Star Wars: Return of the Jedi critique
Return of the Jedi is by far the most flawed of the original trilogy. It might have been around this point that we, as fans, should have realized that if George were going to make more movies, they were probably going to follow that vein, as opposed to Empire. There were two things that kept this from happening: 1) Positive thinking: Empire was a great movie. Maybe he was just trying a little too hard with Jedi. Positive thinking tells us that Jedi was probably just an aberration. 2) Despite all its flaws, I like Jedi. A lot. The climax at the end, with three action sequences going on at once? That's just incredible (don't let the cutesy Ewoks ruin what is otherwise a very intense set-up). And to single out just one part of that, the space battle is my favorite on film. Technology has come a long way, but the scale, and the models, and the fact that we're watching X-Wings and TIEs duke it out around Star Destroyers and Rebellion cruisers make this one tops. So with all that in mind, the idea that Star Wars could get worse just didn't seem plausible. Hindsight is always 20-20, though, right? Jedi doesn't get helped much by the special edition; in fact, it's probably the most negatively impacted by it. That's a tough pill to swallow for a movie that already required a little too much suspension of disbelief (relying on the fact that it's Star Wars, and we'll fill in the gaps).
But anyway, let us get on with the twenty-something critiques of Star Wars: Return of the Jedi.
- 1) Salacious P. Crumb. This movie had a lot of things that annoy me, and while this list is more in chronological order than in order of grievousness, this critique is well placed. Let's start with the name. Salacious P. Crumb. I don't think I really have to say anything else, that speaks for itself. I think Lucas finally topped himself for crappiest character naming, and as I mentioned in previous critiques, that's quite a feat. This movie also features the real introduction of the names "Mon Calamari" and "Rancor". I think George needs some outside help on names. But let's let the name go for a second...I mean, it's kind of almost catchy. Let's just look at the character. This muppet is ugly, annoying, and contributes NOTHING to this movie but a stupid annoying laugh at the end of each scene! It's so cheesy and awful that you almost think it's some show parodying the "wah wah wah" at the end of old comedies. Then you realize it's Star Wars, and that he's really laughing at you for being such a fan boy. Dammit.
- 2) In Jabba's palace, as 3P0 and R2 head off to get their work assignments, we see a droid torturing another droid. I know that 3P0 is always complaining about how he's made to suffer and blah blah blah, but come on, this is ridiculous. What kind of programming goes on here that a droid is not only able to be tortured, but can be tortured by another droid? Worst AI code ever.
- 3) We now present the Max Rebo band! On cymbals, we have...the zombie!! Where did we get this costume, the salvation army?
- 4) Singing male lead vocals, some fuzzy guy with an uvula! Yes, I know the uvula is common in a lot of species. We just get way, way, way too close a look at this guy's. Also, he can't sing.
- 5) Singing female lead vocals, a cheap effect from those 3-D movies! Seriously, is that how George pitched that to the special effects guys? "Hey guys, come check out this "Honey, I Shrunk the Audience" movie at Disneyland. You see how things stick out of the screen like that? I want the lead singer's mouth and lips to do that without 3-D glasses!" Absolutely retarded.
- 6) So, after specifying three of the most conspicuous problems, we now allot critique number six to the job of saying "The whole stupid song sucks". We're talking about one of the worst musical sequences of all time. The costumes, the band, the song itself. If I were a crime boss, that is not the kind of shit I'd want my in-house band to be playing. How have those guys not ended up in the Rancor pit?
- 7) Thankfully, the presentatation is interrupted by some Rancor feeding (damn, why did he send the hot chick down to the rancor?) and the entrance of Leia in Disguise (With Detonators). I don't like the thermal detonator sequence. I know that George was trying to get some cheap drama, but that's what it is: cheap. It doesn't make sense. Why don't more guys threaten to blow up the place? How does Jabba not have a contingency for this? What kind of crime boss is he for giving up ten grand because some guy just threatened to kill him? Stupid.
- 8) And to make the scene even more ludicrous, Boba Stupid Fett readies his weapon. What is this accomplishing? "Hey, if I shoot him, we can all blow up. Maybe Jabba will give me some money too!" Or maybe it's "If that guy lets go of the detonator, he is so dead (a second before the rest of us)"
- 9) Now to leave Jabba and his cronies alone finally, I have to say that whatever "plan" Luke, Leia, Lando, and Chewie came up with for freeing Han, it has to be, hands down, the stupidest plan in history. How did this planning meeting go?
Leia - "I love Han. We need to free him."
Luke - "Ok, I have a plan, but you're going to have to bear with me."
Leia - "Oookkk..."
Luke - "Ok, first, we send R2 and 3P0 in to infiltrate Jabba's palace as a gift. R2 will smuggle my lightsabre in, and 3P0, well, that part's just funny."
Leia - "Ok, whatever, they're just droids. If that doesn't work out, who cares. Then what?"
Luke - "Well, next, you take Chewie in and get the bounty. I like this part of the plan because we get some money out of the deal."
Chewie - "Rrraarrraarrgh." [wtf? Why should I let myself be held prisoner again?]
Luke - "I told you to bear with me! Ok, now, Leia, as you're bringing them in, make yourself as conspicuous as possible by threatening to kill everyone. Then, later that night, you try to sneak Han out on your own."
Leia - "I don't think that's going to work."
Luke - "It's not supposed to work! See, this way, Han's out of the carbonite, and you're in a metal thong! It's a win/win!"
Leia - "Why do I need to be in a metal thong?"
Luke - "I'm getting to that. See, this is the part where I come in, and even though I could obviously go Jedi on all their asses and walk out with everyone and their limbs intact, I'm going to let myself be captured. That way we're all equally up the river!"
Lando - "I'm starting to have doubts about this plan..."
Chewie - "Raarrar" [Why? You don't have to be a prisoner.]
Leia - "Or wear a metal thong."
Lando - "I know, why don't I get to do that?"
Luke - "Anyway, here's the big climax. Since Han's out of the carbonite, Jabba will just kill us all. But I know these crime boss types, and I know Tatooine. He'll send us to this pit where they'll feed us to some ridiculous creature. But now we're all together, and out of the palace. Leia's close to Jabba, R2 will be there to launch me my lightsaber, and Chewie can jump a guard and take his gun. We'll be able to kill everyone! Then we all go away free!"
Everyone - "Brilliant!"
Seriously, how was this the best plan? Luke walks in and chokes two Gammoreans, and then ends up single handedly fighting the whole sail barge guard contingent...would it really have been so hard to get Han out of the palace without all of them getting captured? The actions of Jedi in the prequels, and all my years of playing as Kyle Katarn tell me that this is so.
- 10) We're back to Jabba again. Sentencing victims to "death" in the Sarlacc pit makes no sense. "Slowly digested over 1000 years". Wha? a) Most species don't live that long. b) Even those that do, what are they eating down there? They're not going to be around to be digested for 1000 years. c) Doesn't that leave way too much potential for guys with jet packs to escape? I mean, Han's already flown into the belly of one beast. Could he really not escape from this one? Eventually someone like Boba Fett is bound to get knocked in there by a blind guy, and you can jump him and take his jet pack.
- 11) General Calrissian? General Calrissian? What exactly was this maneuver at the Battle of Tanaab that he makes reference to? It must have been some maneuver (that or slang for something I don't want to think about) to land him a position as General after having done, uh, nothing? Oh, right, he turned Han over to a bounty hunter, and led Luke into a trap where he lost his hand. Yeah, that's definitely general worthy. Especially when the rebellion's been going on for 10 years here and guys like, oh, I don't know, Wedge Antilles are still Commanders.
- 12) Welcome to Endor, a planet that starts off well (neat new lush climate!) but is about to quickly go downhill. Question #1: Why does the speeder bike have an easily accessible button (described as "center switch!") to jam the commlinks? And we're not even talking enemy commlinks, we're talking allies. These Empire engineers get brighter all the time.
- 13) Now, I know I was in computer science, and not physical engineering, but there's something wrong with how R2 helps them "escape" the net trap. For starters, this net is huge, and he cuts like...two ropes, and suddenly the whole thing comes crashing down. Nice. Secondly, why was he cutting it in the first place, without giving anybody any warning? Really clever, that.
- 14) "It's against my programming to impersonate a diety." I can imagine the design document for that one. "So what should the droid not be able to do?" "Well, probably not kill humans. Maybe not kill other droids. And probably not kill itself. You know, the three laws and all that. Oh, and he shouldn't be able to impersonate a diety. That's key. Make sure that gets in his programming."
- 15) And to continue to slight 3P0, we find out that he is, in fact a story teller. Complete with sound effects! I seem to recall him saying in A New Hope that he's "only a protocol droid, and not very good at tellings stories." Then again, maybe he's right. That was a pretty weak job of telling a story.
- 16) "He says there's a secret entrance on the other side of the ridge!" Oh, that's good. Secret entrances are the best. The nice thing about secret entrances is that apparently they only require four guards. Four whole stormtroopers. An entire legion on the planet, and they dedicate four of them to guarding the back door. Genius. Then to add to the genius that three of them (that's 75%!) speed off after a single ewok leaving...one. One guard. It's no wonder the Empire was such a short-lived government (30 years is nothing compared to the tens of thousands the republic was around!).
- 17) Ewoks. You knew it was coming. I had to complain about the ewoks. And it has nothing to do with the ewoks themselves. They're cute, yet ferocious. And watching the movie as a kid, yeah, the ewoks are cool. But bipedal teddy bears with rocks and sticks should not be able to take down "an entire legion of (the emperor's) best troops". What is the point of the armor if it can't stop sticks and rocks? Is it really just for style? This is where that suspension of disbelief really gets strained. It gets saved by the fact that two other climactic things are going on that are intense and awesome enough to make you forgive the Ewoks. Also, Han was there, and he makes everything cooler.
- 18) But lets bag on stormtroopers some more. Han calls for "back-up" and the guy says "send three squads!" Apparently, three squads was everybody because Han promptly steps behind them so these three squads are surrounded, and seems to be able to enter the shield base without any more of a fight. If you had any trace left of the impressiveness given to stormtroopers in that first battle on the Tantive V, and Obi-wan's praise for them in A New Hope, this should just about have crushed it into goo.
- 19) And here's the final straw for my favorite targets, the Empire's engineers. We've got a ship that's apparently kilometers long (the Super Star Destroyer). That's a lot of ship, a lot of metal, a lot of resources. But you know what, we don't need any back-up bridge systems. In fact, we need them so little, we can put the bridge on the most conspicuous and accessible location on the ship's tower. No one would ever shoot that. Because they don't know that if they did, the whole ship would lose control, and crash into the nearest moon sized space station. Man, the empire's engineers didn't just strike out. They got no-hit in 27 pitches, every last one of them a strike.
- 20) What happened to my Yub-yub song?!?! DAMN YOU LUCAS!!! Ok, now, at the risk of contradicting everything I said slighting the song in Jabba's palace, I loved the Yub-yub song. It's happy, it's tribal, it fits with the ewoks. It's energetic. It really puts a happy feeling on you as the movie builds up to those final end credits. The new wave crap that replaced it in the special edition is none of those things. It's generic, bland, and it doesn't go with what's going on in the celebration at all. "Yub-yub. E-chop, yub-nub. A-toe-me, toe-pee-chi-ki..."
- 21) And as a final special edition comment, Hayden Christiansen? HAYDEN CHRISTIANSEN?! Was that really necessary? After all the contradictions Lucas doesn't bother to address between the prequels and the original trilogy, he decides he needs to rub in our face that Darth Vader was this whiny kid that we hate? Yoda was old, Obi-wan was old, Vader old made sense. The crap about "Anakin died when he became Vader" is BS. I'm...I'm out of words. It's over. I'm going to turn the yub-yub song on now, and think about Sebastian Shaw standing next to Yoda and Alec Guiness. Thank you, and good night.