With the release of Star Wars: The Force Awakens getting closer and closer, we’ve decided to look back at the good and bad of the two trilogies which preceded this new one. The original and prequel trilogies are very different, but so too are the six movies which make them up, and they all have characters, moments, or plot beats which did or didn’t work.
Return of the Jedi is a little more divisive than A New Hope and The Empire Strikes Back, making it quite a bit easier to zero in on some of the movie’s slightly weaker points.
Of course, that’s not to say it didn’t have plenty of redeeming qualities, and it’s fair to say that the movie did an effective enough job of bringing the stories of these characters to an end (albeit until the release of The Force Awakens).
So, here, we take a look at the five biggest things which worked and the five which most definitely didn’t in Return of the Jedi.
5. The Jedi Knight
What a difference a year makes, eh? When Return of the Jedi begins, Luke has enacted a clever plan to rescue Han Solo from the clutches of Jabba the Hutt, and when we see him for the first time here, he’s become a fully fledged Jedi Knight.
Displaying some amazing lightsaber skills and a mastery of the Force, the one time farm boy couldn’t have been any different upon his return to Tatooine. With his black robes and brand new green lightsaber (an interesting change), he looked every bit the part too.
The current Star Wars comic books from Marvel are filling in the gaps between A New Hope and The Empire Strikes Back, so here’s hoping a future batch will further explore how Luke underwent this transformation.
4. Endor Speeder Chase
One of the most exciting and overlooked action sequences in the original trilogy, Luke and Leia racing through the forests of Endor while being pursued by Stormtroopers stands as out as one of the franchise’s most kinetic and well put together set pieces.
Essentially flying motorbikes, the speeders made for a unique visual, especially as the previous movies had spent so much time in the air. Lucas would of course recapture this same excitement years later with the Podrace in the otherwise disappointing The Phantom Menace.
Alas, this one took an admittedly rather sour turn when it led to Luke and Leia meeting the Ewoks, something which proves once and for all that all good things do indeed come to an end.
3. Slave Leia
It’s recently been reported that Disney will stop producing any merchandise with Princess Leia in her slave get up, a decision which is understandable in many ways, but one that not even Carrie Fisher agrees with. That’s a shame though, because regardless of how absolutely incredible the actress looked in this costume, she also got to kick some serious ass.
Bear in mind that Leia was responsible for killing Jabba the Hutt while chained up, giving her a role as pivotal as that of Luke and Han, and proving that she was no longer the vulnerable girl who had to be rescued in A New Hope. The fact she did it all while looking downright incredible was obviously a bonus, and the costume is of course now iconic.