Return of the Jedi - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

Return of the Jedi Reviews

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Super Reviewer
½ January 13, 2010
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.
Super Reviewer
½ March 28, 2007
four and a half stars!!
Super Reviewer
½ July 4, 2007
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.
Daniel Mumby
Super Reviewer
½ October 13, 2012
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 nave 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."
Samuel Riley
Super Reviewer
August 21, 2012
Not the strongest out of the orignal trilogy, but far stronger than the prequels combined. To me, the Ewoks didn't do very much to help the story in Episode VI, but there is still plenty of action, emotion and some more mysteries between characters are revealed.
Super Reviewer
July 27, 2012
The final film of the original trilogy brings the story to a well-deserved ending, regardless of its wandering plot. From its continuous visual expansion to the well-made chemistry of its stars, 'Jedi' still amazes in more ways than one. 4/5
Directors Cat
Super Reviewer
½ November 1, 2011
Return of the Jedi is a fantastic finale to the saga. I believe it has an ultimate cinematic presence despite others saying its the least memorable of the orignal classic trilogy. It is still a classic film, the ultimate, tenseful ending between Vader and Luke is enough to call this one the grandest and largest scale endings to any film franchise.
Super Reviewer
January 11, 2012
Despite this film being the weakest of the original trilogy, it's still a great film. Luke Skywalker is now a Jedi Knight and he has to help rescue Han Solo from the clutches of Jabba the Hutt, the fattest monster to ever be put on the big screen. (Next to Rosie O'Donnell.) Luke Chewbacca, Leia, Lando Calrissian and the droids rescue Han in a pretty good action scene. But my problem with that scene is how they killed Boba Fett, an extremely bad-ass bounty hunter. He appears on-screen for a few seconds, he gets launched in the air accidentally by Han and he falls into the Scarlacc Pit to be devoured. It doesn't sound so bad, but watching it makes you think "Wow, what a pathetic way to get rid of an awesome character." Meanwhile, the Empire is building a new Death Star and we see that Darth Vader is now Lord Sidious's Puppet. So the Rebels plan to destory the Death Star, but also have to destory it's shield generator, which is located on the forest moon of Endor. After a really epic speeder bike chase scene, Luke and the group come across one of the worst things to ever happen to Star Wars: Those f***ing Ewoks. Those little bear creatures were only in this movie for the sake of being merchandising for little children to buy so Lucas could make more money. This is the first time Lucas would ever put more focus on money and special effects rather than story. If ever you would talk to a girl about Star Wars, 90% of them would say "OMG! I like the one with the cute little bears!" NO! Those little bastards almost killed this movie!....Moving on. Luke decides he has to face Vader and tries to convert him from the Dark side because he feels the good in his father. Eventually a three part battle ensues, Lando leading a space battle to destroy the second Death Star, Han leading the rebels and (Shudders) Ewoks to destory the shield generator and Luke dueling Vader in front of the Emperor. During a brief cease in battle, Vader begins to taunt Luke about converting his sister to the Dark side. It is there that Luke realizes Leia is his sister. ( Which is gross because they totally made out in Empire Strikes Back.) That sets Luke off and he chops off Vader's hand, like Vader did to him in the previous movie. Then one off the most epic endings in movie history happens....but I won't spoil it. All in all, this movie isn't as good as the first two in the original trilogy, but it still stands on its own and delivers a very entertaining end to the saga.
Super Reviewer
October 30, 2006
What were the rebel alliance thinking? To any military strategist with half a brain, the obvious way to defeat the Empire's finest shock stormtroopers is to deploy a tribe of furry midgets armed with's so simple when you think about it! Well we all know what went wrong with this one, and it's probably where the rot started to set in. The most annoying thing is that the original concept was to have a tribe of tree dwelling Wookiees cracking stormtrooper cool would that have been?! Despite the obvious drawback of those fuzzy annoyances, it's still proper Star Wars, with the characters we love in their last ditch battle against the Empire. The attack on the Death Star is beautifully choreographed and thrilling, and Luke's final showdown with Vader was everything we hoped for. The DVD update contains more unnecessary CGI, including a musical number in Jabba's palace that's straight out of The Muppet Show (even the Sarlacc has been turned into Audrey II from The Little Shop Of Horrors) a pan-pipe debacle that's even cheesier than the original final Ewok song, and Hayden Christian's gormless pouty face pasted over Anakin at the end. Again, stick to the theatrical version. The weakest of the originals, but still infinitely better than the prequels.
Super Reviewer
October 21, 2011
The worst of the original trilogy, it proves just how fast george lucas descended into hack territory after episode IV.
Super Reviewer
April 8, 2007
Star Wars: Return of the Jedi, from director Richard Marquand, deems itself a successful sequel and finale.Sporting a 2+ hour run time, thanks to a little drag in the middle with the cute and cuddly ewoks, this film is probably a little longer than it should be; nonetheless, from the rescue mission in the beginning to the action-packed finale, this episode holds it together.For all that happens throughout this story, the finale lives up to it all with three tremendous battles taking place at the same time. This alone makes this film a recommendation. Everything is topped off with outstanding sound effects and unique ship designs and weaponry.Aside from the returning cast members, who have great chemistry together, Ian McDiarmid gets the chance to prove himself as Emperor Palpatine. The ewoks, Jabba the Hutt, and Admiral Ackbar are a few of the other standout characters with integral pieces in the story.To sum it all up, Star Wars: Return of the Jedi is science fiction at its best. "May the force be with you."
Super Reviewer
November 19, 2011
Yoda: Luke... Luke... do not... do not underestimate the powers of the Emperor or suffer your father's fate you will.

"The Empire Falls..."

Return of the Jedi is a pretty much perfect ending to an overall perfect trilogy. I still can't say which of the three original films I like the most because they are all just so good. They all have their reasons why people would make one of them their favorite. A New Hope is the first movie and it introduced a new world to viewers. Empire Strikes Back gives plot details about Vader's and Luke's connection, as well as introducing Yoda. Then Return of the Jedi gives us even more details about Vader's and Luke's relationship and gives another Skywalker family detail. It also wraps the whole trilogy off with amazing satisfaction on the viewers part.

The plot picks up with Solo still frozen in carbonite in the possession of Jaba the Hut. Soon all of Luke's friends are being held prisoner by Jaba and he must save them. Luke is now a full fledged Jedi warrior. There is a magnificent battle scene that ends the first part of the movie and then the characters must move on to bigger things, mainly the empire, Vader and the Emperor. Along the way Luke has an emotional talk with Yoda and must face Vader one last time.

There isn't a whole lot you can say about this trilogy that hasn't been said and then re-said a million times before. All I can really say about it is that re-watching the trilogy for the first time since I was five or six showed me just how brilliant the movies were. All of them are visually stunning and plot wise, fun and intelligent. These movies make complete use of its audience's imagination.

Luke: Search your feelings, Father, you can't do this. I feel the conflict within you. Let go of your hate.
Darth Vader: It is too late for me, son. The Emperor will show you the true nature of the Force. He is your master now.
Super Reviewer
March 21, 2011
Return of the Jedi in my opinion is the weaker film of the original trilogy, although that does not mean in any way that it's not fantastic. Acting from the cast is kept at prime, and the visuals are amazing as ever. A few great moments such as the battle at Jabba's Palace, and the climactic battle at Endor are highly entertaining. The film also does a great job at wrapping up the trilogy in a grand way and with the addition of the cute Ewoks It's hard not to love this film. The original Star Wars trilogy is still one of the greatest sci-fi films in history and definitely my favourite.
Super Reviewer
½ August 8, 2007
Probably my fav as a kid because of the endor battle and Jabba. There's alot here to like, the whole Jabba line with the Rancor and Sarlac battles are just cinematic gold, they are brilliant fun and strip any modern film easily. After that you have the brilliant Endor forest battle and a gorgeous space battle with the Falcon, a host of rebel fighters and another trench style finish. Its all enough to blow your mind as it never lets up for a second and is quite quite perfect in execution.
What really hits home is the lack of CGI, can you image a film like this being made today without cgi!! never happen LOL!
And yet Jedi looks stunning, the aliens are obviously puppets but they still look great (thanks to Oz and co) they all have depth and character that you can believe, plus the model and matte paintings work here too! its utter genius and deserves so much praise, cgi? whats that haha.
Super Reviewer
January 22, 2011
Although it cannot match up to it's counterparts, Return of the Jedi is a pure spectacle of brilliant writing and acting, as well as a fitting conclusion for the series. Out of the three originals, this has the best Blu-ray conversion.
Super Reviewer
½ March 28, 2011
Star Wars 6 was great for the second half, but the first half with Jaba the Hutt just annoyed me. The Ewoks were a lousy adding to the Saga, and might be more annoying thzn Jar Jar Binks. But what I will give it credit for is the battle of Luke and Darth Vader at the end and the special effects that made this so amazing. One huge mistake was the stupid final battle on Endor, so lame, all the little bears running around, and compare it to the battle of Hoth in Episode 5, I mean come on. It had its good and bad parts, but I think the final battle of Star Wars Saga couldve been cooler than a bunch of bears running around, but the ultimate confrontation of Luke and Vader is probably in my top 3 moments of the series and is a amazing conclusion yo the saga of Anakin Skywalker.
Super Reviewer
August 1, 2011
A little fast and not as great as the previous two, but you can't hate on the's too great.
Super Reviewer
July 11, 2011
Magnificent and moving conclusion to the Star Wars saga. Worthy of its namesake, Episode VI is a wonderful movie to behold. Especially when seen again, it evokes sentimentality, and that might actually influence my insight to this movie, because nevertheless, the film still has its flaws, I have to say. Return of the Jedi, could have been done better, it is not on par with the cinematic beauty that is to be found in its preceding two episodes. It is not as powerful as it should, I can say that much for the fact that there is another swapping of directors. There were moments of cheese, uncharacteristic of Star Wars, even if this is the type of film to have such, as is common with blockbusters. You'd have to wonder if the film could have been more forceful if Lucas or Kirshner came to direct again. But even so, this is a thrilling movie as it is thoughtful and poignant. It is a monumental achievement, and will continue to inspire wonder as it has these many, many years.
Super Reviewer
½ June 24, 2011
This was the first Star Wars I saw at the theater. I still getting excited during the speedbikes pursuit. Ewoks are legendary as the final duel Luke vs Anakin. I yell when Lando Calrissian destroys the Death Star. I just love it.
Super Reviewer
½ August 4, 2010
Does not disappoint. Fantastic!
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