After seeing Episode VII, we rewatched the previous films. Some thoughts...
There may be spoilers for Episodes I through VI below! ...but none for Episode VII.
Episode VI: I’ve always had an issue with the fact that Luke—now calling himself a Jedi—acts in bad-faith right-off-the-bat at the top of the movie.
If Dagobah in Episode V was a muppet movie, Jabba’s palace is doubly so. Again, for both good and ill.
Then we learn that Luke has not been back to Dagobah since the end of Episode V. Yoda says he already knows what he needs to know. He just needs to confront Vader. (Wait...isn’t that exactly what he already did?) Just so we’re clear on this: The message of episodes V and VI are that spending a lot of time training isn’t really a key to being a Jedi. For good or ill.
As strong as Leia is depicted, she’s still not allowed to be quite as heroic as the guys.
Does what happens between Luke, the Emperor, and Vader matter to the outcome of the story? Perhaps...if the Emperor was powerful enough to prevent or survive the destruction of the second Death Star.
But, watching it this time, I don’t think it matters. It is OK if Vader’s redemption doesn’t matter to the universe at large. It’s enough for it to stand on its own.
It does seem a bit too easy, though. Presumably it wasn’t, as Vader is dying afterwards. But the film doesn’t really communicate the effort required or the injury...