|Via Clifford Michael's Flickr Page*|
I know that Return of the Jedi doesn't necessarily have the same clout as The Empire Strikes Back, and the final battle between the Rebel fleet and the second Death Star greatly borrows from the Battle of Yavin from A New Hope. Even the stakes are the same: the entire Rebellion could be wiped out at this very moment, so it's do or die, bitches.
This battle actually kind of goes along with why I like Han Solo so much: it's in this battle that his true colors are shown. He has to work as a team, not only with his people on the ground and with a bunch of teddy bears who don't speak
In contrast to The Lord of the Rings juxtaposing Frodo and Sam's journey with the much more exciting trials of Aragorn, Legolas, Gimli, Merry, and Pippin, Richard Marquand managed to balance the three major battles going on simultaneously: 1) Han, Leia, Threepio, Artoo, etc. on the moon against the 501st, the best the Empire has to offer in terms of military power, 2) the Rebel and Imperial fleets in space, and 3) Luke versus Darth Vader and the Emperor. Whenever the action is paused to check up on another thread, I don't find myself rolling my eyes or getting up to go to the bathroom or check on my cheeseless pizza in the oven. All three sequences tie in together so well and play off what is going on in the others. The initial foray into battle is full of overconfidence until everyone realizes that "its a trap!" The Rebel fleet can't advance until Han and Co. is able to destroy the shield, and Luke's near-fall to the Dark Side occurs at this very moment, as well. Victory, both bittersweet and joyous, occurs at the same time, only following the theme of those characters' story arcs: while the space and planet scenes have managed to defeat a more powerful foe and are thus celebrating, Luke has to deal with the fact that, although he did defeat the Emperor and save his father's soul, he still had to watch Anakin Skywalker perish.
Plus, the music is just kickass.
Star Wars, Episode VI: Return of the Jedi Soundtrack - "The Battle of Endor I"
I think that's what really sets this battle apart from the others: John Williams' score. Say what you will about him, but Williams was a big part of Star Wars' success. I'll get back to him on Days 22 and 26, but I just really wanted to add the above video.