The Force Awakens is set to release here TOMORROW (expect a review) and, in honour of the HUGELY anticipated return of the Star Wars franchise, I have decided to go back and revisit and re-view each of the prior films in the beloved franchise every day this week. And now, continuing my countdown, we're visiting the conclusion to the original trilogy - Return of the Jedi.

After having reviewed both the original Star Wars film and The Empire Strikes Back so far this week, it's now time to conclude my 'retro reviews' of the original trilogy with the film that concluded the saga: Star Wars: Return of the Jedi. Whilst most people would favour its predecessor as, arguably, the best film in this franchise, I'm one of the few people that has the controversial opinion of this film being my favourite. I do think that The Empire Strikes Back is the better film but this my favourite; massively fun and tying things up with a bow. Rarely do you get a franchise that is so consistent and so good throughout - from start to finish - but Return of the Jedi is a fitting followup to two revolutionary films.

We pick up after The Empire Strikes Back, with the Empire on a high-point, rebuilding a bigger and better Death Star. Now frozen  in carbonite, Han (Harrison Ford) finds himself as a prisoner of Jabbu the Hut, whilst Leia (Carrie Fisher) disguises as a bounty hunter to try come to his rescue, only to get caught and captured by the outlaw gangster too. With the help of R2-D2 and C-3P0 (Anthony Daniels), Luke (Mark Hamill) breaks into Jabba's palace to rescue his friends. Returning to complete his Jedi training afterwards, he leaves Solo and Leia, who regroup with the Rebel fleet and plan an attack on a battle station on the planet of Endor - where the natural inhabitants, the Ewoks, lend a hand in the war. Returning to help fight the Empire, Luke surrenders to his father, Darth Vader (James Earl Jones), on Endor, and is finally confronted by the Lord behind the Empire, the Emperor (Ian McDiarmid), who tries to lure the young Jedi Knight to the dark side.

As tends to be the case with most trilogies, the third act is normally the weakest - tasked with having to tie up all loose ends and polish up and conclude the story that has come before. However, as is the case with the Star Wars franchise, consistently surpassing expectations and breaking the conventions, Return of the Jedi matches its predecessors blow for blow and is yet another strong, solid instalment in the saga. With The Empire Strikes Back, we were left with more questions than had been answered - leaving us salvaging off of the cliffhanger in which we left the Empire and the villains on a high-point, victorious and winning - and this film did a wonderful job of lacing things together and wrapping this franchise up. 1977's Star Wars established this world and introduced us to these characters, The Empire Strikes Back set the stakes high and got us invested into the premise and Return of the Jedi closed off the saga, giving us our long-awaited resolution.
Right from the opening, we're thrown straight back into the swing of things. Time has progressed since the last film but we instantly get so immersed into this world, from the opening shot to the last. It's a testament to writer George Lucas for having created and realised such a world on the big-screen, to the extent that we can get so immersed and invested into it again, right from the off-set - without any hindrance, almost as of no time has passed since we last met these characters (in reality, when the film initially released, there was a 3 year gap but people were still able to jump straight into the proceedings). As was done in its predecessor, Return of the Jedi continues to further expand the Star Wars Universe - with the introduction of more planets and more characters. But, this doesn't take away from everything that has already been established and Lucas still focuses on adding to the characters we've already seen develop throughout the past two films: we finally get to see Luke as an all-powerful Jedi, taking on Vader and the Emperor - having grown with him from a hopeful youth to now; we get the reveal of Anakin Skywalker, under the Vader mask, and see the light side in him take hold just before he dies; we get our first encounter with the intimidating and terrifyingly creepy Emperor.
 
The film manages to maintain everything that was so great about the prior two instalments in the franchise. The film looks glorious and the SFX and visuals, whilst not quite as good or believable as the other two films, are stunning, nonetheless. There are times in which the CG is obvious and doesn't feel quite as rendered or immersive as what we saw in the original or in The Empire Strikes Back, taking us out of the moment but, for its time, Return of the Jedi still looks good and there are still plenty of moments in which the effects are just as gorgeous as we'd expect them to be. The direction of the film is remarkable, with some truly great filmmaking craftsmanship on offer. The cinematography is marvellous and this is perhaps the most incredibly and impressively shot film from the original trilogy, with some truly astounding and stylish shots of the forest landscape we see on Endor or the barren, scorched landscape of Jabba's Palace. The score is - as always - profound and wonderful too. And the actors deliver exceptional performances too, layered with nuance and emotion and heart and passion and charisma and energy.

The fact of the matter is, Return of the Jedi is yet another haven of pure genius. The premise is enthralling and massively entertaining, doing a terrific job of concluding the story that we've seen go on throughout the trilogy. We get a satisfying and very fitting conclusion to one of the most epic sagas ever and a touching send-off to some of the most iconic characters in cinema too; it's nice to see such a resolution to their stories. This is a fun and heartfelt and entertaining film that features some incredible acting, incredible filmmaking and some incredible visuals, albeit if a little sporadic in consistency and not as good as what came before. There are few tonal inconsistencies too and the film's opening can drag on by a hair but, aside from that, this is another triumph and a fine, eloquent way to conclude the phenomenal original trilogy.

VERDICT:
Yet another veritable triumph, Star Wars: Return of the Jedi is another entertaining and incredible Star Wars film and a fine, eloquent and fitting conclusion to one of the greatest cinematic trilogies ever.


 

About the Author

Awais Irfan
Founder of Oasis Awais, and avid lover of life, Awais Irfan's love of writing and film is unequivocal. Ever since he was a little kid, he has loved the cinematic experience; so much so, he is studying Film Production in Glasgow and hopes to be the next "big thing" in directing.

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