Why Return Of The Jedi deserves more love

Feature Nick Horton 19 May 2014 - 05:56

The Empire Strikes Back is most people's favourite Star Wars movie, but Nick argues that Jedi deserves more of your affection

Star Wars is a difficult franchise to love these days. Over-saturated with bad products (and not just the prequels – the games, TV movies, endless merchandise), it seems what made Star Wars great has been forgotten about. Even the upcoming Episode VII hasn’t got general fandom excited in the way the announcement of Episode I did (ah, more innocent days). So to write an article defending a film which many people regard as where the rot set in is no easy task. Indeed, some may even be ready to dismiss my efforts as pointless, so set in their Jedi dismissing ways are they. But I really do believe Return Of The Jedi deserves a lot more love than it normally gets, and I’m going to tell you why. For purposes of the article, I’m going to use the original release as my reference point, but with discussion of the various special editions.

But first of all I’m going to recap just why many of you think so lowly of it. Apparently it was where Lucas decided to stop bothering about his epic saga, and just started caring about the commercial tie-ins. Cue the Ewoks. Many see it as a rip-off of A New Hope, complete with another attack on the Death Star. Still others can’t get over how bad Boba Fett’s death is. On a script, design, and direction level, Jedi just isn’t up to scratch, especially in comparison to A New Hope and The Empire Strikes Back. Hell, some people even rank it below Revenge of the Sith when rating all the Star Wars films. A pox on them I say.

I’m going to come right out and admit it; Return Of The Jedi is my favourite Star Wars film. Always has been, always will be (unless one of VII, VIII, or VIX is the greatest film ever made). Is it the best Star Wars film? No, many of the complaints listed above are valid. But it does so much right, that it lifts itself above the bad and becomes a truly epic and magical conclusion to a three, then six, film journey.

I’ll address the Ewok issue head-on. Fully grown adults howled with rage when some cute bear creatures turned up and beat the Empire. But the Ewoks are accessible – for those who have never seen Star Wars, they quickly become one of the most memorable and iconic aliens in the whole damn thing. They epitomise the never say die attitude of the Rebellion, and prove that where’s there a will there’s a way. A low-tech solution to a high-tech tyranny? That’s the Ewoks. Yeah they were probably in there for the kids (and possibly budgetary reasons), and I know it was meant to be a planet full of Wookies. But look how that turned out in Revenge of the Sith. About a tenth as exciting as the teddy bears killing stormtroopers with rocks. Plus they got the best ‘we won! Yub Nub!’ song ever. Until Lucas stuck crappy world music over it instead.

In terms of other memorable characters, it also gives us Jabba the Hutt and his own criminal enterprise. The moment with the rancor was the most terrifying thing I ever saw as a kid, but then undercut instantly by the sadness of the keeper after its death. Where else do you get that tragic-comic acknowledgment of a boy and his monster in Star Wars? We also get the Emperor at long last, and he is used perfectly here. Not just a cackling pantomime villain, the Emperor exudes genuine menace, and proves even more frightening than Darth Vader himself, official best baddie of all time TM. This is how you up the stakes, and increase the risk. It also leads the new films with a lot of work to do on the villain front – how can you better the Emperor?!

Jedi also gets a fair amount of criticism for its script. While at times functional and occasionally uninspired (like every Star Wars films really), it definitely has its fair share of quotable lines. I bet if you started saying Star Wars lines in your head right now, the majority of them would be from Jedi. "It’s a trap", "many Bothans died to bring us this information", "so be it Jedi", and "especially for… sister" are just some of the memorable corkers lurking within.

Perhaps the most outstanding element of Jedi though is the fights, both space battles, hand-to-hand, and lightsaber duels. They have the balance just right on action, spectacle, and watchability. Compared to A New Hope and The Empire Strikes Back, Jedi’s fights are bigger, better, and faster, as well as having greater scope and higher stakes. Compared to the prequels, they actually have emotional resonance, feel like they’re really happening (and not just in a computer somewhere), and can be followed easily. That stuff all matters. The assault on the Death Star II is the best space battle ever committed to film (in my opinion), and special mention must go to the A-Wing pilot who crashes into the Super Star Destroyer.

But the best fight in Jedi, and in fact all six Star Wars movies, is the final duel between Luke and Vader. It’s basically what the whole saga has been about – the Skywalker legacy. Paired with one of the best pieces of operatic and epic music that John Williams ever composed (listen from 1’10’’ right here) the scene is everything we’ve been waiting for. Not just a great ending for Jedi, but a great ending for all the films.

The scenes in the Emperor’s throne-room leading up to the final duel also turn Jedi into a decent film into something approaching greatness. There is nothing I would change in the whole final third of the film actually, but the three-hander is especially powerful. It’s left such a lasting impression on me, and my taste in films, books, and games, that an impressive final confrontation can make or break a story for me. And then they give Vader the greatest heroic moment ever. The pain and anguish are plain to read on his impassive blank mask, as is his inner turmoil over whether to turn on his master to save his son. Of course Lucas had to fucking ruin it by putting a stupid, ‘No, noooooo’ dubbing over the top of his latest special edition, but in its original form that moment is about as close as you can get to cinematic genius for me.

The whole resolution to the monomyth proves that Lucas really was Joseph Campbell’s greatest ever student. While a million other films have tried to copy The Hero’s Journey since, only Lucas got it spot on. That is why the ending of Jedi has such resonance, and why it has made such a lasting impact. Does that mean Jedi only works as part of a larger whole? Perhaps, and that’s why it’s not the best Star Wars film. But it is the most emotionally satisfying, and that means a great deal when experiencing film. The head tells me Empire, but my heart has always said Jedi.

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Disqus - noscript

The space battle, where the TIE Fighters swarm towards the cockpit and then around the Falcon is probably my favourite effects shot(s) of all time. To think each one of those fighters movements were done by hand, individually, is insane...!

Metal bikini Leia - which has now inspired many, many attractive young women to don the same garb at every -Con since. Thank you Mr. Lucas and a special thanks to Ms. Fisher. It had what IV and V kind of lacked, and which was completely missing from I, II, and III - sex appeal. IV, V and VI had Han and Leia as eye candy for both genders, plus Billy Dee Williams. But what did I, II, and III have for eye candy? Broody Boy? Whiny Jedi? Virginal Princess? The closest you got was the one Twylek Jedi, for about 3 seconds before she was gunned down. To paraphrase a description regarding another recent movie, "The 'romance' in I, II, and III was so wooden, it was a fire hazard."

ROTJ is such a good closer to the 'Star Wars' story... a perfectly self-contained story that needed neither prequel nor sequel trilogies, it has to be said! That being said, it does have it's flaws;

The screenplay may not be as tight and sharp as ANH and ESB simply because they didn't have time to hone and polish it as much as the other two, they were still working on the basic story less than six months before filming began, so all things considered, it was as good as they could make it, time permitting. This accelerated schedule unfortunately led to what I believe is ROTJ's main flaw; that Han Solo has no real arc after his rescue, he's just... well *there* for the duration without any real significant further character development. The audience should have seen him prepared to sacrifice his life for the greater good whilst still ultimately surviving, bringing his character arc to a satisfying completion; from the cold and selfish scoundrel of the first film to the selfless hero who's opened up to love with and for Leia.

The only other complaint I have is the cutting of two deleted scenes from the final version; Vader contacting Luke via the Force whilst the latter is completing his new lightsaber on Tatooine, and the rebel raid inside the Imperial bunker on Endor wherein we see a nice little 30-second shootout with a passing platoon of Stormtroopers... these are both fantastic little scenes that were cut (according to producer Howard Kazanjian) not because they weren't good enough to make the final cut but because George wanted to ensure the maximum number of showings per day!!!

Other than that, I love ROTJ (flaws included)... I just wish George had stopped there though, before the Special Editions, before the prequels, alas...

See JW Rinzler's recent Making Of book which says that nobody apart from Lucas wanted the Ewoks. It's a fascinating account of the hard graft the effects guys went into, as well as the role of the 'director'.

A pox on me, then, though I like Jedi just fine.

Loved it more before George Lucas tinkered with it replacing Sebastian Shaw with Hayden Christensen you don't mentionand removing the Hub Nub song you do mention.

Princess Leia in a gold bikini...

How is this film not everyone's favourite?

Jedi was always going to suffer as it always has the fixed ending and as far as serial's go it went pretty well, certainly no anticlimax. yes hair braiding ewoks, wobbly AT-ST's and lack of a Han story could have been improved but more than made up for by epic space battle, best lightsaber duel of the serise, closest thing we could get to a car chase and plenty of chewi.
Hoping they set the tone for the new films by introducing a new evil that promptly commits the mass genocide of the gungans and the ewoks

Some people are more interested in guys?

Maybe we'll get Harrison Ford in a gold bikini in Episode VII then.

Episode VIX?

Exactly, that's why George threw in Admiral Gial Ackbar, for all you girls out there.

Agreed Jedi is a great Star Wars movie, the fight scenes are extremely well choreographed, the space battles are fantastic and it is endlessly quotable but it has some risible dialogue. It isn't this reason alone that I prefer Empire, it's just Empire is a better film.

This is personally my favorite Star Wars Film. Due to the fact that its two films in one. The first one is the half hour rescue of Han - which conveniently you could watch on VHS when go you home from school for lunch with the second of course being the all out assault on the Death Star, which you could watch when you came home. Its fast, pacey and while it has not got the dark tones of Empire is still a great movie just for all out non-stop action. It also has the Rancor, Jabba, the final showdown and Admiral Akbar

Return Of The Jedi was the first Star Wars film I saw at the cinema, it'll always have a special place in my heart.

In comparison to the prequels? The Gungans make the Ewoks look like Goodfellas.

Empire was my least favourite as a child, presumably because it's more adult.

I completely agree with you and have brought up many of your points made when arguing as much. I can just direct people to this article now!

Yupta! Love ROTJ! The final fight scene between Vader and Luke still makes the hair on the back of my neck stand up. Awesome!

The Ewoks were great as well! Though they do destroy crops and carry TB.

I remember queuing for Jedi outside the Odeon back in 1983. I have genuine affection for the film now, but I do remember at the time feeling just a little bit disappointed - I think it was due to the fact that for the 3 previous years I'd played out about 100 different versions of what the film might be with my action figures - If only George had seen my adventures, Luke Skywalker battling my hamsters, Han Solo defrosting in a frozen lolly pop mould, and Princess Leia getting stuck inside my mums hoover - Jedi could never live up to all of this excitement. Oh the days... And for the record, I am ridiculously excited about the new films.

A great film, nice end to the trilogy and Bobba Fetts not dead!

Last year Prince Charles Cinema in Leicester Square had a screening, watching it with a packed crowd made me soften a little as I fell out of love for it for a long time. Star Wars films benefit mostly with an audience. May the force be with you........Always

Jabba Wanka?

Luke batters Vader into submission, lops off his hand, looks at Vader's robotic stump, looks at his own robotic hand, throws away lightsabre and refuses to kill his father.

Says more about the inner conflict in less than a minute of screentime than three crappy prequels did.

I do find it a little creepy that SEX SLAVE Leia has become such a huge geek sex symbol. Says a lot about geek culture.

I was 9 years old in 1997, when they released the special editions. I remember discovering Star Wars on VHS (the original version) at a friends house and fell in love with it straight away. We went and saw Empire in the cinema, but I had to wait until my birthday (November) to see Jedi. A 6 month wait might not be much, but to a 9 year old, it felt like a lifetime. I just had to see it. Eventually, my birthday came around and that evening, the family sat down to watch Return of the Jedi. I was not disappointed. It was the first film that I ever anticipated and it was the first and last to live up to my expectations. It was the perfect end to a perfect trilogy.
I am by no means ashamed to say: "I Love Return of the Jedi"

Yeah, we're freaky.

Let's take a photo of a goat in a boat,
And then we can float in a moat and be freaky,

Let's take my body and we'll cover it with honey,
Stick some money to the honey,
Now I'm covered in money, honey.

I go outside onto the ledge and push my ass against the glass,
You can act like you don't know me.
I'll take a cup and then I'll put it on my head.
And I'll just stand there bein' freaky with a cup on my head

I felt the same way as well.

"before the Special Editions, before the prequels,"

I totally read that in Alec Guinness's voice.

I was reading last year that Return was going to have a much more darker and bitter sweet ending.
Return of the Jedi maybe the weakest of original trilogy but its still a brilliant movie and one of the best movies from the 80's.

"But the best fight in Jedi, and in fact all six Star Wars
movies, is the final duel between Luke and Vader. It’s basically what
the whole saga has been about – the Skywalker legacy. Paired with one of
the best pieces of operatic and epic music that John Williams ever

New Hope and Empire all the way for me but I goosebumps reading this bit.
Well played Sir!

Return Of The Jedi is my favourite Star Wars film too. Yes, Empire Strikes Back is the best in the series, but I've always enjoyed watching Return Of The Jedi more.

Have always loved 'Jedi'. There's a beautiful simplicity in Luke's solution to the intractable problem he faces. He can't allow Vader and the Empire to kill his friends, nor can he allow himself to get mad and get even. So he does the only thing he can do: he sacrifices himself. He realises that hate and violence only bring him closer to the dark side, so he downs tools and faces down the emperor with a callout to the man his "father" once was. He's not really talking to the Emperor is he? No, he's talking to his dad, in effect trusting (with his own life) that Vader can still search inside himself for Anakin, and save his only son. It's so much more satisfying than just an epic 'saber scrap. And you know what? Like his old man says, Luke was right about him. Gets me every single time.

No it doesn't deserve more Credit. There was a Reason Kurtz left: There could have been much more. ROTJ is a exact Copy of "A new hope". The Original Story was much better and had Potential. Why does everyone think that Kids DON'T get good Stories? Even as a Kid I liked "Empire" the most, because just like "Hope" it created real Feelings. Only Good Scene in "Return" is when Luke hides in the Throne Room and then loses it. No more jumping around and fancy Moves-just pure Hate! The Rest was just superficial Toy Sale Promotion. There I said it!

Me too! Everything about it was great as far as I was concerned. Especially the ewoks taking on the empire like Arnie in predator.

Caravan of Courage is what took the shine off the ewoks for me. The cartoon series was great though. I loved my ewok figures.

ROTJ was the first Star Wars film i watched & i enjoyed every second of it even though i hadn't seen the previous two films. The battle on Jabba's barge & the assault on the second Death Star are my favourite parts. Watching A New Hope & Empire afterwards its amazing to see the difference & change in special effects in the space of 6 years.

The emotional impact where that one Ewok nudges his mate and he doesn't move is actually far better than the entire emotinal range from the relationship between Anikin and Padme in all three of the prequels. Poor Ewok.

You didn't mention Battle for Endor - great movie

Totally agree with everything in this article, well done Nick :)

Yes! Thank you Paul for communicating this so beautifully. This is exactly the reason I love Jedi. The conflict between Luke and his father is the reason that this movie works. That and the Rancor.

Here here.

I LOVE Jedi, always have, always will. I was four years old when it was released so the issues about Ewoks have never affected me, they're just part of the trilogy that I've never felt need to question and I still don't. Sure there was a period when the bleakness of Empire made late-teenage me think it was the one you had to have as your favourite, but no way, grown up me has thought about it properly and Jedi, in it's original form, is my favourite.

I've never understood the hate for ROTJ, because I enjoy it just as much as the two previous movies. I also like the idea of the Ewoks and I found the two tv-movies and the cartoon to be fun, at least the first season.

Ah, going home from school for lunch, that sort of s**t just doesn't happen any more!

I got goosebumps about 4 times reading this.

Jabba the Hutt. Boba Fett. Gold bikini (mmmmm). The Rancor. Speeder bikes. Lando in the Falcon. New lightsaber. Loads of TIE Fighters. Scout walkers. The Emperor ("So be it. Jedi."). Vader's redemption.

I love ROTJ. (Still my third favourite, though).

So true. And the did not get caught up in bullshit fancy fighting! Best Scene in the Movie.

So glad to read an article, and so many comments below, defending ROTJ. Yes, I will always have a slightly nostalgic fondness for it as it was the first Star Wars film I saw in the cinema but it does strike me that these days it is all too often unfairly judged, the number one criticism being the Ewoks. Sorry, but I've never had any time for that criticism.
As the article suggests, the Ewoks serve a purpose here beyond being mere stuffed toys - they represent the inhabitants of undeveloped/natural "average" planet in the Empire, not a bunch of rebels, not a stronghold and not a trade planet (which we'd seen in Bespin) or a space port (like Tatooine). Sure, we could have had a planet full of humanoid farmers and got much the same thing (although in order to do so they would obviously have had to have been much more developed, as a planet of the cavemen thing would have been dire), but we'd already seen a bit of that with Uncle Owen etc and it's nice to see a bit of species variety. Also, they act as real characters - whether it be the reaction to the rebels, their deciding to join them or their fighting against the Empire - they do not just do non-sensical "comedy" things for the sake of it. And, yes, this is in contrast to Jar Jar and the rest of the Gungan idiots.
Looking beyond the Ewoks, and you have a film that, in addition to all the good points made above, is (at least prior to the tinkering) a proper ending to the trilogy. Luke redeems his father and finds his own inner peace, Han and Leia each finds a place they belong and a person that understands them, Lando gets his own redemption and everyone joins together for a final shot farewell under the skies of Endor. Sadly, the beauty of that ending has been somewhat diluted with ridiculous music and CGI shots from around the galaxy that make no sense (how would they even know about this that quickly? why are they celebrating in Coruscant?). Finally, it's worth noting what this film doesn't have if we're comparing it to the prequels and hoping for a decent Episode VII - excessive use of CGI that look like a videogame, scenes of walking and talking, poor acting, more walking and talking, a hastily introduced (albeit cool looking) villain designed to be dispatched in short order, lots of talking to some point just behind the shoulder of another character, and yet more tiresome exposition (maybe walking, maybe sat down, watching a tedious opera).



Not only that, but we finally get to see Vader's human face! The scene where Luke removes the mask and father and son look on each other for the first and last time (while alive--not with Anakin as a force ghost) is a moment of redemption and a healing for both characters and the Force!

As pointed out in the aricle, the music for this particular scene is wonderful.

I am no fan of the ewoks but they actually died in the battle (take that kids)...somwehere on Endor is a little memorial (made out of sticks and stormtrooper helmets) to those little ewoks who sacrificed their lives to save their planet. And less we not forget they probably ate all those dead stormtroopers left there....little carnivorous bastards.

Wait what? There is a version of Jedi where Vader shouts "noooooo" before throwing the Emperor down the pit? That has to be a mistake - they Lucas would not have done that, especially after the terrible 'nooooooooooo' at the end of Clones. Tell me it isn't true?

Ta. There's lots of little things to love, aren't there? One such touch is the way Vader slowly modulates his tone with Luke through the film and James Earl Jones does a lovely, subtle job with it. The almost-imperceptibly gentler "It is too late for me, son" is where Anakin's comeback really starts...

I am struggling to come up with a better moment on screen that captured the excitement and awe that I felt when Luke signalled to R2 over the Sarlacc pit and then set about acrobatically taking Jabba's entourage apart with his light sabre. Marvellous.

It would be Episode IX for Nine not VIX

Return of the Jedi is my favorite Star Wars film. It has so may iconic moments (Jabba, Slave Leia, Rancor, Speeder Bikes, "It's a trap", death of Vader etc etc) yet has a poor reputation. I've a theory about that. I was eleven when Jedi came out, I loved it unconditionally, because of my age Ewoks didn't bother me. I didn't care if they were "A cynical marketing ploy by Lucas" as they have been called. I liked Star Wars marketing, I was 11, all my pocket money went on Star Wars crap, give me more!
However kids who were older when Star Wars came out would be knocking on for 16-18 when Jedi came out(this includes some of the more famous Star Wars fans out there who have dissed Jedi over the years, including S Pegg and K Smith.) 18 year olds who love Star Wars but want to do rude things to women and be grown ups do not want a film with teddy bears in it. They want a "Dark, serious" film about spaceships and tiny, green, big-eared aliens with a speech impediment. They want Empire.
I saw Empire when I was 8, I loved it, it was Star Wars, but I could have done without the boring bits in the Swamp, and the best bits were at the start. Three years later Jedi was the best, full on Star Wars, aliens, bounty hunters, fights, space battles. I wasn't embarrassed by Ewoks, I hadn't learned I should be. The only thing I didn't like about Jedi is that Vader died, I thought that meant there would be no more Star Wars...silly 11 year old bugger.

Sorry, but there's a number of reasons why this film is the worst of the original trilogy. 1. Ewoks. 2. Another Death Star. 3. Return to Tatooine. 4. Ewoks. It felt like a typical Hollywood sequel in so many ways and was a major disappointment (I was 15 when it came out) compared to the magnificent set up that 'Empire' gave it. I'll grant you that the scenes on the Death Star and the fight with Vader was very well done, but that still couldn't redeem it in my eyes. Too many characters were just bit-part players this time around, with very little to do. The whole 'other' sub-plot was underwhelming, they wasted Boba Fett because GL simply didn't know what to do with him. However, it's still miles better than the prequel trilogy!

I remember being a bit disappointed by ROTJ even when I was 8 - especially by the reveal of Darth Vader's face which I expected to be hideously deformed but was just a bald guy with a scar.

I used to like Jedi when I was a kid. I think I went something silly like 8 years without watching a single Star Wars movie because I wanted to forget as much as possible. I watched the original three again a few years ago and I was surprised by how much I hated Jedi. There was no limit as to what could have been done in Jedi but instead it just feels like an ad. The original idea of Han dying half way through and Luke going off as a loner at the end would have been magnificent.

Couldn't agree more with this - it makes you want to shout 'he's lying! he's still good!'

It was scenes like the one you mention that, 15 years ago, made me think, "the prequels are gonna be f*&^in awesome!!"

jedi was the first film I remember seeing.
hyperactive 4 year old discovers Ewoks; from then on, pretty much everyone who tries to diss ewoks within her hearing learns not to very fast. (helped by everyone else later noticing that there's a lot of meat at that barbecue and no Stormtrooper bodies)

Leia strangles Jabba with her own slave-chain. what's not to like?

Don't disagree with anything you say. The Ewoks are infintely better than any new race created in the prequels. They *feel* like Star Wars, if that makes sense.

If Abrams and Kasdan can go even halfway to capturing the feel and magic of the original trilogy, they'll be on to one hell of a money spinner.

RoTJ, CoC, BfE... is that not a hidden trilogy in the Star Wars universe?

As a 4 year old I loved the Ewoks, and even know i like the fact they are attacking the Empire with sticks and stones on Endor. As with most reverred films, if you look at them now they will be dated. I think as a trilogy it's as near to perfect as could be. Now the prequels are completely different things.

P.S Special notice has to put in for Leia and her gold bikini!!

I'm 33 now, but when I was a kid, ROTJ was my favourite of the Star Wars films and Empire my least favourite: the scenes on Dagobah used to bore the pants off me, I remember.

I agree i'm 35 and I felt the Empire dragged on too long, so i suppose it's all relative.

Not the Ewoks, leave them alone. Or they will attack you with sticks and stones.

Excellent article. ROTJ has so much going on: the climax is a three way battle royal (Lando and the rebel fleet vs the Imperial Navy, Han, Leia and the Ewoks slugging it out with the Stormtroopers, and Luke and Vader facing off for the last time) that builds to a great conclusion.
Jedi also has IMO the most important moment in that trilogy - the unmasking of Darth Vader. Here is a character every kid who worshipped Star Wars obsessed about, the evil villain hidden behind a scary black mask. Who was he? What does he look like under the helmet? I still remember how I felt when Luke pulls off the mask, revealing a sad, scarred old man locked inside the black armor.
Jedi has huge dramatic moments that shouldn't be overlooked.

To quote Spaced - "Yeah, but, Jar Jar Binks makes the Ewoks look like... f****** Shaft!"

ROTJ is my favourite as well. It wasn't the first one I saw but it just stands out as my personal best due to the above (music, emotion, SFX)

Love RotJ...Jabba, Gold Bikini Leia, The Emperor with accompanying Royal Guards, That space battle...It's a Trap and so much more.

Visually stunning, some fantastic moments and again, Carrie Fisher in that bikini! Even the Ewoks get a bad press imo, they were perfectly acceptable until Jar Jar came along.

One of the reasons I like the Ewoks is that they were my introduction to Star Wars. I really like the first season of the cartoon for its complex stories and its charming fairytale-atmosphere. While the second season was dumbed down and turned into a more generic 80's cartoon, it was still fascinating to see how the show suddenly introduced some aspects of sci-fi, which I later on recognised when I finally saw "A New Hope" at age eight.

That's the episode where Darth Vader finally sorts out his nasal congestion problems.

I do love Jedi, but it would have been much cooler if A) Jabba's palace was on another planet than Tattoine so we saw something new, B) Han had a bit more of an arc, C) Lando and the Falcon had actually been consumed by the Death Star flames (making it a true sacrifice to blow it up), and D) If there was another scene after the Ewok celebration where Luke said goodbye to Han and Leia and went off in search of other "lost Jedi" or people with Force potential to train.


Great flight of the conchords song!

The moment that the Ewok poked Leia with the stick was the moment that the Star Wars franchise started downhill. Jedi was great before that moment, not so good after.

Although Return didn't stoop as low as having something like Jar Jar Binks it did still have Ewoks who IMO sucked...I remember being genuinely angry that Stormtroopers in full battle armour were being routed by those stupid little teddy bear freaks....and yes I am still bitter about it as it happens!

I couldn't agree more with your view on Return, Nick, and was truly gladdened to see an article of this ilk appear on Den of Geek this morning. Return of the Jedi is by no means the perfect film, but in terms of the manner in which it evolves the series' central themes (not least those of enduring hope, true courage and ultimately the everlasting potential for a man to be redeemed in spite of all of his sins and corruption), I honestly believe that it can hardly be faulted. The film holds a particularly special place in my heart as a result of it being the first Star Wars film which I watched the whole way through, and characters such as the Ewoks, the Emperor (who scared the living daylights out of me during my youth) and the unmasked Vader have lingered far longer in my memory (for positive reasons) than many of those introduced in Episodes IV and V as well as the prequel trilogy. My ranking of the six films so far would go something like this:

1. Star Wars Episode VI: Return of the Jedi
2. Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope
3. Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back (the overlong Hoth and non-Luke Cloud City sequences really drew me out of the action)
4. Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith (by far the superior instalment out of the three prequel films- flawed, but it's as close as the franchise has come to matching its original 70s/80s outings)
5. Star Wars: The Clone Wars (though it was oh so clearly a prolonged pilot episode, TCW had plenty more heart in its début than Episodes I and II ever did!)
6. Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace (it's not so much Jar-Jar who grates on me as the countless political delegates and the tedious sub-plot regarding trade affairs, not to mention the dreadful portrayal of a young Anakin)
7, Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones (woeful pacing, a terribly anti-climactic denouement and some of the poorest romantic acting I've yet seen in a film- Twilight included- ensure that this is my least favourite chapter by a long way)

Here's hoping that Episode VII can restore most of the powerful charm, wit and thematic consistency which made the Original Trilogy such a justified phenomenon.

This stuff doesn't progress very well. I think we all can agree that the original 70's flick was groundbreaking, brilliant and changed media as a whole altogether. The second film was more of the same and great too. Return of the jedi was kind of questionable here and there, and you could already notice the obvious creative decline of the series. Yet it was still a decent film.

THe prequels were completely unnecessary and ultimately lacked the vision and groundbreaking creativity of the first three films. With that steady decline in mind the next batch of films will be rock bottom. Especially with the JJ lensflare dude on board.

The current popular interchangeability of mindless content in blockbuster films will completely screw this series beyond repair.

Literally the same Nooo from RotS that got laughter and groans in the cinema i was in when it came out. Didnt even bother to re-record it.

Han grabbing Leia's tit

To this day, I still love triple-hander final confrontations because of how epically it was handled in Return of the Jedi. I loved watching all of them as a kid, and I still do, but ROTJ did truly have the best ending. That final confrontation in the throne room was so dark and intense for me as a kid that it kinda scared me, but looking back, it was a truly brilliant scene with real, brutal emotion. And of course, the beginning of that battle on Jabba's Sail Barge was terrific, as was the speeder bike chase. And the Rancor. And the Max Rebo Band. Wow, ROTJ has a lot going for it!

I think it helps a lot that Richard Marquand knew pretty-much dick about staging a space opera, but knew how to use the camera wonderfully and knew how to pace and weave a great scene on film...in hindsight, a wonderful choice of Director...

totally agree, always been my favourite!

Episode VIX? Is this a Vicks Vapo Rub tie in? They're replacing bacta with it?

well that's an image in my head now, thanks.

I'm 33 and I agree with these statements, it wasn't until I watched them as a teen that things changed

I've read somewhere that Ewoks were supposed to be Wookies but stuntmen in Wookie suits were out of budget. I don't know if that's true, but it makes me a little sad.

First half of ROTJ is Star Wars at it's absolute best. Oh Shooda!

I love ROTJ, although my opinion might be a bit skewed by the fact that my mother had me watch that one first. Still not sure if she was just a bit clueless about the order or if it was a deliberate act of sabotage (or maybe she just thought the Ewoks were cute?). Needless to say, I went into A New Hope and Empire Strikes Back with more info than most.

My favorite scene is when the Emperor electrocutes Luke. Vader watching. You can feel the pain and sadness through the helmet. Brillantly done

In one of Lucas' earlier drafts of the first 'Star Wars' film screenplay, the assault on the Death Star would be accompanied by a land-based assault on the surface of a planet populated by Wookies... for budgetary reasons, the Wookie planet was axed. When they got around to writing ROTJ, the Wookie planet was again considered, but they soon realized they couldn't get nearly enough six/seven-foot actors to play an entire Wookie civilization onscreen, also Lucas thought showing the Wookies as primitive didn't match the fact we saw another Wookie, namely Chewbacca, piloting a starship and generally being very adept with technology... and so he decided to make the inhabitants of Endor shorter as they had an ample supply of dwarf actors to use.

Also didn't hurt the whole merchandise angle either, but I don't think that was the primary motivating factor, although director Richard Marquand, screenwriter Lawrence Kasdan, and even producer Howard Kazanjian all thought the Ewoks idea was frankly terrible, but it was Lucas' show and on his dime, so it was his decision ultimately and he made it, for better or worse to the final film.

It's not the Ewok's existence in ROTJ that's a problem, it's the cloying and cutesy sentimentality in their portrayal sometimes (obviously a Lucas idea); they should have been presented initially as more feral, adding danger to the heroes when captured, and generally more vicious when fighting the Empire, giving that battle sequence more teeth...

I've always said that. The way they managed to convey emotion and pain/conflict... through a piece of PLASTIC... was incredible. Movement, lighting, a bit of dust/dirt on the helmet... and music. And it all adds up to an AMAZING scene.

Why should I be the only one to suffer?

I remember being really cut up about that scene when I was a kid. The poor little guy!

It's weird that no one wants the original series to be remade, but everyone would like the prequels to be remade. Such a polar opposite thing (for good reason). I for one enjoy watching the prequels but holy crap the entire trilogy could have been done waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay better.

Most people seem to have already comminicated my feelings already but I just wanted to say that I too consider Jedi to be my favourite Star Wars film. So much happens! It kind of feels liek three excellent movies on one and yet it doesn't suffer from over-crowding the way a lot of films seem to these days.

Yeah my priorities changed when i hit my teenage years. I think the Empire is the most mature of the trilogy.

Still love the Ewoks though, regardless of other peoples opinions

I rewatched Empire recently and forgot what an oddly paced movie it is. The entire first 15 minutes have very little to do with the rest of the film... Luke gets kidnapped... then saved... Then they split up... essentially Luke doesn't effect the story that much at all other than being told information and the finale is bleak to the point of the entire film seeming a bit pointless.

It's clearly a great film but to me it does feel very middle film - mostly there just to deliver information and get everyone in the right place for the third film. I'm not sure WHY it's so highly regarded.

Sex Slave Leia is the franchise low*. Reminds me of how the feisty, don't-need-no-man Marion Ravenwood of Raiders became the yay-he-wants-to-MARRY-me facsimile in Crystal Skull. Feisty and smart is a sexier than any gold bikini in my book.

*Gungans excluded. Sexy gold bikini Gungans? NOW we're talkin'...

Ewoks aside....

Where do I start? Luke's confrontation with Vader and palpatine is perfect. So perfect that the rest of the film is pointless. I almost wish that the rest didn't exist and that the confrontation was simply an epilogue to empire.

The rest of the film is pure laziness. Lazy in design, writing and acting. The fact that he was now just filming the locations in California was the first tip.

I feel as if choosing tattoine as the home of jabba was a mistake that damned so much of the prequels. There is no logic to ever return to tatooine until the final moments of episode 3. From meeting Han there to anakin being born there. (In my dream, jabba would run a shantytown-like space station. Think of the walked city of kowloon , but in space) this was a lost opportunity.

The other criticism is the laziness of design. Although a lot of creativity was spent on jabbas palace, the rest of the film was a mess. Why was that ultra cool shuttle that Vader used the same as a supply ship to endor? Why was the final spacet battle full of every starship from the model shop? (Including non battleships. Yes. That is the medical frigate on the front line) and then a SECOND death star? Surely they could have thought of something else. That just diluded the impact of the first one.

And then there's the ewoks

I'm finding it hard to disagree with any point in this article. It's always been a toss up between Empire and Jedi for me. The darkness of Empire and the emotional turmoil in Jedi. Pure genius. But then ruined by the pure stupidity of the special editions.

I totally agree....that final confrontation between Luke-Vader-Emperor does more for the over all arc than any of the crap in the prequels. That broken mechanical breathing that Vader does has he is knelt over missing an arm resonates so much more than Hayden's angst ridden crap.

Are these the same stormtroopers that can't shoot straight, are easily overpowered by a teenage farm hand, and can't find two droids right in front of them?

Your respect is hard won obviously.

Can't see it ever happening, but I'm hoping that they'll do such a good job with the new trilogy that they'll go back and re-do the prequels.

You show a distinct lack of Stormtrooper love in your heartless yet quite accurate comments.... personally I blame budget cuts in the weapons dept and that wretched Jedi mind trick stuff for all of these supposed failings.

Most folk remember the Ewoks as cutesy fluffy bears. I remember them as the savages who wanted to burn Luke, Han and Chewie alive before eating them.

More Lucas bashing garbage...thanks but no thanks. We obviously didn't need to be enlightened by you.

Speeder bikes, scout walkers, the Rancor! ROTJ rocked! Remember seeing it at the cinema in 83 and loved it...still do. Much better than the new tripe. Someone at Disney please redo the prequels. I want to see a better take on the clone wars...surely something called the 'clone wars' would have more than one side using clones?!

I see ROTJ and Empire as kind of like the equivalent of Temple of Doom and Raiders...
Empire and Raiders are technically the "better" movies if you're looking at the craft, but I personally enjoy ROTJ and Temple the most, they have so much happening and so many interesting characters and they really capture the fun spirit of both sagas.

Also, even though ROTJ has ewoks for kids, what is almost never brought up is how many out-and-out monsters (monstrous aliens I guess you could call them) ROTJ has, more so than the other SW movies... it has the Rancor, the Sarlacc, and Jabba, so to me it's the best creature-feature of them all too.

Funny how it took the Empire 20 years to construct the first Death Star; but only three years to 'mostly' construct another - more deadlier than the first. Many Bothans died to bring us this information.

Agreed. That and Vader's funeral pyre were, for me, the only emotional moments in ROTJ.

I thought they were carriers of Chlamydea ...or is that Koala's?

It was hearing about that solidified my decision to not buy the trilogy on Blu-ray. We all know Disney will release the original versions of those on disc soon enough, anyway...

I agree with the article, but I do wonder if the release of the prequels caused many to re-evaluate Jedi's qualities, just as the release of Crystal Skull caused many to re-evaluate Temple of Doom...

Jedi has always been my favourite - Jabba's place and the rescue of Han, battle of Endor, the final dual to name but a few things. So many good moments and all very emotionally provocative. Frankly, now I'm in my 30's, I am fed up of feeling embarrassed that Jedi is my fav - it's a fantastic film. I even love the Ewoks (thank you Robert Mclaughlin for your comment about the little death scene - very true!).

Because it built up for the grand finale without being boring or being a rehash of the first one. And it's an adventurous journey movie within the Star Wars universe. And technically it's the best of the bunch IMHO.

That scene still gets me now!

"This accelerated schedule unfortunately led to what I believe is ROTJ's main flaw; that Han Solo has no real arc after his rescue, he's just... well *there* for the duration without any real significant further character development."

To be fair, Solo was very prominant during the first two, he shouldn't be also in the finale, like Wolverine in the X-men movies.

Also, as it IS Luke's story, it's only right he take center stage.

Very happy to see this article.

never understood this anti-"Return of the Jedi" nonsense. To me the movie was the best of the three, representing the best elements of the first two.

The anti-Ewoks sentiments always struck me as an example of this whiny egocentric fan-boyism: "I'm now grown-up, so Lucas has to appeal to ME and MY grown-up expectations, and to hell with any younger viewers! ME ME! ME!"

The Star wars movies were never anything more than an up-dated Buck Rogers action-adventure movies, and that's how they should always be.

Also related: I ever got the reverence for "Empire Strikes Back". I understand as the second act of a three act play it has to be "dark", but still it took itself way too seriously from start to finish. Great film,but just not as much as the other two.

The final throne scene and finale in "Return of the Jedi" to me feels more honest and emotional than anything in "Empire Strikes Back".

"Return of the Jedi" > "New Hope" > "Empire Strikes Back".

p.s. the prequels aren't quite as bad as they're made out to be. They were just unnecessary.

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