Rewind Reviews: Star Wars, Episode VI, Return of the Jedi
Today is our final day of journeying across the galaxy. It was a rocky road, but we’re ready to conclude our adventure with Episode VI: Return of the Jedi.
This is the finale to the grand series, and while it wraps up every story arc nicely and throws us a couple more twists before bowing out, for most of the movie I don’t feel like I’m watching the epic conclusion. Luke, Vader, and Sidious are the only parts that feel final and satisfying about the movie. The rest of the movie would have made a fine first or second part of a trilogy, but lacks the feel of a grand ending this series deserves.
The story picks up right where the previous one left off, a first for the series. R2D2 and C3PO arrive at mafia master Jabba the Hutt’s palace, a bizarre extraterrestrial night club where they feed alien dancers to giant monsters for entertainment. C3PO is employed as Jabba’s translator, and watches the strangest music video I have ever seen. I can’t really describe it, so watch it here if you must. Anyway, soon Luke, Leia, Chewbacca, and Lando also infiltrate the palace, all disguised. Leia unfreezes Han, but is caught by Jabba and forced to be his underwear-clad I-don’t-want-to-know-what after Jabba fed his other one to the monster. Luke follows the late dancer down into the monster’s chamber, and kills it. Stricken with grief, Jabba sends the group to the desert, where they are to be thrown into a Sarlacc, a giant mouth which will slowly digest them over the course of a thousand years. Luke and the droids outsmart Jabba and escape, feeding Bobba Fett and many of Jabba’s slaves to the Sarlacc in the process. Leia also manages to strangle Jabba to death. I think I speak for everyone when I say, “Yay!”
As promised, Luke returns to Dagobah, only to discover that Yoda is dying. Yoda tells him that he has already mastered his training, and is grieved to hear that Luke discovered the true identity of Darth Vader. Yoda dies, leaving Luke as the only Jedi in the galaxy. Spirit Obi soon shows up, informing Luke that in case he should fail, there is someone else with a bond with the Force as strong as his; his twin sister. Luke realizes he means Leia, which must have sucked because they kissed two times.
Luke rejoins the Rebel Alliance as they head off to Endor, home of the shield station of the brand new Death Star Vader is constructing. Endor is inhabited by warrior teddy bears (half the size and intelligence of other warrior teddy bear Chewbacca) called Ewok, who inexplicably revere C3PO as a god. The rebels use this to their advantage and make them fight. Luke tells Leia about her relation to him and Darth Vader, and she’s like, “Okay.” Luke flies to the Death Star to confront Vader one final time, convinced there is still good in his father.
The rebels and Ewok fight stormtroopers on very cool hovercraft racers. Led by Han, they fight to destroy the Death Star’s shields. R2D2 explodes (don’t worry, he’ll be back, the droids are invincible) and Han, Leia, and C3PO find themselves cornered by a deadly stormtrooper walker… controlled by Chewbacca! Get out of there, Chewy, you really gave Leia a scare! He gave all of us one. Meanwhile, Lando borrows the Millennium Falcon after promising he would return it to Han without a scratch on it. He leads the rebel fleet to the Death Star.
Sidious tries to convince Luke to join the Dark side, but Luke has better morals than his father. Luke regains his Lightsaber and enters a duel with Vader while Sidious gleefully watches. Luke severs Vader’s hand, making this the fourth hand severed in the series and Vader’s third. Realizing that Sidious plans to use him as his next Sith apprentice, Luke refuses to kill his father. Sidious electrocutes him with his blue lightning, which is too much for Vader to handle. He lost his mother, he lost Padme, he was not going to lose his son. In a stunning betrayal, Vader tackles his Sith master and throws him down a hole, like one would toss garbage into a Dumpster. Redeemed and human once more, Anakin emerges from inside Vader to ask Luke to remove his mask. Anakin has become pale, bald, and lumpy, and requests that Luke tell Leia, who he has discovered is his daughter, that there was good inside of him. Luke attempts to escape the soon-to-explode Death Star with his father, but he dies before they can escape. Lando manages a direct hit to the Death Star’s core, destroying it.
Back on Endor, Han confronts Leia about her relationship with Luke, but it turns out they’re siblings so Leia is all his. The rebels celebrate with the Ewok that night as they respectfully burn Anakin’s body. At the party Luke sees the spirits of Obi-Wan, Yoda, and the once again young, redeemed, and digitally remastered Anakin. It is a happy ending for all (except Jabba and Sidious, and Bobba, but they didn’t really deserve one anyway) and balance is restored to the Force once and for all. So ends our tale!
As I mentioned earlier, I really didn’t feel like I was watching the finale to an epic movie series. There was too much Ewok! I guess those things are kinda cute, but I’m reluctant to acknowledge them as galaxy saving heroes after their absence for five whole movies! Every scene on Endor dragged because the Ewok were given too much screen time. I wouldn’t have minded it as much if the final battle had taken place on a planet we had seen before, say Tattooine or Hoth or even something from the new trilogy like Naboo or Mustafar. How awesome would it have been if it took place in the crumbling ruins of what was once the beautiful Coruscant? For me, Endor and the Ewok were too little, too late.
I also hated Jabba’s horrible pet that squealed with delight every time something violent happened. I’m disappointed Leia didn’t strangle that thing with her chains instead. I’ll probably have nightmares about it tonight.
What makes this a worthy addition to Star Wars:
Ignoring Endor and everything on it, it was an epic climax to the series. Luke verses Vader verses Sidious was an unpredictable twist that led to the redemption of Annie dearest and to the satisfying death of hideous Sidious. Hand severing seems to be a reoccurring motif in this series, and ended up leading to the galaxy’s cleansing. Lucas capped off his series with the most satisfying battle yet, and now that I’m thinking about it, this might be the best battle of the series. It certainly had the best story elements.
And with that, our epic journey has reached a close! Hope you had as much fun reading as I had writing. My blog is 3 views away from 800, so I’m hoping this will be enough to crack that goal!
Look out for my reviews of Brave (yay!) and Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter (ugh) sometime next week!