Director - Richard Marquand
So, we come to the last of the original trilogy and whilst this film is a lot cuddlier and less bleak than the middle film, it holds a special place in my heart because of 3 freaking awesome monsters in three teeny tiny roles.
And so.... ladies and gentleman... may I introduce:
In fact, this film has a really impressive overall monster count. From the grandiose of Jabba's palace (and, in fact Jabba himself is a spectacular puppet) to the cute little Ewoks - this is the film where we begin to really see the extended alien life, in a way that hasn't been seen since the cantina in A New Hope.
The film also revisits Yoda, who is awesome, and who gets to have a truly powerful emotional scene. It is testament to Frank Oz's fabulous skills that he can create such a wonderful performance from a tiny puppet.
But there are some flaws in the film too, some pretty massive niggles that pestered me throughout the film - and the first one is to do with a character who has appeared in every single Star Wars film. Return of the Jedi is the film where C3PO becomes rubbish. He is clumsy, he falls over multiple times, he knocks things over. He is the closest this film has to Jar Jar Binks.... but, what makes no sense is.... C3PO IS A ROBOT! Why would you deliberately program a robot to have no spacial awareness and be a clumsy tit.
The other flaw is linked to the Ewoks, but not the Ewoks themselves - I was young enough not to be jaded when I first watched Jedi and I still quite like the cutesy little teddy bears. Anyway, Warwick Davies plays Wicket, so you have to love them. It is the law.
However, I do find it really weird that the Empire's armour can't stand up against the Ewoks and their sticks and stones. If Empire armour can withstand blaster shots, they should be able to withstand being hit by a tree.
But the film's triumphs come through the dark side. This is the film where we finally see Ian McDiarmid playing the Emperor with delicious OTT gusto - and he is a bloody excellent villain. But this is the film where Darth Vader shines. Or, to be more precise, where Anakin Skywalker shines. Because, after two films of being the cold and emotionless general, Darth has his moment of recompense, he has a full arc. It is this moment - where he betrays the Emperor and removes his helmet for his dying breath - which negates the whole point of the prequel trilogy. By providing a back story, you lose the initial mystique of Vader, and the power of his rebellion is sort of lessened. It is the cheapening of Vader that I think is the prequel's greatest crime.
More so than the retconning. After all, even Jedi had retconning. Just read Ben Kenobi's convoluted explanation about how he didn't lie when he said that Anakin had been killed by Vader:
Your father... was seduced by the Dark Side of the Force. He ceased to be Anakin Skywalker and *became* Darth Vader. When that happened, the good man who was your father was destroyed. So what I told you was true... from a certain point of view.
Clutching. At. Straws.
But, as Jedi draws to the end, I remember why I have sat through 3 films with bad quality sound and picture. It was so that I could see Sebastian Shaw play Anakin. Because the one thing worse than having your role cut out of a film is having your role cut out of the film AFTER IT WAS RELEASED and replaced with Hayden fucking Christensen.