|Star Wars: Return of the Jedi (1983)
Starring: Mark Hamill, Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher, Billy Dee Williams
Director: Richard Marquand
ALSO! Be sure to read our review of the "Star Wars Trilogy" DVD.
The grand finale to George Lucas' "Star Wars" saga, "Return of the Jedi," may be the worst received of the three films, but it wraps up his tale of farmboy-turned-hero Luke Skywalker with the same great storytelling as its predecessors. Along with some equally captivating special effects and a heavy dose of action, "Return of the Jedi" is still a solid combination of everything you love about the first two movies.
Following the events of "The Empire Strikes Back," the evil Republic is still wreaking havoc across the galaxy with the construction of a second Death Star. On the other side of the Force, our beloved heroes have regrouped with a new plan to destroy the Republic for good, but Han Solo (Harrison Ford), who's still frozen in carbonite, is on display at Jabba the Hutt's bounty hunter hangout, and Princess Leia (Carrie Fisher) has become enslaved after a failed rescue mission. The ill-fated lovers seem destined to rot away until Luke (Mark Hamill) knocks down the door and shows off his newly acquired Jedi skills alongside Lando Calrissian (Billy Dee Williams), who's joined Luke in an attempt to regain his good guy status. After saving his friends from the slimy grasp of Jabba the Hutt, Luke and Co. head for the planet of Endor where they plan to destroy the Death Star's force field before Darth Vader can spoil their plans.
Lucas has been criticized by a lot of fans for suddenly gearing the series more towards kids in the third movie -- probably due to the addition of the teddy-bear like Ewoks who inhabit Endor -- but this remains my favorite installment in the trilogy simply because it capitalizes on every successful element from the past two films and makes room for more memorable moments. Sure, "Return of the Jedi" establishes the final confrontation between good and evil, but it's also about family. Luke and Leia discover that they're actually twins (making that kiss in "A New Hope" even more uncomfortable than it already was) and Vader shows human emotion for the first time. "A New Hope" raised the bar for future generations. "The Empire Strikes Back" proved to fans and critics that it could only get better. "Return of the Jedi," meanwhile, delivers the perfect bookend that moviegoers will almost likely never find in theaters again.