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Star Wars: Episode VI – Return of the Jedi (1983)

August 6, 2010

VERDICT:
6/10 Slaves Gone Wild

Talk about a bad omen.

Return of the Jedi picks up with Luke and the gang trying to rescue their frozen friend Han from the lair of notorious crime boss/general freak of nature Jabba the Hutt before the Rebel Alliance makes one final push to take down the Empire once and for all by using an awfully familiar plan of attack on an awfully familiar weapon.

So, after recently receiving a refresher course on the fact that A New Hope and The Empire Strikes Back are nothing short of cinematic masterpieces that still kickass and are as amazing as the day I first saw ’em, I’ve been looking forward to finally rounding out the original trilogy with good ol’ Jedi. My hopes were high, the time had come, my once-fond memories of Luke and Darth’s final battle were helping to alleviate my fears that the Ewoks couldn’t have been that bad, and since Admiral Ackbar still holds a special place in all our hearts, I pressed PLAY and soon realized that I had just entered a crushing world of disappointment and sadness.

Folks, if there was ever a sign that George Lucas should have been stopped before any more damage was done, this one was pretty much lit with fluorescent neon. I know I’m gonna get some major shit from my friends for giving Revenge of the Sith a higher score than this, and while it’s not all bad, there really is so much here to hate.

Alright, let’s start with the obvious: fuck Endor.

God, after Yoda ended up being the best thing that could have possibly happened to the reputation Muppet-like creatures across the solar system, it’s absolutely beyond me as to why Lucas decided to ditch his original idea of centering the story on the Wookie homeland of Kashyyyk (which would have been freakin’ awesome) and instead re-wrote the damn thing to go with these teddy midgets instead. Honestly, what in the world could have been going through that guy’s mind? Wookies are awesome, Wookies tear shit up, so why replace ’em with glorified Care Bears who fight off chicken walkers by dropping rocks from hang gliders? Absolutely beyond me and this was the last place I wanted to see everyone celebrating their ultimate victory when it was all said and done.

But the speeder chase was sweet. I’ll give it that.

And then there’s Lucas’ script, and lord is it weak. With the exception of 3P0 who’s still consistently amusing, none of the characters here have any of the wit and charm that made them so memorable in the first place. Leia is nothing short of a cardboard cutout in a metal bikini who has completely lost all her badass broaditude (but I did dig her “I know,” to Han’s, “I love you,”), Han doesn’t have any good one-liners (and I hate how his stupid bumbling around ends up leading to Boba Fett’s outrageously lame death), and Luke (who somehow went from Jedi Chump to Jedi Master without any extra training) just isn’t any fun to be around anymore, dude needs to lighten up. Once again, there’s too much focus on the Rebellion and not enough on the folks leading it, but it was good to see the father and son dynamic with Darth and Luke brought to the forefront.

Also wasn’t a fan of the whole first Act in Jabba’s hideout which felt more like an excuse for Lucas to see how many different species he could make to look like they had dicks coming out of their heads than anything else. Jabba’s laughing pet “rat”? Stupid. That whole extra scene that Lucas added with the anteater jazz singer and that red douche who yells into the camera during his solo? Double stupid. If it weren’t for Hayden Christensen being added to play Vader’s ghost (it’s totally not a ghost, but the word’s not coming to me right now) at the end, this whole musical interlude would have easily been the worst thing about the Special Edition remakes. The rancor scene hasn’t exactly aged all too well either. I don’t know, the whole thing just felt like a bizarre note to start the movie out on and I couldn’t wait for the crew to get out of there.

And speaking of scenes that haven’t aged well, wasn’t all that crazy about the final showdown either. Luke and Darth’s red and green lighsabers look awfully sweet against their blacked-out wardrobes, but in comparison to their emotionally legit fight in Empire, this looked almost too choreographed up until Luke starts wailing on his pops like a goddamned lumberjack. Maybe I need to see it again because I definitely remember liking it back in the day, but it just didn’t do it for me this time around. That Emperor was a dick though, man.

Yoda’s death was also way too drawn out and I hate how Luke drops the bomb to Leia that they’re siblings like it’s no big deal. That’s a big reveal, man, that should have been given more weight.

But one of the most glaring issues I had with this script was that it feels kinda rehashed. I mean, Death Stars are pretty cool, anything that can kill a planet in one shot usually falls into the “pretty cool” category, but sometimes one planet-sized instrument of sheer annihiliation is enough. For all his imagination and vision, I’m pretty surprised that Lucas couldn’t come up with a new weapon that wasn’t the exact same thing that the Rebels already took out. Would have been a perfect time to think outside the box and up the ante for us loyal fans.

Well, the best way I can sum it all my complaints and woes about this unfortunate end to an otherwise legendary trilogy is that the magic is gone. My friend Mike put it best when he told me that rediscovering A New Hope and Empire after all these years was, “Like meeting a long-lost friend again.” From start to finish, those two movies had me cheering, smiling and falling back in love with Star Wars all over again in ways I never expected and I’m sure that when I go back and watch them again in another ten years, I’ll still be singing the same tune. But all that wonder, all that enjoyment, all those key ingredients that made Lucas the King of the Geeks that he is today was gone in Jedi, only to be replaced by shit that probably sold more Happy Meals than I could possibly imagine.

I don’t know, guys. I really don’t have a lot of good things to say about this movie since it stands as more of a sign of things to come than it does a fitting conclusion to a mind-blowingly awesome story, and that’s really a shame. But since it’s Star Wars and its got a whole lot of nostalgia factor going for it, Return of the Jedi gets a 6 and I can’t bring myself to drop it any lower despite the bad taste in my mouth. Snafus and all, it’s still one of the best trilogies you’ll ever find, just wish it had taken itself more seriously by the end.

And what fuck was with this guy?

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32 Comments leave one →
  1. August 6, 2010 1:02 am

    Regarding the “SITH getting a higher score” thing, I’m actually on board with that. I though REVENGE OF THE SITH was better than this one.

    And Boba Fett isn’t dead. Come on. You ply games! He’s all over the fucking place in the expanded universe. I could try to count how many times he’s been a boss in the games taking place after JEDI, but I’d be going forever, and, I have better things to do!

    The added jazz part was total shit, but I didn’t think all that much about Hayden Christensen being added in the end. I mean, we see him looking like that when the mask is put on, so… I don’t know. I didn’t have a problem with it.

    Ewoks suck, and you know that one of the coolest scenes in SITH was on Kashyyyk so that Lucas could atone for that. Speeder chase was totally boss though, and there were some undeniably cheer worthy moments in that battle, like when Chewie jacks a walker and runs train on some stormtroopers.

    And, yeah, the lightsaber fight didn’t have as much meat, but when Luke loses it and goes psycho on Vader, I still get chills. That’s powerful stuff!

    Also, the explosions are really good here… just saying!

    Good review!

    • August 6, 2010 8:26 am

      – Man, I just want to know how the hell he escapes from the Sarlac then.
      – The Christensen thing was just the icing on the cake for everything that was unnecessary about the Special Editions. Why wasn’t Ewan McGregor there instead of Alec Guinness then? Made no sense.
      – If Chewie hadn’t yelled like Tarzan while swinging from the vine onto the AT-ST, I would be with you on that one. But alas…
      – Psycho Luke was very awesome.
      – The explosions are sweet, but that really only goes so far in the long run I guess.

      • Andrew permalink
        August 6, 2010 1:09 pm

        Boba fett escapes the sarlac by using his jetpack, if i remember correctly he cuts the tongue that was holding on to him and drops some thermal detonators into its mouth as he bounces. happened as the yacht was going down. He was seriously fucked up and it took like 2-3 months for him to walk

      • August 6, 2010 1:14 pm

        Wow, had no idea. Does that actually happen in the movie or is that depicted in another realm of SW lore?

  2. nothatwasacompliment permalink
    August 6, 2010 8:34 am

    i still say this one is better than revenge of the sith. though, even as a kid, i recall being disappointed by it. the whole jabba section definitely bothered me. it felt like a big waste of time.

    though, it did give us this great shot:

    i liked the lightsaber duel and the space battle at the end…ewoks don’t bother me TOO much, but they could have been better.

    the worst part is definitely the wooden, humorless acting. very much a sign of things to come…

  3. Uncle Fran permalink
    August 6, 2010 10:40 am

    Hey Aiden, It’s been awhile since I saw this but you pretty much captured my thoughts on this disappointment of a movie. I remember watching this thing and thinking “Is it me? Have I changed in some way? Were the first two really as good as remembered them or was it just my age at the time? Was I a geek? I don’t like Lucas for making me feel this way. He took a movie series that appealed to all ages and BAM, like you said, CARE BEARS, suddenly as a teenager I felt foolish for even being in the theater. Even before the Ewoks showed up, a fish (Ackbar) as a commander of a starship? I liked his “It’s a Trap” line however, kind of funny hearing a fish say that. I’m sure its the same line that all the Bass down in Rhode Island use when I toss my baited hook out into the ocean.

    • August 6, 2010 10:50 am

      hahahaha, next time I go fishing with you guys in RI, I’m going to be pulling out that line like crazy. yeah, this movie’s bordering on being a joke. what a let-down. glad we’ve found a common ground on this series. might even balance out that 6 I gave Shutter Island.

  4. Rob M permalink
    August 6, 2010 11:07 am

    When I watched the “Special Edition” the first time, I nearly turned it off when the additional jazz scene came on. I always had mixed feelings about putting Christensen in the ghost scene at the end. I understand the logic behind it though. Lucas wanted to better tie the old trilogy to the new one and show Anakin when he was really a Jedi (before going over to the Dark Side). However, Anakin had returned to the Jedi side by killing the Emperor and saving Luke, so really he should have kept the old man ghost.

    There were too many different creatures in this movie altogether. A New Hope and Empire had the right amount, but this time it felt like, “Oooo, see how many Muppets we can make!” It diverted to severely from the more human story that made Empire so great.

    I wish the Empire had enacted genocide on those Wookie-abortion Ewoks. And what a horrible place to have a regime-changing, Empire-ending battle. I know that it’s probably blasphemous to even THINK this, but if anyone ever decided to reboot the original trilogy with a fresh new take, I’d see the Rebels doing guerilla warefare and blowing up Empire parades and mounting an assault on Coruscant. Now THAT would have been a legendary way to end it, not with that clipped-on throwaway montage of celebrations across the galaxy.

    By the by, you may hate “Clerks”, but I can see you agree 100% with Dante.

    • August 6, 2010 11:32 am

      Hahaha, the Death Star carpenters conversation was pretty sweet. More of that and less “snowballing” and I would have been a much bigger fan.

      Like I said, if Hayden got put into the last scene, McGregor should have been put in as well. Just unnecessary, not a scene that needed changing whatsoever.

      Well said about it diverting from the human story of Empire, this movie just felt so gimmicky as a result.

      Yeah, that final celebration montage was lame, especially since it ended up right back at Endor. Fuck that noise.

  5. Andrew permalink
    August 6, 2010 1:14 pm

    overall i disagree with the review. i think the ewoks were alittle silly but there were just so many iconic moments in this movie…

    this movie definitely jumped the shark. I think sith and jedi should be dead even(lol so much irony) as far as score goes. No idea how you can score these even when the last lines from sith are padme pulling the names “Luke” and “Leia” out of her ass and dying from sadness? (seriously WHERE did she come up with these names, so out of place next to anakin, obi-wan, qui-gon, jango fett, mace windu…)

  6. August 6, 2010 1:26 pm

    Hi Aiden, wow this brings back so many memories. I’ve seen bits and pieces of this as my twin brothers played Star Wars over and over when we’re kids, but I finally saw the entire thing not too long ago. As a chick, I totally dig that ‘I know’ line from Leia, delivered so non-chalant-ly to Han’s I love you. Brilliant! Every girl should do the same at least once in their lifetime, ha!

    ‘…I hate how Luke drops the bomb to Leia that they’re siblings like it’s no big deal.’ That bugged me too! I mean, there’s an opportunity for a dramatic scene there, alas it’s completely wasted. Great review!

    • August 6, 2010 1:29 pm

      RTM! Haven’t seen you around these parts in ages! Yeah, that was a total missed opportunity, same thing when Yoda breaks the news to Luke. But Leia did have the best line of the movie, so she gets some kind of points there.

      Sorry I haven’t been over to Flixchatter in a while, got a new computer at work and I can’t see your site for some reason. Horrible situation. Keep on truckin’ all the same, will hop on over one of these days.

  7. August 6, 2010 3:50 pm

    Why in the hell would they add Christensen -arguably the worst part of the new trilogies – in replacing old man Anakin? And if you’re going to do that why not add Qui-gon?

    • August 6, 2010 3:52 pm

      ::Head explosion::

      Good point, man. Also, notice how Obi-Wan never once mentions Qui-Gonn teaching him and only talks about how he was Yoda’s padawan? The real question is why the hell Qui-Gonn was even in this series to begin with, not that he wasn’t sweet or anything.

  8. August 6, 2010 6:39 pm

    I thought the final lightsaber scene was superbly choreographed, lit, and scored.

    The muppet babies was the only component of this film I disapprove of.

    • August 11, 2010 7:56 am

      Wasn’t crazy about Vader’s lightsaber toss, reminded me of when he was force throwing stuff at Luke in Empire. Everything else wasn’t too bad though.

  9. August 7, 2010 4:43 am

    Only 7 words matter when talking about this movie: Sand Vagina Monster that ate Boba Fett!!!

    • August 7, 2010 3:57 pm

      Lol.

    • August 11, 2010 7:58 am

      Hahaha, not sure if that’s a good thing or what, but the Sarlacc was pretty cool when I was a kid.

  10. Ritz (Reviews) permalink
    August 10, 2010 2:12 am

    I must say this is probably my favorite Star Wars, and honestly, I couldn’t tell you why! There is just something about it I dearly love, and I think the Original was great, and the second was shit (Empire).

    Then the prequels:

    I liked Phantom Menace, and Sith, but loathed Clones.

    Star Wars is a deep movie confession for me, my opinion on them is very off.

    Ranked:

    1. Return of the Jedi
    2. Revenge of the Sith
    3. New Hope
    4. Phantom Menace
    5. Empire Strikes Back
    6. Attack of the Clones

    • August 11, 2010 8:45 am

      Oh, man. This is one crazy list. Would love to hear the reasonings behind it. Hop to it!

      • August 15, 2010 12:42 am

        Same here. Gotta be the only person on earth to rank two prequels above Empire. That’s heresy, man…

  11. August 11, 2010 7:03 pm

    The only Special Edition I enjoy watching is Empire actually and only because of how Bespin has been made to look less claustrophobic will all the windows. The special editions on the whole were just George polishing his control knob to just to please himself (take it as an innuendo if you must)

    But the one thing that justifies the Ewoks over the Wookies is money. It’s cheaper and easier to hire midgets to fill the suits and you can make two Ewok suits from the fabric used to make one Wookie suite. Hell even the letters in Ewok are stripped down from Wookie.

    Nostalgia doesn’t make this immune to criticism as you pointed out in most cases but the Death Star run (yes a retread of the first film), the Luke Vader fight and the incomparable Williams score make up for all the shortcomings in my eyes. Oh and how can you not call it a sweet victory when Lando saves the day?:P

    • August 12, 2010 10:51 am

      Agreed about the special editions, Empire really was the only one that worked. Nothing stupid or childish or unnecessary, only stuff that was entirely welcomed and broadened the scope of the SW universe. Good point, homey.

      And as far as the cost-cutting benefits of the Ewoks, I really hope that’s not the reason they went with Endor instead of Kashyyyk. George Lucas and the studios behind him must have had more money than they knew what to do with after A New Hope and Empire. Would have been so worth the investment.

      And while I’m very much on the Lando bandwagon, Han belongs behind the wheel of the Falcon. Didn’t help having Nien Nunb as his wingman either.

  12. Samantha Ryan permalink
    February 12, 2012 1:30 am

    Hey, I loved that movie. And kindly stop knocking Han Solo. Harrison Ford was the best thing ever to happen to Hollywood. You ARE right about the Ewoks, however… and the Jabba’s palace scenes. FYI that costume was Carrie Fisher’s own idea. Sorry, I am a big Star Wars fan and read all the production notes.

  13. Ruv permalink
    June 13, 2012 7:54 am

    I agree with this reviewer on the whole apart from Sith.
    Jedi was a bit Star Wars cum Disney. I saw it as a kid and remember feeling disappointed. Its just not in the same class as the first two movies. Bad dialogue – ‘could you tell Luke is that who you could tell!’ Han you big baby – is an example.

    There are good things about it that still put it way above the Prequels which I don’t even consider being part of the Star Wars universe – hey if George can re-write history then so can I.

    The good things are;
    The speeder chase,
    Luke, Darth, and Emperor scenes (even if the Emperor was a bit of a pantomine villain)
    The special effects and visuals.
    Vader’s redemption
    Jabbas pallace was ok in places.
    Leia and Han love story
    The Scarllac
    Vaders funeral and Luke and Ghosts.
    The End party.

    The whole Leia is Lukes sister thing I felt was tacked on to have a big reveal like in Empire.
    They obviosly hadn’t planned that or they wouldnt have had Luke snogging her in Empire, and the whole sexual tension between the main three characters was fun. By Jedi Luke was more interested in being a Jedi so the road would have been left clear for Han and Leia. It was nice to see Han as a more mellower character which shows a good arc but as I said they still saddled him with some silly dialogue.

    The whole blowing up the Death Star again didn’t create any excitement for me since they’d already done it, and the Ewoks destroying the rest of the Empire.. need I say more.
    Imagine the Awsomeness if it had been set on a Wookie Planet in some kind of a Jungle instead of a National Forest and Wookies battled Stormtroopers. Wookies are just as lovable as the Ewoks and about a thousand times cooler. I don’t agree with Gary Kurtz about killing off Han – one of the greatest Star Wrs charachters and a main protagonist. If they had to kill someone off – Lando, after all he did screw them around in Empire and nearly got them killed. And please no one accuse me of being racist – he was a minor character from the start and a martyring of him dying in battle to save the rebellion would have been pretty cool and timely.

    What else is there to say. R2 and 3PO were a bit redundant in Jedi except at the beginning but with some new Wookie characters and droids we could have still got some new toys if that is what really mattered to Lucas (who probably needed to pay for his divorce).

    How about the Empire building a new space station on and around Kashyyck, inhabiting the planet and forcing the Wookies into slavery which is why they help the rebellion – instead of the Death Star. Or that and on Courusant where Luke and Darth could fight – as someone mentioned earlier.

    • June 13, 2012 9:24 am

      It is beyond me why they didn’t use Kashyyyk instead of that effing Ewok planet. Would have changed the movie entirely and for the better if it had been Wookies over Ewoks. Fuckin’ George Lucas, man. Really screwed the pooch on this one, especially in light of how legendary Episode IV and V are.

      Still stand by Sith being better than this, but some days it feels like splitting hairs to be honest.

      • Ruv permalink
        June 13, 2012 10:57 am

        Fairy nuff dude. I haven’t seen Sith in a while so maybe its nos bad as I remember. But if you’ve got an evening free check out Red Letter Media’s hilarious visual review/essay on what’s wrong with the prequels. You may feel different after….

      • June 13, 2012 11:05 am

        Hahaha. Might just do that. All you have to do is point at Hayden Christensen and you’re argument against the prequels is untouchable, but still, that Jedi was truly a harbinger of things to come…

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