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Star Wars: Episode VI - Return of the Jedi (1983)

tomatometer

78

Average Rating: 6.8/10
Reviews Counted: 69
Fresh: 54 | Rotten: 15

Though failing to reach the cinematic heights of its predecessors, Return of the Jedi remains an entertaining sci-fi adventure and a fitting end to the classic trilogy.

72

Average Rating: 6.2/10
Critic Reviews: 18
Fresh: 13 | Rotten: 5

Though failing to reach the cinematic heights of its predecessors, Return of the Jedi remains an entertaining sci-fi adventure and a fitting end to the classic trilogy.

audience

95

liked it
Average Rating: 4/5
User Ratings: 998,829

My Rating

Movie Info

In the final episode of the Star Wars saga, Han Solo (Harrison Ford) emerges intact from the carbonite casing in which he'd been sealed in The Empire Strikes Back. The bad news is that Solo, together with Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill) and Princess Leia (Carrie Fisher), is prisoner to the grotesque Jabba the Hutt. But with the help of the charismatic Lando Calrissian (Billy Dee Williams), our heroes and our heroine manage to escape. The next task is to rid the galaxy of Darth Vader (body by David

Sep 12, 2006

Twentieth Century Fox - Official Site External Icon

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Latest News on Star Wars: Episode VI - Return of the Jedi

November 6, 2013:
Lost Return of the Jedi Scene Makes Obi-Wan Look Like Less of a Jerk
Obi-Wan and Yoda were apparently at odds over that whole "trick Luke into battling his father to the...
May 23, 2013:
Return of the Jedi Turns 30
A look back at the trilogy-concluding space epic's opening weekend, from one of the kids who stood...

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All Critics (70) | Top Critics (19) | Fresh (54) | Rotten (15) | DVD (17)

It is not as exciting as Star Wars itself, which had the advantage of novelty. But it is better and more satisfying than The Empire Strikes Back...

August 13, 2008 Full Review Source: TIME Magazine | Comments (6)
TIME Magazine
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Reasonably fast paced for its 133-minute length, a visual treat throughout.

June 6, 2007 Full Review Source: Variety
Variety
Top Critic IconTop Critic

With its feints at horror and pathos, the third Star Wars film is the most Disney-esque in its emotional outline, yet that outline is buried beneath an obnoxiously hyped-up pace that reduces the emotions to rubble.

June 6, 2007 Full Review Source: Chicago Reader | Comments (18)
Chicago Reader
Top Critic IconTop Critic

In scope and ambition, Jediresembles nothing so much as the next level of a computer game, with a new environment, new gadgets and new creatures.

February 9, 2006 Full Review Source: Time Out | Comments (3)
Time Out
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Though it looks almost too polished, a handful of eye-smacking action scenes were breakthroughs in precomputer cinematic graphics. And when the film moves, it does so with blazing energy and awesome noise.

June 18, 2002 Full Review Source: San Francisco Chronicle
San Francisco Chronicle
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Marvelous!

January 1, 2000 Full Review Source: Chicago Sun-Times | Comments (13)
Chicago Sun-Times
Top Critic IconTop Critic

The appeal, perhaps, will be strongest to the young.

November 25, 2013 Full Review Source: Daily Telegraph
Daily Telegraph

For all its faults and goofy plot holes, "Return of the Jedi" is a solid finisher.

August 4, 2013 Full Review Source: Cinema Crazed
Cinema Crazed

The Force was always with it, and time, though not entirely kind, still affirms that most important truth.

May 22, 2013 Full Review Source: Mania.com
Mania.com

This installment is deemed by some fans to be the best of the first Star Wars trilogy in technical accomplishment and narrative involvment, but other critics disagree.

July 21, 2011 Full Review Source: EmanuelLevy.Com | Comments (2)
EmanuelLevy.Com

Ewok-filled finale less Force-ful than previous.

December 15, 2010 Full Review Source: Common Sense Media
Common Sense Media

A fragilidade de Marquand como diretor e a crescente infantilização da narrativa são facilmente constatáveis, mas ainda assim o filme consegue fechar satisfatoriamente a trilogia original.

January 8, 2010 | Comment (1)
Cinema em Cena

Return is such a dud that no amount of [Special Edition] reworking could have saved it.

July 13, 2008 Full Review Source: ESplatter | Comments (5)
ESplatter

The finale to the saga's first chapter wobbles from time to time and the mythology grows a little woolly, but that spectacular conclusion is hard to resist.

March 4, 2008 Full Review Source: Film4
Film4

The space battles are well-staged and various loose narrative threads are pulled together neatly.

June 6, 2007 Full Review Source: TV Guide's Movie Guide
TV Guide's Movie Guide

The third Star Wars film, and the sixth in the series, begins with a bang as our heroes try to wrap up the threads left hanging at the end of The Empire Strikes Back.

May 26, 2006 Full Review Source: Combustible Celluloid
Combustible Celluloid

The problems with Jedi cannot be fixed even with the best digital software in the galaxy: the weak story, the bad performances, the burp jokes, and Luke's bizarre-looking hair mop.

December 6, 2005 Full Review Source: Film Threat | Comments (15)
Film Threat

First-class entertainment.

September 18, 2005 Full Review Source: TheMovieReport.com
TheMovieReport.com

Return of the Jedi est en bout de ligne juste assez satisfaisant [...] pour que cette trilogie se boucle comme étant marquante.

May 22, 2005

Among the cinema's most iconic villains — the Wicked Witch of the West; Hannibal Lecter; Nosferatu… — Vader's story arc stands strikingly alone in its climax.

May 16, 2005 Full Review Source: Decent Films Guide
Decent Films Guide

...Lucas's first serious decline into juvenilia for the Star Wars saga.

September 9, 2004 Full Review Source: Movie Metropolis
Movie Metropolis

fantastic

January 10, 2004

Audience Reviews for Star Wars: Episode VI - Return of the Jedi

Fresh off two fantastic films, comes "Star Wars Episode VI: Return of the Jedi," an overlong, yet satisfying finish to a great trilogy. It drags out the story a little too much, before reaching the climax that is worth waiting for, but having a film that is longer than the first two, while not as good, is kind of a let down in some aspects. With some dumb humor and odd new characters, the third installment in the original "Star Wars" trilogy is good for the fans, but it will not gain any new viewers. I found myself resting my head through this film, waiting for the excitement to happen, and when it does, it really does, but that's all. Well directed, well acted, and well written, it's memorable for many reasons, but is the least enjoyable in this trilogy.
April 28, 2013
KJ Proulx

Super Reviewer

four and a half stars!!
February 19, 2013
YodaMasterJedi
MisterYoda ?

Super Reviewer

A surprisingly inferior motion picture compared to the previous two, but still a worthwhile ending despite not quite living up to expectations. The movie is definitely lighter in tone and content than its predecessors. The ewoks are clearly aimed at kids and really just don't fit in with the more mature aspects of the main story. It's subplots are just subpar and kind of boring. I just wanted them to get on with it. The special effects are still pretty good and better than the previous two, while the acting is about the same: not spectacular, but it does the job. Come for the satisfying ending to the main story, suffer through the weak elements of the film that did not exist in the previous two.
December 31, 2012
jlewis07

Super Reviewer

Like many of its fellow threequels, Return of the Jedi is commonly regarded as the runt of the litter. It's received the harshest treatment of any Star Wars film before the prequels, with Kevin Smith's character in Clerks going so far as to brand it "Muppets in space". But while you'd have good cause for feeling disappointed by Spider-Man 3, Superman III or Evil Dead 3, Return of the Jedi is a relatively strong third instalment, being as good if not marginally better than A New Hope.

It's widely documented that George Lucas had greater influence over the story of Jedi than he had with The Empire Strikes Back - an influence which many blame for its perceived inferiority. It's certainly easy to view the film in hindsight, seeing the Ewoks as the harbinger of Jar Jar Binks and Lucas as a man increasingly concerned with merchandising rather than filmmaking. But if Lucas was so keen to regain control, and so cynical in his intentions, why not just direct the film himself? The success of Star Wars gave no-one cause to stop him, just as it was with the prequels.

Instead, Lucas turned to Richard Marquand, who had recently garnered acclaim for Eye of the Needle. Marquand only came into contention after both David Cronenberg and David Lynch turned Lucas down; in an interview with the Hudson Union Society, Lynch recalled that the longer he spent in Lucas' company, the worse his headache got. Lucas and Marquand had a love-hate relationship, with Marquand describing the experience as "like trying to direct King Lear, with Shakespeare in the next room".

Because of Lucas' stronger presence behind the camera, Return of the Jedi is much closer to the spirit of A New Hope. It is much more of a broad pantomime, making less effort to question or blur the boundaries between good and evil. And there is a greater emphasis on spectacle, with the first film's many meetings being replaced by the tying-up of loose ends. But Marquand's compositions and camerawork are better Lucas' work on Star Wars, particularly in the panning shots on Endor and the scenes in the throne room. With this is mind you could say that Jedi suffers from the same problems as the first film, but is more refined and amenable in certain ways.

The film's opening act is really strong, complimenting the uncertain ending of Empire. Our protagonists are slowly revealed as all being in some kind of peril, Han and Leia's love is renewed only for them to be separated, and the story arc begins to come full circle with Luke returning to Tatooine. The musical number may feel like we have wandered into the Jim Henson workshop, but that's a hardly a bad thing. The scenes with the band are pleasantly diverting and the sheer number of different species on screen gives the impression of an expansive universe.

Not only is the opening narratively strong, but the set-piece at the Sarlac pit is well-orchestrated. For once Luke gets the chance to shine, showing the development of his character: the young naïve upstart, once hasty and foolish, has now become a bona fide hero. This section is well-paced to allow for humour and catharsis at the characters' escape and Jabba the Hutt's death. Some have complained about Boba Fett's demise being poorly handled, but it kind of makes sense for a character so murky and mysterious to be dispatched with such ironic flippancy.

After this opening act, however, Return of the Jedi begins to settle down into the familiar patterns of the Star Wars saga. From this point on, it's less a case of bringing something new to the table, and more about replicating the feel of the first film, albeit with better direction and improved effects. As a result, it's much easier to spot the swathes of exposition, and the film's tendency to flip between set-pieces and characters standing around talking. Alec Guinness does the best he can with his scene, but it's still essentially an exposition dump. The same goes for the speech before the battle, parodied to great effect in To Boldly Flee.

Not only is the exposition easier to spot, but the plot contrivances stand out a lot more. How is it that Leia can pilot a speeder when she hasn't done any flying in the previous films? How could the command team all find each other so quickly, having got separated in a forest that covers the whole planet? We can accept the idea of the Ewoks defeating the Empire, on the grounds that they fit with Lucas' running theme of the underdogs or 'little guys' winning the day. But why would the Eworks, who have never seen people before, have a dress that fits Leia perfectly? And if they could just sew something together, why is it far more detailed than their own clothes?

In my Flash Gordon review, I discussed the resemblances that Jedi bears to Mike Hodges' film. To some extent this is a coincidence, since Star Wars was greatly inspired by the original comics, but it's worth reiterating just how close the resemblances are. Both films have heroes in forest communities, both feature a beak-shaped monster with tentacles (in the Special Edition), and both boast imperial guards dressed in red with gas mask-style helmets. Flash Gordon was not a financial success in the USA, but considering its huge cult following and the popularity of Queen, it's fair to presume that Lucas saw the film, and was inspired by it to a generous extent.

In a way, the close resemblance to Flash Gordon also illuminates the central problem with the film. Flash Gordon got away with being so silly because it embraced its source material and was self-contained. But Jedi has the problem of needing to follow up and expand on the darkness of Empire, while also giving the audience plenty of good action and a happy ending. In the end it partially manages both, but also feels distracted and uncertain.

The core of the film - the darkest, most interesting part - is the conflict between Luke and Darth Vader before the Emperor. Not only do we get what is arguably the best lightsaber fight in the series, but these scenes rest on an interesting moral dilemma that picks up where Empire left off. Luke knows that in confronting Vader he risks giving in to anger and surrendering to the Emperor - but if he does nothing, he and all his friends will die. He is torn between repressing his feelings or using them to fight, in full knowledge that either choice could lead to his death. The fight keeps stopping and start to reflect his indecision, and the cutting between the robotic hands of father and son is a good symbol of what Luke threatens to become.

On its own, this scene or series of scenes is really well-played, well-acted and has a great deal of emotional tension. But this tension is undermined when Lucas surrounds it with two bigger, sillier conflicts, both fun to watch in their own way but on too big a scale to enhance the claustrophobia of Luke's conflict. It becomes a case of Marquand cutting every time a particular battle has run out of steam or reached a passingly dramatic line. Even if there was no other way to tie up the story, this third act could have been edited a little more sharply.

The performances in Jedi are all pretty likeable. Harrison Ford is particularly good, showing just how far Han Solo has come. The wide eyes he gives when Leia reveals Luke is her brother sum up the character, being both a cocksure signal of "she's mine!" and a genuine sign of his heart. Mark Hamill and Carrie Fisher are both entertaining, with the former making a believable hero and the latter an interesting sex symbol. Best of all, though, is Ian McDiarmid as Palpatine. Like Alec Guinness and Peter Cushing before him, McDiarmid is fully conscious of the silliness around him, fully enjoying himself and entertain us in the process.

Star Wars: Episode VI - Return of the Jedi is a flawed but enjoyable final instalment to the original trilogy. It doesn't break any new ground or develop the darker moments of Empire with any great success, but it avoids seeming hollow or perfunctory by refining all the good aspects of the first film and feeling all together better-assembled. Whatever the future holds for Star Wars, with Disney or whoever else, this remains a good way to bid farewell to the characters. If nothing else, there's a damn sight more to it than "Muppets in space."
November 8, 2012
Daniel Mumby
Daniel Mumby

Super Reviewer

    1. Jabba the Hutt: Bring me Solo and the Wookiee. They will all suffer for this outrage.
    – Submitted by Adam O (11 months ago)
    1. Han Solo: Boba Fett? Boba Fett? Where?
    – Submitted by Adam O (11 months ago)
    1. Darth Vader: You cannot hide forever, Luke.
    2. Luke Skywalker: I will not fight you.
    – Submitted by Adam O (11 months ago)
    1. Jabba the Hutt: You may have been a good smuggler, but now you're Bantha fodder.
    – Submitted by Adam O (11 months ago)
    1. Han Solo: Who are you?
    2. Princess Leia: Someone who loves you.
    – Submitted by Adam O (11 months ago)
    1. Darth Vader: Obi-Wan has taught you well.
    – Submitted by Adam O (11 months ago)
View all quotes (32)

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Foreign Titles

  • Star Wars : Episode VI - Le Retour du Jedi (FR)
  • El retorno del Jedi (ES)
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