screams in the void said:
I only have one thing to say about the universe shrinkage …" I WAS IN THE POOL !"
screams in the void said:
I only have one thing to say about the universe shrinkage …" I WAS IN THE POOL !"
Juno Eclipse said:
This thread really is an enjoyable and intelligent read. So much to agree with and absorb the various views and takes in here. I’d love to know what Pakka thinks of Andor and its place and contribution to Star Wars. His thoughts on the installments to Star Wars since starting this thread too.
Thanks for your kind and thoughtful response! Apologies for taking so long to reply - I think I saw this some time ago, meant to respond, but life came along and distracted me for long enough that it slipped my mind.
I do LOVE Andor - such a breath of fresh air in so many ways. It’s very much a story about people just trying to get by, and the way that sometimes the time we live in doesn’t allow that (shades of LOTR there). So much great writing and acting, as well - Luthen’s speech in Ep 10, the horrible choice that Mon Mothma is left with, the whole prison subplot - just thinking about it has made me want to watch it again! And the music!
I was quite fond of The Mandalorian in its first season - felt like a very different view of the galaxy, much more low-level - but after it became a hit, the Great Maw of IP swallowed it whole and shoved it back into the larger story in ways that I found disappointing. Also, Filoni’s desire to take bits of the 90s EU and integrate them back into the new official universe largely leaves me cold, as I’m not a fan of 90s EU, and some of it is just misguided, like using the Dark Troopers from the 90s video games. I didn’t hear good things about Obi-Wan Kenobi, and so have not watched it, and also haven’t watch Ahsoka because it’s so tied to Rebels, which I tried to get into at the beginning, but it just didn’t grab me. Too much same-old, same-old.
With the writers’ strike resolved, hopefully the second (and sadly, last) season of Andor is being written as we speak, and if the actors’ strike gets resolved soon, we hopefully won’t have to wait too long to see it.
By the time of ROTJ, it’s been like 3 years since Boba Fett delivered Han. (At least if we ignore supplementary material like Shadows of the Empire.)
I still find it hard to believe there’s 3 years between Empire and Jedi, did it really take that long to rescue Han? But the idea that his relationship with Jabba was strengthened between films is a plausible theory. Another being he just hasn’t been paid yet, and Jabba is making him protect him if he wants to get his payment.
I don’t have a contemporary source at hand, but my recollection of the timeline around RoTJ when it was released was that it took place months after ESB, not years. Looking at various online timelines, consensus seems to be that it’s a year after ESB, which seems to be stretching things to to fit neatly into a BBY/ABY structure, but still not 3 years.
That aside, lots of interesting ideas in this thread for fixing some of the narrative issues with RoTJ. For my part, everything wrong with RoTJ is rooted in a set of decisions, some in reaction to the experience of making ESB, some in reaction to Lucas just running out of energy, that shrank the scope and mangled the feel of the universe in order to just wrap the fracking thing up so that George could get on with his life.
“Lapti Nek” and “Yub Nub” rulez, “Jedi Rocks” and “Victory Celebration” droolz.
First, thanks for including me in that list - I really appreciate it! It was seeing ZkinandBonez and Rocknroll41 post their thoughtful, nuanced essays that gave me the push to finally write mine after having it bouncing around in my head for years, so being included with them is humbling.
Also, if I can paraphrase, you made me realize that, for me, everything from “I am your father” on feels like BS. Knowing that Vader wasn’t Luke’s dad when Star Wars was made makes that feel untrue for me; same with Leia not being Luke’s sister when Empire was made. Those were two of Lucas’s first retcons, and they diminish what the Star Wars Universe felt like to me as a kid. I will grant that the Vader thing works from a mythological POV, but I still feel like Lucas made that decision in part because it would be shocking, and in part because it would simplify the story for his purposes. The Leia decision was just doubling down on that - the OT was really hard on him (directing Star Wars was physically overwhelming), and it felt like RoTJ was made knowing that it would be successful, so he just wanted to tie up as many loose ends as possible so he could do something else with his life.
Along the same lines, I don’t think Lucas imagined the look and feel of the PT before the mid-90s (at the earliest). I know he likes to portray things as “I couldn’t make the movies I saw in my head before the technology was ready”, but I think that puts the cart before the horse. I think the look of those movies, and many of the events in them, came about because he saw that they might be technically possible, and modified his basic storyline to fit what he thought ILM could pull off.
For me, the historical events hinted at in Star Wars took place in a universe that fits (roughly) with the look and feel of what we saw in the first two movies. I’ve never fleshed that idea out beyond that thought - what would be the point? - but that’s my basic stance, and why nothing since has felt right to me.
I actually bought the vintage books not too long ago (RPG, original source book, plus Rebel and Imperial source books), to get a glimpse of that “early EU” even before the Zahn novels, but haven’t actually played it yet with anyone. I also heard it was based on the Ghostbusters RPG, and that now what we used to think of the Star Wars RPG (the second one?) is now a generic sci-fi game system anybody can use for free (is that true?).
First, thanks so much for reading the essay, and for your comments. You really got at the root of some of what I was trying to say - that the “official” Star Wars has changed several times over the decades, leading to different generations of fans having radically different expectations of what Star Wars is, at its heart. This isn’t defined just by generations, of course - plenty of people my age loved the 90s revival and all of the original EU material, and there are younger fans who only like the OT (or a subset even of that). The key thing is, as it has changed over time, Star Wars has failed to remain something that a wide cross-section of fans can actually agree on.
Believe me, there have been many times when I have thought about just diving into the final version of the West End Games main book (the 2nd Edition, Revised and Expanded) with nothing else and seeing what kind of universe I could bash out of it, trying to maintain the feeling I had over 40 years ago now. Haven’t found the time or motivation yet, but who knows? I do know that I think the mechanics of the WEG version are much closer to what I think they should be than the later Wizards of the Coast system, or the current Fantasy Flight Games system.
In regards to the generic D6 game system, it’s not quite free, but the PDFs are available very cheap - you can find them at https://www.drivethrurpg.com/browse/pub/3020/Nocturnal-Media/subcategory/5328_28740/OpenD6---West-End-Games- . There are other publishers who use the OpenD6 system, as well, but D6 Space is probably closest to the original Star Wars RPG in mechanics.
All of this had me thinking about Dark Empire - I obviously need to re-read it, now.
I wrote a blog post a few days ago detailing why the Mando season finale disappointed me: https://henrynsilva.blogspot.com/2021/01/mandalorian-made-me-mad.html?m=1
On the subject of starwars, I also published another blog post today on why I dislike the character of Poe Dameron, in particular: https://henrynsilva.blogspot.com/2021/01/the-problem-with-poe-dameron.html?m=1
I really enjoyed your essays, particularly your big 4-parter from November. In fact, it was part of what spurred me to finally write my own essay (https://originaltrilogy.com/topic/star-wars-has-felt-off-to-me-since-1980-essay/id/82758), putting down my conflicted feelings about Star Wars as it has developed and changed over the last 40 years.
First, thank you very much for this. It is very insightful.
That said, having lived through the same time period, this is not how I see things. I too devoured everything I could get of Star Wars. To a point. I did not have a source for comics. I ended up getting lucky enough to get the next 9 (#7 to #15) comics after the movie adaption. I had the the 3 Han Solo books (love them and think Solo is an excellently done lead in to them) and Splinter of the Mind’s Eye. All devoured and absorbed before Empire came out. But my real love was the action figures and vehicles. I and my friends collected everything we could. I expanded on it by customizing and making my own vehicles and characters. For me Empire was not a limiting factor. The characters and additional worlds expanded the universe even more.
I should also add that after Jedi, with no new Star Wars content, I became a fanatic Star Trek fan. It really started before Empire with Star Trek the motion Picture. But Franz Joseph’s tech manual and general plans really sparked my interest. This is where the West End Games really only added fuel to my imagination. I became the game master and got really creative. I ate up all the manuals and loved the detail, but could always imagine more. The sky was always the limit. I loved to mix things. Other books and movies were often fodder for both the older action figure play and later role playing adventures. I can see why for some all the detailed information might take some of the mystery out of it, but for me there was always more. It still is a never ending fountain of ideas.
I also found that when I went to see TLJ and TROS, that I was transported like I remember the movies doing when I was a kid. I was absorbed into the world and lost in the story.
And we differ on our feelings on the interconnections that now permeate the Disney Star Wars universe. I like what Filoni has done because I’ve seen that sort of odd connection myself. To me that is just one web of connections and I know there can be so many more.
So for me none of those things that you feel limit the world in any way limit the world for me. Rather the contrary, it makes it real for me and my imagination soars to think of all the unexplored corners we can yet get stories for. And Lucas continued with no explaining too much. In fact the PT suffers for lack of explanation. I have spent a lot of time looking at the deeper events surrounding Palpatine and Anakin and love the story that is revealed. I think the ST also follows that paradigm and I think that is one thing people dislike about it.
There is plenty of room for multiple opinions and I really enjoyed reading this and appreciate your point of view. Thank you again.
Thanks for taking the time to read the essay, and for your thoughtful comments. I also went through a Star Trek phase in the 80s, mostly around the FASA roleplaying game and, especially, their Starship Combat Simulator.
I’m certainly not out to tell anyone what they can and can’t enjoy, and I’m glad you’ve continued to get so much joy out of so many permutations of the Star Wars universe.
Great essay, Pakka. Glad I could be of some help to verbalize some of your thoughts.
Yes, the WEG source-books, though delightfully geeky and partially responsible for keeping the franchise alive for a few years, really did transform it into something quite different from what it originally was. I personally don’t mind there being some connectivity, especially when it’s narrative based, so the “I am your father” element works well for me because it has such a mythic vibe to it. And it’s interesting how you pointed out the possibilities of the 77-80 years, and I agree that the comics did a great job to tell new stories without shackling it down with lore, because I’ve heard people make a similar argument that they feel that SW was always meant to be the mythological tale of the Skywalkers and they therefore ignore the side stories. As a franchise it’s a real tough nut to crack, and although Lucas definitely intended for it to be a fairy-tale without having to make logical sense of it all, I don’t think even he fully knew what the core of the franchise was. But then again stories do evolve over time, though the WEG interpretation definitely took a more Star Trek-type of approach to it. I don’t think it’s coincidental that the EU and all the sourcebooks coincided with the second Star Trek boom in the late 80’s and 90’s, not to mention the internet which has made it far easier for fans to share ideas and over analyse things.
There was a section of my essay that I ended up removing (it got a little bit off topic) where I talked about how loose canon was treated back in the 30’s and 40’s, using the Universal monster films as an example, arguing that it related not only to how pop culture was just starting to become a thing, but also how the lack of home media made it kind of pointless. Back then you saw a film once, maybe a few more times if you really liked it, and when it was no longer in the theater you simply couldn’t see it anymore. So if the sequel broke continuity you had no way to go back and check and as long as it felt right (by sticking to the core plot and themes of the previous story) no one really cared. It is completely possible that this modern fascination with lore and continuity is simply a natural development of how we consume media these days, and that’s not necessarily a bad thing, but it does put SW in this really weird place. My essay was an attempt to at least acknowledge this, but also to point out that even if a franchise evolves and starts to include a more rigid narrative, I would at least encourage creators to treat the setting with an appropriately surreal approach (and quite a few do this reasonably well IMO).
More great points there, especially how the Star Trek resurgence might have influenced the 1990s EU, and the historical treatment of canon over time due to the difficulty of repeat viewing. I agree that stories naturally evolve over time, and once one movie becomes three, then six, it’s hard not to start filling in more of the lore (but I do wish that “filling in” had been done better, or in a way that didn’t feel as at odds with where things started). I completely agree that Lucas never really understood exactly what it was that people responded to so strongly in the original (not that it was ever just one thing, of course).
I agree that “I am your father” fits the mythological nature of the saga, and Lucas certainly doesn’t owe us a universe that works for anything beyond the story he decided to tell. I do wonder, though, how Star Wars would be seen today had he left us with a universe that had more room for stories beyond the Skywalker Family Drama. It would also help if he didn’t act like so many things came down to him on stone tablets, rather than just being choices he made along the way.
Thanks again for your essay, and for reading mine!
A wonderful essay!
I totally agree with almost everything you say here, despite coming to the movies in the early 90’s. I have often wondered what a spiritual continuation of the original film would look like, and I think it would have to be unconnected from the original in time and space. Imagine a show or movie set in this vast galaxy but we are unaware of if Luke and his friends exist in the far future, the far past, or presently on the opposite side of the galaxy. That level of separation would be incredible.
Perhaps a group of colonists, stranded on a barren world for centuries, desperate to find some technology to let them escape while battling aliens from within the mysterious world.
Maybe a lone mystical warrior from time unknown who battles for peace and justice between two warring star systems.
Imagine an alien race mapping the stars in their dark nebula, encountering a monstrously large ship full of identical human soldiers in cryogenic stasis and their misadventures when these soldiers awaken.
Take it away from anything we can place and the imagination runs wild. Thank you for reminding me why I love this universe.
Thanks so much for reading my (lengthy) essay, and for your kind comments! I really couldn’t ask for anything more than that last sentence.
This is a great essay, and really helped me to synthesize some thoughts that have been rattling around in my brain for a while. Along with rocknroll41’s essays, primarily his great 4-parter from last November (https://henrynsilva.blogspot.com/2020/11/the-real-reason-you-probably-dont-like.html?m=1), I was inspired to finally write my thoughts out and get them into a (hopefully) coherent form. I posted that late last night at https://originaltrilogy.com/topic/star-wars-has-felt-off-to-me-since-1980-essay/id/82758 .
If you combine ZkinandBonez’s excellent essay (https://originaltrilogy.com/topic/star-wars-is-surrealism-not-science-fiction-essay/id/82402/page/1) with some of the thoughts in rocknroll41’s essays on his blog, particularly the 4-parter that starts at https://henrynsilva.blogspot.com/2020/11/the-real-reason-you-probably-dont-like.html, you end up with a very solid version of where my head has been for several years, though I never took the time to get it all down with references the way that the two of them have. Thanks to both for doing the hard work that I think illuminates the underlying issues so well!
I think that the (generally) unsatisfying place some of us have found ourselves with Star Wars (in toto, as distinct from Star Wars the 1977 movie) can be traced back to two specific things:
Before I look at how those two relate, some personal history.
Like many kids who grew up in the 70s (I was born in '67), Star Wars occupies a massive place in my childhood. It set up shop in my brain months before I even saw it - my family bought a new house and moved in the summer of '77, and that stretched the family budget more than I realized at the time, because we didn’t see Star Wars until we were offered the choice of going out to dinner or going to the movies for my sister’s birthday in October. Months before that, my cousins saw it, and I asked them to tell me all about it, after which we played “Star Wars” while running around my great aunt’s yard in the fading light of a Michigan summer evening.
The move to the new town and school was rough on me. I went from having two great friends who lived across the street to having a bully who lived across the street - after I broke my arm on my birthday in '78, he knocked on the door and asked my mom if I could come out so he could break my other arm (he was a really damaged kid whose dad committed suicide in their garage shortly after we moved to the neighborhood). My old elementary school was pretty progressive for the '70s, with multi-grade classes and the option for kids who could do more advanced work to move between teachers for subjects they were moving ahead in (which I took advantage of) without the pressure of completely skipping grades. My new school had nothing like this, so I was just another 5th grader doing 5th grade work, some of which I’d already done the previous year.
Once I’d finally seen Star Wars in October, it offered a refuge from my day-to-day life, which wasn’t really that rough compared to what many have gone through - I was still a middle-class white kid in America, after all - but it was an unpleasant mix of 90% boredom/loneliness/missing my friends and 10% fear of my bully and his friends.
I’m not sure what I did before Star Wars, but after I saw it, my days were filled with:
(It’s important to remember that we couldn’t just watch Star Wars whenever we wanted - videotapes barely existed for home viewing back then, and I didn’t realize that I could buy Star Wars until after I bought The Empire Strikes Back in 1984; I paid $90 each for lousy pan & scan versions.)
It recently occurred to me that, in modern terms, I grew up in a time of Star Wars scarcity - there literally wasn’t enough Star Wars to satiate our desire for it, so there was room for it to become a very personal thing. One of the key things about Star Wars for me, as it existed in 1977-80, was a feeling of almost limitless possibility. It wasn’t so much a story as a place that felt real and vast and open; a place where you could tell any kind of story as long as you got the overall feel right (Brian Daley mastered this in his Han Solo novels, which don’t even deal with the Empire; let’s just say that L. Neil Smith, in his Lando Calrissian novels, didn’t). This feeling was maintained right up until Darth Vader said those four little words, and while that decision works with the mythological underpinnings that Lucas was mining, it absolutely kills that limitless, open feeling that was in play previously. From that point on, Star Wars was the story of one guy and his problematic father (and now nephew), and everything revolves around serving that story. I was excited by the prospect of the “anthology” movies that Disney announced, with many younger directors attached, but even the might of Disney marketing couldn’t break the general public’s feeling, cultivated over four decades, that Star Wars movies = The Skywalker Saga, full stop. The Mandalorian offered some hope in parts of its first season, but after it was established as a hit, the marketing beast was awakened and it was, almost inevitably, tied back into the meta-narrative as quickly as possible.
What of West End Games? Well, that ties in more directly with ZkinandBonez’s excellent essay. As a tabletop RPG enthusiast since about 1980, I was as excited as anyone when West End Games announced The Star Wars Roleplaying Game in 1987. The first several releases in the line were excellent - the game system was perfect for the setting, The Star Wars Sourcebook gave just enough detail to flesh things out without going overboard, and several decent standalone adventures were released over the following year. However, one of the truisms of the RPG market by the late '80s was that “adventures don’t sell, sourcebooks do”. Gamemasters (and players) always wanted more general detail about the world, but GMs tended to want to make up their own adventures. West End might have hoped that the Star Wars name would change that, but I think that the sales numbers for The Star Wars Sourcebook and 1988’s Imperial Sourcebook made it clear where they should be concentrating their efforts going forward. While they continued to release adventures over the next several years, much more effort went into various sourcebooks, such as the various Galaxy Guides which included essays on many of the background characters, alien races, vehicles, and locales from each of the OT movies. Later sourcebooks went into excruciating detail on the organization of the Rebel Alliance, various smuggler havens, spaceports, planets, more aliens, various types of equipment and vehicles, criminal organizations - the list went on and on.
One of the key elements of the movies that ZkinandBonez highlighted (via Lovecraft) was “Never Explain Anything”. West End discovered that the easiest way to make money (and pay the LFL licensing fees) was to EXPLAIN EVERYTHING that was in the movies, and then make up more stuff so you can explain that, too. The success of the RPG helped get some other licensees interested in trying to resurrect the brand, and Lucas, completely uninterested in Star Wars at the time (and certainly never going to make anything beyond Episode VI), opened up the post-ROTJ era for use by Dark Horse Comics (with the prescient Dark Empire, where Luke fights clones of the Emperor) and Del Rey Books (with Zahn’s Heir to the Empire) in 1991. Crucially, Timothy Zahn was given several West End Games sourcebooks to use when writing his novels, thereby bringing their overly-detailed explanations for everything into general Star Wars canon. This led to an entire generation of fans seeing Star Wars not as a set of mythological stories with a sci-fi gloss, set in a vague but believable universe of limitless possibility, but as a science-fantasy set in an explainable, detailed world, with multiple companies working feverishly to fill in any gaps where your imagination used to do the job. Star Wars went from being a vast universe with a few simple rules to keep the feel right to an overly-defined place where it was expected that anything that didn’t already have a detailed entry in an encyclopedia, soon would.
The limitless universe that existed from 1977-1980 started to shrink as soon as Vader said “I am your father”, and just about everything that has happened since has continued to make it seem smaller. Even mainstream critics have started to notice that, while it’s supposedly set in an entire, sprawling galaxy far, far away, Star Wars feels very “small-town”. Everybody knows everybody, everything is too connected, and there are few real surprises. Disney, with all the money in the world and millions of fans ready to buy tickets for anything with the Star Wars name on it, initiated their ownership of the property by basically resetting everything back to the way it was in 1977 and changing some names.
Even The Mandalorian, which is a breath of fresh air in some ways (as ZkinandBonez points out), still stumbles frequently, sometimes by relying too heavily on existing aliens and other things we’ve seen before (Jon Favreau seems to think that fans like being able to recognize things, but I’d much rather see something new that feels right). At other times, I think it falls prey to Dave Filoni’s desire to re-canonize things from largely West End Games-based 1990s properties, which are the polar opposite of the mythological fairy tale that Star Wars originated as. So, for every Mudhorn or alien summoning speeders with a flute, we get Moff Gideon painfully quoting the “E-web heavy repeating blaster cannon” sales brochure and then brandishing the Darksaber from Filoni’s Clone Wars animated series, itself a repurposing of a (groan-worthy) name from a 1990s Kevin J. Anderson novel. We also get the reintroduction of the Darktroopers from the Dark Forces 1990s video game — an idea that works well enough in that context, where something more challenging than cannon-fodder Stormtroopers is needed as the game character advances and gets better weapons — but really doesn’t feel quite right in a dramatic context. Did Star Wars really need autonomous Iron Man suits introduced just so that they could be cut down by the existing in-universe super-hero?
Starting out as a mashup of Flash Gordon, pulp sci-fi and fairytale, Star Wars was a mythology for the Space Age, and it succeeded far beyond its creator’s wildest dreams. In the first years of its existence, it felt like the most amazing sandbox imaginable, a place where anything could happen and any story could be told. Unfortunately, Lucas made a decision during the writing of the first sequel (and it was absolutely a decision at that point, not something that was always intended) that kneecapped the storytelling potential of the universe he’d created. This transformed the Star Wars saga from one of many possible stories in this universe, to the only story that ever really mattered - it’s been wall-to-wall Sith vs. Jedi, “always there are two”, and “who are my parents?” ever since. Compounding that issue, when Lucas lost interest in the universe he’d created, the voluminous, ill-advised background material that was created out of economic necessity by a little game company in Pennsylvania became a sort of bible for a decade of Expanded Universe stories, fundamentally altering the nature of the Star Wars universe. All of the explanations added via the Prequel Trilogy do similar damage to the implied background of the original, ironically proving that Lucas did in fact choose correctly when he decided which part of his vague, expansive outline would make for the best single movie (in his hands, at least).
Star Wars was never really intended to depict an explainable world (as ZkinandBonez ably explains), but because of its production design and some vague bits of dialog, it had incredible implied scope and breadth - the “used universe” approach implies history for everything, but doesn’t spell any of it out. The vast majority of the detail added since the late '80s is completely at odds with the very nature of the original story, but there’s no way to go back. There are multiple generations of fans for whom the original Star Wars is just a quaint old movie, a bit of a footnote in an ever-expanding media empire that produces an endless supply of new information to deepen their knowledge of a universe that was never designed to have such depth, and for me, really can’t support it.
I just uploaded an avatar image, but it’s only showing on my account page, not on any of my existing posts or at the top of the page when I’m logged in. Any idea why?
Just a quick correction for section #7 - Brian Daley’s “Han Solo” novels were published in 1979 (Stars End) and 1980 (Revenge and Lost Legacy), not 1987. They remain some of my favorite bits of Star Wars lore, and George thought well enough of them to have Daley script the NPR radio dramas (which are also generally excellent). Daley had a great feel for the pre-ESB Star Wars universe - it’s a shame he died so young and didn’t have a chance to play with the universe a bit more.
Ars Technica has a pretty decent article on the possibility of restoring the original theatrical cut of "Star Wars" for the blu-ray release, along with the challenges inherent in the restoration. The article includes extensive quotes from "The Secret History of Star Wars" author Michael Kaminski.
xhonzi said:Vaderisnothayden said:
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).
And my story is the third one after Anchorhead's (starts with "I was 10 years old in 1977....").
Saw this yesterday with my fiancee, and we both loved it. I never loved TOS - I was 10 when Star Wars came out, had never seen TOS at the time, and could just never get past the cheesiness of TOS (I was a kid, what can I say?). Liked some of the movies (II, III, IV, VI), never a regular watcher of the other series, though I caught the occasional episode.
The beauty of a "reboot" is it allows them to utilize affection for the original characters and milieu, without being bound to them. I loved the pause as Kirk came onto the bridge at the end of the movie - felt just like Shatner's character, but different at the same time, and free to go off in a different direction. Would go see a sequel tomorrow, if possible.
Gads, I wish somebody had the ability to reboot Star Wars - it needs it desperately.