If the Star Wars series was missing one thing it was the cute-and-cuddly factor. Star Wars: Episode VI – Return of the Jedi is evenly divided between prepping for the attack and executing the attack. While this doesn’t sound particularly adorable, George Lucas had the brilliant idea of dressing children in fuzzy onesies and directing their sugar highs towards a rookie legion of storm troopers one can only assume were too dumb to keep aboard the Death Star.
C-3PO (Anthony Daniels) and R2-D2 (Kenny Baker) begin Return of the Jedi by getting purposefully captured by Jabba the Hutt (voiced by Larry Ward). Their intension was to rescue Han Solo (Harrison Ford) from his carbonite prison, but they end up serving drinks to Jabba’s gang of Muppets instead. The next wave of rescuers, Leia (Carrie Fisher) and Chewbacca (Peter Mayhew), appear with a slightly more incognito plan – and also wind up captured. Having enough of his friends’ shenanigans, Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill) tries for a third rescue attempt, boldly echoing everyone else’s idea of walking through the front door. After briefly finding himself captured (there’s a theme here), Luke eventually gets the job done. Our heroic group finally assembled, they fly off to plan the rebels’ attack on the Emperor’s new base: a bigger, badder, not-a-moon 2.0. The rebels order Han, Luke, and Leia to disarm the base’s shield, whose power source is on a nearby actual moon inhabited by carnivorous teddy bears.
We’ve abandoned all preconceptions that storm troopers must pass a skills test to serve the emperor. In Star Wars: Episode VI the land-based troopers are the noobs of the galaxy, falling victim to classic mistakes such as looking backwards while driving through trees, or chasing after the guy who tapped them on the shoulder and ran away. These soldiers aren’t the brightest droids on the imperial vessel. To drive the point home, the troopers’ opponents are survivors of the 1982 Teddy Bear Picnic Toxic Waste Disaster. The ewoks use everything within reach to take down their foes, including rocks, branches, stones, tree limbs, small boulders, and the occasional pebble. Their military is founded on strong preparation methods and an unnatural ability to booby trap the exact location where their enemy is going to be. Dumb luck has never been so kind to one, most definitely endangered species.
Other than the battle and the preparation for the battle, Return of the Jedi does treat us to Jabba’s colourful company, and a few other previously missing pieces necessary to the story arc. Leia’s pivotal position in the Star Wars universe is finally said out loud and revealed to all (who matter) but not before Lucas puts her in a gold bikini. Poor Leia has to suffer the humiliation of being chained to Jabba’s flab while listening to the rejected cast of Sesame St. pour their hearts into rhythmless jazz. This is the perfect example of what happens when you’re dumb enough to GET CAUGHT.
The most suspenseful part of Star Wars: Episode VI by far is the final confrontation between Luke, Darth Vader (face by David Prowse, voice by James Earl Jones), and the Emperor (Ian McDiarmid). Most of this scene – repeatedly interrupted by external events – involves the Emperor telling Luke to give into hatred and Luke saying “I won’t!” Eventually
everything escalates and all your expectations are deliciously met.
Forgetting about the new edition’s “remastered” mistakes (who is that man child staring at Luke from beyond the grave?) and looking only at the 1983 original, Return of the Jedi is a splendid finale to the original epic series. It bear-hugs the geek in all of us and whispers, “This fad will never die. Buy your merch now, my child.” Star Wars: Episode IV, V, and VI made us so obsessed with this unique product that we dragged ourselves to the subsequent three movies out of a sense of obligation. There was no past standard for IV, V, and VI to live up to, making them paradise islands of sci-fi ingenuity. As for Return of the Jedi, it draws all the factors in nicely around a 7.5/10.