Welcome to Star Wars week. On Friday, Episode VII: The Force Awakens opened in theatres around the world. I’ve seen it and will have a full, non-spoiler, review up tomorrow. But first, to complete my rewatch of the original six, here is my review of Return of the Jedi.
Like most third films in the trilogy, Return of the Jedi is less about story and instead about concluding the events of the previous two films. In broad terms, not a lot happens in this movie besides a big battle at the beginning and a huge one at the end. The heroes journey is complete, now he just needs to use his new skills to defeat the enemy.
Despite the simplicity of it, I still really enjoy Return of the Jedi. It has an energy to it the other films (so far) haven’t had. The high speed chase through the forest of Endor is one example and the escape on Tatooine is another. The characters have grown with the film technology and so the action benefits from that.
The one element of the story that actually kind of matters in this film is the reveal that Luke and Leia are twins. And I felt like it could have been executed better. When Luke tells Leia this news, she doesn’t seem surprised or really have any reaction. It just happens. On top of that, no one bothers to tell Han Solo, Chewbacca or the droids, which is just a hilarious mistake by the script. If the audience knows, it’s assumed all the characters know. I also wish that Leia would have played a bigger part in the final confrontation with Darth Vader, since he is her father too. But I’m not sure how that really would have worked, so it’s probably best I just watch the movies and don’t make them.
The final battle between Vader and Luke still shows the limitations of 1983 technology. Maybe it’s because I was spoiled seeing the prequels first, with those crazy lightsabre battles being my introduction to the series. But this fight is so boring. Darth Vader bowing to his son’s wishes and killing the Emperor also didn’t sit well with me. If Padmé couldn’t change him back in Revenge of the Sith, what difference would Luke make? Another problem from watching the prequels first I suppose.
As far as caps on a trilogy, Return of the Jedi does a good job of closing all the doors opened in the previous two movies. I enjoy the high energy brought to this movie, which is necessary when the story is almost not there at all. It’s unfortunate we had to wait 32 years for a sequel because Luke had just become a bad ass and it would have been fun to see more movies about him when Mark Hamil was younger. Still, what we do get is fine and a strong end to one of the best film trilogies of all time.