Monday, October 15, 2012

Why Return of the Jedi is Awesome

It is understandable, when compared to The Empire Strikes Back, why Return of the Jedi gets some stick. Where the first sequel moved the story in exciting new directions, the closing chapter seemed derivative of the original film. But even if Return of the Jedi didn’t deliver in the same way as its predecessor, there is still plenty to love about it.

The rescue of Han Solo at the beginning of the film is an excellent re-introduction of Luke Skywalker, who it demonstrated has mastered his skills. He wields the force casually as he enters Jabba’s Palace, and by the time he is chopping down henchmen on the Sail Barge the audience knows that Luke is now one badass Jedi. The way that he has implemented the whole plan in and of itself adds to the feeling that Luke has come a long way since he rushed into a bad situation of Cloud City.

The introduction of the second Death Star may not have the same impact due to the repetition, but with the incomplete portion the design of it is extra cool. The space station itself isn’t what has the impact for the dark side though, that’s down to meeting the Emperor in the flesh. From Admiral Motti’s fearful, “the Emperor’s coming here?”, the audience know this guy is going to be unpleasant. When he does arrive, on such a huge scale, the movie really kicks into gear with a very real threat established for the Rebellion.

The Speeder Bike chase is still an exhilarating sequence, showcasing Luke and Leia in some great action. It shows that Lucas has always had a knack for knowing how to improve a slow sequence in the film with some action, as he demonstrated again twenty years later when he added the Droid Factory sequence to Attack of the Clones. The various ways that Luke and Leia dispatch the Scout Troopers are great fun.

The final battle in Return of the Jedi ticks all the boxes, and marks the first time that Lucas really got into intercutting multiple
battle sequences together. Aside from cuts back to the command room in A New Hope, the final battle is all based on the Alliance attacking the Death Star. By this film, Lucas was able to fulfil his ambitions and have the exciting thrills of a space battle interspersed with the dark, ominous temptation of Luke by the Emperor. Even though the Ewoks have their detractors, it’s hard to argue that the forest battle is well plotted as the audience watches the
little fellows go from struggling to know how to combat an AT-ST to blowing the metal bastard to pieces.

The emotions may not run as high in the film as they do in its predecessor, but it’s so full of awesome characters and action sequences that it still works.  As a cohesive whole, Return of the Jedi does not work as well as A New Hope or The Empire Strikes Back, however the different elements in it are all so much fun and well executed that it is hard to have anything but affection for the final chapter in the classic trilogy. 

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