This week I am looking at my sentimental favorite Star Wars movie: Return of the Jedi. I think I was at the perfect age when I first saw this movie such that it was indelibly cemented in my consciousness forever. Many of my all-time favorite Star Wars scenes are in this movie. Nostalgia has rose-colored glasses on this one, however, so let's take a look at some of the positives and negatives.
A few thoughts:
-I fully recognize that this movie is the weakest in the original trilogy. The Death Star as a plot device again, and the questionable strength of the Ewoks against the Empire are both weaknesses in this film.
-The introduction of Luke at Jabba's Palace is my favorite character intro of all the Star Wars movies. His look and actions when he first appears on screen are ambiguous about his siding with the Light or Dark. Force choking has only been committed by Vader up until this point. Even though the lightsaber building deleted scene released several years ago is cool, I love this ambiguous character intro and the delay of the green lightsaber until the Sarlacc pit.
-The Jabba the Hutt puppet is amazing and was a true shock when I first saw it. I still think it holds up better than the CG Jabba in the special edition of A New Hope.
-Endor is the only new planet introduced, which is a bummer in hindsight, but I still am a huge fan. All of the speeder bike chase scenes, while somewhat dated effects, have great tension and portray speed well.
-I am indifferent about the Ewoks. As a kid, I was totally cool with them and kind of fascinated, so as an adult I have no issue with them. I understand the intended message behind indigenous people driving out oppressors, and it works fine, if a bit cheesy.
A few memories:
-I already mentioned that this movie is my sentimental favorite, and I will stand by that statement until the end. There are so many parts of this movie that take me back to the early days of my fandom.
-The toys from Return of the Jedi have some very fond memories for me. My cousins had the Ewok village toy, which I was very envious of and could never find. It took a while to find one, but I finally obtained the Jabba on his throne toy that had a pit that could open underneath him. That was one of my favorite toys and perfect for punishing all of the bad characters.
-Speeder bikes are awesome and need to be a real thing. I was determined that I was going to invent one and change the world. Still hasn't happened...
-I enjoy spending time in forested areas, which I partly attribute to the planet Endor. I was so fascinated by the tall trees that it transferred to real life.
It has been a pleasure revisiting the original trilogy movies (let's be honest, this happens frequently anyway), and I am especially looking forward to how elements of Return of the Jedi will play out in Rise of Skywalker. On to the new era of Star Wars with The Force Awakens next!
The prequel era is over with this week's viewing of Revenge of the Sith!
-As is the popular opinion, this movie is definitely the best of the prequels. The pacing works better than the previous two, and it does not feel too cartoon-y.
-The portrayal of the Jedi is still one of the weakest aspects of the whole trilogy. I understand that Lucas was attempting to show a disconnected and arrogant group, but most of the time they came across as little more than cardboard standups. Outside of Obi-Wan, there was no complexity or character to the Jedi Council. Definitely a waste of Samuel L. Jackson also.
-The design work was once again a major highlight of the film. I particularly liked the look of the planets Utapau and Mustafar, and the character design for General Grievous.
-Ian McDiarmid steals every single scene in which he plays. I wish he had played a bigger role in the first two prequels because his gravitas combined with the veneer of charm over layers of evil makes for a nuanced and engaging performance. The opera house scene between Palpatine and Anakin is the perfect example of McDiarmid's masterful acting.
-Watching the Clone Wars TV show elevates this movie to entirely new levels. The relationship between Anakin and Obi-Wan that was dubiously strong between AotC and RotS plays out in the Clone Wars in ways that make the high ground scene on Mustafar extra emotional.
-The more I think about it and as I watched it this time, Padme's death seems connected to the Dark Side of the Force in some way. The way Vader's birth and Padme's death are cut back and forth leads me to believe that somehow her life force helped save Anakin. I am definitely not the originator of this theory, but it is growing on me.
-This movie came out two days before my wedding, and I went with two of my groomsmen on opening night as a sort of pre-bachelor party night out. I think I saw it at least one more time in the theater.
-Because this movie released so close to my wedding, there was some musical confusion at my wedding. We played the Raider's March from Raiders of the Lost Ark as our recessional and notated it in the program as "Groom's Choice." In the receiving line after the wedding, several people commented on how much they loved the Star Wars music at the end. I blame Revenge of the Sith for that.
ATTACK OF THE CLONES! Where do I start.....?
-This is by far my least favorite Star Wars movie. I keep trying to give it a chance to change my mind, but it has yet to be successful. Most of my dislike comes from the cartoon-y look of the whole movie.
-The entire droid foundry scene feels like a video game or a goofy, animated sequence from a Saturday morning cartoon. It might have had a better home on the Clone Wars TV show.
-Anakin is a straight up creeper for the first half of this movie, and then Padme has a sudden, weird change of heart about their relationship for the sake of the plot. All of the love story feels weird and forced.
-I do really like the design of the clones, and the asteroid scene with Obi-Wan and Jango is one of the highlights of the film.
-Actually, anything with Obi-Wan is a highlight of the film for me. I love Ewan McGregor/Obi-Wan Kenobi. They are essentially interchangeable for me.
-I really only have one memory of this movie. It was the only time I did not go to a Star Wars movie on opening night. I think I went the next day for a matinee. It was right in the middle of college.
-I remember being fairly pumped about the movie after it ended, but it has only grown less appealing with age.
-I also remember being super envious of Hayden Christensen...
If I have some time this week, check back for some thoughts on a few episodes of the Clone Wars TV show.
I love my family and this is the place to find all of the adventures we experience.