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Star Wars Episode VI: Return of the Jedi (1983) REVISITED

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Part VI of VIII of My “Skywalker” Binge

Star Wars Episode VI: Return of the Jedi was my favorite Star Wars movie as a child. If I had to guess, I’ve probably seen the movie maybe approximately 50 times during those early years of glory. But, holy FUDGE, viewing this movie as an adult, I can safely say that this movie has not aged nearly as well as the previous two entries. In fact, I would go as far as to say Return of the Jedi is a bit of a misfire. I know, I know it’s a hot take, but let me explain. 

This film gets way too much credit for how lousy George Lucas’s script is here, but let’s first talk about why Return of the Jedi doesn’t even stand sturdy as a technical piece. The special effects evidently look worse than they did in Star Wars (1977) and Empire despite it having a larger budget—especially the green screen effects; my golly the green screen is bad in this! The editing and directing, unfortunately, are just mediocre to adequate—which is l-a-m-e. But, notably, something I’ve never noticed materially beforehand is that the acting in Return of the Jedi is SIGNIFICANTLY worse in this movie than the two previous films in the saga. The eerily awkward and childish dialogue furthermore, didn’t help the movie’s “performance” problem at all. 

Can we please talk about how utterly stupid Luke’s mission to rescue Han Solo was? So, Luke first decides to send in C-3P0 and R2-D2 to Jabba’s Palace to notify Jabba of an offer to bargain for Solo’s life while also giving up the droids as gifts to Jabba. Knowing this, Luke knows for a fact he’ll need R2-D2 for later to retrieve his lightsaber. After this, he sends Leia in dressed as a bounty hunter with Chewbacca so that she can sneak Han out of the palace. 

This doesn’t work, so Luke comes to the place with absolutely no other plan other than expecting to get captured and sent to the Sarlacc Pit—since he basically just hands himself in. There, he knows somehow they will bring R2-D2 along so he can retrieve his lightsaber when the time is right. Lando is also there disguised as a guard for no other reason than to almost get himself killed. The only possible way this could’ve all worked out perfectly for Luke is if he knew for a damn fact that Jabba would want to feed them to the Sarlac Pit, take R2-D2 and his whole entire bounty/crime crew with him, and every prisoner all at once. Conclusively, Luke knew that it would end in him eventually blowing up Jabba’s Sail Barge with all the criminals it had on board, ultimately destroying the Jabba nonsense for good—and if you don’t believe me, how else would R2-D2 know to jump off the ship before Luke blows it up? 

Also, why does Leia pull the whole detonator trick in the first place? Like, is she low on cash? Did she really want those credits—LOL! What in the hell is the point of risking the mission to show off? Jabba hiding behind the curtains to catch Leia saving Han is additionally really DUMB. And, Boba Fett goes out like a total CHUMP! This opening is an overrated sequence I tell ya! 

The Rancor does look cool though; I will admit that. 

Anyways, my point is the first act of this movie is absolutely ridiculous and so absurdly far-fetched that it’s kind of hard to enjoy it as an adult. It just seems quite lazily thought-out, and that’s not what Star Wars has been about in these past two entries. However, after this ill-conceived part of the movie, Return of the Jedi begins to get back up on its feet—kind of. 

Ian McDiarmid’s incredible interpretation of The Emperor finally comes into play, Yoda has a goofy death scene, and Obi-Wan makes Luke want to barf (SWEET HOME ALABAMA). Even if these new things happening on screen aren’t exactly striking nor flawless, at least the movie is picking up its pace a little bit. 

However, everything else that happens in the second act is kind of…snoozy. Han and Lando are BFFs again…for some reason…and then, Leia, Luke, and a group of Rebels go to Endor to do some boring walk-in-the-woods, Ewok shit. We also get to learn about a second Death Star and how the team plans to blow it up. Yay? And, people complain about The Force Awakens being unoriginal, but you can’t deny it wasn’t the first Star Wars movie to attempt the copy-and-paste formula. There’s a really poorly held up speeder chase sequence that I used to ADORE as a kid, but now, looking back, I’m like, “Man, that scene looked phonier than a three dollar bill.” C-3P0 becomes Ewok Jesus. Luke gawkily breaks it to Leia that he’s her bro-towski. So yeah, all in all, the second act is pretty mediocre? Whaaaaaaaaat? 

The third act of Return of the Jedi is when shit gets good. Every Luke and Darth Vader sequence is insightful, interesting, and consequential. The moments with The Emperor and the lightsaber battle between Darth Vader and Luke are magnificent. All though, Vader’s intense change of heart is iffy to me—it doesn’t feel completely earned or developed. The Endor battle is, no-cap, ridiculously goofy, but admittedly fun. Also, the space battles are well-made for its time and justly mind-numbing. 

But fellas, I think I prefer Revenge of the Sith over Return of the Jedi. I know, I didn’t anticipate that this day would ever come, but here we are; it’s happening. It kills me to the say this, but I can’t even give Return of the Jedi a fresh grade. Yes, the third act is solid, but I simply can’t forgive it for having two very poorly written and executed beginning acts. It just wouldn’t be fair. I have to take all factors into account. There’s just so many story elements that are completely glossed over or rushed in Return of the Jedi, ultimately making it appear like some subpar, minimum effort attempt to conclude the saga. With that being said (please don’t kill me)… 

Verdict: C+

Star Wars Ranked

“Star Wars Episode VI: Return of the Jedi” is now available to stream on Disney+.

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