January 30, 2013 by Craig Sutherland
A friend once asked me what I thought about ‘Return of the Jedi’ and he was pretty surprised at the response he got. As it happens this has become kind of a bone of contention between us and so we decided to each make our arguments for (his) and against (mine) in a grudge match to see whether RTJ really will be crowned the worst Star Wars film (of the original trilogy, thanks very much!) of all time.
Has Return of the Jedi dated badly? Does it stillhave all the thrills, just as you remember it?Are the Ewoks annoying or the cutest things ever? In this post we will look at the good, the bad and the Salacious Crumb…
Craig Sutherland: ”Jedi is the worst film in the original trilogy.”
”Yes, I enjoyed this film as a kid, what‘s not to like? Ewoks, Light Saber Fights and Speeder Bikes… but as time wears on I feel as though Jedi is massively inferior to the excellent ‘Empire Strikes Back’ and ‘A New Hope’. Here are my problems with ‘Return Of The Jedi’… ”
Point 1– Lets start with the obvious, Ewoks. Fucking Ewoks. Saying you hate Ewoks to a Star Wars fan is like saying you breathe oxygen, it’s a given. Too cute, too much physical comedy and they sing that song at the end.
Point 2– After the visually astonishing Empire and ‘A New Hope’ it could be expected that the look of Jedi would remain the same, sadly this isn’t the case. The sets are much cleaner than the previous films and they look a lot more fake. Did the universe have a proper spring clean in the year between Empire and Jedi?
Point 3– Richard Marquand. Marquand’s cameras are static and his set-ups are claustrophobic. There are many reasons why Marquand was chosen, none of which include his proficiency with big budget Sci-Fi. The film struggles as it’s being told from Lucas and Marquand’s perspective, an issue that wasn’t apparent during Irvin Kershner’s astute direction of Empire (Irvin Kershner was Lucas’ mentor in film school).
Point 4– Muppets as far the eye can see… If I wanted to see a Muppets film (…and i do, all the time), I would put one on. The Star Wars Universe has its fair share of dodgy make up jobs, but Jedi goes all out. I’m just waiting for Statler and Waldorf cracking wise from the balcony during the scenes in Jabba’s palace.
Point 5– C-3PO. He is bearable when he has R2-D2 with him but take R2 out of the equation and you have the MOST ANNOYING ROBOT EVER. As Han would say ‘Shut him up or shut him down’.
Point 6– ”Luke, that girl you’ve been hitting on? She’s your sister mate.” Leia turning out to be Luke’s sister is a) Disgusting b) An awful attempt to create a twist as cool as ”Luke, I’m your father.”
Point 7– Dialogue. Here’s four awful examples of Lucas’ clunky script… Han Solo, when confronted by Ewoks: “I have a bad feeling about this.” Leia, after releasing Solo from carbon freeze: “I gotta get you outta here.” Leia, after being freed from Jabba’s chains: “We gotta get outta here.” Leia, after she and an Ewok are ambushed on Endor: “Let’s get outta here.”
Point 8– Bib Fortuna repeatedly lapses from Huttese into English for no apparent reason, and we learn from Leia’s bounty hunter alter-ego that at least one translation of “Thirty-thousand, no less” is “Yoto. Yoto.” Really?
Point 9– Here’s the opening text crawl for trilogy…
A NEW HOPE: “It is a period of civil war….” EMPIRE: “It is a dark time for the Rebellion…”
JEDI: “Luke Skywalker has returned to his home planet of Tatooine in an attempt to rescue his friend Han Solo from the clutches of the vile gangster Jabba the Hutt.
Lastly, Point 10– The ‘Secret Backdoor’ in the shield generator, HOW CONVENIENT. Because coming up with a cool way to break in would of been a bit too much for Lucas…
Jedi suffers from being naive and childish in the wake of the dark ‘Empire Strikes Back’. It’s poorly conceived, poorly written and poorly executed. (It’s still better than Ep 1, 2 and 3 mind!)
Jamie Hughes- ”I feel I need to stick up for Jedi here as the late great Yoda is unable to.”
Of course the film is the weakest in the trilogy what a trilogy to be part of, there would not be many films that could hold a torch to Empire but in its own way Jedi does Star Wars justice.
Point 1- Ewoks: Let us remember that this is a family film so the kids need something to relate to. The guys get to see Princess Leia in a gold bikini so I think the Ewoks were a fair compromise especially after we saw what we could have ended up with in the prequels.
Point 2- Visuals: There are some stunning visuals in Jedi, The escape from Tatooine and that salacc pit for one and the battle for Endor from the Emperors throne room another. Comparing it to the greatest sequel of all time is a little harsh. This was supposed to be the happy ending to the saga so was unable to follow the dark tone of its predecessor.
Point 3- Richard Marquand: Agreed this is where the film falls down, Irvin Kershner was a genius and his dark style perfectly fitted Empire’s tone. Lucas was backed into a corner with his choice of Director for Jedi. He needed someone who was not part of the Directors guild due to ongoing political issues.
Point 4- Muppets: I’m going to let you into a little secret here, All the Star Wars films have muppets in them. Empire in particular introduced Miss Piggy voiced Yoda. While Jedi may have over done the puppet characters a little there are no fans of the franchise that would have preferred the fluffy puppets to the CGI catastrophe that appeared on screen in the prequels.
Point 5- C-3PO: The golden shinny one represents ‘us’ in the Star Wars universe, if there is something that the viewers may not understand C-3PO asks the question for us, or explains complicated off screen plots to us such as why they are at Jabba’s Palace at the start. After watching the film once he becomes a frustrating character as we now know the answers but for every new fan watching the films for the first time he stops the need for people to continually asking questions of what is going one. Plus he was much more annoying in Empire.
Point 6- Luke and Leia: Yes this twist is nowhere near as great as the “Luke, I am your Father” twist but that was one of the biggest twists in the history of film. Yes, it may have been disgusting to us but you can look back at the history of the human race and see incest through many of the greatest empires (The Royal family is full of it). Must we remember that this is not modern day earth it’s a long time ago in a galaxy far far away, different rules apply in such places.
Point 7- Dialogue: ”Chewie! I can’t see, pal. What’s going on? Luke? Luke’s crazy! He can’t even take care of himself, much less rescue anybody. A Jedi Knight? I’m out of it for a little while, and everyone gets delusions of grandeur!’‘ there are PLENTY of classic Han lines to be found in this film.
Point 8- Bib Fortuna: Again please remember this is a family film with some of the viewers very young, they would be unable to read large amounts of dialogue so some over the sentences are in English to help them (unless some words are the same in both languages?)
Who wins? You decide.
See that little white box at the bottom, put a comment in there and tell us who’s right.