Starring: Mark Hamill, Carrie Fisher, Harrison Ford
Director: Richard Marquand
Running Time: 134 mins
Star Wars: Episode VI – Return Of The Jedi is an American film and the third in the Star Wars saga. Following the recent defeat of the Rebels, Han and Leia attempt to assist the Rebellion in destroying the second Death Star, whilst Luke struggles against all odds to pull Darth Vader back away from the Dark Side.
Now, unfortunately, it’s hard to dismiss the fact that Return Of The Jedi is a bit of a let-down in comparison to its two stunning predecessors, A New Hope and The Empire Strikes Back. It’s not as thrilling nor compelling a watch, although it does still feature some good action scenes, a very dramatic finale, and ties the original trilogy up very well.
Let’s start on the positive side, then, because despite being a little disappointing, Return Of The Jedi is still a good film. Once it gets into the main bulk of the story, it becomes a lot more interesting and exciting to watch. There’s a few good fast-paced action sequences once the team reach Endor, and along with the cute and cuddly (albeit unnecessary) Ewoks, there’s a lot of fun to be had.
However, what really makes this film is its final half an hour, which centres around Luke’s efforts to convert Darth Vader back to the side of the Jedi. Here, we finally meet the Emperor in person, and he’s a hugely unnerving presence in all of his scenes, appearing to always have the upper hand on Skywalker as he attempts to lure the young Jedi to the Dark Side.
In the end, though, we are provided with a thrillingly dramatic climax that’s not only exciting to watch from an action movie perspective, but amazingly emotionally intense. The emotional turmoil that both Luke and Vader are feeling in the film’s final moments is palpable, and it really makes for an exhilarating run to the finish.
On the other hand, however, there are a few flaws with this film that mean it doesn’t live up to the first two. Most significantly is the failure of the first thirty minutes or so, where nothing of much importance really happens, and it seems as if George Lucas was more interested in showing off how many different alien toys you can buy at the shop than actually getting the plot moving right from the off.
As a result, this isn’t a non-stop thrill-ride, and it takes an even longer time to get properly compelling, as although when they reach Endor, there are some fun action sequences, the plot feels as if it’s still remaining a bit stationary, and that means you can’t get as invested in what you want to see, which is what comes in the final act of the film.
Overall, Return Of The Jedi isn’t a poor film, it’s actually very entertaining and, in its final moments, just as impressive as the first two movies, but its inability to get really moving for over an hour, coupled with various unnecessary things popping up here and there, means that it’s not the most thrilling that we know Star Wars can be, and that’s why it gets a 7.9 from me.