The more Star Wars moves on, the sorrier I feel for Return of the Jedi. It can’t seem to catch a break!
Working through in chronological order, we have the film itself, which has been tinkered with several times now. Back in 1997 the song ‘Lapti Nek’ was replaced with ‘Jedi Rocks’, which…is shite. It’s completely out of place within Jabba’s Palace and ruins the pacing/feel of the scene. Then there’s Vader’s ‘Nooooo’, which shows a complete lack of faith in the audience’ ability to read the situation.
Let’s not get started on losing ‘Yub Nub’, or Anakin’s Force Ghost.
Then there’s the Prequel Trilogy (PT). One particular moment, when Leia describes her early memories of her Mother, really don’t match up with whole ‘dies of sadness almost immediately’ thing that happens in Revenge of the Sith. So that’s weird.
But wait! There’s more! We then have the Sequel Trilogy (ST) taking a massive dump over it’s ending. Watch the main characters together at the end of this film on Endor. Now tell me that it seems right to cast them away from each other and kill them all without the others being there?
Hmmm I say. HMMMM. For all the grief it gets, at least the EU didn’t split them all up.
Much like Batman Begins, I’m well aware that ‘RotJ’ isn’t technically the best film in the trilogy. Those honours go to Empire and The Dark Knight.
But when it comes to moment and feelings, this is where I land when I think about Star Wars.
‘Jedi’ moves along a brisk pace; from Jabba’s Palace to the Sarlaac Pit to Dagobah to Endor, it doesn’t stop! It all culminates in a three-way battle across forest, space, and Death Star. They’re exciting, but there are small moments too. Han and Leia reuniting. Everyone moving into place on the Sail Barge. Yoda peacing out. Luke goading Vader and the Emperor.
The final battle between Luke and Vader is my highlight of the entire saga. Firstly, Luke is rocking the green lightsaber, and his outfit hints heavily towards his finding himself between the different sides of the force. But his progression would be nothing without a Vader at his most despicable, taunting Luke via his discovery of Leia. Then there’s the triumph as he finally chooses his family over his master.
I can’t say another Star Wars is my favourite when RotJ has all that. Even if they’re technically better.
There is clumsiness for sure, and Ewoks are a real deal breaker for some people. Once I realised they were the Vietcong of Endor it all clicked for me. In addition, Battlefront 2’s Ewok Hunt shows just how terrifying they can be!
Return of the Jedi closes out the OT in a solid manner. It wraps up the story lines presented through the previous films, whilst leaving things just open enough. The Emperor and the Death Stars may have been destroyed, but there’s still an Empire out there. Regardless of how the other trilogies have treat it, this is still a good Star Wars film, and still my favourite.