So I’ve kind of had Star Wars on the brain recently. I guess it started with that Force Awakens trailer a few weeks back, which inspired me to blow about 60 bucks on a new version of the original trilogy. (This one is the ’95 VHS digital remaster, theatrical cut, in widescreen, really the only way to go if you don’t want to watch the Special Editions). Anyway, when I was a kid Return of the Jedi was always my favourite. Over the years, I’ve come to appreciate that Empire Strikes Back really is the better film, but I’ve never understood the problem a lot of people seem to have with Jedi. It’s almost universally regarded as the worst in the trilogy, and I’ve even heard people say it’s on par with Revenge of the Sith. That’s outrageous. That’s blasphemy. But I’m not hear to talk about why all three prequels are the absolute worst of filmmaking and storytelling ever put on screen. I’m here to figure out why people hate Return of the Jedi so much. And the answer that everyone seems to give is the ewoks.
People really hate these furry little cocksuckers, saying that they’re the beginning of George Lucas’s transformation into a greedy asshole, and that they were only there to sell toys. Well, the real reason the ewoks exist is that originally when Jorge wrote the trilogy, he created the wookies for the role of the ewoks at the end, but then when he decided to only make the first act of his trilogy into a movie, he used a wookie as Han’s co-pilot because he liked the idea so much and wasn’t sure if he would ever make the actual part of the story with the wookies. Then when they finally did make the third movie, they didn’t want to use a creature we had already scene before, so George just, as he put it, “cut the wookies in half, and there you have the ewoks”.
Now regardless of whether or not you think that the climax of the movie would have been better with an army of wookies (spoiler: it definitely would have), I really don’t see any inherent problem with the ewoks. Cause I mean kind of the whole point of Star Wars is like subverting expectations. The idea that you’re not defined by your outside characteristics. A simple farmboy can be a great hero. A funny little green swamp creature can be a wise and noble jedi master. A race of fuzzy cute little bear things can be a mighty warrior force capable of crushing the empire. And I mean really, the ewoks are some of the bravest fighters we see in the whole trilogy. They put there lives on the line, and they kick total ass. We even see them actually die in battle, which is more than a little disturbing if you actually go back and watch that scene. They’re the real heroes of the movie if you think about it, and the fact that they look so innocent makes it all the more unexpected and original. And all people ever seem to say is “uh, it’s dumb that the empire got defeated by a bunch of dumb bears”. I mean, I would by no means call the ewoks my favourite thing in the trilogy, but I think that’s a total bullshit complaint. And btw, as for the argument that they make the the movie too “light, and kid-y”, I’ll remind you that the whole rest of Jedi is pretty fucking dark, you take out the ewoks and that movie would have made people want to slit their wrists.
Anyway, as for Return of the Jedi as a whole, it does have some flaws. I feel like it kind of has no second act. Like you go from the Jabba opening, which is really great, and then you have the whole climax which is sick, but there’s kind of long a period in between where nothing really memorable happens. It could have used maybe one more plot point, right in the middle. I guess that would have made it kind of long, but maybe they could have cut out some of the Endor stuff. I DON’T KNOW, OK, I’m just saying it’s not super well paced. But other than that there are just as many amazing new concepts and super memorable moments as the previous two movies. But for me what more than makes up for its flaws and made it my favourite in the trilogy for so long is all the stuff with the Emperor. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again. Everything that takes place in the throne room with Luke, Vader, and the Emperor is that best part of the entire trilogy. Better than anything in Star Wars or Empire. That is the definitive highlight of the whole series. And yes, Empire is still better, because it is more consistent. It’s like if they were getting scored at the olympics, and Empire gets 9s across the board, and then Jedi gets like a 4, a 7, and a 10. Empire still wins, but Jedi remains the only one of the two to hit 10. If that makes any sense. Anyway. I’m afraid the deflector shields will be quite operational when your friends arrive.