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Return of the Jedi - your opinion?

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I must admit I've always liked Return of the Jedi. Vader became much more developed, the Emperor provided a nice new villain to replace him as he became a more tragic figure, and I thought the Jabba scenes were pretty cool too - sort of like a longer version of the cantina sequence from Star Wars.

However, people always say that Return is their least favourite film in the series, with the ewoks being the main reason given. Though I understand that they were almost like a precursor to the childish nature of the prequels, surely it's a little irrational to harbour such a strong dislike for a film based on one aspect? I'd be interested to know what you guys think of this.

“I’m in a dark theater. The movie starts, and I start to see things that I recognize.” - James Cameron on Terminator Genisys

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The problem with Return of the Jedi is the fact that all the actors look like they just want to get done with it.

"The other versions will disappear. Even the 35 million tapes of Star Wars out there won’t last more than 30 or 40 years. A hundred years from now, the only version of the movie that anyone will remember will be the DVD version [of the Special Edition], and you’ll be able to project it on a 20’ by 40’ screen with perfect quality. I think it’s the director’s prerogative, not the studio’s to go back and reinvent a movie." - George Lucas

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The Ewoks are a big part of it, but there's much more to it than that. The plot is tired--another Death Star, another space battle and escaping a chain reaction, another stolen plan, and another cantina with more puppets. The dialog isn't as good as Empire either, and the character relationships are uninteresting, especially Han who goes through the motions and Leia who doesn't do a whole lot. Also, Leia being Luke's brother is infinitely stupid. Add in the Ewoks taking up almost 1/3 of the film and you've got a disappointment. It just doesn't have the originality and sense of urgency the other two did.

However, there's lots to love about the film. The Jabba sequence is fun, and the sail barge battle is right out of an Errol Flynn movie and is one of the most entertaining action scenes in the trilogy. The visual effects are jaw-dropping, probably the peak of pre-digital technology IMO, and of course you have a great John Williams score. But its just great to have the characters together again. You grow to love them over the past two films and its a small treat just to see them as an ensemble again, even if they are only briefly together. The Emperor adds a new twist to things, but the real standout is Luke Skywalker's story. Its very, very compelling stuff, especially with Vader, where they mainly talk instead of fight, which was much more interesting in some ways, and Mark Hamill really carries the film.

All in all, it's easy to see why people like this film the least. But that doesn't mean it's not likeable. It's frustrating that it wasn't as good as the others but they set the bar so high that this is still better than a lot of movies even when its the disappointment of the trilogy, and is a worthy piece of entertainment.

The Secret History of Star Wars -- now available on Amazon.com!

"When George went back and put new creatures into the original Star Wars, I find that disturbing. It’s a revision of history. That bothers me."

--James Cameron, Entertainment Weekly, April 2010

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I think the ROTJ has the reputation for worst of the OT (which is like being the skinny one in the cast of Predator) for a couple reasons.

  • Han, Leia, and Lando don't have a lot of character development.
  • The Ewoks.

 

All the character development is kind of hogged by the Luke/Vader dynamic. But as Zombie said, that's just SO DAMN GOOD it's hard to fault it the attention it recieves.

Frankly, except a couple moments I think are too silly (trying to trip the AT-ST with a rope) I think the Ewoks are unfairly maligned. When we meet them they want to EAT our heroes. That's not the action of little teddy bears.

As for the climax being repetitive with "Star Wars" I guess I can see that bothering someone, but really it's so much larger it's never bothered me at all.

"Star Wars": A small group of plucky rebels with our main hero among them go against the Death Star and are fought by the villain!!

"ROTJ": A huge fleet of rebels with Lando among them go against the Death Star, while at the same time a massive land battle is going on with Han and Leia, and at the same time a lightsaber battle/psychological warfare is going on inside the same Death Star between the main hero, his father, and the dark sorcerer who rules the Universe!

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Jedi is pretty great. It's no Empire, but I don't want it to be anymore, and I like the distinctiveness of the original 3 movies. The mundane earthy locations are actually kind of refreshing now since I'm burned out on the elaborate phony nintendo environments from I-III.

It's cosmetically sloppy, but in the years since, I've seen enough sequels/trilogy-endings completely disappear up their own ass trying to make a bunch of weird grown men happy (with a lot of poser seriousness and character deaths, bittersweet endings blah blah), that all that minor stuff, like having another death star (as opposed to some other thing that needs to blow up at the end, which still has to happen or we'd feel totally ripped off) and bad ewok costumes, just seems really superficial now. Jedi rules. Seriously, just look at this picture:

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I love it- flaws and all. It had enough great, classic moments to make up for the weaker aspects.

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(my first post!  woot)

 

Ewoks, sure.  They could have been toned back a smidge or two.

I think that the film suffers because Empire was SO good.  It's like following up "Close Encounters of the Third Kind" with "Morons from Outer Space."  OK, that's a bit harsh.  =)

As any OOT fan probably does, I have a little laundry list of things that bug me about Jedi.  Similar to most people's, I would bet.   

* Just last film, the imperial troopers had seemed bad-ass, like something to be reckoned with.   Here they get their asses handed to them by teddy bears.  Why do they wear armor anyway?  It repels neither blaster shots, nor rocks nor wooden arrows.  I think this could have been fixed just by having a lot more Ewoks die in the battle.  But then it wouldn't have been so frothy silly and kid-friendly, which it was obviously intended to be, probably to offset just how dang dark the Luke / Vader / Palpatine angle was getting.

* Han.  After being so cocksure and generally awesome in the prior films, he gets weak and bland as a character.  The script not giving Ford anything to work with?  His complete disinterest or dislike for the material?  I don't know.  He just wasn't nearly as fun to watch as he was in the prior films.  

* The space battle was unsatisfying compared to the Yavin Death Star battle, or the chase through the Asteroid field.  I think it was just cut so fast, with no real ability to feel like you were in the battle.

Something that bugs me upon every viewing is that the Jabba sequence is just too convoluted.  Everybody had to have a part.  Would Luke really have given up R2 and 3P0 if Jabba had accepted the offer?  I know we had to have Luke in it to show him off as a fully armed and operational jedi, but, since ESB ended with Chewie and Lando heading off looking for Han, they should have been the ones to rescue him.  (Then, Lando dying at the end, if he had done so, would have had way more impact.)  But then the Erol Flynn epic battle on the skiffs wouldn't have worked out the way they did, and, other than the fact that it seems like Luke is just bopping people with a balsa wood stick rather than a light saber (no flying limbs), it is a fun battle.  Best moment -- Lando getting really panicky as  Han aims a blaster at him.

But there is a lot to like about the film.   The first speeder chase for example.  The absence of music makes it a lot more tense.  And I think Carrie Fisher actually did a reasonably good job with Leia in my opinion .. her scenes don't bum me out like Harrison Ford's do.  (Despite some script dumbness.  "I know .. somehow I've always known."  Wut?)

And the Luke and Vader interaction ... really, very good.  (Yes, I always wondered what would happen .. if he had 'gone to the dark side' as he was being encouraged and killed Vader, what then?  "OK, that's done; now that I'm bad for committing patricide, I'm going to go kill my friends, since there isn't a Jedi temple full of younglings to slaughter."   But the Last Temptation of Luke is the heart of the film, it's darker than people give the film credit for being, and it really is quite emotional for me.  (When he finally gets furious and goes after Vader in earnest ... wow.)

And on the silly side, it really is fun when Chewie commandeers the AT-ST, or when Wicket whooshes off on the speeder bike.  (I know some people hate that, but it tickles me greatly.)

I think what always strikes me as I watch the film is that not that it's childish.  It's that it's such a mixture of the dark and adult, mixed with the childish and silly. A lot of what happens on 'the sentry moon' is just plain silly.  The muppets in Jabba's place are goofy.  (And way more so with "Jedi Rocks," but, that's the SE ... )  But then you have Leia in chains in her slave bikini (sproing!  I wonder how many nascant BDSM fans were formed by those scenes), apparent tentacle rape or fingering by Jabba, Oola in a fishnet strippers outfit, Luke screaming for hours as Palpatine zaps him over and over .. some extremely intense stuff.

I watched it again recently with my wife, who is much more a trekkie than a star wars fan, and my 8 year old daughter.  They both laughed at the silly parts, got tense at the tense parst, and enjoyed it a lot, and, in comparision to the PT, it really isn't bad at all.  That's not meant as the faint praise it sounds like -- my opinion of it is higher than it used to be.  

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TheBoost said:

I think the ROTJ has the reputation for worst of the OT (which is like being the skinny one in the cast of Predator)

That's a great analogy!  :-)

I have never really seen the problem with the film.  Revisiting some of the best bits of Star Wars in the final film has never seemed like a bad idea to me.  The three elements of the climax work well enough, though three sequences happening simultaneously is definitely the limit. 

I don't mind some of the childish humor with the Ewoks, if that is what it is.  I don't even mind some of it in the PT; it was just Jar Jar that really annoyed me on the humor side. 

It is not the great film that ESB is, but it was an extremely hard act to follow.  Part of ROTJ's problem is that it had to cover so much ground in one film.  

 

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zombie84 said:

The Ewoks are a big part of it, but there's much more to it than that. The plot is tired--another Death Star, another space battle and escaping a chain reaction, another stolen plan, and another cantina with more puppets. The dialog isn't as good as Empire either, and the character relationships are uninteresting, especially Han who goes through the motions and Leia who doesn't do a whole lot. Also, Leia being Luke's brother is infinitely stupid. Add in the Ewoks taking up almost 1/3 of the film and you've got a disappointment. It just doesn't have the originality and sense of urgency the other two did.

However, there's lots to love about the film. The Jabba sequence is fun, and the sail barge battle is right out of an Errol Flynn movie and is one of the most entertaining action scenes in the trilogy. The visual effects are jaw-dropping, probably the peak of pre-digital technology IMO, and of course you have a great John Williams score. But its just great to have the characters together again. You grow to love them over the past two films and its a small treat just to see them as an ensemble again, even if they are only briefly together. The Emperor adds a new twist to things, but the real standout is Luke Skywalker's story. Its very, very compelling stuff, especially with Vader, where they mainly talk instead of fight, which was much more interesting in some ways, and Mark Hamill really carries the film.

All in all, it's easy to see why people like this film the least. But that doesn't mean it's not likeable. It's frustrating that it wasn't as good as the others but they set the bar so high that this is still better than a lot of movies even when its the disappointment of the trilogy, and is a worthy piece of entertainment.

There.  I couldn't put it better myself.

There is no lingerie in space...

C3PX said: Gaffer is like that hot girl in high school that you think you have a chance with even though she is way out of your league because she is sweet and not a stuck up bitch who pretends you don't exist... then one day you spot her making out with some skinny twerp, only on second glance you realize it is the goth girl who always sits in the back of class; at that moment it dawns on you why she is never seen hanging off the arm of any of the jocks... and you realize, damn, she really is unobtainable after all. Not that that is going to stop you from dreaming... Only in this case, Gaffer is actually a guy.

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I had Spike Tv on in the background over the weekend as they ran Jedi for probably the 2000th time, so here are my random thoughts.

Am I seeing things, or was there somebody else lying on the ground in the rancor pit when Luke and the pig guard exit the chute? Now I have to dig out the laserdisc again!

I suspect Jabba was stoned out of his mind half the time. How did the MPAA not notice he was taking hits off a frog filled bong?

The Ewoks could have been furry little badasses if Lucas had let them. (The gray one with matted fur on his face who emerges from the bushes after R2 cuts the vine actually looks fierce!) There were some fully articulated Ewok masks seen in the documentaries, but why they never seem to be used in closeups is a mystery. Warwick Davis deserves kudos for making Wicket mouth seem to move though, especially since he wasn't originally supposed to be the Ewok who befriends Leia.

Many Ewoks had knives, but aren't seen using them on Imperials. Lucasfilm famously forced Topps to recall and redo a trading card depicting an Ewok about to stab a trooper. Because being beaten to death with stone axes, or shot with arrows is much more kid friendly...

Even a pile of bones and armor seen nearby when Luke and the gang are about to be spit roasted, would have taken the cute edge off of them. Since Episode One, I like Ewoks a little more now.

I have this awful feeling the bait in the Ewok net trap the lures Chewie is actually the rump of some roadkill deer the crew found, then stuck teeth and eyes on!

Death Star II does feel like a rerun, but it's deliberate unfinished appearance is pretty diabolical and sneaky. On the other hand, making access points big enough to fly ships into the easy to destroy reactor, is why the Empire needs to stop letting the low bidders design their ultimate weapons. The New Republic probably got stuck with the bill, as it wasn't paid off yet.

Post prequels, being the third greatest Star Wars film isn't a bad thing at all.

originaltrilogy.com Moderator

Where were you in '77?

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Well for years, ROTJ (the first one I ever saw, in theaters, of course), WAS Star Wars for me. It was a simple story about some a group of friends looked out for each other during this galactic civil war. Luke is this thoughtful young Jedi coming to terms with the fact that his father is an evil Lord, and having courage to face the Emperor even though everybody else is giving him different advice (kill Vader, he's past saving). Leia is his sister. Han Solo got himself in trouble and doesn't understand what's going on... he's the eternal skeptic until the end. Lando isn't much good on the ground, but he's a great pilot. Luke is mad at Obi-Wan for saying Vader killed his father instead of telling him the truth. Anakin was once a good man. The Ewoks are primitive but their superstition is turned to the good of the rebels.

The Emperor STEALS THE FRICKING SHOW every time he's on screen. He's either sinister and slow like some creepy old man, or he's cackling like a maniac with those weird reptilian eyes. He's got the force too, whoa! So many quotable lines from this guy... it's no wonder Lucas decided to make the Prequels about him. Too bad he wasn't quite so entertaining there (especially since everyone around him acted like an idiot).

It seemed like a pretty self contained story to me back then. I knew there were other movies, but I hasn't seen them. I saw Star Wars next and Empire last. For me, it was all about the monsters and aliens back then.

I never heard that people hated the ewoks until I was a teenager. For me, I thought Yoda was more annoying in ESB (seriously), and C3PO was annoying in ESB. Though as I got older I saw the Yoda stuff as funny. The Gungan stuff in Episode I was far, far worse (at least people told him to shut up!).

To me as a kid what struck me about the Ewoks was not "boy these Imperial troops suck, it's so unfair that they go out this lame way," rather it was "boy the Ewoks have weak weapons but they're really smart and creative, which makes up for it." I remember how they tried all those tricks to take down a walker (ropes, rocks, glider, etc) which didn't work, so they had to resort to the giant logs, and then Chewie helped them steal a walker. Then you see an Ewok with a blaster. It's like they're adapting and learning. That was cool to me as a kid. I never thought of them as teddys, ironically. When I first saw the Jawas I wondered if they were related (I still maintain this theory... just listen, they have the same battle cry!).

The saber battle is shorter than in ESB, but man... you can sense the rage in Luke as he just WAILS away at Vader, no finesse, just sheer hatred... like how dare you say that about my sister, bam. Vader was so evil and suddenly even he is taken by surprise. Though when Vader puts up one hand at the end it's so pathetic, like he's using his last ounce of strength just to put up a token effort. Was that him or just his robotic hand obeying its programming? Anyway. I also love the solid WHAM sounds the sabers make when they hit, they sound so HEAVY and powerful. In the other movies they don't sound so amazing. The prequel sabers sounded like whiffle bats in comparison. You feel like getting hit by one of these things would utterly destroy you (too bad earlier in the movie it just seems to burn right through you with no dismemberment). Was Luke's saber too sharp or not sharp enough?


LOVED the space battle. Yes, ANH has the suspense and individual dog fighting. ROTJ has the sheer spectacle... and yet you can follow it (unlike say the Prequel fights, which are just a mess of images, or else they have to stop everything to focus on one pilot, usually leaving his ship to do something else). I liked the sense that the Empire knew they were just toying with the Rebels. I loved Jabba, his booming voice especially. He and his crew were just scum, they didn't care as long as they could have a drink and a smoke while watching somebody get killed by some big monster. I was always shocked as a kid that even the Gammorean guard who falls into the pit with Luke gets jeered at, like they don't care about even their own guys. Despite all that, I was sad when Jabba died. Blowing up the sail barge seemed like overkill. Wasn't everybody dead by then? I guess that's how you finish off gangsters, leave no trace!

So I think it depends upon how you first experienced them. I wasn't born early enough to have seen the other two in theaters, though I do remember a few minutes of ANH (my dad reading me the Greedo subtitles in the theater) so I'm thinking I probably saw it at some triple bill or something (and missed ESB completely for dinner or something). I didn't see ESB until I was in grade school on video (wow, this new fangled VHS!).

Over time I came to appreciate the others, especially ANH, which for me as a kid was the "most boring" because it took forever to get started.

By the time the Special Editions rolled around, I still didn't know ANH well enough yet to notice all the changes (I blinked and missed it when Greedo shot first, noticing the crowd gasping more than anything). It was really the special editions and all the analysis that got me to really "know" the films more. So ironically, it was the ruination of the films that made me really appreciate the minor details. But ROTJ is still my favorite, even if the characters are "enriched" now. Still, not knowing the other movies erased some of the conflicts in the storyline for me. Vader was always Luke's father, and Leia was always his sister. Luke was always a Jedi, and Obi-Wan always lied to Luke to try to achieve the greater purpose for the galaxy (Luke would never have tried to kill his own father). There was enough suggested by this movie that I could fill in the blanks in my mind. Yoda was old and dying now, but he trained up Luke before that (the student was returning to his old teacher), and so forth. Obi-Wan was a ghost, so I presumed he'd died already, like Yoda (until I eventually saw the scene of Vader killing him and figured out the rest).

ROTJ was a big part of my childhood, now that I think about it. I view it differently than I did then, but I can still recall a lot of what I felt in those days watching it, over and over and over...

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I would like to quote the various paragraphs written above since you all have expressed my own opinion quite well.

But I'm too lazy to do that.

So, instead, I will just say: I like RotJ. I like it 3rd best of the OOT, and there's no comparison to the non-existant PT. I do wish the Ewoks were more fierce / the legion of the Emperor's finest soldiers weren't so gay. But I'll take them over RotS's wookies any day.

I think you can tell the vector that Star Wars was heading out on in RotJ, but I think the damage isn't done yet. It's easy to see the seeds of the SE nonsense and PT garbage, but they have yet to grow and blossom into the trainwrecks we know today.

And yes, very good stuff with the Emperor, Vader and Luke.

IT'S MY TRILOGY, AND I WANT IT NOW!

"[George Lucas] rebooted the franchise in 1997 without telling anyone." -skyjedi2005

"Yeah, well, George says a lot of things..." a young 1997 xhonzi on RASSM

"They're my movies." -George Lucas. 19 people won oscars for their work on Star Wars (1977) and George Lucas wasn't one of them.

Rewrite the Prequels!

 

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EyeShotFirst said:


The problem with Return of the Jedi is the fact that all the actors look like they just want to get done with it.

Not Mark Hamill - he was all-in.

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That's what she said. ^_~

I'm very sorry, Mielr, but I couldn't resist.

There is no lingerie in space...

C3PX said: Gaffer is like that hot girl in high school that you think you have a chance with even though she is way out of your league because she is sweet and not a stuck up bitch who pretends you don't exist... then one day you spot her making out with some skinny twerp, only on second glance you realize it is the goth girl who always sits in the back of class; at that moment it dawns on you why she is never seen hanging off the arm of any of the jocks... and you realize, damn, she really is unobtainable after all. Not that that is going to stop you from dreaming... Only in this case, Gaffer is actually a guy.

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Gaffer Tape said:


I couldn't resist.

http://soundpolitics.com/MichaelScott.jpg

That's what she said!

*snicker*

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Too late, Mr. Scott.

IT'S MY TRILOGY, AND I WANT IT NOW!

"[George Lucas] rebooted the franchise in 1997 without telling anyone." -skyjedi2005

"Yeah, well, George says a lot of things..." a young 1997 xhonzi on RASSM

"They're my movies." -George Lucas. 19 people won oscars for their work on Star Wars (1977) and George Lucas wasn't one of them.

Rewrite the Prequels!

 

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http://soundpolitics.com/MichaelScott.jpg

That's what she said!

*snicker*

Hey, why is everyone looking at me like that?

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It's funny how everyone thinks now that "that's what she said" comes from The Office, when it was originally coined by Mike Myers for a Wayne's World sketch on Saturday Night Live . . .

Anyway, I like RotJ.  Not as good as the first two films, but they really did set the bar very high.  The parts with Luke, Vader, and the Emperor are the best, and I like Luke being badass on the sail barge.  As others have said, little seeds of the SE nonsense and PT garbage can be detected, but haven't yet grown to the point of being too objectionable, so it's easy enough to overlook them.

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hairy_hen said:

It's funny how everyone thinks now that "that's what she said" comes from The Office, when it was originally coined by Mike Myers for a Wayne's World sketch on Saturday Night Live . . .

I'm guessing Ric would say that he knew it didn't originate with The Office, but that it is a very recognizable part of Mr. Scott's personality.

I'm only guessing, of course.  How could I actually know what Ric is thinking?

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Why would Ric say that if he's possessed? Wouldn't it be Mr. M. Scott answering?

Want to book yourself or a guest on THE VFP Show? PM me!

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*oh snap!*

IT'S MY TRILOGY, AND I WANT IT NOW!

"[George Lucas] rebooted the franchise in 1997 without telling anyone." -skyjedi2005

"Yeah, well, George says a lot of things..." a young 1997 xhonzi on RASSM

"They're my movies." -George Lucas. 19 people won oscars for their work on Star Wars (1977) and George Lucas wasn't one of them.

Rewrite the Prequels!

 

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