Star Wars countdown – Return of the Jedi

So, this week brought the final part of our Star Wars countdown, re-watching all the films in preparation for seeing The Force Awakens later today. It feels so close now… In fact, by the time you read this, I’ll either be FREAKIN’ THERE in the cinema, or trying to find people that I can finally have spoiler-y chats with!

The Return of the Jedi came out when I was five/six years old. It is the first Star Wars film I remember seeing, and along with ET and Indiana Jones, forms one of the three legs of the chair of my childhood. My father owned a small chain of video libraries back in the day when people had to actually leave their homes to access films. I helped out in those stores, went on delivery runs with him, and knew every film on the shelves, even if too young to watch them. Films were intrinsic to our every day lives.

I know I should hate the Ewok teddy bears, for consistency with my Jar-Jar hate if nothing else, but I was six when first exposed to them. The force is weak in this one. They are possibly the most memorable, defining feature of my childhood at home too, from toys (I loved the Ewok village, oh and also that speeder toy with the operationally questionable self-destruct button) to spinoff films – Caravan of Courage, anyone? – to animated TV series (Ewoks, and Droids). When that ewok tries to move his just-killed friend… I am six all over again, complete with a tear in my eye.

So, when I say that films defined my childhood, I really mean it. Perhaps Return of the Jedi defines it best of all. My father’s video libraries closed down in the mid-90s in a saturated market as the trend for owning films grew, and I similarly moved beyond childhood into teenage awkwardness. An era was over.

Yes, as a film it is inferior to the previous two, re-hashing the best beats from the previous film (another Death Star! Leia says “I know!” More hokey shield-shenanigans!), but to lesser effect. This is all irrelevant to me.

It’s my son’s favourite Star Wars film at the moment. He is also 6. At this age, things get locked in amber for all eternity. I am even less able to judge this film objectively than the original New Hope. I can pretty much quote the dialogue along with the actors (especially Lando, for some reason). The ewoks don’t bother me, working their child-bewitching magic before my adult cynicism had a chance to question the role of teddy bears in this rebellion.

So, some vaguely chronological thoughts:

– Look at the size of those helmets of those staff on the new Death Star… And Vader is looking extra shiny… Interesting to see the Empire’s priorities while building a new Death Star. Spaceballs had an easy target for humour… “I see your Schwartz is bigger than mine”

Ay wanna wonga? Makes me chuckle every time, for some reason, even despite being (over) referenced in the prequels.

Jabba’s a great, and repulsive, villain. For once, we have an alien who is not just a man in a suit. Easy to forget that in these days of wall-to-wall CGI.

– Very slow start to the film… Atmospheric, but a bit dull as all the pieces left separate at the end of Empire are reunited.

– I love the bounty hunter language based solely on the word “yoto“. Was tempted to write this blog post in the same way. Yoto. Yoto.

Boba Fett nods a lot in Jabba’s palace. Certain friends of mine worship the ground he walks on… They obviously subscribe to the less is more approach. Unlike, for example, George Lucas.

– Speaking of which, the gold bikini just doesn’t do it for me, despite being such a fanboy staple. I saw this when I was 6, remember. Leia might as well be wearing a cloth sack.

Luke’s plan to defeat Jabba relies entirely on R2-D2 being in the right place on the skiff, and being able to make that impossible shot of firing the lightsabre to Luke… What if Jabba had just sold him on, or used him for parts?

– “When 900 years old you reach, look as good you will not”. So wise…

Yoda told Luke he wasn’t ready when he left… Now he says he doesn’t need any more training. Also, that he will only become a Jedi after facing the second most powerful Sith in the galaxy. Not exactly a fair final exam from Jedi school.

– “Many Bothans died to bring us this information…. “Has ever a planned spin-off been based on less information in the main source? Also, does the fact that the Emperor let them escape diminish their sacrifice?

The Forest Moon of Endor… So, is that a moon called Endor, or a moon around the planet Endor? This has always bugged me. Happy to be enlightened!

– What possible reason would there be for taking C-3PO with them onto a forest moon to attack an imperial base? You know, when everyone’s in stealthy forest mode, and he’s a useless, irritating, shiny GOLDEN robot. Who can’t shoot. Even R2 is a stretch.

– “You know, fly casual.” I love this line. There’s not enough of Han in this film (in his defence, that’s probably because he starts the film as a wall decoration in Jabba’s palace).

– “I see you have constructed a new lightsabre” Darth Vader says to Luke… When did that happen? Did he knock one out while rescuing Han? Are they as easy as making daisy chains?

– re the final 3-part conclusion – ie in the Death Star, in space, and on Endor – did this film set the template for so many great action films that followed (and Phantom Menace)? Do any film buffs know if this device ever got used before?

– The make-up on the Emperor is better in this than in Revenge of the Sith. This isn’t a rose-tinted memory, but the reality from what I’ve just been re-watching. (Although his eyes do seem to have a little Morticia Adams-style lighting around them.) And where’s his lightsabre gone? Or his penchant for unnecessary twirling?

– Why does Vader saving his son’s life count as redemption for all the lives he has taken? I remember the younglings…

– Why does the destruction of the second Death Star result in galactic celebration? They’re still controlled by the Empire, even if the Emperor himself is dead, along with some of his key ships/stations. Why is this time different to the first Death Star being destroyed? Did that huge fleet watching the action around the Death Star get routed, or did they all just fly off, quit, and settle down to raise a family and a farm on a backwater planet?

– Why have your shield generator on a moon, rather than, ooh, within the structure being shielded?

– Wouldn’t the exploding Death Star have rained destruction down on Endor?

Ewok heads are tougher than stormtroopers armour. Fact. The white armour seems to be made from paper. Presumably following the metal shortage caused by building yet another Death Star, and significantly extending the helmet lengths of desk staff.

– Does the Emperor’s plan – to risk the safety of the new Death Star and the Empire itself to trick Luke into turning to the dark side – make any sense at all? Really? Anakin was seduced to the dark side, never tricked.

– Luke does seem awful comfortable (not to mention much better with a lightsabre) channelling his darker, angry side against Vader. “Once you start down the path to the dark side, forever will it dominate your destiny…” Wonder if Yoda’s right. Better go find out 🙂

Must dash. There has been an awakening….

 

rotj

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11 thoughts on “Star Wars countdown – Return of the Jedi

  1. Generally, yes (again). But I was 15 in 1983 and hated the Ewoks. Maybe ‘hated’ is a tad too strong, but the tweeness was annoying. And all the over-complicated Ewok traps to destroy the ATSTs – like they could have got that lot ready in half an hour or so. And the hang-glider with rocks in a bloody forest? Just no. Some of the small actors also look ill adjusted to life in a forest; we should see creatures adapted to moving through trees, not needing to be helped off a log.
    As I’ve mentioned after your Empire review, the rescue of Han from Tatooine should have been the ending of Ep V. It adds little to the storyline of Ep VI even though it’s probably one of the best bits of Jedi.
    The space battle at the end is great (we’re all rooting for Wedge!) and the three way conflict between Luke, Vader & the Emperor adds a new dynamic to the series.
    All in all, it was a pretty good end to the 3 films but could have been better if they had had 2 hours to build the plot instead of having to sacrifice a huge chunk to rescue Han & then go back to Yoda to get confirmation of parentage. And having more believable Endor warriors would have helped too.
    Yikes, need to leave the house in less than an hour to see Ep VII!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Will have to compare notes on TFA away from here!

      Timing is everything re our reactions to films. It’s like that thing about the music you like at 17/18 typically being THE soundtrack for your life. You just hope that you don’t end up with Spice Girls, or the film equivalent 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I’m not going to say anything, just saw episode VII after reviewing all the other ones over a period of a few days. Yes, I’m crazy like that 😉
    I won’t speak of anything else but redemption. Yes, deeply regretting one’s deeds, even if they were absolutely awful, is enough to save someone. It’s my belief, has been confirmed to me in many ways, through accounts (in particular, one comes to mind right now, the opening thug from Human, the film by Arthus Bertrand). 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

    • I get the idea of redemption – and if Vader had sacrificed himself to save an innocent, with no connection, then it would be an open and shut case. I just think that saving your own son is too close to the behaviour that drew him to the dark side in the first place, with little evidence of “regret” on Vader’s part.

      We watched the original cinema version on dvd, btw – the idea that Anakin’s ghost would look like Hayden Christensen makes no sense, in any version of this narrative!

      In a spoiler-free summary, what did you think of the new film?

      Liked by 2 people

      • I had the same reaction as you on Anakin’s ghost. But someone mentioned that’s how the jedi looked when he was still good, was still a jedi.
        As for the new film: I had a great time, but it wasn’t a ‘great’ movie. I saw a vlog about it since that made lots of sense. I think there are new characters that I have no idea why they were introduced. Why have them in this movie at all? If they are to be more important in the upcoming movies, make them more important, give them *life* already.
        The music… what are the new themes? I’m not sure, I never noticed any original theme. Maybe because there isn’t much depth to the new characters, it’s like we’re just scratching the surface with them. Feels a bit like this movie would have trouble standing on its own were one not to know about the previous 6 episodes.
        I don’t think the 3D part brought much, except maybe made the monster scenes a bit scarier, and one view of a spaceship was more interested because of it. But at least it didn’t bother me too much though I had to close an eye for a few minutes because it was becoming too tired.
        But I had a good time. I didn’t regret going. I just wished for a ‘little more’ 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

        • If Anakin is truly redeemed at the end, then appearing as a much younger ghost makes no sense…

          I really liked the new characters in TFA – thought they had plenty of life, and plenty more to come. Agree that there didn’t seem to be any new theme in there… shock horror this is something that Phantom Menace actually got right (I love Duel of the Fates!).

          Didn’t see it in 3D so can’t comment on that 🙂

          Liked by 1 person

          • I liked the new characters as well… most of them. There was one or the other I wondered why they were there. It’s the fact we know nothing about them, at the end of a 2+ hour movie, that annoys me a little. We can elaborate hypotheses, but we don’t *know*…
            Also, I felt like the last 5/10 minutes didn’t belong in that movie, but in the next one… I guess it’s no different from Han not being rescued in episode V… 🙂

            Liked by 1 person

      • As for saving his own son… I think it’s not so much the fact that it’s his son he’s saving that’s important, but rather that he’s changed his approach to it. He’s not saving Luke to satisfy his own needs, his fear of losing him, but because he can finally see how bad the dark side is. That is all that is required in my opinion to get redemption. A true, deep understanding of the nature of evil… and taking a stand against it. Not doing it out of greed as he did when he was first swayed to the dark side, but out of goodness.
        In those movies, there are also a few quotes I loved. The ‘fly casual’ was one. But in the third one, when Palpatine takes over the senate, Padmé’s reaction of ‘That’s how liberty looses, with everyone cheering’… (Ok, NOT an exact quote at all!)… but I felt it rings so true at the moment, in so many places in the world. I hear it in Trump’s hatred, I hear it in Le Pen’s discourses, I see it in Denmark’s decision to confiscate goods from refugees, I see it in the Polosh police raiding NATO… We’ll need to work hard, filling this wolrd with love through our words and deeds, to stop this escalation :-/

        Liked by 1 person

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