6. Star Wars: Return of the Jedi
Return of the Jedi is the culminating chapter that crowd-pleasingly ends the original trilogy. Luke’s Jedi training elevates him to the level of a master Jedi. Han and Leia embrace their love for one another. And Anakin finally stands up to Palpatine – Vader is never forgiven for his villainy, but he shows enough affection for his son to unveil more of his three-dimensionality.
Return of the Jedi takes only a few steps back from the preceding entries. Although George Lucas (writer) and Richard Marquand (director) ensure that fans will certainly enjoy the exploits of their favorite characters as their stories build toward gratifying closure, the sixth episode lacks some of the intensity of the earlier films, even though the stakes are never higher. After all, the enigmatic Emperor who formerly operated in the shadows was to be confronted.
To further pinpoint why Return of the Jedi falls short of the first two features in the original trilogy is to identify that the first act of the film is superior to the latter sections. While this is not detrimental to the overall entertainment value of the movie, it obviously was not the goal of the Star Wars grand finale (which is how it was initially framed, at least at the time of Return of the Jedi’s release). It opens with Luke and Leia bravely Infiltrating Jabba the Hutt’s lair, followed by Luke besting the gigantic rancor creature, a stirring scuffle on board the sailing barge with Boba Fett, and Leia ultimately strangling Jabba.
Of course, it would have been superb if the narrative could have kept up that momentum, but the battle of Endor still provides substantial sci-fi escapism. The Ewoks are cuddly and comical and C-3PO is given a funny subplot as their golden god. Lando pilots the Millennium Falcon to join the rebellion in space, while Han and Leia lead the ground forces on the forest moon. And the final lightsaber duel with Luke and Vader is the most gripping of all the concluding threads and prompts a satisfying resolution.