And back in the old days I wanted new Star Wars films like most people. I didn't realize Lucas was going to (as I see it) go out of his way to make them bad movies. In retrospect I realize I should have been happy with just 3, but who knew? After the awfulnes of the SE we should have seen the writing on the wall, but before that?
As for ROTJ bashing, that will never fail to bewilder me. ROTJ is a great movie, the equal of the other two, and it has some of the best stuff in the trilogy.
Some of the best of the trilogy and also some of the worst. I don't need to go into detail here, but if the SE's were the writing on the wall, RotJ was George walking up to the wall, checking it for writability and considering just what he might put on it.
xhonzi - bravo on that last bit, very well-said.
ROTJ is not bad on the scale of the SEs or the PT, but you can see the beginnings of the infection beginning to fester. Especially after the bleak, brutal ending of ESB, the way the whole Han/Jabba storyline is wrapped up in a very cartoonish fashion really grates. Also, you can already see Lucas going back and redoing the bits of ANH that he was unsatisfied with, both with the "faster, more intense" space battle, and the overdone nature of Jabba's palace. It just gets worse in the SEs and the PT.
VINH - you make a lot of good points in this thread, but I think you give ROTJ a pass it doesn't deserve. It is, on balance, a decent movie, and it does wrap things up in a relatively satisfying (if too pat) way, but its flaws are major and definitely point the way to some of the major problems with the tone of the prequels.
A couple major issues:
1) You've never noticed the belches and Tarzan yell? Really? These are obvious precursors to JJB stepping in poodoo in TPM, and I honestly can't believe you didn't notice the obvious nods to what Lucas believes a 6-year-old will find funny, and his wrong-headed belief that they had any place in a Star Wars movie.
2) Jabba's palace is not brilliant in any way beyond the design of the aliens and the environment. It's supposed to feel threatening, but instead comes off as a big cartoon - the aliens (particularly the large ones - Ephant Mon, Hermi Odle) are nicely-designed, but they're totally anonymous in action, and never feel like a threat to the main characters. Even though Luke's lightsaber mysteriously turns into a baseball bat when asked to slice through organic material, the denizens of Jabba's palace exist primarily so they can laugh cartoonishly and die in the explosion.
3) The Ewoks - yes, they are more threatening than usually given credit for, but the character design (admittedly limited by the technology of the time) is clearly driven a bit too much by marketing considerations. There's nothing about their physical appearance that denotes "fierceness" in any way, and again, the cartoonish nature of the combat in the movie undermines any impression of it, regardless.
It's been pretty firmly established that Lucas hated the lack of control he exercised over Kershner on ESB, going so far as to do a radical re-cut of the movie that everybody agreed was a major step backwards. After ESB established "Star Wars" as a brand, however, and got Lucas out of the Hollywood wars, he did everything he could to control the brand in ROTJ and remove any potentially-objectionable elements that were allowed in the first two movies (more realistic violence, etc) in order to make the movie more palatable to the parents of younger children.
ROTJ may have had some of the successful elements of the earlier movies, but it also continues the "incredible shrinking galaxy" issue that began with "I am your father" in ESB, and cements it with its repeated lack of originality (back to Tatooine, redo the cantina, attack a new Death Star, etc). More importantly for future developments, the way that Lucas chose to change the tone of the movie pointed to the further changes he would later make in the SEs, and the lamentable direction he would decide to go with the Prequels. In my ranking of the episodes, it's clearly a poor third to ESB and ANH, but still far, far better than any of the prequels (the very definition of damning with faint praise, I'm afraid).