Star Wars: Episode VI – Return of the Jedi (1983)
“The Empire Falls….”
Director: Richard Marquand
Cast: Mark Hamill, Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher
Synopsis: After rescuing Han Solo from the palace of Jabba the Hutt, the rebels attempt to destroy the second Death Star, while Luke struggles to make Vader shake off of the dark side of the Force.
While it can no longer be stated with total accuracy that no sequel equals or surpasses the quality of its predecessor, it still holds true that any third movie in a franchise not only fails to match the earlier movies but generally falls way short of their standard — no matter how dodgy that might have been. Sadly, Return of the Jedi — the third movie in the Star Wars series (which somehow became the sixth movie sometime in the 1990s) — ably proves that the thinner you spread the ingredients the less tasty they become.
The third movie sees the scattered key members of the Rebel forces descending on the desert headquarters of giant space slug Jabba the Hut, who possesses the carbonite mould in which Han Solo (Harrison Ford) is imprisoned. Unfortunately, the failed attempt of Princess Leia (Carrie Fisher) sees Solo released from his prison but, in turn, sees her imprisoned in a skimpy bikini while Solo and his old buddy Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill) are despatched to the desert to be slowly and painfully ingested by a giant sand worm. But it transpires that Luke allowed himself to be captured in order to pull off Solo’s escape and before you know it, the gang’s reunited just in time to put a spoke in the wheel of The Emperor (Ian McDiarmid) of the Empire’s plans to rebuild the Death Star which was destroyed in the first episode (which became the fourth episode sometime in the 1990s).
Return of the Jedi pretty much reheats the ingredients of the first movie, an indication of just how parched George Lucas’s creative juices had become in the three years since The Empire Strikes Back. The only theme it explores with any real intent is the relationship between Luke and his dad, whose faith in the Empire is starting to wobble since he was unable to turn Luke on to the dark side. In all honesty, this conflict is hardly the most gripping part of the saga, and is played out here with all the sensibilities of a daytime soap. The action set pieces still stand up to scrutiny, but the introduction of the cuddly Ewoks pretty much sounded the death knell of the Star Wars franchise as anything other than a cynical marketing exercise aimed at parting the parents of impressionable young kids from their hard earned money. And very successful they were too.
(Reviewed 19th September 2012)