Return of the Jedi's 2160p/HDR UHD presentation suffers from the same core issues that plague The Empire Strikes Back. More on those below, but first a bit of good news from film's start. When Vader arrives on the Death Star in the opening moments, the sense of overall clarity and definition is revealed to be just about the best from the original trilogy. The crisp lines on the Imperial officer's uniform look great and the skin definition is strong as well. Vader's costume is shiny and bold and overhead long shots show the Death Star and the shuttle in fine detail. Still, it's immediately apparent that grain is frozen in place. Indeed, parts of the film looks rather good: sharp, precise, and capable. Noise reduction has not destroyed the whole image, but it has wreaked havoc on most of it. It's easy to spot and will undoubtedly leave videophiles lamenting Disney's poor choices with the original trilogy (and The Phantom Menace as well). One of the most obvious locations to take in the frozen grain comes in chapter 16 when the Rebels are planning the attack on the Death Star and the assault on Endor. Processing is certainly in evidence here, and elsewhere. Look at Han at the 1:02:23 mark. It's a fuzzy, poorly defined shot, just about the worst the movie has to offer, forgivable as a one-off but it's emblematic of the whole. On Endor, there are signs of scrubbing throughout, robbing the foliage and trees of their natural stout definition. When Leia meets Wicket in chapter 22, bits and pieces of terrain are sharp but her outfit and face look smeary and backgrounds are plainly robbed of the natural grain structure. The battle on Endor at film's end looks constantly poor: filtered, flat, smudgy. Some of the shots when the rebels meet the Ewoks in chapter 24 are quite sharp. Some are not. That's the story with this one. Good-not-great in places, poor in too many others.
HDR colors are at least well balanced. Nothing really stands apart or as radically transformed but there is at least a sense of tonal boost and solidification, of little tweaks and increases to depth and nuance that give the movie a more expressive appearance. As with the other films, the opening crawl has been deepened a good bit to the point that it doesn't really look like the same color everyone's used to seeing for the past few decades. The movie takes place, predominately, in three main locations: Tatooine in the first act and Endor and the Death Star in the second and third. There's a sprinkling of Dagobah and Rebel command centers in the middle act, too, but it's mostly desert beiges, natural greens, and slick black and gray Death Star interiors. HDR is kind to all of them, bringing an added dimension of exterior brightness to Tatooine, contrasted with the relatively dark and dank palace interiors where black level depth is improved and little odds and ends colors on light panels and the like enjoy more bountiful intensity. Natural greens on Endor are pleasantly bold across a variety of green tones but the smoothed-over details do the colors no real favors. Those slick Death Star interiors shine and the lightsabers enjoy robust pop during Vader's clash with Luke. Skin tones are tonally fine but do have a sometimes pasty appearance in conjunction with some of the noise reduction that's taken place. Return of the Jedi has some of the best looking shots of the original trilogy but greatly disappoints in total.
Return of the Jedi's Dolby Atmos soundtrack sounds just fine with the volume turned up a bit from calibrated reference norms. Musical output is agreeable, presenting with wide spacing, immersive surround extension, and heathy low end. Clarity is excellent across occurrences of John Williams' iconic score. The track offers plenty of opportunity for big, wide engagement. Certainly the space battle in the final act is the absolute highlight for zipping ships and blasting lasers, but a number of other scenes enjoy fruitful, surround intensive moments, from the deserts of Tatooine to the forests of Endor. The speeder bike chase sequence in chapter 21 is of particular interest; the fast movement is matched only by the depth and clarity of the finely tuned effects. The battle on Endor delivers impressive stage fullness, with laser blasts and clanking AT-STs blending with screeching and squealing Ewoks heard in abundance. The Atmos channels mostly support rather than dominate or deliver discrete effects, which is fine; the sound design is already packed and the added channels simply help create more immersive Star Wars atmosphere. Dialogue is firm and clear from its front-center location.
4K Bluray detailsVideo
Codec: HEVC / H.265
Resolution: Native 4K (2160p)
Aspect ratio: 2.39:1
Original aspect ratio: 2.39:1
English: Dolby TrueHD 7.1 (48kHz, 24-bit)
Spanish: Dolby Digital 5.1 EX
French: Dolby Digital Plus 7.1
Japanese: Dolby Digital Plus 7.1
4K Ultra HD
Three-disc set (1 BD-66, 1 BD-25, 1 BD-50)
Movies Anywhere, iTunes, Vudu, Google Play
Slipcover in original pressing
4K Blu-ray: Region free
2K Blu-ray: Region free