels as we know the events that took place 30 years before. This has all led up to each character becoming who they were destined to be, and we get the pay-off when the Rebel Alliance give us an epic 3-way battle against the Galactic Empire for the last hour.
Split between the tactical and breath-taking space dog-fight and Death Star II assault, the Moon of Endor ground attack on the shield generator with the help of those annoyingly loveable Ewoks, and the final duel between Luke and Darth Vader, this builds the tension and drama over each stage. The clock counts down for each group in their goal and really gives you up and down thrills as they battle their own enemy to get their objective done, all the while with the Empire seemingly one step ahead.
It’s a brilliant culmination of tactical and military minds and we see everything about Star Wars we love in one final flourish. Exciting space battles with new characters shining in their roles (Admirals Ackbar and Piett for instance), cutting edge special effects throw us into the heart of war and the cutting rasp of Vader’s lightsaber against Luke’s present an emotional journey we saw start in ‘The Phantom Menace’ finally come to a close, all swept up with John Williams and his heart-pounding score.
There’s so much to take in, it can over-whelm at times, but it’s sheer sci-fi entertainment. The darker story has been told and now it’s time to the pay-off where the good guys win and we remember this is a family orientated Star Wars film for all ages.
'Return Of The Jedi' is a fitting and emotive close to both a trilogy and, until 2015, a magical six film story arc. An ending done perfectly.
'Star Wars VI: Return Of The Jedi' is a LucasFilm Ltd. production