Countdown To 'The Force Awakens': Remembering 'Return Of The Jedi'

Star Wars: The Force Awakens is almost upon us and you know what that means... it's time to revisit the rest of the Star Wars saga for the thousandth time (give or take a few viewings). To get through the final days leading up the biggest movie geek event of the past decade, we're dedicating each day this week to one of the other six Star Wars movies. It's time to chat about what we love about each movie and what we don't love. It's time to bring up the common nitpicks and the most beloved scenes, the tiny little details we love and the the concepts that don't get enough attention.

Consider this your invitation to use the comments section below as a catch-all for any kind of Star Wars conversation you desire. This week is for you. The fan. Enjoy it.

Previously we've looked back at The Phantom MenaceAttack of the ClonesRevenge of the SithA New Hope, and The Empire Strikes BackToday's subject: Return of the Jedi.

luke return of the jedi


Luke and Darth Vader's Hard Choices

While the big space battle to destroy the second Death Star rages outside and Han Solo and Leia engage Imperial forces on the ground on Endor, Luke Skywalker and his father have a moment. Easily the best portion of the film's three-pronged climax, the final duel between Darth Vader and Luke feels like it matters on a deep and vital character level. These two guys, the central characters of the original trilogy, aren't battling to overthrow a government – they're battling for each other's souls. Luke realizing that he's weak enough to give into hate, and Vader realizing that blood is stronger than the Dark Side, contain more pathos and emotion than the much flasher action sequences occurring elsewhere.

Admiral Ackbar return of the jediThe Quiet Acting of Admiral Ackbar

Everyone likes to joke about Admiral Ackbar. His signature line of dialogue, "It's a trap," has become a geek punchline. But that's almost unfair to this quietly great character, who carries with him a surprising amount of history and emotion. Upon first glance, he feels like an expositional tool, a figure of authority to bark orders and explain why things are going badly or why they're going well. But watch him in the heat of battle. Watch his face when his men manage to take down that Super Star Destroyer. This guy is a weary veteran, thankful for any and every victory. He couldn't look less human, but you can read so much in this alien catfish's race.

Jabba's PalaceThe Vibe at Jabba's Palace

Many fans have accused the sequences at Jabba's palace as being a desperate attempt to recapture the the Mos Eisley Cantina in the original film... and they're half-right. These scenes undoubtedly want to recall that ideal scene, which showcased just how big the Star Wars universe really is, but they have their own unique flavor. These strange creatures don't feel like the blue collar, slightly crooked bar-goers from the original movie. They feel gaudier, more ostentatious. They're hanging out in Jabba's court because they want to be seen. They crave the attention of being in the proximity to a powerful guy. Recoiling at these aliens is the point – they're intergalactic douchebags.



The Grand Finale

The Death Star has been destroyed. Many lives have been lost. The Empire has taken a crippling blow. Luke Skywalker burns the body of his father, redeemed in his final moments for three decades of evil. And then... everyone gathers in a tree house for a big dance party that is all smiles and laughter and songs from teddy bears. What should be a sequence of reflection is actually a little embarrassing. Thankfully, The Force Awakens seems to be working overtime to rectify this conclusion.

return of the jedi han soloWhat a Waste of Han Solo

Our heroes spend the first third of Return of the Jedi rescuing Han Solo and then... nothing. There's nothing Han does in this movie that Leia couldn't have done in his place. It's no wonder Harrison Ford begged George Lucas to kill him off in the final battle. As it stands, the most charismatic character in the original trilogy contributes next-to-nothing to the trilogy's grand finale.

return of the jedi deathstarCopy-and-Paste Threat

Another Death Star? Really? You movie series takes place in a massive universe filled with infinite possibilities and you decide to copy-and-paste the threat from the first movie? How redundant. How disappointing. They really couldn't have cooked up a completely different super-weapon?