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Opinion: Return Of The Jedi is Very Underrated. Do You Agree? — Page 2

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“That feels like a lot of nitpicking, and I’m not sure if it’s really valid.”

I’m looking at how from a logical view the throne room scene works. Also, I read and skimmed through the production, including Lucas’s thoughts from The Making of Return of the Jedi. In addition, some snippets from the rough drafts to figure context. I’ve become more convinced over the years that Jedi doesn’t really add up.

Normally, most fans don’t really look at ROTJ’s script. I looked at imdsb’s third draft, which is extremely revealing about the film. Also, I’ve re-watched ROTJ fairly recently. Comparing the film’s dialogue between ROTJ and TESB shows a lot of repetition and borrowing from TESB, or warping the words around lazily, which I’ve seen TROS do recently (TFA: Rey: I’m not going to get you anything. Kylo Ren (cocky): We’ll see.; TROS: Rey: We’ll see.). Luke does a similar thing but with Vader on the bridge scene in multiple parts:

TESB Vader: Now release your anger, only your hatred can destroy me!
TESB Vader: Search your feelings, you know it to be true!
ROTJ Luke: Search your feelings, father, you can’t do this. I feel the conflict within you, let go of your hate!

TESB Vader: Son… come with me.
ROTJ Luke: Come with me.

The manner in which ROTJ Luke inverts the situation makes ROTJ Luke to be the supposedly more threatening one here, but it also insults TESB Vader at the same time, tbh.

It’s a bit cringy, honestly- it doesn’t feel like Luke is on even ground with Vader; it feels like he’s insulting Vader or forcing him to change, rather than a mutual understanding, which I got better during Luke’s duel with Vader in TESB.

TESB Bespin Cloud City:
Vader: Your destiny lies with me, Skywalker- Obi-Wan knew this to be true.
(Luke tries looking away once, probably for an opening to escape). Luke (looking straight at Vader again, then boldly): No.

Vader: With our combined strength, we can end this destructive conflict and bring order to the galaxy.
Luke (still distressed from the loss of his hand): I’ll never join you!

The general lack of emotion from Hamill in the bridge scene (with a questionable reliance on head nodding and shaking to convey non-verbal meaning) is hard for the audience to emphasize with. When David Prowse is doing a better job emoting in the Darth Vader suit than Hamill, something is off.

Luke acting actively by challenging Vader through generally emotionless gestures and cold, indifferent words likely to “punish” Vader (“Then, my father is truly dead.”) is rather inconsistent with Empire’s ending where Luke was scared by Vader nearly killing him and his emotions at the end- denial- fear, horror, acknowledgement of Vader’s relationship with him. Luke was trying to get away from Vader at the end, when Vader cut off his hand, since he was a threat, now Luke is threatening Vader.

“The whole point of that scene is that the audience can’t be sure if Palpatine is telling the truth. He’s manipulative, what he says to one person can be different from what he says to another.”

Unfortunately, from what I have discovered, the ROTJ emperor actually has part of Vader’s idea of “only your hatred can destroy me”- it was discussed during the production of the film, which means that the Emperor is part TESB Vader.

One could assert that the Emperor taught Vader this philosophy, but it wasn’t created until ROTJ’s production.

“He acts like he doesn’t care about Luke, but in reality he’s afraid.”

Can you cite evidence of this? Several-several times in the film- the emperor is unafraid of Luke- dismissing his guards in front of him, taking his lightsaber confidently, calling it a “Jedi weapon”, encouraging Luke to strike him down in order to start the fight (or is convinced that Luke will go to the dark side as soon as it happens), and calling Luke- the threat in Empire- “a young fool”.

“He knows the light is more powerful than the darkness, and tries his best to eliminate the closest threat to his power.”

No, he doesn’t. It’s because the emperor’s petty, and Luke’s a twerp to him.

Lucas:… "But Luke turns off his lazer sword, throws it at the Emperor. “I have controlled my hate;I don’t hate my father. If you are so much on the dark side, you kill me- I dare you.”

“The Emperor gets enraged. The Emperor has a temper. He is a hateful, angry person, and so he says, “You little twerp!” And maybe he does what I had in the other script [either the first rough summary or its revision] where he starts shooting lightning bolts and Luke starts gasping for breath.”- p. 73, The Making of Return of the Jedi

“But he didn’t realize that the closest threat to him was his own second-in-command. Him not realizing that Vader will betray him is a key plot point, it’s not a hole in the story or anything like that.”

It’s a forced plot point, actually. Long before Rian Johnson did his “plot twists”, which mostly do actually have set-ups proceeding the said twists, and these set-ups make sense. I can’t say the same for Return.

Vader’s Motivation, Part II
Lucas: I don’t like the idea of Vader saying to Luke, “Come on over to our side.” Let’s forget what Vader is really trying to do, kill the Emperor.- p. 73, The Making of Return of the Jedi

Vader’s motivation of having Luke join him is almost entirely absent from the film, except for a deleted scene in ROTJ, with Vader calling out to Luke to join him. Even then, Vader doesn’t go into specifics-i.e. kill the Emperor, train with me more, rule the whole galaxy, etc. It is mostly implied “give yourself to the dark side” and is extremely vague.

When Vader has the opportunity to destroy the Emperor early on when Luke decides to full-on attack the Emperor, he chickens out, even though “Luke’s skills are complete?” Luke is now the foreseen threat to the Emperor, and if we are to take the Emperor seriously at his declaration that Luke will complete his training to the dark side; he was only an act away from the dark side (doesn’t make sense, but if it’s true, then Luke is extremely powerful). Vader: “You don’t know the power of the dark side!” Sometimes the comments are leaning towards favoring the Emperor “It is pointless to resist, my son.” [i.e. The emperor’s offer to the dark side] “The emperor is your master now”.

“He claimed that Luke had a lack of vision, but in reality he was the one who couldn’t forsee his own demise.”"
True- fair enough.

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I think RotJ is, for the most part, better than a lot of the SW movies that came after it. But I also feel like it’s the one that suffered the most from Lucas’ changes, which contributes to me feeling like it’s the weakest of the original three. The Jedi Rocks dance number, Ghost Hayden and Vader’s added “No!” were awful additions and it leaves me borderline angry whenever I watch them.

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That’s a big wall of text, Birdwatcher. I personally think that if you need to do some insanely complicated metatextual reading in order to explain why a certain scene is bad, then you’re reaching a bit too far. I’m not a big fan of the Plinkett-style long-form criticism, I prefer to just look at what’s in the movie. And when I watch the movie, I still think the throne room part is great. It’s hard to put into words why, though.

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TheBirdwatcher said:
The manner in which ROTJ Luke inverts the situation makes ROTJ Luke to be the supposedly more threatening one here, but it also insults TESB Vader at the same time, tbh.

Like many fans, you do not understand (or do not like) the concept called character development. If Vader stayed the same as in ANH and ESB, there would be no character development and it would be boring. Vader at the end of ESB was profoundly affected by the encounter with Luke (something he did not expect in the slightest) and ROTJ perfectly develops upon that. Luke’s character developed from ESB as well and ROTJ did a great job at it.

Same goes for fans wanting the “old Han” nonsense. If he stayed the same as in ANH and for the large portion of ESB, there would be basically no character development, which would be boring.

In the end, ROTJ does pretty much the most character development of the three films.

真実

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Lucas acknowledged in the ROTJ story conferences that he was basically jettisoning Vader’s old motivation of wanting to overthrow the Emperor and rule alongside Luke.

Which makes sense, for the dramatic needs of the film - Vader as a seemingly helpless puppet of the Emperor who doesn’t realize he can kill his master is much more amenable to redemption than a Vader who craves power and merely thinks the wrong guy is in charge.

But it does create a discontinuity with the more personally ambitious, selfish Vader in ESB. I suppose with the idea during ESB’s filming that the third film would feed into a Sequel Trilogy with Luke’s lost sister, Vader’s redemption wasn’t a pre-determined part of the saga plotline. It still could’ve happened, but it wasn’t a necessary dramatic keystone.

In which case it’s possible to imagine a Vader who remains evil and selfish, and a Luke who won’t kill his father but lets him die from a perilous situation. Like Batman letting Ra’s Al Ghul die in Batman Begins - or a robot “letting a human come to harm through inaction”, in the phrasing of Asimov’s Laws of Robotics.

“That Darth Vader, man. Sure does love eating Jedi.”

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I think ROTJ has some minor flaws, but I still think it’s a great movie. It blows me away that some people think TLJ or ROTS are better films. (They’re entitled to their opinion, I just can’t see it)

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What imo makes Jedi unique is the 2nd act. Taking this stuff at face value and just looking at it from a story and character stance really makes Jedi separate from Empire and SW/ANH. Luke finding out the truth from Yoda about Vader, him finding out Leia is his sister from Obi, him telling Leia about them being related and Vader is their father and her having the ability to use the force. Before I go on I love it after Luke walks off to Vader and Han comes out to see what’s going on and see something is wrong, he gets agitated because Leia won’t tell him. Old Han would’ve walked away but he actually stops and turns to apologize . Leia was told a huge load of stuff and is trying to take it all in. She goes to Han for comfort. Then the talk between Vader and Luke on the landing platform about him accepting the truth of Vader being his father and him trying to turn him and Vader just accepting how far gone down the Darkside he is and Luke saying “He’s Father it truly dead.” You don’t see Vader react to it until he is alone on the walkway. I imagine that really started inside him the turn. He is truly reflecting what he became and what life could’ve been and maybe Luke was right, but we see what happens later when he saves him.

All my life as I looked away to the future, to the horizon. Never in my mind did I know where I was, what I was doing.

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The acting in ROTJ is not great. From Carrie, Harry, and Mark. It’s like the editor didn’t care and grabbed the worst takes. Maybe they were practicing for the Christmas special.

heil palpatine.

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IMO it’s actually ANH that’s the black sheep of the OT and not ROTJ. ESB and ROTJ both had much more more emotional depth then ANH which glossed over even a whole planet’s destruction with a population of millions to just be a fun space epic. ANH is still a great film but I’m willing to admit there’s some deep emotional depth not touched on in there, and dark stuff that doesn’t feel as dark as it really is because of the way it’s presented. You have an entire planet blown up full of millions of people glossed over, Leia doesn’t even have a scene where she grieves over it, Leia gets tortured and it doesn’t feel as dark as it should (compare with the similar scene in ESB with Vader and Han, in which you have dark music and hear Han’s painful screams), and Luke is stone cold when his best friend dies and there’s no mention of him afterwards. I will give it credit for Owen and Beru’s death, Luke mourning Obi-Wan and Obi-Wan recalling the fall of the Republic though (the looks on his face perfectly show that he’s been through some tragic stuff).

Plus it has no Imperial March, it was before Vader underwent his epic makeover (new shiny helmet, way cooler looking chest plate, actual chest lights, etc.; he didn’t look bad at all in ANH, he still looks awesome, but I feel like anybody who says they didn’t improve his look in ESB onwards is lying to themselves), it looks like its on less of a budget (which to be fair is because it was), in general aesthetic ESB and ROTJ look more alike then ANH does to ESB and ROTJ, ANH focuses a lot less on powerful Force users like the Jedi and Sith and more on more… I guess ordinary people? Like pilots, bounty hunters and politicians (ordinary is probably a bad word and an understatement but compared to Jedi and Sith they definitely feel ordinary). Which in and of itself isn’t a bad thing (I love the Mandalorian… a ton; I think its because of emotional depth, stunning atmosphere and great character development that I don’t mind the fact that its less about force users) but I like more balance. Now I’m not hating on ANH here, it’s got great story, character development, revolutionary special effects, excellent music, it’s a ton of fun, yada yada yada, but I’m just saying why ROTJ has more appeal to my modern sensibilities. I love movies that make me feel and think more, and the thing that interests me most about Star Wars is the Jedi and Sith and the powerful force users in the PT and OT.

I know people will bring up the Ewoks as a way of saying how ROTJ is supposedly way more kid friendly, but think about the heavy stuff in the stuff with Vader, Luke, Sidious, Yoda, and Obi-Wan. That scene with Luke and Vader on Endor with Luke telling his father to come with him is one of my favorite movie scenes of all time and incredibly powerful and deep. It’s a meaningful, beautiful conversation between a son and his father who went on the wrong path and let his rage consume him and lost everything he had ever loved, and his son is trying to help him out of the horrible trap he’s fallen into. When Vader says “It’s too late for me, son”, that shit hits hard because I know what it’s like to hate myself because I messed up and think it’s too late for me to dig myself out of a hole I’ve dug myself into. It’s emotional and deep and part of why Anakin Skywalker/Darth Vader is my favorite character of all time. Obi-Wan and Luke’s conversation on Dagobah is also very deep. Though I think someone said it’s because he was sick of doing the movies, Alec Guinness looking more tired and depressed actually works very well as he reminisces about Anakin and talks about how he’s “More machine then man.” And when Vader goes back to being Anakin and saves his son from the Emperor is my favorite movie scene of all time. It’s very dark and powerful. Luke’s screams for help are heart wrenching and when Anakin picks up the Emperor it feels so triumphant, and then it feels so touching when Luke goes over to his father and comforts him. Anakin’s death is also impactful and sad, I don’t cry but I almost do. The whole thing has the emotional depth of an ocean and it gives it the screen time and gravitas it deserves. The acting is utterly incredible and the character development is phenomenal and tugs at my heart.

Even think about some of the stuff at Jabba’s palace. You got sex slaves that are dropped to their death underneath a trap door where a monster will eat them if they are disobedient. If anything the Ewok stuff is there to balance the fact that everything else is so serious and dark. It’d be a very dour, dark film otherwise.

So yes, I’d say underrated. For me its ESB > ROTJ > ANH.

My Star Wars Fan-Edits
Proud creator of Dinosauria: Ascension, Domination, Downfall

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I really don’t like the term “underrated” (or “overrated”) for that matter.

Calling something underrated without any context is not useful. What is it’s current rating? Are we assigning a numerical value for it? If it’s currently rated 8.1 but I think it’s an 8.2 is it still worth calling it out for being underrated? If we constantly call something underrated does it then become overrated?

I would prefer to just rate the film and keep it at that.

That being said, Return of the Jedi is my second favorite Star Wars film (behind the original) and is in my top ten films of all time.

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I do think a lot of fans are overly harsh on RotJ. It’s my third favorite film in the franchise and will always be a personal favorite of mine when speaking about films in general.

People can always discuss what could’ve been done differently with the film and argue over the validity of different creative decisions, but when you get down to it, it’s a really good movie that does a great job of closing off the trilogy and wrapping up the overarching stories of both the OT and (in hindsight) the prequels.

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I certainly have a lot of nostalgia for that film, considering that it was the first Star Wars film I ever saw as far as I recall. However, I’d still say it’s a vast downgrade from Star Wars and Empire. Besides Luke and Vader’s conflict (which is brilliantly concluded), the plot is definitely less intriguing, and that’s partly due to the film’s jarring second act which feels very pointless. I think trying to avoid the maturity that Empire brought was a mistake in the long run – it would have made the trilogy resonate with me a lot more in terms of its impact if it did. I’d say even the acting and the dialogue can be a bit rough at times. Don’t get me wrong, I really like Return of the Jedi, despite these glaring issues. The best way to describe Jedi is that it’s a very flawed, but ultimately powerful conclusion to the trilogy.