Movies That Hate You: Star Wars: Return of the Jedi

Over the moon of Endor, the Empire is in the final stages of the construction of a second Death Star.  Darth Vader has arrived on his Super Star Destroyer to finish the construction of the superlaser before the Emperor arrives.

On Tatooine, members of the Rebellion hatched a secret plan to rescue Han Solo.  C3PO and R2D2 arrive at Jabba’s palace and are given to him as gift from Luke Skywalker.  Shortly after their arrival, a bounty hunter shows up with a captured Chewbacca.  As Chewbacca is led away, it is also clear that Lando Calrissian has infiltrated Jabba’s Palace.  Later that night, the bounty hunter walked into Jabba’s throne room and released Han Solo from his Carbonite prison.  After revealing herself to be Leia Organa, they are recaptured by Jabba and she is made to be his new slave.

Soon, a shadowy figure shows up at the palace and makes his way to Jabba.  He reveals himself to Luke Skywalker and attempts to release his friends using his Force techniques.  Jabba proves himself to be immune to the Force and drops Luke into a pit with a large Rancor waiting below.  Luke ultimately kills the Rancor monster, and is sentenced to die in the Pit of Karkoon.

Jabba and his entourage transport Luke and Han to the Pit where the creature waits for them.  However, it all appears to be part of the plot that Luke concocted; as Luke springs into action, R2D2 launches Luke’s lightsaber into the air and begins to attack Jabba’s soldiers.  Lando reveals himself and assists.  During the battle, Leia chokes Jabba to death and the captured Rebels escape from the Hutts.

As Lando, Leia, Han, and Chewbacca head back to the fleet, Luke returns to Dagobah to complete his training.  Yoda, however, has informed him that his training was completed, but he needed to face Darth Vader once more before he would be considered a Jedi.  Yoda dies shortly after, and Luke talks with Obi-Wan about his father.  It is here that Luke learns that he has a sister – Leia.

Luke rejoins the Rebel fleet, which has obtained the new Death Star plans and have planned a 2-pronged attack to destroy it.  Meanwhile, the Emperor has arrived on the Death Star and begins to implement a plan of his own to destroy the Rebels.  When the Rebel strike force arrives at Endor using a stolen Imperial shuttle, Darth Vader uses the Force and finds that Luke is aboard.  He allows the shuttle to land and informs the Emperor.

On the moon’s surface, the Rebels first encounter Imperial scouts, which they manage to dispatch.  However, most of the rebels are captured by a race of small furry warriors named Ewoks.  They worship C3PO as a God and attempt to eat the Rebels in celebration.  Luke uses his Force powers to convince them otherwise.  After C3PO tells them the story of the Rebellion, the Ewoks agree to join them.  Luke, sensing Vader has landed on the planet, tells Leia that he is her brother and that Vader is their father.  He then leaves the camp to surrender to Darth Vader and hopefully redeem him.

Luke meets the Emperor for the first time, and it is clear that this would become a battle of wills, with Vader being the prize to be won.  And the battle over Endor would begin on three fronts in earnest.  General Lando Calrissian and Admiral Ackbar send the fleet to Endor, and General Solo’s strike team begins their attack on the Shield Generator.

It would however, turn out to be a trap of the Emperor’s design; The shield generator was reinforced with a legion of the Empire’s elite troops, and the generator was sending out a jamming signal that was to fool the Rebels into crashing into it.  Calrissian and the Rebels aboard the Falcon had deduced this quickly and began to withdraw from the area – only to find that the Imperial Fleet had been waiting for them.  A battle in space had begun with the survival of the Rebellion at stake.

Meanwhile, General Solo’s team had been captured, but their captivity had been short-lived.  The Ewoks attacked the Empire en masse and the battle for survival continued on the ground.  Luke, however, felt his fear over the mission failing rising, and attempts to kill the Emperor.  Darth Vader intervenes and the two of them begin to fight.

The battle changes for the worse when it is revealed that the Death Star’s superlaser is active.  Once again, General Calrissian acts quickly and orders the fleet to attack the Imperial ships at close range.  This was done to prevent the Death Star’s main weapon from being useful.  Eventually, however, the Rebels on the surface eventually destroy the shield generator and the Rebel fighters fly through the superstructure of the Death Star.

In the Emperor’s chamber, Luke is confronted with the possibility of losing his life, and Darth Vader taunts him by suggesting that he will turn his sister over to the Dark Side.  Luke loses it completely and attacks Vader with such fury that Vader is unable to fight back effectively.  When Vader is defeated, Luke is offered Vader’s position.  Luke reflects on how he got to this point, and tosses away his lightsaber.  Declaring victory, he taunts the Emperor that he could not be converted to the Dark Side.  Enraged, the Emperor attacks Luke with the Dark Side’s ultimate power, lightning.  Even with his knowledge of the Force, Luke is unable to fight back.

With Luke on the verge of death, Vader is forced to decide once and for all where his sympathies lie.  Finally acting on his feelings, Vader lifts the Emperor with his one good hand and tosses him down a chute that leads to the main power generator.  This act of good will was not without its own price, as the lighting the Emperor blasted Luke with had also hit Darth Vader and mortally wounded him.  Vader would have Luke remove his mask so that he could see his son.

In space, the Rebels manage to destroy the flagship of the Empire, and General Calrissian and Commander Antilles destroy the Death Star’s main power generator.  As the Death Star is destroyed, Luke escapes and Leia senses her brother.  She also declares her love for Han Solo after a misunderstanding.

While the celebration takes place on Endor, planets around the Galaxy also cheer the killing of the Emperor and the apparent destruction of the Empire’s war machine.

Review and Analysis:

Where The Empire Strikes Back started the trainwreck that would signal the beginning of the end of the Star Wars’ franchise, Return of the Jedi would prove to be the first death knell on its Doomsday Clock.  The movie itself is a morass of scenes which take far too much time to develop with very little payoff.

The Pod Race Begins Here:

Pod Race Concept Runthrough 1.0

Yes, the Pod Race from The Phantom Menace got a trial run in Return of the Jedi.  Specifically, the Speeder Bike chase scene plays out in many of the same ways as that Pod Race.

36 Minutes of …Tedium:

I cannot adequately describe the first 36 minutes of this film.  Ultimately, it was supposed to be the rescue of Han Solo from Jabba the Hutt.

This same plot execution was used in another second sequel, to almost similar effect.

The first act of this movie was to pick up the protagonist of the film from a train station.



Except, in this case, it was the Princess Leia-type character, along with the Han Solo-like character rescuing the Luke-type character.

The Pointy-Hooded Boss:

He can take over the Universe but can't stop some bad actors and teddy bears.



The Emperor’s Grand Plan-

  1. Knowing that the Rebels would use their intelligence resources to locate his new secret weapon, and confirm its existence, he…delivers a set of correct and accurate plans of the battlestation to the Rebellion.
  2. Knowing that the Rebels would send a sufficient naval force to attempt to destroy the secret battlestation, the Emperor…gives the Rebels the correct location of the battlestation.
  3. Knowing that the Rebels destroyed the first battlestation due to a lack of adequate countermeasures for smaller craft, the Emperor devises the use of a planetary projected shield.  However, he discloses the existence of the shield…to the Rebellion.
  4. Knowing that the Rebels would send a strike force to deactivate the shield, the Emperor…gives the Rebellion the code to bypass the shield generator.
  5. Knowing that the Rebels would probably attack the generator using clandestine methods, the Emperor…decides to build the shield generator in an area surrounded by 100% forestry, thus removing the ability to reinforce the generator’s troops with heavy artillery or air support.
  6. Having given the Rebels the Death Star’s locations, specs, stats, and the shield code, the Emperor…limits his ground forces to the Generator’s personnel and 1 Legion of troops.  He also limits his fleet to a single Super Star Destroyer and a Squadron of Star Destroyers, roughly the size of the fleet from The Empire Strikes Back.

This plan was a surefire success…for the Rebellion.

All is Forgiven…?

10 Billion Killed vs. Saving 1 Life? Redemption, Thy Name is Lucas.



At the end of the movie, after saving Luke from certain death at the hands of the Emperor, Luke burns the Vader Armor in a pyre, and as the Rebellion celebrates their victory, Obi-Wan and Yoda’s Force Ghosts are joined by Anakin Skywalker.

This is where Lucas’ Divine Right of Kings Philosophy of the Force plays out just like new age American Christianity:  All acts of evil and destruction and death can be forgiven with a single act of attrition or relative goodness.  In Anakin/Vader’s case, saving Luke from the clutches of the Emperor is supposed to make up for this:

Accessory to Murder in the First Degree



And This:

Justify This Action. Please.



And This:

Anakin, after killing all of the Trade Federation, Fully in the Thrall of the Dark Side.



And This:

And now he chokes his wife and the mother of his unborn kids. Redeemable?



And This:

At what point does this start to get redundant?



And This:

Vader downgrades to torture. But how come The Most Powerful Jedi Ever(tm) can't detect his daughter's Force potential?



And This:

This is officially over the top. Oh, Star Trek called, They want their Praxis wave back.



This goes on.

And while far too many fans are willing to forgive Anakin for his transgressions, anyone looking to speak for those who commonly have no voice (I tend to call them Faceless Victims because of their treatment by storytellers) would not.

Pizza Jabba the Hutt:

Is it wrong to think that Pizza the Hutt would have been a more compelling character?



For an interplanetary gangster, Jabba has security as lax as any Imperial Command Center.  While I can understand Jabba not recognizing Lando Calrissian, I cannot find a reason why Bobba Fett did not, considering he spent a considerable amount of time around Lando at Bespin.

One Final Humiliation for the Empire – and the Star Wars Franchise:

The Galactic Empire, equipped with this: (Death Star)

2 of these stations have been destroyed by a total of six missiles fired from small craft. Planners would call this a "Fatal Design Flaw."



And This:

The biggest ship the Empire deploys apparently has no second bridge. Just crash a small ship on its command center and its completely useless. Again...Fatal Design Error.



And This:

What good is having lots of large ships if they are useless for the task you send them out to do?



Whose Troops are Armed With This:

A Laser Blaster.



And This:

You outgun your opponents 1000-to-1. And you still lose?



…were defeated by these:

A Teddy Bear with a Hoodie



Equipped with This:

The relative attack power vs. Imperial Armor. Or so we all thought.



But, at least the Ewoks believe in Air Support:

A decent slingshot should take the entire Ewok Air Wing down. But this is the Empire we're talking about here.



But the Empire, equipped with Thousands of These:

See Also: Flying Cannon Fodder



Does not.

Also, Flame weapons seem to be a non-starter with the Empire.  Although the Shield Generator should have been built somewhere like here:

A much better defensible position. And no Ewoks.



Speaking of Heavy Armor:

The Empire had one of these on the surface of Endor:

What good is a big weapon if you don't use it?



And failed to use it.

Oh, and no one thought to call for reinforcements, either here or in space?

And, as is the Case with Sci-Fi Movies:

There are only 2 women in the film with any extended part.  Mon Mothma, who is supposed to be one of the leaders of the Rebellion, but we only see her in one scene with a small speaking part.  The other, of course, is Leia.  No female Rebel troops, no female Rebel pilots.  No women are shown working for the Imperials in any capacity.

And, of course, no Women of Color…anywhere.

And, Remember, David Lynch turned RotJ down to do THIS:

One movie made more than the other. But both franchises are trainwrecked beyond recognition.

Celebrated director David Lynch had turned down Return of the Jedi on the grounds that Lucas would have not allowed him to exercise creative control.  Although his version of Dune was a critical and commercial mishap, it still does not take away his rather correct assessment of what happened with the Star Wars franchise.

Conclusion:

As I stated here, the Star Wars franchise is simply about boys with guns and laser swords and magic tricks saving the Princess from the Black Knight and the Evil King.  Return of the Jedi is simply an extension of this concept.

It is hard to take the Galactic Empire seriously as a force to be reckoned with when their best troops are defeated by teddy bears armed with simple sticks and stones.  Fans of the franchise often mention that Stormtrooper armor can stop blasters (despite any onscreen evidence otherwise), but watching Stormtroopers being beaten to death by midget bears with small axes is quite an embarassment to evil movie armies everywhere.

Ultimately, Leia Organa, is simply just a prize to be won, first by Luke Skywalker, then by Han Solo (once the Skywalker family situation attempted to harken back to the English “Victorian” Era).  She never involved in any of the planning stages of the attacks against the Empire, nor does she personally lead the troops into battle anywhere.  Leia also happens to be what the Japanese would call a Tsundere; a person who is supposed to be aloof, cold, and tough, but only because she uses it to mask her awkward feelings of love towards the rugged hero.

Anakin’s insta-redemption is very troublesome.  This kind of reversal, while somewhat cathartic for Vader fans, is actually emblematic of the idea behind Faceless Victims.  In other words, the lives of those who were slaughtered in the name of the Empire are now handwaved away because he saves a protagonist from his former ally.  The justice that these victims should have gotten will never come.  No one is going to face the music for the destruction of Alderaan.  Or for the Jedi that were killed in the name of Palpatine’s greed – OR for Anakin’s misguided quest to save the wife he would kill anyway.  In other words, a classic case of trying to provide a happy ending for a charismatic, but still irredeemably evil, character.

Unfortunately, while this should mark the end of the Star Wars franchise, the lure of the Green Side would prove to be too much for Lucas, and he would begin to go to work on first three movies for this franchise.  And the trainwreck is going to upgrade to a multi-ship collision.

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6 Responses to Movies That Hate You: Star Wars: Return of the Jedi

  1. Pingback: Movies That Hate You: Star Wars: The Phantom Menace | Loose Cannon

  2. Endor Battle: The Empire seemed to be winning. The ewoks were running screaming and dying from the walker until Chewie took over. Also, it’s more like that he intended the rebel strike force to be killed by the troops on the moon, which outnumbered them. The alliance with the ewoks was the only thing that enabled them to succeed. People can make decisions based on overconfidence. Also, it seemed larger then just the squadron at both. the laser was also operational, and the only reason it didn’t just pick them off was because the rebels stayed close to the imperial ships, which meant that they would have to take the risk of friendly fire.
    The reason Vader’s redemption didn’t bother me is because there is a difference between spiritual redemption and being legally pardoned for your crimes. Vader’s redemption is based on the redemption in Christianity (wherein you achieve salvation by embracing your own good side, and renouncing the evil ways you once followed.) To an extent I can understand it; if someone genuinely does wish to make amends for the past misdeeds they should be given a chance to do so (There was an SS officer who tried to make amends by denouncing holocaust denial,). When Vader tells Luke “It’s too late for me” the tone of voice and body language imply that he did genuinely consider the offer. It is possible that to an extent he DID regret his fall, but lacked the strength to fully kick off because a.) he was addicted to the dark side and b.) he believed it was too late to make amends. We also see only Luke expressing sympathy; for all we know the rest of the galaxy still considers Vader a monster who deserves no pity.
    I actually remember one of the novels where Vader actually begs forgiveness and Leia tells him to go fuck himself before continuing to hold hatred for another 4 years letting go purely because she realized that while Vader did become a monster, he was not born that way. In a way it shows that Vader was a human being, rather then just a faceless monster.

    It’s like your searching for reasons to hate the movie.

    • Heavy Armor says:

      You have an appropriate screen, considering that pirates love to wallow into free-fire zones against full-fledged naval units without considering the consequences. And they are never that good…for the pirates, that is.

      There does not seem to be any coherent point being made or counterpoint being offered here. Your explanation about the Endor battle was already covered under “The Emperor’s Grand Plan,” and here:

      The battle changes for the worse when it is revealed that the Death Star’s superlaser is active. Once again, General Calrissian acts quickly and orders the fleet to attack the Imperial ships at close range. This was done to prevent the Death Star’s main weapon from being useful.

      My point was that the Emperor is as big an idiot Overlord as you can find.

      Second, and this is the most important part here: Vader is not only irredeemably evil, but is also never has to face the consequences of his actions. In trying to justify Vader’s heel/face turn at the end, you really have to skip over “All is Forgiven…?” What of their end result? Vader/Anakin gets to live virtually forever because “The Force” has forgiven him. But the tens/hundreds of Jedi killed because of his actions, including children, the people who stood against his rule, the people of Alderaan, the people at Hoth, at Bespin, and the many other places and people that Vader has destroyed or killed? Or issued the order to do so? What of them? You never address this; in fact, you fastidiously avoid doing so both here and in your comment at the Empire Strike Back post. Vader’s “redemption” was false to begin with, as was his reasons for joining (and remaining) in service of the Dark Arts of the Force. BUT HE CHOSE TO DO SO. And people by the millions died because of it.

      Also:

      It’s like your searching for reasons to hate the movie.

      You can take this quote and blow it out your airlock. Your arrogance is as astounding as it is predictable. It was not enough for you to disagree with my posting. The fact that you are as intolerant to a position that is not like yours seems to be a feature in sci-fi/fantasy fandom. If this is your reaction to my commentary, I ask that you examine your devotion to your fandom.

  3. Alex says:

    “As I stated here, the Star Wars franchise is simply about boys with guns and laser swords and magic tricks saving the Princess from the Black Knight and the Evil King.”

    ‘Cause to hell with mythology and fairy tales, am I right?

    I don’t see this as a negative point at all. It’s a time-tested, traditional plot and I find it exceedingly charming.

    My only other major criticism of this is how you dealt with Vader. Your argument works, but only in context of the prequels. Since this was obviously released much sooner than they, I think it’s dishonest to criticise the film morally for what hadn’t been written.

    • Heavy Armor says:

      Alex,

      Thanks for stopping by.

      First:

      ‘Cause to hell with mythology and fairy tales, am I right?

      I don’t see this as a negative point at all. It’s a time-tested, traditional plot and I find it exceedingly charming.

      If you don’t understand what exactly it is I mean by my original statement, then I cannot help you, especially since you have no want to understand what it all means.

      All I can do for you is to tell you to read the following link:

      http://www.ejumpcut.org/archive/onlinessays/JC18folder/starWars.html

      There have been people who have been making similar observations to the Star Wars franchise (although many take it further along the political and social science routes than I do).

      Lastly on this point – that mythology which you find charming is very exclusionary, especially in the hands of American and British cinema.

      Second:

      My only other major criticism of this is how you dealt with Vader. Your argument works, but only in context of the prequels. Since this was obviously released much sooner than they, I think it’s dishonest to criticise the film morally for what hadn’t been written.

      Something tells me you really want to like Darth Vader/Anakin Skywalker, despite what he has done.

      Then lets take out the actions he performs in the prequels: The killing of the young Jedi-in-Training, the killing of the off-screen Jedi at the Jedi Temple, Accessory to the Death of Mace Windu, Accessory to the Death of Padme Amidala, and the killing of the Trade Federation leaders.

      Guess what that leaves? The man he killed on Bail Organa’s ship during the interrogation. The interrogation of Princess Leia (before she was retconned to be his daughter). Accessory to the Destruction of the Planet Alderaan and all of its inhabitants. The murder of Obi-Wan Kenobi. The murders of the pilots of Gold Squadron and most of Red Squadron at Yavin. His actions on Bespin (which include torture and blackmail).

      Those are all the beings that Vader has killed or maimed on screen. According to the events of the Star Wars movies, these victims (well, all of the beings who die in Star Wars films) are all-but-forgotten by the next scene). Read the response I left for piratekingray (which should be just above your comment); arguments about “fairness”, especially when talking about irredeemably evil characters, tend to fall on deaf ears of people who write about the victims of said IECs – because no one is ever fair to the faceless, the nameless, and the oft ignored.

  4. Adria Lang says:

    Maybe you need a hug.
    Only a very cynical and jaded person could DO this to the ORIGINAL STAR WARS prequel.

Say What You Mean - And Mean What You Say

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