“Return of the Jedi’ is an incredible conclusion to the epic saga that is Star Wars. It takes us to new lands, introduces new life forms, and completes the transformation of each character. It is also probably the weakest stand-alone film of the original trilogy as its primary objective is to conclude the stories begun in Episodes IV and V. There are few original plot points introduced in this chapter but, when viewed with the preceding films (as intended), it is a perfectly paced conclusion (almost). Some of the Ewok scenes in the middle of the film go on for too long; after all, we're anxious to see the final showdown between Luke and Vader! Even after waiting the entire film for the bit moment, the unmasking is one of the most anticipated but surprising scenes that you will ever see. There is just something remarkable about watching such immense power crumble into nothing. As a child, this was actually my favorite film in the trilogy. I can’t understand why because Jabba the Hut is so gross and I was terrified of him, but I suppose that his portion of the film was trumped by the cuteness of the Ewoks and the string of comedic moments on Endor. One of the most underrated actors in this series is Anthony Daniels, who plays C-3PO in Episodes I-VII. His motions are so robot-like that you would assume that the character is an actual animatronic. It is amazing that Daniels maintained so much consistency within his character over the course of 38 years. This film is Mark Hamill’s finest performance of the series and Ian McDiarmid brings true evil to Emperor Palpatine, in spite of Family Guy’s “Something something something Dark Side” parody. Just like the other films, the special effects in the film are astounding and still hold up today. The puppetry used for the rancor is still scary, the slow-motion of the spaceship models creates an amazing sense of depth, and the stop-motion used for the AT-ST walkers actually gives them that erratic hydraulic motion that makes them entirely believable. Some of the most exciting battle moments include the POV shots of the speeder bikes, which were filmed on steadycam at less than 1 frame per second to create an effect of 120 mph movement when played at full speed. George Lucas changed the face of science fiction with the “Star Wars” trilogy. Rather than water his film down to what was possible, he created his own special effects company and challenged it to innovate on old methods and create new technologies that would bring his desired effects to life. “Return of the Jedi” may not receive a perfect rating but there could not be a better conclusion to this perfect series.
[Pictured: You can't have "Return of the Jedi" without ewoks!]