And now, the insane analysis and gushing must come to a halt as I must actually do a reviewer’s job and review. Star Wars and Empire are incredible movies. Return of the Jedi is very, very good. I love it.
But it isn’t perfect. I’m going to lay out some of it’s pros and cons below, as well as my idea of how things should have gone.
Spoilers ahead for a thirty-year-old movie.
Let’s start with the thing I unconditionally love: the Throne Room Duel. High stakes, great choreography, brilliant emotional undertones. And, Sweet Waru, is Ian Diarmid fantastic. He just dominates the screen.
The whole scene is also a brilliant inversion of the Empire duel. Again, Luke comes alone to deal with Vader against the urgings of others. This time, however, he doesn’t go in with his lightsaber swinging. He refuses to fight, tries to win his father over to his side, until Palpatine finally infuriates him enough to ignite the duel. When Vader finally goads him into releasing all his anger, Luke strikes off Vader’s hand: just like Vader cut off his. Vader’s hand is mechanical, just like Luke’s.
And then, when Palpatine asks him to take his father’s place, to give in to his darkness, Luke hurls his lightsaber away and chooses death instead. Vader rushes into save him, redeeming himself in his last act. Fittingly, it is after this that his mask is fully peeled away, revealing the human being beneath the machine.
Luke makes a journey through these films from a reluctant hero to an overeager one to someone who’d risk his life just for the opportunity to save his father and who would rather die than turn to the dark side as his father did. He passes the test Anakin failed.
More than that, he actually surpasses Yoda and Obi-Wan. They wanted him to strike Anakin down, but he found a better way.
Now for some of the flaws.
The Endor battle looks really cool, but it’s hard to follow. The call signs don’t make any sense and the whole thing is nowhere near as coordinated as the amazing trench run in the original film.
Endor itself is a bit underwhelming. I’m no Ewok hater, but they’re not quite what we should have gotten in the final, epic Star Wars film.
Bringing in another Death Star was lazy and repetitive. It doesn’t wreck the film, but I would have preferred something new.
Making Leia into Luke’s sister feels like a quick way to tie up the love triangle and “Other” storylines without really feeling like a satisfactory conclusion to either. I managed to tolerate it before because it gave us Anakin, Jacen, and Jaina as force-sensitives, but now all I get out of it is Kylo Ren, I retract my support.
However, I’m not one of those people who thinks Han should have died. Absolutely not. After the long Jabba’s palace sequence, Han’s death would have felt pointless.
How would I personally have improved it?
Replace Endor and the Death Star with Coruscant/Had Abbadon/Imperial Centre. In the first movie, Luke laments being far from the “bright center of the galaxy,” so let’s take him there. Let’s have our fringe rebels take on the heart of Imperial power.
Have slave labour instead of the Ewoks. Let’s see the Empire’s brutality firsthand.
Have Leia lead the space battle while Han takes out the shield generator himself. Let’s see her in a leadership position, not following Han’s orders.
Leia should not have been Luke’s sister. Instead, the “Other Skywalker” is a sister that’s gone missing. Even Obi-Wan and Yoda don’t know where she is. As Vader is dying, Luke promises him that he’ll find this sister. The film ends with him slipping silently away into an X-Wing with R2. Where is he going? Wherever the Force takes him on his quest to find his sister.
The X-Wing flies off into hyperspace as Luke heads off on his quest, leaving Leia to re-establish the Republic.
Don’t get me wrong. Jedi is a fantastic movie. I love it. But the two previous films were masterpieces that transcended everything and broke the rules. It would have been nice to see a finale that was on par with Empire.