Every series must come to an end, and so it is with Star Wars. This movie has always had a sort of bitter sweet memory to it as this came out right as my parents’ divorce was finalizing. I remember going to see this in theaters with my dad and it was one of the last movies we saw before we moved to Birmingham. On one of my weekend visits to see my dad, I remember him renting this and watching it again with him, with him pointing out how jealous Han was of Luke at one point in the movie. Bittersweet memories aside, I have a lot of good ones regarding this so let’s finish off the trilogy with today’s movie, Star Wars: Episode VI – Return Of The Jedi.
The plot: As a Star Destroyer approaches the forest moon of Endor, an Imperial shuttle and it’s Tie-Fighter escort departs from the hangar bay and heads towards the new Death Star that is under construction and in orbit around the moon. When the shuttle lands inside the Death Star, Vader disembarks and speaks with Moff Jerjerrod, the commander of the new Death Star, telling him he is displeased that they are falling behind and that the Emperor will be paying a visit to the station to ensure things go as scheduled. Meanwhile, C-3P0 and R2-D2 are on Tatooine and making their way to the palace of Jabba the Hutt. After gaining entry inside, they are escorted by Jabba’s major domo, Bib Fortuna, to the throne room, where R2 plays a holographic message from Luke Skywalker addressed to Jabba. In the message, Luke asks to meet with Jabba to bargain for the return of Han Solo, offering R2 and 3P0 as a gift. 3P0 is shocked when he hears that but Jabba laughs, saying he has no intention of returning his favorite decoration, staring at the wall where Han’s carbonite frozen body rests while 3P0 and R2 are fitted with restraining bolts and assigned to their new tasks. Back in the throne room, the crowd is watching as Jabba feeds a slave girl to the Rancor in the dungeon beneath the dungeon when an explosion is heard and a bounty hunter named Boushh enters, dragging a captured Chewbacca with him. After negotiating on the bounty, with Boushh threatening to kill them all with a thermal detonator when Jabba offers a lower price, Chewbacca is taken away while Boushh looks around and notices Boba Fett standing nearby, who nods a sign of respect towards the other bounty hunter. That night, as everyone is asleep, Boushh sneaks into the throne room and activates the controls on the carbonite and defrosts Han, who collapses to the ground. As Boushh checks on him, he takes off his mask to reveal he is really Leia, who kisses Han before helping him up. Before they can leave, they hear Jabba laughing and Jabba and his guards pull back the curtain they were hiding behind. Han, who is temporarily blind due to hibernation sickness, tries to reason with Jabba but Jabba has him taken to the dungeon, where he is reunited with Chewbacca, while keeping Leia to serve as his newest dancing/slave girl. The next day, Luke enters Jabba’s palace, using the Force to help him get past the guards and influence Bib Fortuna to announcing him. Jabba smacks Bib Fortuna, then laughs at Luke when he tries to influence Jabba’s mind. When that doesn’t work, Luke uses the Force to grab a blaster from a guard but Jabba activates the trap door, sending Luke and a Gamorrean guard to fall into the dungeon. As the Rancor is unleashed, the Gamorrean tries to climb back up the tunnel but the Rancor quickly grabs and eats him. As the Rancor turns and grabs him, Luke picks up a large bone to defend himself with and manages to wedge it in the creatures mouth, causing it to drop him before it snaps the bone in it’s jaws. Luke makes his way to a door behind the Rancor only to find guards taunting him so Luke picks up a skull and throws it at the door controls has the Rancor starts to enter the room, bringing the heavy door crashing down on it’s head and killing it. Jabba is enraged and orders Luke, Han, and Chewbacca brought before him, where he orders them to be thrown into the Great Pit of Carkoon, where the Sarlaac that lives there will digest them over a period of 1000 years. As they make their way to the pit, Luke tells Han to stay close to Chewie and Lando, who is disguised as one of Jabba’s guards. As Luke is pushed off the gang plank, he turns and grabs it, using it to flip over the guards just as R2, who was on the barge, launches Lukes new lightsaber that was hidden in him, into the air. Luke summons the lightsaber to him and begins attacking the guards, then frees Han and Chewie. As Jabba’s guards start firing on the skiff they are on, Boba Fett uses his rocket pack to head over there and attempt to capture Luke but Luke disarms him as a blast knocks them both to the floor, then Han accidentally hits Boba Fett’s rocket pack, sending him flying into the side of Jabba’s barge before tumbling into the Sarlacc. Inside Jabba’s barge, Leia uses everyone’s shock at what is happening to strangle Jabba with the chain holding her prisoner, then she is set free by R2, who then rescues 3P0. Meanwhile, Lando is knocked off the skiff and grabbed by the Sarlacc but Han, whose vision has returned, manages to shoot the tentacle and help pull Lando back to safety. Luke jumps onto Jabba’s barge and starts attacking the guards, as Leia arrives on the deck. Luke tells her to point the deck cannon at the deck, then he fires it as he grabs Leia and swings onto the nearby skiff and they fly off, picking up R2 and 3P0 from the sand where they had jumped to safety. As they leave Tatooine, Han, Leia, LAndo, Chewbacca, and 3P0 go to meet back up with the Rebel Alliance and Luke says he will meet them later, as he and R2 head to Dagobah to keep his promise to return to Yoda to finish his training. Meanwhile, the Emperor arrives on the Death Star and meets with Vader, who says the Death Star’s construction is on schedule and wishes to go looking for Luke again but the Emperor says that Luke will come to them too and together, they will turn Luke to the Dark Side of the Force. On Dagobah, Luke looks on in sadness at his dying Jedi master Yoda, who teases Luke about his reaction. When Yoda says he is dying and tells Luke he has nothing more to teach him, Luke asks if he is a Jedi now but Yoda tells him he must face Vader one more time. Luke asks Yoda if Vader is his father and Yoda confirms it, then says it is unfortunate that Luke found out this way, as if he had finished his training instead of rushing off, he would have been better prepared to handle the burden of the truth. Yoda warns Luke to be careful of the Emperor or else he might suffer the same fate as Vader and says when he dies, Luke will be the last of the Jedi but says the Force is strong in his family and says there is another Skywalker before he dies and his body disappears into the Force. Luke heads back to his X-Wing and is visited by the ghost of Obi-Wan Kenobi. When Luke asks why they never told him the truth, Obi-Wan explains that when Anakin turned into Vader, the Jedi he knew ceased to be so it was true from a certain point of view. When Luke asks about Yoda’s last words, Obi-Wan tells him that Luke had a twin sister, which was separated from him as Obi-Wan and Yoda wanted to keep them both safe from the Emperor and Vader. Luke realizes that Leia is his sister and Obi-Wan warns him to be careful, as Vader or the Emperor can use that knowledge against him. Back at the Rebellion rendezvous point, Han and the others attend a meeting, with Han expressing surprise that Lando was made a general in the Rebel Alliance. Mon Mothma brings the meeting to order and tells the assembled rebels that their spies located the location of the second Death Star. As Admiral Ackbar tells them that the Death Star’s weapons systems are non operational but is protected by an energy shield generated from Endor and that Lando will lead the attack on the Death Star once the shield is down. General Nadine then explains that they stole an Imperial shuttle and command codes and plan to use it to send a strike team to Endor to destroy the shield generator, then surprises everyone when he asks Han, calling him General Solo, if his team is ready. Han says his team is ready but not his command crew for the shuttle and Chewbacca, Leia, and a returning Luke quickly agree to go with him. As they prepare to leave, Han speaks with Lando and says tells Lando to take the Falcon on his assault, as it is the fastest ship in the fleet, and Lando agrees, promising that he won’t put a scratch on it. Han and Chewie pilot the shuttle to Endor, transmitting the code to get clearance, and as they wait, Luke senses Vader on the Super Star Destroyer that they are approaching. On board the Executor, Vader asks the ship’s commanding officer about the shuttle and when he is asked if they should hold it, Vader says to let it go. The shuttle lands on the moon and the team disembarks and starts making their way to the shield generator. When they come across a pair of Imperial Scout troopers, Han and Chewie try to take them out quietly but Han steps on a branch, alerting the troopers to their presence. As they start fighting with them, Luke and Leia see two more leaving on speeder bikes and they hop on a speeder bike and chase after them. They catch up to one of them and Luke jumps on the speeder bike, throwing the trooper into a tree, and they continue chasing after the second trooper. When two more troopers appear behind them, Luke slows down to deal with them while Leie keeps after the other trooper but both Leia and the trooper end up crashing their speeders. Luke finishes dealing with his two and heads back to Han and the others only to find that Leia hasn’t returned so Luke, Han, Chewie, R2, and 3P0 go looking for her. Leia is woken up by an Ewok named Wicket, who is cautious about her but grows more trusting as she gives him some food. Suddenly, Wicket grows nervous and starts looking out into the forest just as a laser blast is fired at them, and he quickly hides under the log they were sitting on as Leia looks for who fired at them. Leia is captured by a Scout trooper but Wicket hit’s his legs with his spear, allowing Leia to kill him and his partner, then Wicket leads Leia off into the woods. Vader goes to the Death Star to inform the Emperor that Luke is on Endor, which surprises the Emperor as he did not sense Luke’s presence, and he sends Vader to the moon’s surface, saying that Luke will come to Vader and then Vader should bring Luke to face him. Back on Endor, Luke and the others find evidence of Leia’s fight with the troopers but no sign of Leia. Chewie suddenly runs off into the forest, with the others following, but the only find a dead animal and when Chewie grabs it, they are caught in a net. R2 cuts them free and after they sit up, they find themselves surrounded by Ewoks. When the Ewoks see 3P0, they believe he is a god and take them all back to their village, where they prepare to sacrifice Han, Luke, and Chewie to appease 3P0, though 3P0 tries to tell the Ewoks to let them go. When Leia appears from a hut, she tries to convince the Ewoks to let the others go but the Ewoks refuse. Luke has 3P0 warn the Ewoks to stop or he will use his magic and when the Ewoks refuse again, Luke uses the Force to lift 3P0 and the chair he is in and start spinning in the air. The frightened Ewoks quickly free Han and the others and Luke lowers 3P0 back to the ground. That night, 3P0 tells the Ewoks of the fight between the Rebels and the Empire and the Ewoks’ leader, Chief Chirpa, and their shaman, Logray, make Han and the others members of their tribe and agree to help them. As the Ewoks all cheer, Luke steps outside and Leia follows after him and asks what is wrong. Luke tells her that Vader is on the moon and reveals that Vader is his father and Leia is his sister, and tells her he has to leave to face Vader, hoping to turn him back from the Dark Side. Luke leaves and Han goes outside to find out what is going on, getting jealous when Leia won’t tell him what her and Luke were talking about but he quickly apologizes and she hugs him. Vader arrives on Endor just as Luke surrenders to the Imperial troops and Vader speaks with Luke alone. Luke tries to convince Vader to leave with him and let him help him break free from the Emperor’s control but Vader says it is too late for him as he summons some stormtroopers to take Luke onto the shuttle. In the morning, Han and the others head to the shield generator and find it heavily guarded but the Ewoks tell them of another entrance and they make their way there. When they get there, one of the Ewoks sneaks down and steals one of the speeder bikes and rides off, with 3 scout troopers chasing after him, leaving only one guard at the entrance. Han and the others leave 3P0 and R2 behind with Wicket, then quickly subdue the guard and head inside the bunker. On the Death Star, Vader takes Luke before the Emperor and hands him Luke’s lightsaber, then taunts Luke about knowing the Rebel’s plans to attack the Death star and how he allowed the Rebel to learn of the station’s location in order to lure them into a trap. On Endor, 3P0 and R2 watch as an Imperial squad rushes into the bunker and captures Han and his team and Wicket runs off to get help. Out in space, Lando and the Rebel fleet arrive to begin their attack on the Death Star but when Lando realizes their sensors are being jammed, he realizes it is a trap and breaks off the attack. As they move away from the Death Star, they find themselves facing a fleet of Star Destroyers and are suddenly attacked by waves of Tie-fighters. On the Death Star, the Emperor has Luke watch the Rebel fleet fighting the Imperial fleet and taunts him into trying to attack him. Back on Endor, Han ad the others are led outside and 3P0 call out to the the Imperials and when some stormtroopers move to capture them, they are attacked by a group of Ewoks, who then summon more Ewoks to start attacking the Imperial troops. As the Ewoks use their primitive weapons to attack the stormtroopers, they find themselves being overwhelmed by the AT-ST’s. Out in space, Lando and the Rebel fighters continue fighting against the Tie-fighters when he notices that the Star Destroyers haven’t moved to attack them. Suddenly, the Death Star fires at the Rebel fleet and destroys one of the cruisers and Admiral Ackbar starts to order a retreat but Lando tells him that they won’t get a second chance at this, then tells him to move the Rebel fleet to attack the Star Destroyers, in order to keep the Death star from firing at them lest they hit their own ships. Back on Endor, Leia contacts R2 to try and get him to open the bunker but he is shot by a stormtrooper and damaged so Han attempts to hotwire the door. Chewie and two Ewoks swing onto an AT-ST and manage to take it over, then use it to destroy another one and begin attacking the Imperial troops while the Ewoks are finally able to destroy some of the other AT-STs. Back at the bunker, Leia is injured and when Han goes to check on her, they are captured by two stormtroopers but Han’s position has Leia hidden from the troopers’ view and she pulls out her blaster and shoots them. When Chewie arrives in the stolen AT-ST, Han starts to bring him down to help him with Leia but then changes his mind, saying he has an idea. On the Death Star, the Emperor’s taunting finally gets to Luke and he summons his lightsaber and tries to kill him but Vader stops him and the two begin battling. On Endor, Han uses the AT-STs communications system to tell the officers in the bunker that they need more men to hunt down the Rebels and when they open the blast door to send out more troops, the soldiers are captured and Han and the others head inside to set the charges. Back on the Death Star. Luke and Vader continue to battle and as Luke tries to reach out to his father and turn him from the Dark Side, Vader is able to sense Luke’s feelings and discover he has a sister. When Vader threatens to try and turn his daughter to the Dark Side, Luke becomes enraged and renews his attack on Vader, eventually cutting off his hand. The Emperor laughs and applauds Luke and tells him to kill Vader and assume his place at the Emperor’s side but Luke refuses, saying he is a Jedi like his father was. In retaliation, the Emperor begins electrocuting Luke with Force lightning and Luke cries out to Vader to help him. Seeing Luke close to death, Vader turns on the Emperor, grabbing him and throwing him down a shaft tothe power core but he is severely injured from the Emperor’s errant lightning strikes as well as the explosion of energy when the Emperor died. Han blows up the shield generator and Lando leads the fighter squads inside the Death Star to blow up the main power core, having some of the fighters break away to lure away some of the Tie-fighters chasing after them. Meanwhile, Admiral Ackbar orders his ships to concentrate their fire on the Executor and succeed in destroying the ship’s bridge, causing it to crash into the Death Star. Luke is carrying the injured Vader to a shuttle when Vader tells him to take his helmet off so he can see Luke with his own eyes. After Luke does as he asks, Vader thanks Luke for saving him and asks Luke tell his sister that Luke was right about there still being some good in him before he dies. Luke carries Vader’s body into a shuttle and escapes the Death star just as Lando and Wedge Antilles destroy the main reactor and escape themselves before the Death Star blows up. On Endor, Han, Leia, and the others see the Death Star’s explosion and Han tells Leia that Luke probably wasn’t on there when it blew. When Leia says that he wasn’t because she could feel it, Han offers to step away from the two of them but Leia explains that Luke is her brother before kissing the shocked Han, who smiles and kisses her back. That night, Luke places Vader’s body on a funeral pyre and lights it, paying his respects to his father before heading to the Ewok village and joining the others in celebrating their victory over the Empire. As the friends all greet each other and share stories, Luke walks away from the others for a bit, where he sees the ghosts of Obi-Wan, Yoda, and Anakin Skywalker smiling at him, before Leia pulls him back to join the celebration.
Star Wars: Episode VI – Return Of The Jedi met with mostly praise from the critics, holding an 80% certified fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes. The critical consensus on the site is, “Though failing to reach the cinematic heights of its predecessors, Return of the Jedi remains an entertaining sci-fi adventure and a fitting end to the classic trilogy.” The Imperial officer who attempts to stop the Rebels in the bunker and is knocked off the railing when a satchel bomb is thrown at him is Ben Brutt, the man who rediscovered and made famous the “Wilhelm Scream”, and attempts to recreate it when he falls. The movie was a box office hit, earning $475.1 million off of a $32.5 million, making it the least profitable movie in the franchise.
I am not the least bit ashamed to admit this, this was my least favorite Star Wars movie before the prequels came out. The acting was good, with Mark Hamill (Luke), Harrison Ford (Han), and Carrie Fisher (Leia) all doing great jobs in their roles. I also liked Ian McDiarmid’s performance as the Emperor, as he really made the character feel like the embodiment of ultimate evil, and was glad that he was recast to play Palpatine in the prequels. The story was also good but I felt like the “tidy” ending was somewhat rushed, which it kind of was due to some personal issues in George Lucas’ life causing him to change how he originally visioned it. The puppetry with some of the character, such as Jabba and the Rancor, was very well done though some of the blue screen with the Rancor was a little weak. My favorite part of this movie though was the score, with the music during Luke and Vader’s fight helping to showcase the emotion involved in the fight. A good movie to watch and a fitting end to the series, but I still wish we could have seen things play out how Lucas originally wanted to do it.
Rating: 4 1/2 out of 5