How 'Return Of The Jedi' Ruined 'Star Wars' Forever

by Drew Taylor
May 24, 2013 12:00 PM
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Imagine it: you've taken off from school and waited in line all day to see "Star Wars: Return of the Jedi," the last installment (ever!) in the "Star Wars" saga. You're wearing your favorite "Star Wars" shirt, have your bucket of popcorn and jumbo-sized soda, and a primo seat in the auditorium, the best possible vantage point from which to watch the end of the trilogy unfold. No more than twenty minutes into the movie the lovable rogue Han Solo (Harrison Ford) dies fighting the evil Galactic Empire, sacrificing himself for the good of the Rebellion. The shockwaves from his death ripple through the audience and a very clear warning is issued from the filmmakers: no one is safe. Co-screenwriter Lawrence Kasdan fought for this to be a reality. So did Ford, who had grown weary of the character. But series overlord George Lucas said no. As Harrison Ford put it in 2010: "George didn't think there was any future in dead Han toys."

This was one of a number of decisions that George Lucas made while constructing "Return of the Jedi" that would forever alter the spirit and tone of "Star Wars." What had been a rollicking throwback to Saturday morning serials had, with the sequel, "Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back," become deeper, darker and more spiritual. It was, in short, a downer; a profoundly brilliant, meditative downer. Lucas wanted to turn that around with the third film, so he did everything he could to make it lighter, brighter and more acceptable for families. It was the beginning of the end of "Star Wars" as we know it.

When filming began on 'The Empire Strikes Back,' Lucas was distracted. The massive amounts of money that the first "Star Wars" had brought in turned him from a filmmaker into a company; he had to oversee and manage his own Galactic Empire. Unlike the original film, which Lucas both wrote and directed, 'The Empire Strikes Back' was being handled by a creative team that consisted of director Irvin Kershner and screenwriters Lawrence Kasdan and Leigh Brackett. They were able to experiment and take chances, which they did, with gleeful abandon. The film doesn't end with some huge battle sequence, the Rebels taking another hard fought victory from the Empire. No, it ends with one hero being incased in a liquid metal ice cube, another character betraying his friends and another getting his hand sliced off by a murderous madman that moments before was revealed as his father. Now that's entertainment.

By contrast, all accounts suggest that Lucas haunted the set of 'Return of the Jedi.' Director Richard Marquand was relatively inexperienced when it came to the film's complex visual effects, so Lucas hung around and was at the very least a second unit director and at the very worst a legitimate co-director, with Marquand saying in 2005 that the experience was "like trying to direct 'King Lear' with Shakespeare in the next room."

The indigenous race that populated the forest moon of Endor was originally conceived as a slithery band of reptilian lizard creatures, which would have served the story well – the evil Empire being brought down by something equally scary and slimy (but fundamentally misunderstood.) Lucas got skittish, though, and changed them to the lovable Ewoks – essentially Native American teddybears, ready to be snapped up and snuggled by countless children the world over. The laws of 'Return of the Jedi' weren't governed by art or common sense or the needs and requirements of the screenplay – the revenue generated from action figures, boxes of novelty cereal and pajamas governed them.

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  • Jov | April 14, 2014 7:12 PMReply

    Leia was raped after Jabba couth her trying to free Solo. That worm Jabba raped her and dressed her for his taste. You all can see that the scene ends when Jabba captures her, and the next sceene is on the morning that follows.

  • Chris | March 2, 2014 8:09 PMReply

    No, Star Wars was ruined when Vader uttered those words, "I am your father" which overcomplicated the original trilogy with unnecessary melodrama. Lucas then felt the need to keep complicating the story line in the 1, 2, & 3 with convoluted and confusing subplots. It should have been kept a simple good vs evil storyline. Both Star Wars and Raiders of the Lost Ark were supposed to be an homage to the old popcorn movie "cliff hanger" serials of the 1930's and 40's like Flash Gordon, and Commando Cody. Those serials did not have complicated stories. They were about good guys thwarting bad guys and lots of action. Star Wars started this way and ended up being wrought with unnecessary allusions to Shakespearean subtexts!

    Second, he sold out to toy licensing back in 1978 which was a huge success and, again, he was either compelled or pressured to make Star Wars more kid friendly. The big bucks came with the licensing of the franchise and selling everything from Star Wars action figures, to bed spreads. This kept pressure, or temptation, to keep cashing in on making muppet like characters in order to sell more toys to kids.

    Finally, I don't think Lucas ever was a big fan of making sequels. He seems to have a certain artistic attention deficit disorder where he makes a movie and moves on. Therefore when he's pressured to make a sequel it usually sucks. For example, More American Graffiti, which he produced and cowrote but did not direct was also confusing, depressing, and filled with melodrama.

    And none of the Indiana Jones movies could even touch the first.

    Lucas, himself, has eluded to the fact that Star Wars was a cash cow which gave him the money to focus on projects that really interest him.

  • That Guy | March 12, 2014 10:49 PM

    What's with all the hate?

  • Sean | February 15, 2014 10:11 AMReply

    If they edit these films any more, they might as well call it Spaceballs.

  • Rod | February 1, 2014 10:48 PMReply

    I completely agree with your views! I even dread how Luke defeats the Rancor by throwing a rock. Couldn't he have at least used the force to throw it?! Even though Lucas wanted to 'kiddy' things up, I find it odd that ROTJ is the only film where they call their weapons 'Guns' instead of 'Blasters!' Why go back to Tatooine when you have an entire galaxy to explore?! Why couldn't Jabba come from a water planet? It seems like he just didn't want innovation for this film. I think JJ Abrams can make a great new trilogy, if they give Ford, Hamill and Fisher decent roles and make a good story.

  • Guy | January 21, 2014 10:30 PMReply

    Yet another rant from some obsessive fan nerd going on and on about exactly how they would have wanted the star wars movies to turn out. Kind of pointless going into detail about what you would've done differently, since you weren't the director or even involved in the making of the film in any way. Or make your own star wars film if it means that much to you. Its just a movie, you watch it, you either like it or not, and move on. Do you realize just how many of these "articles"/rants are already out there?

  • Luis Quadros | December 10, 2013 12:54 PMReply

    well, when Empire Strikes Back finished I was up on my seat and so the group of friends who where there and we couldn't wait to see the unfold of that. We all expected that all the problems would be solved in the end and that it would be a positive one. Sometimes we need happy endings. Killng Han Solo would have been a risk to the story and i think the Return of The Jedi has it´s surprising moments: for example i didn't think for once that a character like Darth Vader would be able to be converted and changed is ways but the love of is son does that, and that is a big moment and turn in the final, you woul have to agree on that. The Ewoks, yea they are kind of silly and pherhaps another race in the same evolution stage but not that "dolly" could defeat the empire troops showing the same resourcefull skills. The return sees the death of Yoda but the reborn in the end of all the death jedi's. It is in the end a proper ending for the trilogy and most important thing of all it maintains the simple and objetiv unfolding of the story and the relation between the characters: things just happen in a fluid way, there are no forced situations. When Luke tells Leia that they are brothers she gives a perfect answer with no dramatic flamboing talk, she says its like she newed all along, and pherhaps so did we. Well that's what I thought looking back. So things fited well. And the ending beeing confused well its the climax and we cant forget that its Empire: to him to fall it would be with several blows not from one. Killing the Emperor alone, or Vader, or destroying only another Death Star wouldn't do the trick. The Empire could survive only with the Emperor (he would train another sith lord) with Vader alive he had the power to continue the fight, and don't forget the amount of comanders spread troughout all systems and their troops. So destroying the emperor his most powerfull comander and the Death Star that would leave the remaining forces abandon. It had to be several blows and they are all condensed. It is confused but in a military point of viewd needed. So this is what i think, ist a proper ending minus some puppets.

  • Rod | February 1, 2014 10:53 PM

    While I have problems with ROTJ I still enjoy it! So, I agree with what you said. Also, I cannot imagine them killing Han Solo. That would've been horrible.

  • pjess | October 6, 2013 11:19 PMReply

    I sort of agree I hate the goddamn ewoks and jar jar binks. But I honestly think star wars was actually ruined by cynical nerds with nothing better to do than to ponder over the mistakes of the saga's creators. Now you've all destroyed star wars for an entire generation of new fans and taken from them the opportunity to be wowed by all it offers which you had back when the originals came out. Now with star wars vii on the way you'll all flock back with excitement and high expectations once again and then afterwards you'll blow up the Internet for a second time and get frustrated and annoyed at all the little kids who will be just as amazed by it as you were about the originals.

  • Gunther | November 19, 2013 9:09 AM

    It's not just Star Wars, dude. Virtually every major franchise fanbase is like this (Sonic, Metroid, even X-Men).
    But I agree mostly with the fact that he did sell-out his franchise, and not to lessen the extremity of his evil, but let's face it: he wasn't the first, and wasn't the last creator of a major, worldwide franchise to sell out in some way.

  • Kev Dylan | September 13, 2013 12:05 PMReply

    I got out of School early that day in '83 to go to Return Of The Jedi. While there were of course bad movies out there, people had yet to experience the big buildup of a sequel to perfect films only to get a crashing disappointment.
    This was Star Wars. Star Wars could do no wrong. It never even crossed my mind that the film could be bad.
    But 5 minutes into it, even as a kid I knew the Great Star Wars had fallen from it's untouchable heights and had become nothing but a hollow shell exploiting the flashy outer layer of the 1st 2 films while ignoring all the humanity that lied within.
    It was quickly apparent that the adult drama and great creativity had given way to kid's fare with scenes and dialog that were mere imitations of what had come before in the other films.

    I've always thought of the irony of George Lucas creating a story about the hero resisting the 'Dark Side' and winning against evil and the fact that 'Return Of The Jedi' was a confession by George Lucas that he could not resist the lure of 'The Dark Side' himself. Lucas felt the lure of power as it crept into his life through the money he made and he loved the taste of it and he wanted more of it. And so he gave in to 'The Dark Side' as he gave in to the lust for money and power. He abandoned all of what he believed and he sought to use his skills and all that he had learned to serve his New Master: Money.
    And so Return Of The Jedi and all works of George Lucas thereafter became pledges to the power of money and the chase of it.
    As one watches Return Of The Jedi and they see Luke Skywalker defeating the Dark Side they can also see the parallel story of George Lucas losing his fight with The Dark Side and forever becoming a servant to it's power.
    One can only wonder what greatness Lucas had before him had he no given in to his desire for power. The Tragedy Of George Lucas is that he destroyed all that he had built and all that he could have become just to chase after the Power of Money.
    Star Wars is as much about George Lucas' decent into The Dark Side as it is about Luke's triumph over it.

  • madhu | September 2, 2013 6:07 AMReply

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  • J. Alex | August 13, 2013 4:19 AMReply

    What a bold article. You are the coolest iconoclast of 1993.

  • J. Alex | August 13, 2013 4:19 AMReply

    What a bold article. You are the coolest iconoclast of 1993.

  • Paula | August 12, 2013 11:45 PMReply

    So wrong. Do you know how many protesters there would have been if he died?? I think Harrison Ford is the best actor and I watch it because of him. I want him to be in the new Star Wars movies! He is why I watch!! And I LOVE THE EWOKS!!

  • Eric | August 18, 2013 12:53 PM

    But if it served to make the movie better, people would've been okay with Han dying. Great death scenes can define a movie and while Han is one of my favorite characters, I would've been okay with them killing him if his death had meaning to it or fit within the nature of the story. The whole concept of Ewoks was outrageous in my opinion but I guess a small tribe of rock throwing teddy bears can defeat an empire that cemented its power across galaxies through military force and technological advances. Is guerrilla warfare effective? absolutely. But it is never effective in overthrowing an occupying power, only in making the cost of occupation too high. They had like one fight, and it was over, at a site that was seriously undermanned for it's strategic importance. And just because the emperor and vader died, no one else in the empire would've assumed command and continued the campaign?

  • Dave | July 31, 2013 8:58 AMReply

    It is amazing that Star Wars is still as popular as it is today because there hasn't been a good film in the series since 1980. Star Wars and Empire are just great films, top to bottom, and set the the stage for a great finale to the trilogy. Now as I kid, I enjoyed Jedi, but the movie did not pass the test of time. I watched it recently on Spike and was amazed how bad it was compared to Star Wars and Empire. It's not just a drop in quality, its a BIG drop in quality to the point where I actually couldn't get through the movie? I watched Star Wars and Empire that weekend on Spike and they are still as good as they were in '77 and '80, as they are like a fine wine.

    Now the reason I think Jedi is getting more criticism now then it did in 1983, is that the Prequels opened up everyone's eyes that the problem with Lucas and the Star Wars franchise really dates back to 1983. That is where Lucas stopped taking chances and played it safe, and Jedi and the Prequels reflect that. If you look at Empire, NO ONE ever did that with a sequel: Bad guys win, darker story then the original, no retread storylines from the original, etc and that is why it holds up so well today. Jedi is the exact opposite where everything is predictable and many plot points are rehashed.

    In saying all that, this is what happens with all franchises and why I am a believer that less is more. The more sequels/prequels you make, the more you dillute the franchise because it is tough to recapture the magic. I said to my friends back in 1998 that the Prequels would not be as good simply because there was no Han, Luke or Leia, and there is no way Lucas will be able to recreate another set of iconic characters that the public and can root for. In many ways, I sort of wish Star Wars ended in 1977, as it would be looked at much more favorable then it is now.

  • jason | July 24, 2013 1:36 AMReply

    It is not wonder why Lucas sold the franchise. All of the critics who fell in love with the Star Wars movies as children are all grown up with a lifetime of watching and analyzing the movies. Now they are gripping and complaining about the 1,2,3 movies with the arrogant assumption that Lucas made the new movies for them. All 6 movies were written made for children. the ewoks are not much different the the Jawas in the first movie. In childrens movies, you don't kill off one of the Heroes. The children do not understand the meaning of a martyre.
    I also have to say. It is rather rude and presumptuous to assume that Lucas only thought about money while making these movies. First of all, Everyone who was making Return of the Jedi knew it was going to be a blockbuster whether Han was killed or not. his action figure would have sold just as well as bobba Fett's did. (it wasn't until much later that he was brought back to like in the spin off books) So keeping Han alive to sell more toys is an empty and foolish arguement. If lucas was making movies just for the merchandising, don't you think that he would have done the Indiana Jones movies much differently?
    In other words. Lucas had Han live and ewoks instead of lizards because he wanted to, and by then, I think he had kids and had them in mind. besides, Why would giand lizards be living on a forrest moon consisting of soft coniferous trees?

  • James | July 3, 2013 7:32 PMReply

    Get bent. Return of The Jedi was terrific. Get a life.

  • Freddie Mercury | June 17, 2013 12:08 AMReply

    I pretty much agree with everything you said, apart from the part about the name of the film. It wouldn't have made sense for it to be called "Revenge of the Jedi" - "Return of the Jedi" is fine. There was an element of magic about the film though, but yes. I have to agree with this article. It probably wouldn't be so bad if it wasn't for the prequels though.

  • JenT | June 8, 2013 5:35 PMReply

    who Ever said that Evil Dies!?! Like Love, Evil will ALWAYS be Present, usually lurking under a 17yr olds pillow, waiting for one small moment of Doubt.
    Today Evil is the New ''Greed is Good''!
    Becareful, Be Watchful & Keep your LightSaber close!!

  • Anonymous | June 8, 2013 11:05 AMReply

    Funny that you don't mention Mr. Hutt or the Sarlacc pit...

  • Scott | June 7, 2013 10:19 PMReply

    Sadly, this article makes many good points. If ROTJ had the same emotional depth as TESB, it would have been a filmmaking achievement never to be topped. What we got instead in ROTJ was pandering. A 'safe' choice. The bold and correct choice would have been to continue on in the tone established by ANH and TESB. The original is more serious with more dark moments than many give it credit for. Empire just upped the ante a bit. But from Harrison Ford's truly awful acting to basically having a big part of the story a repeat of ANH (another battle to destroy the Death Star, where beyond any reason, it can be destroyed relatively easy), to the teddy bears on Endor, it was all just a disappointing mess. Ian McDiarmid's turn as the Emperor is one of the few bright spots. If the rest of the movie kept the same kind of intensity and tone that the Emperor parts had, we might have had the finale we should have had. Instead, as the article points out, Lucas used its success as justification to stupify Star Wars and claim it's "just for kids" instead of the spiritual odyssey it started out as. And so the new movies were sadly more patterned after ROTJ than TESB or ANH. It shows Lucas's detachment even further that he was "certain" that ROTS would be the least successful movie of the new trilogy. What he didn't get at all was that it was in fact far closer to the kind of movie most fans had been craving. It still suffered from new trilogy problems like bad acting, moving from set piece to set piece, and a reliance on fake green scene CGI than in trying to do as much as possible with real stuff. It is a great irony that the made-for-$10 million original looks like it could have been lifted from a time capsule, filmed as it was to look real while the new trilogy looks all fake because it is all fake. When real stuff is supplemented with CGI, it can all look real. When it's all fake to begin with, it all stays looking fake because there's nothing real to ground it. Hopefully, J.J. Abrams will study long and hard about how to make the new trilogy more reflective of the spirit that Lucas had when the original Star Wars was born rather than the commercial pandering fluff it became...I still love it all though.

  • SilliestOwl | June 3, 2013 5:26 PMReply

    This article is ridiculous. You can shoot down (possibly even correctly) the reasons behind certain decisions all you want. The fact of the matter is Return of the Jedi still had great action, great dialogue, great chemistry between the principle characters, and great performances. Star Wars *is* a story for everyone. It's not Game of Lightsabers. It's something that can be enjoyed by everyone, and that doesn't automatically make it juvenile.

    Lion King had *SPOILERS* Mufasa die, but does that make the film is only for grown-ups? No, it's something everyone can enjoy, and it's very quality. Return of the Jedi is a very quality film, and having Ewoks instead of lizard-people doesn't change that. There is justification for having Ewoks be a foil for the Empire, and they fulfilled their role adequately. They are not even in the same stratosphere as Jar Jar Binks, who has no justification. Han not dying has its justifications, and it played out in the story well. Would him dying work? Perhaps. But him living *did* work.

    The bottom line is that Star Wars films didn't die when a decision for marketability was made that influenced a decision. Star Wars films died when they stopped having quality actors delivering quality performances with a quality script. Nothing in the prequels touched the Emperor's chilling performance during the attack on the Death Star. Nothing in the prequels touched Han and Leia's chemistry. Nothing in the prequels touched Luke's growth as a character. Nothing in the prequels touched the feeling of immersion people had when seeing the originals. Nothing touched Darth Vader's redemption scene. Nothing touched the humor of the originals. Nothing touched the space battles that were so elegantly done in Return of the Jedi.

  • Matt Fox | June 2, 2013 6:08 PMReply

    This article is trash. Its one man's opinion. A waste of time to read.

  • John Steiner | June 2, 2013 5:44 PMReply

    He has a few good points. The Ewoks, for instance, are stupid. However....

    "The problem with these multiple climaxes is that it's hard to keep track of what's going on, and worse yet, it's hard to actively root for anything because you're constantly being jerked around."

    What kind of frakking moron couldn't keep up with these climactic battles? Show me that buffoon with the attention span of a goldfish.

    "Speaking of story, the forked climax from 'Return of the Jedi' would be compounded exponentially in the prequels, particularly in the first installment 'The Phantom Menace.' That climax involves more a half dozen competing threads "

    Okay, this is outright exaggeration. You STILL don't see more than three sequences at any given moment. The ship-to-ship fight doesn't enter the picture until Anakin gets into it. Is is shockingly stupid that a small child who isn't trained or qualified for that particular craft to win the day? Yes. Jar-Jar Binks annoying? Worthy of a piano-lining. However, the fight scene with Ray Park was the best Jedi fight of the entire franchise. They just should've chosen actors who can act for Anakin's part and scrub the Gungans.

    It's the Revenge of the Sith where their ship-to-ship fights reach the pinnacle of stupidity. Fly side-by-side with the aggressor and give'em a broadside? It's space. You should be picking off the other guy from dozens to hundreds of thousands of kilometers.

  • TheLoudestFan | September 25, 2013 8:16 AM

    I don't think it's fair to criticize the complaint about the climaxes of ROTJ as mere failings of attention span. Even though it is certainly possible to follow along, the fact of the matter is this film was instrumental in beginning a tradition of valuing so-called complexity as an inherently good way to deliver a fit ending for an epic film. Where more things happening in sync that allow for an incredibly difficult or unlikely/surprising ending supposedly means the work is more thought-out and difficult to do. Most of the time, and certainly in this particular film, the end result is just a group of lesser-climaxes that celebrate the creator's supposed cleverness, instead of celebrating the emotional and/or philosophical power of the work itself.

    Really, this cleverness is little more than a demonstration of contrivance, a feature that often serves to weaken a story's success. Which sounds more compelling: a unified ending where all well-developed characters who bring their own motivations and behaviors all end up working together, or a splintered ending where everyone is just off doing their own thing to wrap up the series of events that made up their story lines? Sure, in this case, the disparate threads of the climax are all related to each other well enough, but that just shows the creator knew how to make the weaker choice as well as it could be made.

    As the original author suggests, look to ANH and TESB for stronger story forms. In ANH, the story lines all begin separated, then slowly build into one unified and compelling thread. TESB is even more effective in its choice to limit its focus to just 2 splintered threads throughout (for example, we don't see the actual act of Lando selling out his friends--we only learn about it as the one group does, allowing us to feel the betrayal more effectively). By the end of that film, the unification of the two fractured, perspective-limited threads (as opposed to the sequences of changing/intermingled collections of core characters that also characterize all the prequels and far too many more modern epics) provides the only solace for the devastation of its climax.

    TL;DR: criticizing the climax of ROTJ is onto something so much greater than just a failure of attention span.

  • Steve | June 2, 2013 5:29 PMReply

    If Han had died, there would be no future for star wars. The lineage would be broken, there would be no children from Leigha and Han to learn the ways of the force.

  • Kevin | July 29, 2013 1:35 AM

    There are other men in the Star Wars universe, you know.

  • Craig | June 2, 2013 5:12 PMReply

    Everything in this article can be completely demolished with one viewing of Revenge of the Sith. By far the darkest, most tragic episode which focused on just two very personal battles, did indeed kill characters that we did not expect (even focusing on children being massacred) and had absolutely zero of the toys first, story second mentality you speak of. All 6 films are very different and tarring them with this brush is lazy at best.

  • Antonio | April 1, 2014 9:55 AM

    This article rad awsome

  • Kevin | July 29, 2013 1:37 AM

    Which characters died that you didn't see coming? ^_-

  • Mo | June 2, 2013 8:03 AMReply

    Interesting to see another article in so many days complaining about movies. What is really interesting is that the article writer is forgetting two things. One films or movies were created to make money. If that means the death of a storyline over profit. profit will always win out. The other point is if the article writer could have improved on Lucas' story, why not become a film maker and make your own film trilogy and show Lucas what he should have done right the first time around. Amazing how most people who don't work in the film industry and who don't know the pressures of studio involvement can comment so confidently of what a film director should or shouldn't have done.

  • chris | September 25, 2013 10:36 PM

    saying movies are created to make money is a cop-out and an excuse.
    do you think stanley kubrick would choose profit over storyline?
    absolutely not, and that is why he is remembered as one of the greatest directors of all time.
    or what about woody allen? or roman polanski?
    george lucas is a tool and a pig for doing what he did to star wars, especially since he did it purely for monetary gain. and the said part is that money only lasts a lifetime, or until you spend it. respect and reverence for great art will last until the end of mankind. he chose the path of greed and he will eventually be forgotten like every other sell-out "artist". while people who do their art for the sake of art with amazing ability will always be remembered like shakespeare, tolstoy, van gogh or mozart.

  • Mo | June 2, 2013 8:03 AMReply

    Interesting to see another article in so many days complaining about movies. What is really interesting is that the article writer is forgetting two things. One films or movies were created to make money. If that means the death of a storyline over profit. profit will always win out. The other point is if the article writer could have improved on Lucas' story, why not become a film maker and make your own film trilogy and show Lucas what he should have done right the first time around. Amazing how most people who don't work in the film industry and who don't know the pressures of studio involvement can comment so confidently of what a film director should or shouldn't have done.

  • Mo | June 2, 2013 4:15 AMReply

    Interesting to see another article in so many days complaining about movies. What is really interesting is that the article writer is forgetting two things. One films or movies were created to make money. If that means the death of a storyline over profit. profit will always win out. The other point is if the article writer could have improved on Lucas' story, why not become a film maker and make your own film trilogy and show Lucas what he should have done right the first time around. Amazing how most people who don't work in the film industry and who don't know the pressures of studio involvement can comment so confidently of what a film director should or shouldn't have done.

  • Mo | June 2, 2013 4:15 AMReply

    Interesting to see another article in so many days complaining about movies. What is really interesting is that the article writer is forgetting two things. One films or movies were created to make money. If that means the death of a storyline over profit. profit will always win out. The other point is if the article writer could have improved on Lucas' story, why not become a film maker and make your own film trilogy and show Lucas what he should have done right the first time around. Amazing how most people who don't work in the film industry and who don't know the pressures of studio involvement can comment so confidently of what a film director should or shouldn't have done.

  • Richard | June 1, 2013 3:04 PMReply

    This article hits the light-nail right on the proverbial head! Any chances for Star Wars to become a futuristic and classic epic with sophisticated undertones, (ie. with it's strong initial underpinnings of Joseph Campbell's Mythologies, it had the potential to be a 20-some century masterpiece, comparable to Lord of the Rings, Lion, Witch & The Wardrobe, or Dune) were completely lost and sacrificed for the almighty dollar! Lucas sold his soul and the potential for these films for Hasbro action figure $$$$$$$$$$$$$SSSSSSSSSSS! It's so obvious when you look at his controlled effort to include or incorporate as many possible new characters as possible, that add nothing at all to the story line or plot, but simply provide characters to be made into action figures and bolster his bulging profits! I am so very happy to finally see some established film critics finally speak out on this subject and expose G.L. for what he truly is. (ie. an over rated money grabber.) So many critics and movie-goers have swooned at the psuedo-success of these films based on their rankings at the box office and have failed to see, and more importantly admit that a great opportunity was lost here and that George Lucas's reputation and abilities as a director/producer are way over rated, because when push came to shove, he caved in to the almighty dollar!

  • Obi-John | May 30, 2013 2:01 AMReply

    A shame the excellent ROTS gets lumped in with the other prequels. The PT improved with each instalment, and by Episode III was in the same league as the OT.

  • Luke | December 9, 2013 8:22 PM

    What the heck are you smoking comparing Episode III to the originals? Must be some good drugs, man. Lucas used CGI like a little kid uses a Supersoaker when he's on a pound of sugar. The Prequels give me a headache. The acting sucks. The story is bizzare and full of plot holes (yeah, here's a hologram of Your New Emperor telling Anakin to go kill kids but we're not going to show that to the senate - AND THE SENATE IS IN SESSION RIGHT NOW).

    Just.... ugh. And Episode III has the longest, most boring lightsaber duel ever at the end. It was exciting to see a saber duel for like 1 minute in the original Star Wars. It's old and played out now.

    Episode III sucks. The prequels suck. The only good thing about Episode III is the Emperor, who is fun to watch.

    The end.

  • Tyler Mason | May 29, 2013 9:52 PMReply

    I actually think Disney and Abrams will bring that story element back. They've seen the backlash from Star Wars fans for the videogame, action packed, soulless prequels. Those movies may have made a lot of money, but they came with some nasty PR. I think Disney knows they must have quality control with what they release, and their worst PR nightmare is an army of angry fanboys protest marching on the Magic Kingdom.

    The nature of Stars Wars makes plenty of action inherent in about any story in the universe. They just have to write the write fleshed out characters (which they hired a good team for) and the necessary blockbuster action will come naturally to serve their story. There should be no need to awkwardly shoehorn a laser/spaceship/lightsaber battle in to a movie taking place during a galactic civil war. In retrospect, I think it speaks to Lucas' atrocious screenwriting that the overkill of prequel action sequences always felt that way. (see the Gungan battle/ "yippee" flight in I, the robot assembly line/ human sacrifice to CG arena monsters in II, and General Grievous/the ridiculously overlong platforming game lava level dual in III)

  • david b | May 29, 2013 3:21 PMReply

    I remember the controversy over the changing of the ROTJ titel. As I recall, it came about after the 1st posters began appearing. It was not bc Lucas felt it needed softening, it was bc the fans reminded him- correctly- that Jedis do not believe in revenge, so the title was a bad fit. (does not absolve Lucas of any blame, however, for it points to the fact that he was already losing touch with his own material)

  • Michael | May 29, 2013 12:33 PMReply

    This article is just another example of post-prequels Lucas bashing.

  • Rev | May 29, 2013 5:25 PM

    Except the article is about the original films. Particularly the mediocre third one.

    You're done making films, George. Stop victimizing yourself and go back to playing in your pile of money...

  • Nathaniel Poe | May 29, 2013 4:19 PM

    Yeah? Good! LuCA$H deserves every public flogging he receives. He crafted an epic mythology in ANH, managed to not screw it up with ESB, and then spent the rest of his life crapping on his own legacy.

  • gary | May 28, 2013 10:39 PMReply

    Yub yub....

  • gary geck | May 28, 2013 10:37 PMReply

    PS look up Gary Kurt's interviews where he talks about the bitter sweet original end to Jedi. With a dead Han and Vader Luke was to walk off into sunset and all major chararchters still alive were split up and uncertain of their future. Kurtz kasdan and others had the empire spirit continuing but George gave us hub hub instead

  • gary geck | May 28, 2013 10:20 PMReply

    The author hit the nail on the head. Some fans are too loyal to look critically at anything star wars but the truth is that all of the points in this blog are backed up by Gary Kurtz who was the 2nd in command for the 1st 2 films! I have been researching this for years. Lucas has said it was all about money and that people just want action roller coasters not stories and maybe he's right sadly....

  • Pete | May 28, 2013 4:04 PMReply

    The entire argument splatters into incoherent nothingness when the author argues 3 climaxes is too difficult follow even as site encourages me to "share," "tweet," "comment," "G+," "email," "print" and "subscribe" to the article. But as the author believes a climax requiring the audience to multitask contributed to the "artistic" demise of Star Wars, I wonder if the author actually ever watched the first two movies. In short, Star Wars splits the group into two when they infiltrate the Death Star, and Empire, also splits the group in 2 with Luke going to Dagobah and the rest on the run from the empire. They never fully reunite, and *gasp!* we're forced to follow two whole storylines. However did we manage?

  • Tyler Mason | May 29, 2013 10:23 PM

    Well the split stories in V were more focused and had clear and engrossing developments. They weren't like Episode I, which I think is basically watching three different videogames. The characters are drowning in a sea of flashing CG light, each trying to hit the high score and trigger the end credits. Those split climax battles in Episode I had trouble giving a clear inclination of who was winning what battle, and each cutback was just a new flashing color pallet with no sense of urgency or real conflict. There was no focus on anything but showing off ELM's tech.
    And as for the multimedia on the site: (1) I'm sure the author has no authority over the website layout of The Playlist's social media advertising. (2) Film is a completely different medium than a website editorial, with options to comment or share with your "friends" tacked on. Film is designed to be much more immersive and doesn't give you interactive options you can ignore. (3) Those links were all at the bottom or off in the margins, where you could easily ignore them if you wish. The split plot lines in the films were cut right into the main narrative- no option to scroll on past to the important parts.

  • TJ | May 28, 2013 8:12 AMReply

    I think Return Of The Jedi is a perfect film, like all the originals. All three have a few scenes I kind of found boring when I first saw them. But I've learned to appreciate all of them now.

    I think ROTJ is very dark, in spite of what people say. If you had removed the Ewoks, I think it would have been even darker than ESB. When Luke arrives at the Death Star, it's almost like arriving at Hell, meeting the Devil himself (The Emperor).

    I also think the movie is way more emotional than both ANH and ESB. ROTJ is the only one of the trilogy that gives you both goosebumps and tears in your eyes.

    I applaud Lucas for making movies that are both interesting to adults and kids. They were perfect movies to grow up with. We loved them when we were kids, and most of us will keep on loving them until we're in our graves.

    I can understand why some people would want an adult version, now that they've grown up. But then you're not taking your own history or film history into consideration. Movies are always a product of their time, and has to play on some current cliches. Some which gets embarassing and outdated fast. But that's how it is.

  • Nathaniel Poe | May 29, 2013 4:21 PM

    Go-Mer-Tonic? Is that you? What a shame...

  • J KNOKEY | May 26, 2013 9:03 AMReply

    One relatively irrelevant comment about JJ Abrams: after seeing what he's done to Star Trek, the mindless Star Wars franchise might be just the thing for him. He seems to have left all his smarts on TV. Note: if you want to be really frightened by What Might Have Been, check out (if you can find it) his ideas for the first Superman reboot. Mediocre as it was, believe me: it coulda been worse. Much worse.

  • Uncle Owen | May 26, 2013 8:08 AMReply

    Too much about "Return of the Jedi" is lighter and less dramatic than "The Empire Strikes Back," which has superior acting and direction. The only worthwhile scenes are with Luke and Vader. Harrison Ford isn't trying very hard and therefore seems to be playing an entirely different and completely uninteresting character. The Ewoks look completely fake, a far cry from the great makeup and effects of Chewbacca. It was a terrible way to end the series, and Lucas didn't get things right again until "Revenge of the Sith." Let's hope JJ Abrams brings back the balance of drama and joy of "Empire." One thing: "Jedi" director Richard Marquand made no comments in 2005 about working with Lucas. He died in 1987.

  • Twix Raider | May 26, 2013 6:47 AMReply

    Agree I must. I did not expect ROTJ being an adult orgy (I was 16 and now more in the Heavy Metal comics), but it felt like a birthday party at a fastfood restaurant (see "Golden Girls" episode "A Piece of Cake"). The successful rescue of Han was a ho-hum overture, but it doubled the impact of the speeder bike chase at least. But then the Ewoks... that was no plot buut a flt point. They've spoiled the drama of the battle and made the happy end a happy-happy-joy-joy end. Episode IV made me high, Episode V made me stoned, but Episode VI was an instant hangover. I forgot about that over the years, but Episode I was a reminder and Episode II was the final flashback. Episode III wasn't that bad at all, but even the good parts have been impossible to enjoy. I see Ewoks... EVERYWHERE!

  • dryer | May 26, 2013 5:32 AMReply

    Every criticism against George Lucas' work post Jedi is contained in that beautiful quote from Ford: 'He didn't think there was a future in dead Han Solo toys'

  • Uncle Walt IS Your Father | May 25, 2013 9:23 PMReply

    There's no doubt that Return Of The Jedi was a more conventional film, it was also repetitive too (the destruction of the Death Star - seen it in Star Wars, Luke fighting Vader - seen it in Empire, you can almost smell the desperation reeking off the screen.) The only real surprise was seeing Jabba, he'd been talked about since the first one six years earlier. Lucas decided to digitally insert Jabba into the 1997 remastered version of Star Wars, so the new generation of fans would be robbed of Return Of The Jedi's big surprise making it even more irrelevant and limp. With so many new Star Wars films being planned, I'm sure Disney will be able to cater for the older fans who like darkness and other suitably kiddie fare. They can't do a worse job than Lucas did on the prequels.

  • roddymartindale | May 25, 2013 1:59 PMReply

    I'm not big on ROTJ but I've never understood the "can't follow the multiple climaxes' argument. What exactly is so hard to follow -- a space battle that's ostensibly a distraction so the good guys on the moon can bring down the shield, a ground fight with teddy bears where good guys are trying to bring down the shield, and a sword fight on the death star. Each battle having its good and bad guys clearly distinguished.

  • Algol Ephemeral | May 29, 2013 3:22 PM

    it's not difficult to follow (as in, to understand), just diluted, boring.

  • J Knokey | May 25, 2013 1:26 PMReply

    With "Empire" I thought Lucas had finally learned how to make a decent motion picture that WASN'T predictable and soft in the center. But it turned out with "Return/Revenge" he'd merely morphed into the Emperor, with Marquand as his even-more-reluctant Darth V. The direction was so bland I thought Marquand was Lucas's Christian Nyby (the supposed director of Hawks' "The Thing" which everyone knew was nonsense). Lucas asked a director sorta-friend of mine (who shall remain nameless though everyone knows it) to direct (not any of those mentioned), so he read the script with Lucas hovering about (a bad omen) and a little way into it looked up and said, "George. Another Death Star?" And that was that, invitation-wise. Lucas was seduced into a happy ending by the Dark Side of the merchandising Force.

  • Lea | May 25, 2013 12:09 PMReply

    It seems like the article tries to create a conversation with the intention of making Episode VII the best it possibly can be. I think that's useful. Who knows how public opinion eventually reaches Hollywood writers, but they don't live in outer space.

    Episode VII will be a huge event. It draws on three distinct groups of fans: those who saw the first trilogy in the theater, the kids who saw the second trilogy and loved it, and all the kids who watched the Phantom Menace cartoon on TV. (Curious about the animated cartoon, I watched it; and it's good. For what it sets out to do, it accomplishes.)

    I imagine the filmmakers working on these projects love the material (okay, Harrison Ford grew tired of the character -- that's on the record). The filmmakers bring out the best movie they are capable of; now, how does marketing influence their decisions? That seems to be the main gripe the writer of this review has, that the concerns of storytelling were sacrificed for marketing. Good point -- and Drew Taylor makes it well. Admirably so, because while we will gripe in the comments telling him to grow up, he has the courage to sign his name. The comments writers can avoid any real repercussions of their commentary.

    Speaking to Taylor's criticism of marketing, it's possible to argue that it was there from the very beginning: Lucas made a deal with the studios that ensured him licensing of toys before Star Wars became a blockbuster. It's no secret that Lucas makes the majority of profits from merchandising. Theatrical ticket sales just don't make billions of dollars. DVD sales won't generate that kind of revenue. Streaming online certainly doesn't. The money Lucas made selling toys he plowed that back into moviemaking with the creation of Lucasfilm, Industrial Light and Magic, THX sound. The innovations at ILM lead to nonlinear editing software, and pixel-editing that became Photoshop. And Computer Generated Graphics: we're all aware of Pixar's beginning as a computer graphics division of Lucasfilm.

    For great stories and characters, sure, maybe a novel, or comic book, will allow more license to create the best possible story. Movies are a very expensive product to create, and due to that expense, they require the creator to have the business savvy to make a licensing deal -- like Lucas did when he secured all rights to merchandise. The toys sales built the studio. One critique of the toys: they become oddly fetishized. But that's their status: pop icons.

    For whatever bad that may (see The People vs. George Lucas) (also: Star Wars on Trail) result from being isolated by wealth and power, Lucas handled his power without falling into darkness. The man is a philanthropist. He has created Edutopia and plans to finance a new art museum in San Francisco.

  • Jamie | May 25, 2013 11:10 AMReply

    I don't think I could possibly disagree with your article more. Killing off Han would have been a TERRIBLE idea. The ENTIRE CLIFFHANGER of Empire was "Can they save Han"? So we wait 3 years to find out what? That Jabba the Hut kills him off? That they rescue him from Jabba and then he just dies 15 minutes later anyway? LAME. Of course they have to rescue him. We waited 3 years to find out how it was going to happen. It HAD to happen.

    IMO the only main characters that could have been killed off within the flow of the story would have been either Luke or Lando at the end when the Death Star blew up. Killing Luke would have been a bold choice and I was actually somewhat surprised he survived as there were rumors leading up to the release of the movie that he did not survive. He would have died a hero, taking out the empire and saving he entire universe. Killing off Lando wouldn't have been that big of a deal, and supposedly there were rough cuts of the movie where he and the Falcon didn't make it out, though that may have been just a rumor.

    As for the 3-pronged climax of Jedi, it was absolutely AWESOME and includes probably the best space-battle in Hollywood history. Even with today's computer special effects no one has topped the Jedi space-battle IMO. It was the pinnacle of model-making special effects, and its like will never be seen again. Anyone who couldn't follow what was going on, well, I can't help you. It wasn't very hard to follow.

    Jedi wasn't perfect. If you want to complalin, there were far too many muppets in Jabba's palace and the Ewoks were definitely a questionable choice. But don't blame Jedi for what happened in the prequels. Nothing that happened in Jedi caused midichlorians or Jar-Jar Binks or the stupid plot holes or terrible acting of the prequels.

  • Cinephobe | May 24, 2013 7:56 PMReply

    I always considered Return of the Jedi my second favorite Star Wars film (behind The Empire Strikes Back, of course.) And I would argue that Revenge of the Sith is the third best film in the series. The (justifiable) ill will that Phantom Menace engendered seemed to blind people to the fact that the subsequent prequels were pretty good (Attack of the Clones) to very good (the aforementioned Revenge.)

  • Fred | May 24, 2013 7:33 PMReply

    I saw Jedi when I was seven. It was awesome and it still holds up today. It isn't as good as SW and Empire but it's a billion light years better than anything in the prequels. My daughter is four and she loves all of the films (she is making a spaceship out of cardboard as I write this), and is obsessed with this one because Han gets freed from carbonite. I still get pumped when I see Luke's green lightsaber for the first time, and when Vader grabs the Emperor and throws him down the shaft. If Episode VII is more like Jedi and less like the prequels, we're in for a good time.

  • JD | May 24, 2013 6:17 PMReply

    This article is complete horseshit.

    A. The Prequels are not great but they get better as they went along, until you reach Revenge Of The Sith, which is as good the original trilogy. And all the Prequel films are good movies. They're all real Star Wars movies.

    B. Revenge Of The Jedi is, in turn, not as good as Empire and Star Wars. Mainly it's the first act at Jabba's Palace, which is full of cool ideas badly executed. (The movie as a whole has, in terms of pacing and narrative, some pretty poor editing.) But everything from the arrival on Endor to the final battle (which still holds the title of Best Space Battle Ever) is pretty damn good. It even reaches real greatness.

    C. George Lucas is a good writer, and a very good director. And thank god he basically co-directed JEDI alongside Richard Marquand, auteur of "Defense Of The Realm", "Jagged Edge", and "Hearts Of Fire." It's pretty much the same thing Lucas did on all the Indiana Jones movies, by the way, and Revenge Of The Sith, except there his collaborator was Steven Spielberg. Slightly better director then Richard Marquand.

    C. Go watch THX-1138, American Graffiti, Kagemusha, Powaqquatsi, and get a life.

  • YO DUH | May 25, 2013 9:27 AM

    Next time, don't lead with 'A'.

  • Jean | May 24, 2013 4:44 PMReply

    Others have said, but I'll drive the nail home. Get your panties out of a bunch and grow up.

  • Zach | May 24, 2013 3:07 PMReply

    What I'm about to say some will consider heresy -- there were some fantastic storytelling moments in Episode III.

    This was supposed to be a rough, dark descent into madness and evil for Anakin Skywalker. The tone of the scene where Palpatine first tells Anakin about the possibility that a Sith lord could will the midichlorians to create life was eerie, like it was supposed to be. The dialogue sucked, but the tone was right...

    There's a scene where Padmé and Anakin are in different places, and the shots cut between the two. There's a lot of unspoken emotion and tension in that scene, and it works. Also, no dialogue...

    The moment where the padawans ask Anakin what they should do, and Anakin silently powers up his lightsaber... evil. Again, because Anakin had no dialogue, the scene worked in its creepiness factor...

    The only parts of the film that really were horrible were the overly-expository bits of dialogue. Lucas should have hired someone else to take care of the screenplay, because even Ewan McGregor or Samuel L. Jackson sounded disappointed as they were speaking those lines. At least Jackson put his passion into it; McGregor was still channeling Alec Guinness too much for his acting chops to really show through. If Abrams is able to take the seriousness of the film and keep it serious without cute-ing it up (it is Disney, after all), then we should be good. But the mythos has to remain intact, and the dialogue has to be top-notch. Hire Diablo Cody for a start.

  • Tyler Mason | May 29, 2013 11:35 PM

    *Last sentence: Even as a 10 year old in the 90s, those dark conflicts pulled me into the story more than any of the Nickelodeon cartoons all of the other 3rd graders were so obsessed with.

  • Tyler Mason | May 29, 2013 11:30 PM

    @Zach, apparently Michael Arndt has already completed a treatment of the story. He brought us great character driven writing in Little Miss Sunshine and Toy Story 3. While that might seem like light fare, both of those movies were able to give fully fleshed, emotional, smart stories to entire ensemble casts of characters. Toy Story 3 also had previously established characters, to whom the final film stayed true, while still fitting in some organic, story-driven, action sequences. I know the Toy Story Universe is no entire Galaxy far, far away (or even Tatooine), but it is a sign they're working in the right direction.

    @Lukuss, all do respect, I don't think the story was ever as simple as "bad guys chase good guys" in the originals. From the first time we meet Han, he's an outlaw in a seedy bar, who isn't afraid to shoot first. In Episode V things get really murky. We find out that Vader is Luke's father and has somehow been turned evil, while Luke is battling with his own inner darkside. Lando betrays Han, but still ends up leaving Cloud City with the group and we don't know quite what to think of him. Yes, VI is filled with all of the cornball kids' stuff, but the final battle with Luke, Darth, and Palpatine is full of internal battles of good and evil. We see Anakin/Darth straddling light and dark. Luke is so angry in that scene, the audience wants to root for him, but he seems to contradict everything Yoda taught us about being a Jedi in his, "fear, hate, suffering" lecture. Even as an 10 year old in the 90s, that stuff sucked me in to the story more than any of the Nickelodeon cartoons were so obsessed with.

  • Lukuss | May 24, 2013 4:52 PM

    JJ also needs to keep the story simple. The original films' plot was: bad guys chase the good guys. Everyone loved them.

    What was the Phantom Menace plot? I don't even remember, something about trade federation creating a blockade and suddenly Anakin appears. What exactly were the villains doing?

  • Darin | May 24, 2013 2:41 PMReply

    I agree that Star Wars did decline after Empire Strikes Back. It began to inject silly elements that I was able to ignore to some extent until two scenes that kind of put the nail in the coffin... that being R2-D2 and C-3PO being head first in the sand (har har) and Chewbacca doing the Tarzan cry while swinging on a rope on Endor (that was the worst because that iconic cry has nothing to do with the Star Wars universe).

    It's small things like that (along with a host of other things) that pulls you out of the environment and reminds you that you're now in a silly place.

  • Lea | May 25, 2013 11:20 AM


    As an eleven-year old Star Wars fan watching Return of the Jedi for the first time in the theater, the scene with the droids pulled out of the sand seemed fake, or unrealistic, and it made me wonder why that scene was in the movie -- like Darin notes, that pulled me out of the experience of the story.

  • hank | May 24, 2013 2:30 PMReply

    Return of the Jedi is fucking awesome, bro. Go watch Drive if you don't like it.

  • YO DUH | May 24, 2013 1:57 PMReply

    Dude, as a child in the 80's, I was scared shitless of Ewoks. TRU STORY

  • Mike | May 24, 2013 1:46 PMReply

    This article is annoying. What, are we complaining about the original trilogy now? Get. Over. It. Return of the Jedi was made in 1983... And you loved it the first time you saw it. Stop letting your fanboy cynicism complicate things

  • Uncle Owen | May 26, 2013 4:49 PM

    It's being talked about again for lots of reasons: the coming new series of films, which chronologically follow the original trilogy; and there is a new book about the making of "Jedi." On the other hand, people still argue about "Casablanca" and "Lawrence of Arabia." That's what happens when movies matter to them.

  • Skier_pete | May 24, 2013 1:38 PMReply

    I was 13 when RotJ came out, and I saw it 9 times in the theaters. I can tell you, there was nothing about that movie I didn't like. This article sounds like revisionist history. Sure the Ewoks are clearly (through adult eyes) there to sell toys, but in addition, there is a true sense of irony that these small, untechnological aboriginies helped to bring down the technicological marvel of the empire. I thought (and still think) the three plots revolving work like gangbusters, each one playing off the other. (Lando and the fleet requiring Han/Leia's success on the planet. Luke being tempted to the dark side by watching his friends lose their battle. Vader saving Luke at the last minute.) It all works SOOOOOOOOO much better than anything in the prequels. Maybe the weakest of the three movies, but this is only because 1 and 2 are so strong.

  • James | May 24, 2013 3:16 PM

    Completely agree. The ten year old me, in 1984, completed accepted the Ewoks as believable inhabitants of Endor but rather than cute, they seemed oddly dangerous with their spears and booby traps and attempts to roast the Rebels alive. As for finding the multiple climactic narratives confusing; if I could follow them without problem at 10 the reviewer shouldn't have an issue as an adult. 'Jedi' is the weakest of the trilogy, but remains a far more emotionally and dramatically satisfying movie than 95% of the science fiction and fantasy movie produced since.

  • Jar Jar Abrams | May 24, 2013 1:24 PMReply

    "George didn't think there was any future in dead Han toys."

    ...and yet he thought that there was a future in 'space trade federation' and 'space senator' toys. You know, for kids.

  • Sean | May 24, 2013 1:21 PMReply

    This article feels like some guy who finally rewatched the original trilogy and got mad that the final film didn't carry the bleak and harshness that the second film presented. It also loses legitimacy for the fact that Richard Marquand died in 87, not 2005 (plus the link is just to an amazon page for a book on Lucas).
    Return is still a good film. It is the worst of the the three bit it's good. It ties up the loose ends, it brings everything to a proper climax and its quite enjoyable. To say the three story climax is confusing means you're searching for something to nitpick (Phantom Menance did it with four and it still slightly worked). Ewoks are adorable and might not be want some fans wanted (I remember Wookiee's were going to be used instead of Ewoks) but the fact that these little bears can kill some dumb troopers, its funny (in a good way).

    At the end, Star Wars was always a kids film series that's duly nerds take to seriously and complain way too much about. So to say Return of the Jedi ruined Star Wars is the equivelant of saying Lucas raped your childhood. Grow up, stop being moody and enjoy the much needed lighter and warmer part of the trilogy.

  • Darin | May 24, 2013 2:46 PM

    I think there is a worry that the new plans with the Star Wars movies might continue the trend of being "child-friendly" and this article is just trying to identify the beginnings of what became Episodes I – III. I think everyone would agree that we'd much rather have movies more like Episodes IV and V.

    When I was 8/11 and saw Star Wars/Empire... my toy buying passion was completely ignited without making the stories fluffy.

  • Roo | May 24, 2013 1:18 PMReply

    I didn't think the climax of ROTJ was that hard to follow.

  • YO DUH | May 24, 2013 2:09 PM

    No kidding. All those things going on at once and coming together in the end was what made it exhilarating. Just one thing going on would make it LESS epic, not more. WTF? And similar stuff in the prequels are about the only part of them that is enjoyable.

  • John Rotan | May 24, 2013 12:58 PMReply

    Richard Marquand died in 1987, so he couldn't have said anything about directing ROTJ in 2005.

  • bohmer | May 24, 2013 12:44 PMReply

    The Ewok thing was the big problem with ROTJ. Replace them with something like badass lizards and the movie become a worthy successor of Empire and a great 3rd act on the trilogy. I still liked the movie enough tough. The Vader-Luke short but emotional duel at the end still gives me shivers (special thanks to John Williams). Basically, the past 30 years of Star Wars nerdism is a very long coping process, a difficult withdrawal on how much a kick was Empire. The whole franchise is based on our love for that second act. I do not think Ep VII will replace 30 years of let downs on is own but JJ can sure try. I think Ep VIII will be interesting considering how he dealt with that kind of pressure for Into Darkness. Maybe his experience on Star Trek will work on his favor.

  • Bender | May 24, 2013 12:39 PMReply

    Yeah, three simultanious climaxes are too much. Poor you. I was about five when i saw Return for the first time and was able to follow the story. If it is (in your opinion) hard to follow, maybe the problem lies with you. Star Wars was always intended as light hearted entertainment for kids. Complaining about a happy ending and cute creatures in a fairy tale is like complaining about pasta at an italian resturant.
    I like the happy ending and that all my favourite characters survived. I liked it as a kid and i like it till this day. When i'm in a bad mood it cheers me up to see that everything can turn out ok for everyone. If Han had died like Kasdan and Ford wanted him to, even you would have been devastated as a child. Maybe this would have "ruined your" childhood, to use a highly overused phrase. I know it would have been a very important element in terms of story telling, but in the end it would have been a giant FU to the kids (the main audience).
    Although i gotta say it would be less of a problem if they kill off Han Solo in the new movies. Let Harrison Ford make his peace with the character and let Han die. Raise the stakes from the beginning on and make it interesting again.
    Btw. comparing the Ewoks with the Gungans is a crime. The Ewoks are at least no racist stereotype. They are even more badass than these dumbf*cks... There i said it.

  • bunderpump | May 24, 2013 12:36 PMReply

    "There would be no major deaths besides the ones that we already knew about in the prequels"

    What, you mean except Qui-Gon Jinn and Mace Windu and Darth Maul?

  • Rob | May 24, 2013 12:30 PMReply

    I only recently heard of Ford and Kasdan wanting to kill Solo off. If there were to be such a self-sacrifice, it would have to be an obstacle that could only be remedied by Solo in order to save everyone else from being caught and killed. I think the quality of the movie really depends on age. Jedi was always my favorite, but I was also five years old, making it the same age by time I saw it. Did the Ewoks really bother me? Well, no, I was five. But I was more paying attention to the space battle, which still ranks as some of the best special effects sequences I've ever seen. I still watching it and am awestruck every time.

  • MAL | May 24, 2013 12:29 PMReply

    I couldn't agree more. I was 10 when Star Wars came out and it had a huge influence on my cinema sensibilities. growing up. The Empire Strikes Back blew my mind and Return of the Jedi, even at 16, was such a huge disappointment. What happened to the dark, mysterious, brooding and thoughtful direction the story was going in? I was appalled by the lightening from the fingertips and the ease with which Vader threw the emperor down the energy shaft. I really hope the backlash from the prequels, modern sensibilities, and some solid writing and creative sensibilities bring back some of the gravitas introduced in the first two films. After all, it was the sense of danger and potential loss that gave weight to the characters and plot.

  • TFD | May 24, 2013 6:23 PM

    Come on Mal, lets be sensible

  • T | May 24, 2013 12:29 PMReply

    Fuck this cynical bullshit. Return of the Jedi is my favorite of the series, and I'm actually incredibly happy Lucas went the this-will-sell-more-toys route with it (as nasty as that sounds), because I genuinely believe that it ended up making for a better movie. "Revenge of the Jedi," as described here, would not have formed my love of movies growing up in the way that "Return" did.

  • Mark | May 24, 2013 12:25 PMReply

    The proposition that Abrams knows how to make a better film than Return of the Jedi is clearly insane.

    And Lucas was DEEPLY involved in Empire. The notion that his back was turned on it is completely incorrect. You should read 'Once Upon A Galaxy: A Journal Of The Making of The Empire Strikes Back' from 1980.

  • Alan B | May 24, 2013 12:45 PM

    Mark is right. Lucas COMPLETELY rewrote Bracket's script: very little was maintained in the final product. And Kasdan and Lucas rewrote one another's drafts. It's a (false) cliché to suggest Lucas was not creatively involved: he was.

  • Mark | May 24, 2013 12:31 PM

    Also, the reason why Empire is so dark and bleak is because it is the middle act of the trilogy, when the heroes come up against a brick wall. There would have been no point in killing Han in Jedi, it would have left a sour taste for the whole of the film.

    And Lucas' original idea for the Ewoks was to have the battle take place on the Wookie planet, he simply downgraded the size of the Wookies to become Ewoks. Personally, as a 9 year old watching Jedi when it originally came out I though that a) It was the greatest film i'd ever seen in my life and b) the Ewoks are cool.

    These films are aimed at 9 year olds you know, there's no point in going back to criticise them from an adult perspective. And, no matter what its flaws, Jedi is about 100 times more convincing and cinematic than Star Trek Into Fatally Misconceived Fanwank.

  • rodie | May 24, 2013 12:19 PMReply

    It's an interesting idea, killing Han off in Jedi, but I'm curious as to the details of how Kasdan and Ford wanted to depict this. Was the plan for Han to be rescued from Jabba's palace in an elaborate escape only to have him get killed 10 or 15 minutes later in the movie? I'm not sure that would have worked so well. Probably the best place to kill Han would have been the raid on the Imperial bunker much later in the movie. Make that bunker fortified to the teeth with Stormtroopers, Han gets blastered saving Leia's life, and Chewie, distraught, has to keep fighting to detonate the bunker and get out with Leia before the explosion.

  • Tyler Mason | May 29, 2013 11:55 PM

    I'm going to agree with Jesus. Despite his screen time, Han had mostly been a supporting character in most of their endeavours. His rescue takes up a lot of screen time in VI for being kind of peripheral to the main storyline of defeating Vader/The Dark Side/The Empire. It might have worked better if they actually saved him so he could evolve and fulfill some crucial fate like Luke (though his would be more tragic). VI is already filled with so much internal struggle with Luke having to overcome his issues, it would have been great to add that angle in Han's story. Because it was the "finale" then, it would be like all of the characters must finally overcome their own shortcomings, which had been causing them bumps all along, and band together to defeat The Empire. Luke, Vader, and Lando all redeemed themselves. (Leia never really screwed up.

  • A Baby Named Jesus | May 24, 2013 12:51 PM

    Rodie, I think Han dying could have worked, and his character arc become complete, if he sacrificed himself somehow for the others. The whole thing about Han in the original stories being a selfish self-centred loner, to expressing his true feelings for Leia in Empire, to having his friends sacrifice themselves to save his life from a Bounty Hunter from his past at Jabbas Palace, to him giving up "the thing he loves the most" (as Leia once put it), himself, to save them and, also, the rebellion. That would have been a good story arc.

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