Director: Richard Marquand
Writer: George Lucas, Lawrence Kasdan
The Empire is regaining its strength and even building a new and improved Death star. The evil Emperor and his number two man Darth Vader not only want to rule the galaxy, but also to turn Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill, who now sports awful hair), the last Jedi knight, to the dark side of the force. Skywalker is determined to defeat them, yet first he has to save his buddy Han Solo, who has been captured by bounty hunter Boba Fett and delivered to the cruel Jabba the Hut. But the Rebels will have to act fast if they want to have a chance to get rid of the Empire once and for all…
Storywise, “Return of the Jedi” is the lesser of the Star Wars films. The first film presented us with a whole new universe of possibilities, while the second brought shattering revelations and twists. But the third film merely connects the loose ends, and a lot of what we see isn’t new. The gay robots argue some more, Chewbacca yells incomprehensibly like always, another Jedi master dies, the Rebels confront Storm troopers and Imperial walkers again, another Death star is destroyed, Luke fights Darth Vader, again… What was so great about “The Empire Strikes Back” is that it ended on such a bleak note, with Luke learning that his worst enemy was his father and Han Solo prisoner of sleazy thugs. It was a shock when you saw the film, and you can’t hope to continue these stories with the same impact. The revelation that Vader is Luke’s dad is huge by itself, with Luke so horrified that he jumps down to what should have been his death. Having them discussing it in the next film is just a letdown. Same thing for Han Solo and Princess Leia; having had sex (we suppose), there’s no tension anymore between them. All this makes the film less involving.
Still, even a lesser “Star Wars” movie has a lot to offer visually. I personally love the first act, with the gang escaping the disgusting Jabba the Hut. I really dig this big, fat, slimy slug, and Leia in the tiny gold bikini is eye candy. Through the movie, the special effects are better than ever and Richard Marquand’s direction is very good (ain’t it odd how George Lucas did everything on the first film and then had other directors complete his trilogy?). The picture also features some of the best action sequences of the series. There’s the scene in the desert when Jabba wants to feed Luke, Han and the others to a big, voracious mouth in the ground, but our heroes nicely escape from his grasp. Other great scenes include the wild and crazy flying motorcycles chase in the forest of Andor and the overwhelming space showdown between the Rebels and the Empire. And then there’s the Ewoks, most often hated by “Star Wars” fans. It’s true that these cuddly little furry creatures are a bit childish, but they’re cute and I like when they fight the Imperial machines and laser guns with their bows, rocks and spears. Hence, even though “Return of the Jedi” is not the best of the “Star Wars” movies, it’s still an amazing cinematic experience, and a worthy conclusion to the most influential trilogy ever made.