(Check out the list so far)
The Movie: Star Wars: Return of the Jedi (1983)
One Sentence Plot Summary: A bad-ass feminist kills a fat capitalist with his own chains, and the rebels are able to successfully overcome the fascists only after accepting a non-normative native culture and using non-violent tactics.
Why It’s on the List: This is a movie that often gets derided for its usage of the Ewoks and the toning down of Han Solo. Vader is also shifted from a big bad to Emperor Palpatine’s lapdog While Jedi is certainly not near the level of its predecessors, there are some important moments worth discussing that put this onto the list.
I love that the main cast essentially goes on a side quest at the beginning to rescue Han Solo from Jabba the Hutt(We get to see Luke Skywalker’s maturity, Leia’s love for Han, and the ingenuity of the droids. Another reason this movie is critiqued happens because of Bobba Fett; Within the context of this trilogy, he means nothing.*
*Bobba Fett has to be the most overrated character in the history of fiction. Okay, that’s an exaggeration but he’s not nearly as interesting as people think he is other than having a cool costume.Another issue is Emperor Palpatine. Real talk: He sucks. He’s not interesting and just does a lot of cackling while talking nonsense. In the prequels, he’s mildly interesting because of the politics and going from a seemingly legitimate leader and manipulating his way into become a fascist. Here,his purpose is to be the impetus for Luke to finally break the cycle. Luke decides not to kill his father or the emperor, and his non-violence almost causes him to be lightinged to death…until his father then sacrifices himself by throwing Palpatine over the ledge and killing him forever. I don’t mind him for the purpose he serves here.
I love the editing of the final sequence and the way it raises the tension. The idea of splitting everyone up three ways is challenging, but the stakes feel important on Ednor, in space, and on the Death Star. Lando and Wedge even get to officially blow the Death Star, and that chase sequence is underrated, especially when the Millenium Falcon shoots out of the flames. I have always appreciated Luke throwing his saber away and eventually allowing his father to see him without his mask. Then there’s the ending. Everyone is happy and celebrating. A part of me wishes that this was it, that the last we’d see of Luke, Leia, Lando, Han, Chewie, and the Droids is the pure joy after finally defeating the Empire. While some movies have been good to even great, there’s always the tension about what Star Wars is. For me, this is a sacred text of filmmaking. I wouldn’t say it’s precious, but it’s impossible to separate my feelings about these movies compared to how I feel about film in general.
*The oogling of Leia is pretty gross at the beginning.
MVP: John Williams’s score isn’t any better or worse than in the previous films, but I’ve given George Lucas a lot of credit already, and it’s incredibly obvious Williams’s score has a huge impact on these films. Indeed, they’ve been used in the sequel trailers to get emotional reactions from people. Williams has a long list of memorable scores, and the fact he has two of the most iconic scores, the main theme and the Empire theme in one series of movies is incredible. That’s not to mention “Duel of the Fates,” used in the prequel trilogy. Williams deserves all the credit for elevating Star Wars into classic status.
Best Performance: Mark Hamill really grows into the role of Luke Skywalker; as in the first two movies he complains and whines his through a lot of scenes. A lot of that comes in the writing. This time, he’s the one with the moral high ground as he calls out Yoda and Obi-Wan for not telling him Vader was his father and then not killing him. Luke gets to be much more of an adult and leader within the main group. His performance improving in combination with the watering down of Han Solo are a major reason for Mark Hamill receiving this award.
Best Quote: “No, I’ll never turn to the dark side. You’ve failed your Highness. I’m a Jedi, like my father before me.” – Luke Skywalker
Is there a sequel? There is, but only one worth talking about on this list.