Star Wars: Episode VI – Return of the Jedi – Disneycember

It’s said to be the least of the Star Wars trilogy, but is it really? Doug takes a look at Return of the Jedi.

About Doug Walker

Creator of 5 Second Movies, Nostalgia Critic, Bum Reviews and more.

35 comments

  1. Believe it or not, when I was growing up, we had all 3 of the trilogy on VHS. However, Empire and A New Hope were TERRIBLE TV recordings. Jedi was the only one we had a proper VHS of. So that’s the one I’ve watched the most – ergo, I have a ton of affection for it.
    Also, it’s the only Super Star Wars game I’ve beaten legit. Please don’t ask how I beat that escape the death star level. I did it, but I don’t know how.

  2. Thanks for finally setting the record straight. I never got why people hated the Ewoks so much or why this film was the lighter of the trilogy when it delves so deeply into Luke’s own psychology as well as the big reveal of the man behind it all.

    In fact, I’d dare say it’s the best of the originals. It’s plot was the most airtight (even if certain things were baselessly established in previous films), it’s story ran far deeper than surface-level and the big space battle at the end was the biggest and spaciest one of the series.

    But, yeah, it would’ve been freakin’ awesome to see Jabba’s thugs and bounty hunters fighting the Empire, but it would’ve come at the cost of the metaphor the Ewoks provide for how even the most primitive of life forms are still part of the living Force.

    • The primitiveness of the Ewoks is more important to the story than people think.
      So, we have the Emperor, who tells Luke that he PLANNED the whole thing, that everything what’s happening is a part of his plan to destroy the Rebellion.
      He has planned every, single, tiny detail…
      …except the fact that the Rebels on Endor would have the aid of Ewoks.
      Why didn’t he foresee that?
      Well, because Ewoks were so tiny and primitive that, even if he knew about them, he didn’t see them as a threat.
      Luke himself said that the Emperor’s overconfidence would be his downfall, and it was.
      In all of his confidence, all of his meticulous planning, the Emperor didn’t account for tiny, but brave people.

  3. Originally, according to some, George Lucas planned to kill off Han Solo in Return of the Jedi. We heard about that, but didn’t hear about his decision to change the movie. Watched this movie expecting Han Solo to be killed, and there were several times when it could have happened.

    • Can you imagine if they’d killed him off by having him fall into the Sarlacc? That would be just… wow. What a downer.

    • Actually, Harrison Ford wasn’t sure he wanted to return, so Lucas froze Han in carbonite as a way of putting the character on hold. That way, if Ford didn’t come back, Han could die. Luckily, he DID come back, so Han was rescued.

  4. I would say that Return of the Jedi is weakest of the original three. It does not mean that it’s bad movie because it’s not. I have always been space battle junkie so it was main reason why I back in day liked RotJ but these days as adult it’s not enough anymore. Oh and Ewoks might look cute but they are actually really ferocious. They have to be in order to survive on Forest Moon of Endor were there are several deadly species. Ironically there is Endor Holocaust theory that pretty much delves into aftermatch of destroying Death Star II and extinction of those little furballs.

  5. Related to the “you could cut out the Jabba part and it wouldn’t matter”- you could cut out Episode 1 entirely and it wouldn’t matter. The only plot-critical details it gives are that Anakin exists and has force powers, which everyone knew already. Absolutely everything else we learn in the movie- that he built C-3PO, that midichlorians give him his powers, that he was really obnoxious as a kid- are all things that we didn’t want to know and have tried our best to ignore ever since.

    • We would lose crucial character-defining Jar Jar moments.

      And Jar-Jar context.

    • While I admit the Jabba part does drag on quite a bit (30+ minutes) it actually makes sense.
      What happened at the end of the last film? Han Solo got frozen.
      Now, imagine waiting three years for this film, and Han Solo gets saved in the first 10 minutes – that would be kinda lame.

  6. I think people hate episode 7 too much, I think it’s better than empire, not as good as hope though. As for moving jabba, I don’t think it would make sense without it how could we establish how much luke has grown without the empire getting directly involved.

    I’m no film student but I like Jedi how it is

  7. Something Doug missed about Emperor Palpatine: He has been played by Ian McDiarmid in episode 6, and then in episodes 1 through 3. He was only 39 when he played him during this movie, and it was almost 100% makeup.

  8. The emperor in Return of the Jedi is played by Ian Mcdiarmid, who reprised the role for the prequel trilogy.

  9. Long time watcher, first time post here. First, thank you for the years of enjoyment. Now, why I had to register and post due to this review. I simply must provide another point of view as to why the Jabba scenes are pivotal. RotJ is my daughter’s favorite of all the Star Wars films. Several of my friends whom have daughters who also say it is their favorite as well. The reason? The scene of Leia taking out Jabba and then blowing up the barge.

    They all just love that scene. I don’t know how young girls may thought of the films when they came out, but it seems from my admittedly limited selection of opinions, that today’s younger females may find this scene personally empowering.

    Now about those Ewoks, there are a couple of rumors. One being Lucas originally wanted the Endor scenes to take place on the Wookie home planet with the wookies enslaved to work for the Empire on their moon base. The wookies were replaced by ewoks because the wookie home planet should by this point in their history, be more advanced than a total forest planet and primitive tree huts.

    The other rumor is similar only that there was no way they could create the number of necessary wookie suits at the time and the result was to instead shrink the wookies down and create a new species. Which ever is true, or more than likely the truth lies somewhere inbetween, we end up with ewoks. If you replace ewoks with wookies, the potential for a more savage looking combat goes way up.

  10. flamethrower-guitar

    This is my favorite out of all of the Star Wars movies. I just love how perfectly they finished out Luke’s journey and his confrontation with Vader and the Emperor.

    I like your idea of having Jabba fight the empire, though honestly the Ewoks never bothered me that much. Now I do think it would have been cool if they had gotten the Wookies, like originally planned, because then we could have had the nature over machine themes and a badass looking species fighting the empire, but for what it’s worth the Ewok stuff isn’t that bad.

    I know there are flaws with all of the Star Wars movies, and I don’t want to glorify them or pretend they’re perfect, but in the end this movie shows why Star Wars is my favorite movie series. It takes such a great look at good vs. evil and the hero’s journey and tells a story that everyone can relate to in some way. It’s what got me into film, so to me Star Wars, particularly Return of the Jedi, will always hold a special place in my heart.

  11. This is personally my favorite out of all six Star Wars movies. I guess I’m just a sucker for happy endings…and action scenes… and cute creatures. 😀

  12. Also my favourite of the movies. Bigger more epic space battles and the Emperor himself. The fight between Luke and Vader. The death of Yoda. There is just so much more here that was done better than the previous two. I honestly find A New Hope kind of boring with its short little space battle. RotJ took what the first two movies had and ramped them up.

    The idea of a second Death Star doesn’t even bother me because it was made clear the whole thing was a trap set by the Emperor. The power of the first one was displayed and he needed something that would draw the might of the Rebellion into his trap. I can honestly think of nothing else that would cause the rebellion to bring the majority of their military might to one location (Stuff in books don’t count). I always though it looked like a football helmet 🙂 Besides, you don’t stop building Battleships just because one was sank and the first Death Star proved just how efficient of a weapon it was and the second was blowing up capital ships while it was still a quarter built like they were ants under a laser beam.

    Never though much of the Ewoks, but let me ask you this; Is a Black Bear cute? Absolutely, but it will also easily kill you and most bear mauling are from dumb ass tourist trying to get close to them , often getting too close to mothers and their cubs, because ‘cute and cuddly bear.’ Up here we call Tourist ‘bear bait.’ You could take another look at the Ewoks and be reminded that, just because it’s cute and cuddly doesn’t mean that it isn’t dangerous. Tell me you don’t get a moment of feels when one ewok dies and the other is trying to shake him awake? The same feels would not occur if wookies had been used or Jabba’s cronies.

    None of the movies are 100% perfect, no movie is, but they are all good for various reasons. RotJ just happens to be my favourite and the one I thought was the most balanced between dark and light with the most action while still taking moments for reflection.

  13. I’ve never gotten why so many people call this movie weak and seem to hate the Ewoks. It’s always been my favorite, and I love the Ewoks. I’ve always been a sucker for things that look cute and harmless, then turn out to be badass,

  14. The only good Ewok is a dead Ewok.

  15. It’ll be both funny and sad if this movie turns out to be a better closure than the upcoming movies.

    With things getting as complicated as they’re getting I’m wondering if any resurrected franchises will put a closure to any of them. And I mean as in like, “this’ll be the final movie in this franchise” kind of mentality.

  16. Why is the makeup for the Emperor better in this movie than in Revenge of the Sith?

  17. I disagree with having Jabba fight the Empire. To me at least, it seems way out of character for him to do that. Jabba is primarily interested in self-preservation. Picking a fight with the Empire with little to no chance to succeed? Not Jabba’s style. Why should he? He thrives under the Empire’s rule. I don’t think he’d go out of his way to help the Empire, but I don’t see any reason to actively fight the Empire either. The only way I could see it is if there were some way for Jabba to subtly sabotage something, while still maintaining his ability to deny he was ever involved. But even then, I think Jabba thrives enough under the Empire that he shouldn’t want them gone.

  18. I’d say the main problem with the Ewoks is that for the most part the battle was unconvincing. Taking down Stormtroopers with sticks and rocks just seems wrong. It also feels a tad hypocritical to make a nature vs. technology statement in pretty much the most technologically advanced film to date.

    I never felt the Jabba stuff was over-long, but I can see the argument. It’s real purpose was to show how Luke’s skills have progressed. The whole implied idea that it all went according to his plan did feel like a big stretch, however.

    Building another Death Star actually makes sense. Why waste all the research when the flaw could be addressed. This one was only destroyed due to the Emperor’s hubris. Had he simply let it be completed and not used its construction as a trap, he probably would have won.

    The Death Star stuff was good, but I’m not really sure if it actually portrayed the message it intended to. First, it never explained how pissing off Luke would lead him to the Emperor’s side. It seems more likely he’d fall to the Dark Side and still be The Emperor’s enemy. It’s actually something Revenge of the Sith did better. Anakin was tempted by the idea Palpatine had something he wanted.

    Next, Luke only beat Vader by giving into anger. He probably would have killed him if the Emperor hadn’t started gloating. It really doesn’t seem like he resisted the Dark Side so much as decided to spite the asshole. Of course the idea that acting out of anger is somehow always wrong is something Star Wars keeps pushing despite it being patently ridiculous.

    I will grant that someone around when the movies first came out, I can say for sure the entire theater was cheering during the last half hour. It was a very satisfying conclusion.

  19. The tone of the movie actually makes sense in the grand scheme of things. The trilogy starts of lighthearted with A New Hope, then becomes really dark and gritty with Empire and the first half or so of Jedi, then they start to lighten up again to show that things are going better for the protagonists now. It makes alot of sense from a story telling and mood building perspective.

    Jabba doesn’t roll that way. He’s a Hutt and his main interest is getting money and power. He’d never even think of openly attacking the Empire because he knows that he’ll die. The Hutt may be a powerful faction in Star Wars but they’re also cowardly.

    The nature vs technology tale was done much more juvenile in JCs Avatar. Believe me.

  20. ROTJ is my favorite Star Wars movie. Reasons being:

    1. It’s aged the best. The first two have all kinds of age related flaws in the effects, sets, costumes, editing, etc. They totally look like they came from the years that they did. But ROTJ looks like it could’ve been shot in the mid-90’s.

    2. The space battle is absolutely the best visual effects work in film history. The lighting, the details on the models, the sheer NUMBER of ships onscreen at once, ALL performing unique movements. It feels truly REAL, and NO computers involved whatsoever!

    3. It’s the busiest of the original trilogy. There’s stuff happening everywhere. The first two had great setpieces, but the inbetween stuff often felt slow and empty. It’s the Temple Of Doom of Star Wars.

    4. It has a ton of variety. From disgusting desert creatures, to treetop dwellings, to flying motorcycles, to electrically charged ancient monarchs, to teddy bears trying to bring down giant metal chickens (the scene is certainly creative, if nothing else!), it’s got a bit of everything!

    5. I just love the look of the film. Yes, the acting is suspect, it’s the silliest of the original trilogy, and it doesn’t have a middle act to speak of, but it just looks great. The sets are the best, the costumes are the best, the gags are the best. And it has the kind of frantic intensity that I like in many of my favorite movies. 🙂

  21. Favorite scene: The tension followed by breathless excitement of Luke walking the plank, faking everyone out, receiving his green (!) lightsaber, and proceeding to kick Klaatu Barada Nikto ass.

  22. I’m glad Doug didn’t fall into the narrative of bashing Return of the Jedi. While I may not agree with all his complaints, I do understand where they come from, and this review was fair.

    What I liked about the Jabba the Hut confrontation, is that this really expanded the Star Wars universe in ways the other two films didn’t…outside of that classic Mos Eisley bar scene. I wanted to see more weird aliens and monsters…and boy did I get them!

    I’m also glad that he took note of how tense, dark, and powerful the confrontation between Luke, Vader, and the Emperor was. It is the strongest part of the entire trilogy.

    Again, like I said on the Empire Strikes Back review, that movie was more for the fans of Han Solo, while Return of the Jedi was really focused on Luke Skywalker…so your affinity for each character may have a lot to do with how favorably you feel about these films as you compare them.

    • Also, to put things in context with the Jabba the Hut sequences…up until this point, we never got to see a trained Jedi really really cut loose on bad guys.

      It may seem more mundane now after all the acrobatic lightsaber action in the prequels, but at the time we never saw anything like the battle against the Rancor monster, or the battle on the barge.

  23. Just to point out, Ian McDiarmid, the actor of Emperor Palpatine, didn’t just play him in the original film, but was one of the few people (though I think he might have been the only one) who got to reprise their role in the prequel trilogy.

    He also did the voice of the Emperor in quite a few video games for the expanded Star Wars universe

  24. Heheh this is the epitome of my weird childhood. Being really little and giggling with my sister over the Ewoks taking out the Empire. And look, Chewie is arguing with the Ewoks and they steal a machine and go running amok with it! Woo hoo!

    The beginning at Jabba’s palace stuck out in my mind as a child too. So much crazy going on and aloooot of puppets.

    My sister summed it up seeing it as a child as “Something Important is happening. Now Ewoks! Nothing but Ewoks! Now Important Stuff!”

  25. This is hands down my favorite of the orginal with empire being second.

  26. This is my personal favorite! Again, you said the Tim Burton Batman movie was the best. There were really a lot of deaths in this. The Ewoks never bothered me. If nothing else, they showed variety. This movie in no way deserves to have a (slightly) lower rating than Revenge Of The Sith.

  27. To be honest, I still can’t watch the farewell scene between Vader and Luke without “misting up”. I must have watched it a hundred times and it still gets me. It drives me nuts that literally the only things anyone ever seems to remember about this movie are Jabba’s Palace and the Ewoks…both of which I happen to like.

    At any rate, rejoice! The original version of the original Star Wars Trilogy is coming out on Blu Ray!

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