Jedi Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill) saves friends Han Solo (Harrison Ford) and Leia Organa (Carrie Fisher) from certain death before joining the Rebellion in an ultimate attempt to destroy the Galactic Empire by launching a large-scale attack on the new Death Star in the film directed by Richard Marquand.
How do you end your story so that you don’t disappoint your audience? You can’t. Much more so when so many characters are involved, and you ought to find where their own story will end within the greater picture. What will be their final role? Lando, for instance, takes the command of the Millennium Falcon and is in charge of destroying the new Death Star. Han leads the rebellion on Endor, while Luke joins Darth Vader in the hope of killing the Emperor and saving his father. Each character has his own quest. All those stories are part of the bigger picture: the final battle between the Rebellion and the Empire. Good versus Evil. Inevitably, some might find those outcomes to be a bit of disappointment.
Lucas chose to begin the last chapter of his epic space opera story on familiar ground. Luke goes back to Tatooine to deliver his friend Han Solo from the hands of Jabba the Hutt. For many, including the actor portraying the character, this should have resulted in Han Solo’s death. That event would have had a certain emotional weight. I don’t know how I would have reacted to his death as a kid. But, of course, Han was saved and lived to fight. George Lucas is no George R.R. Martin, and always stated that Star Wars was meant for kids. Therefore, the only characters that can die in the Star Wars are the villains. And no blood should be shown. This doesn’t apply to old heroes, however, to some extend. Luke Skywalker meets with Yoda for his last training before becoming a Jedi Master, but the wise Jedi dies and joins the Force just as Obi-Wan did. They’re dead, but not entirely gone, so it’s OK. Knowing all of that, I think it shouldn’t be held against Lucas to have included the Ewoks in the film.
George Lucas is no George R.R. Martin, and always stated that Star Wars was meant for kids.
I know. Some love them, some hate them. Even shows today make fun of that. Remember Barney Stinson’s Ewok Line? He stated that everyone born before May 25, 1973 was therefore told old when Return of the Jedi came out to appreciate the Ewoks. And everyone born after that date loves them. I don’t think it is true, even though it made me laugh my ass off. Yes, they’re there for marketing purposes only. Two films dedicated to them were released on TV in the two years following Return of the Jedi. No, I don’t think they ruined the film. What makes it slightly worse than the others, for me, is that it lacks originality. In my Star Wars reviewed, I talked about how much Star Wars made me dreams of far away planets, even though it didn’t show much of those. This could have been the chance to expend on what Empire did. Instead, they went with Tatooine, which we saw in the first one, Endor, which very much seem like Yavin even though we’re spending more time on it, and a new Death Star. That’s original.
With all that said, I don’t think Return of the Jedi is a bad Star Wars. Far from it, actually. It ends character’s storylines in a satisfying way. Darth Vader comes back from the Dark Side and kills the Emperor to save his son. That’s much more powerful than having Luke becoming the ultimate Jedi and defeating the two. Luke and Leia are siblings, yeah. That leaves space for a love interest, the very first one in Star Wars. The film doesn’t end on the Empire being destroyed, but on the first of the many Battles that will be the end of it. Instead, it ends on a personal note for our characters. After all, aren’t we all watching Star Wars for the same reasons: the characters?