(The Disneycember logo is shown, before showing trailer clips and screenshots from Star Wars: Episode VI: Return of the Jedi)
Doug (vo): It's the final in the now very poorly-named Star Wars trilogy, Return of the Jedi. Everyone says this is the least of the original three Star Wars films. Not bad, just not as good as the other two. And honestly, I think it gets a little bit of a bum rap. Not to say the criticisms aren't right, it's just...the stuff that's good in it, I think is a lot better than some of the stuff in the other films. But does that make it better than the other two? Well, let's take a look.
Doug (vo): Han Solo is kept captive by the evil gangster, Jabba the Hutt. Luke, Leia and Lando all try to sneak in to break him out, but they get caught themselves. After several fight sequences and battling a bunch of monsters, they eventually escape and make it back to the Rebellion, where they find out the Empire is once again building another Death Star. Only this time, the leader of the Empire, the Emperor, will be on there for them to take it down. So the team tries to take down the shield generator that's on a nearby moon, while the rest of the fighters try to fly in to blow it up. The team on the moon comes across inhabitants called Ewoks, while Luke separates from the team to confront the Emperor and Darth Vader himself. Can the Rebels take down the evil Empire once and for all, and will Luke ultimately find himself turning to the light side or the dark side?
Doug (vo): A fitting setup for a finale, but the biggest problem everybody has, that I have to admit I have, too, is that there's way too many detours. The opening sequence with Jabba the Hutt and breaking Han Solo out, it goes on forever. There's a moment you can end it where Luke destroys this big monster, but, no! They have to drag him to another monster for him to destroy. Truth be told, you could cut everything having to do with Jabba out of these movies and you would miss nothing. Think about it. You could have Han Solo captured by anybody. Hell, you don't even really need to get rid of him. That's just sort of leaving it open for a cliffhanger. He could have been with the team, he didn't have to be sent away.
(Scenes showing the Ewoks are shown)
Doug (vo): Honestly, the Ewoks play a bigger part than the Jabba the Hutt scenes. I know that sounds crazy, but really think about it. The Ewoks help take down the Empire, they play a part, they serve the story. And it also makes a well-intended, if not immaturely-done, message of nature vs. technology, which is in a lot of stories and myths.
(Screenshots of Jabba the Hutt are shown)
Doug (vo): So why do we put up with those Jabba scenes so much? Well, to put it simply, Jabba's a cool character. He's this big, fat slug that just does whatever he wants. It's kind of the American Dream. He's a gangster, and he gets away with it.
(Screenshots of the Ewoks are shown)
Doug (vo): So why do so many people hate the Ewoks? Because one, we already saw a ton of puppets and we're getting sick of them. Second, they're little teddy bears, and after the last film where everything was so dark and gritty, what, we suddenly got a bunch of little teddy bears? This is feeling more like a toy commercial.
(More screenshots of Jabba are shown)
Doug (vo): In my honest opinion, if you wanted to fix this, Jabba should've been on the moon. Cut out the opening, save him until halfway, have him capture Solo wanting his money back, but then when he finds out the Empire is in his territory, then he decides to fight them off and help the Rebellion. How much more fitting would that have been? Jabba would've been both the bad guy and the good guy at the same time, and he would've had a purpose and, oh, my God! Wouldn't it be so cool if we saw Jabba's people attacking those Stormtroopers instead of Ewoks? Also throw in a pointless motorcycle-style chase, an all-too similar retread of the destroying the Death Star in the first film, and little teddy bears throwing rocks, and, yeah, you can see how a lot of people would see this as the lesser of the films.
(Some action sequences, as well as some of the film's dramatic moments, mostly the final duel between Luke and Vader, are shown)
Doug (vo): But with that said, not only are these some of the best effects that ever came out of the movies, but it has some of the most dramatic moments. The scenes where Luke is confronting Vader and the Emperor are some of the best in any of the movies. The guy they got to play the Emperor (Ian McDiarmid) is perfect. He's old and frail, but by God, he has such presence, and this deep, crackling voice with these yellow eyes, it's almost something out of The Exorcist. At times, his acting can be a little goofy, but it's goofy in just the right way. He's taking a risk that you're in such a dark, uncomfortable mood that you're just going to accept that this is creepy, and for the most part, it works. The whole atmosphere is just so dark and so brooding and so shadowy, you just feel like you've descended into Hell. The minute Luke walks in as their prisoner and the Emperor just gets rid of the handcuffs, like, yeah, we know there's nothing you can do here. And the longer it goes, the more we dive deeper and deeper into the darker side, of Luke's anger, of Luke's rage. And the visuals all support it. The pacing supports it, too. There's a fight going on, but it's also very psychological. The music, the atmosphere, the acting, the dialogue, everything is perfect. It's about as pitch perfect a scene you can get in any Star Wars film.
Final thought Edit
Doug (vo): But does that make up for the other little mistakes in the film? Probably not. But like I said before, even though a lot of it doesn't always connect, it's...cool. The scenes with Jabba are cool, and, yeah, I'll even say the Ewoks are not as bad as everybody says they are. It left us some okay jokes and I liked the idea of wood trampling steel. By the end, when everything wrapped up, it just kind of felt right. When you see the final scene in the Ewok village, you just gotta go, "Yeah. You know what? This is a good place to stop. Everybody seems happy, everybody seems in the right place." Were there flaws? Sure. But just like there were flaws in the other films, too. I guess I just don't get when everyone says this is the light-hearted one when there were such dark and gritty scenes in it, some of them the best out of any of the movies. So, yeah, is the first film technically told better? Yes. But, I still stand by the third has some of the best moments out of any of them. And like I said, it's just a good ending. Not the best, but still pretty damn impressive. And for a while, this was all Star Wars fans thought they would ever get out of this, but little did they know that so much more, good and bad, was awaiting them in the future.
(A short montage of clips are shown, before showing the Return of the Jedi title)