Star Wars: Return of the Jedi released on the 2nd June, 1983 and was the third and final film in the Original Star Wars Trilogy. The original cast all returned including Mark Hamill’s Luke Skywalker, Carrie Fisher’s Princess Leia, Anthony Daniels’ C3-P0, Kenny Baker’s R2-D2, Peter Mayhew’s Chewbacca, Billy Dee Williams’ Lando Calrissian, David Prowse’s Darth Vader and Harrison Ford’s Han Solo. Harrison Ford had stated that he originally wanted to be killed off in ‘RETURN OF THE JEDI’ which would have majorly changed the story, however it was eventually decided to keep the character alive which Harrison Ford now claims that he is glad that he wasn’t killed off in Return of the Jedi however that is likely because of the events that took place in ‘THE FORCE AWAKENS’.
The story for the film is quite an unique one however, it is not as unique as the previous two films’ stories with it taking an handful of queues from ‘A NEW HOPE’ (mainly revolving around the second Death Star). However, this does not take away from the story, although that in my opinion it is the weakest in the original trilogy, it is still an fantastic film and near perfect culmination of said trilogy. The idea of bringing the concept of the Death Star back is actually a very clever one, as it shows how these character have come and how they’ve grown when you put them in an similar situation that they were in when they all met (excluding the Ewoks).
One main story point I wanted to discuss is the first act where we visit Jabba’s Palace, a very unique sequence in the Star Wars Universe which becomes very reminiscent of an heist film which is absolutely incredible to see in an Star Wars film, as well as this, the return to Tatooine is a good way of being the trilogy to an full circle conclusion, however the best part of bringing the film to Tatooine is that it doesn’t make it an nostalgia quest such as revisiting Mos Eisley Cantina or Obi Wan’s Home, instead it somewhat expands the history of the planet, especially when expanding on an character that was originally only mentioned in ‘A NEW HOPE’ (Jabba The Hutt). Additionally the fight sequence at Jabba’s Sail Barge and the Sarlacc Pit that concludes the first act is easily one of the most unique and brilliant action sequences in the entire Star Wars saga and brings some hilarious and iconic moments.
Arguably the character that has grown the most is Mark Hamill’s Luke Skywalker who has became an full on Jedi, instead of the whiny farm boy from ‘A NEW HOPE’ (and some of ‘EMPIRE STRIKES BACK’). His character goes through quite a lot of ‘RETURN OF THE JEDI’ experiencing the sad death of his second mentor, Yoda as well as encountering The Emperor and his father, Darth Vader once again. Mark Hamill really brings his all to this film, and he really had to due to all the powerful and iconic moments that Luke had to go through in this film, but Mark Hamill perfectly succeeds at these scenes and is able to bring an incredible performance of an somewhat new version of Luke Skywalker.
Princess Leia, played by the late Carrie Fisher also has quite a lot of growth in ‘RETURN OF THE JEDI’ and becomes more like her character is interpreted by J.J. Abrams in ‘THE FORCE AWAKENS’, a strong and fearless general. She also brings her all when she has to do one of the most iconic scenes featuring Princess Leia when she discovers that Darth Vader is her father and Luke is her brother, and she brings an absolutely brilliant performance for that moment which is perfectly scripted. Overall Carrie Fisher is an incredible actress and that is perfectly shown in this film.
Harrison Ford’s Han Solo still brings an brilliant performance even though he was unsure of returning for the film and didn’t really get the ending that he initially wanted, if I had one criticism about Han Solo, it’s probably how there isn’t much development of his character other than becoming an fully fledged member of the Rebellion, however this isn’t exactly the fault of ‘RETURN OF THE JEDI’ due to how things were set up in ‘THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK’. With the return of Han Solo, Billy Dee Williams returns as Lando who gets quite a bit of development from being an similar type character to Han Solo to becoming an key part of the Rebellion, his performance is really incredible and I believe that is because of his dedication to the role, when I got to chance to speak with him on my podcast, I discovered how large of an fan he is of Star Wars and the character of Lando himself, still doing voice work for the character in media forms such as ‘BATTLEFRONT II’ and ‘STAR WARS REBELS’.
In conclusion, ‘RETURN OF THE JEDI’ completes the Original Trilogy in an fantastic and somewhat unique way, whilst it may not be the best film in the Original Trilogy, it still provides an gripping and emotional conclusion to said trilogy, and is definitely still one of the best sci-fi films ever made, in my opinion the film is easily an 9.5/10.
Here is my overall ranking for all films in the Star Wars Saga: