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How ‘Return Of The Jedi’ Ruined ‘Star Wars’ Forever

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

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.

Lucas found that the original title of the third film, ‘Revenge of the Jedi,’ was too harsh, so he softened that as well. It was ‘Return of the Jedi’ now. Everything in the “Star Wars” universe became cuter, cuddlier, and less dangerous, with the contemplative philosophical underpinnings of the previous film replaced with flimsy metaphysical hooey. Even the film’s climax faltered. The original film had one large-scale space battle that involved all the principle characters; it was cleanly told and easy to follow. For the sequel, things were stripped away even further – instead of a space battle, it’s a sword fight (essentially) and one that, since it has been pared down in scale, is even more emotionally involving. For ‘Return of the Jedi’ there are no fewer than three climaxes, happening simultaneously – the business on Endor getting the shield down, which involves Han, Leia and the droids; the space battle to destroy the second Death Star, where Lando is piloting the Millennium Falcon for some reason (with some bizarre alien sidekick co-pilot); and the big showdown between Luke and Vader and the Emperor, something that now involves lightning shooting out of people’s fingertips because the addition of lighting makes an epic cosmic swordfight even more exciting.

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. In Lucas’ quest to make things more epic, he diluted them horribly. But even worse than negating the power of ‘Empire Strikes Back,’ ‘Return of the Jedi’ would actively influence the shape of “Star Wars” to come.

While the Ewoks are obnoxiously cuddly (they even have their own songs,) they would set the stage for the even-more-horrible Jar Jar Binks in “Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace,” a character created to go after the same demographic. Binks was a character designed to appeal to children and sell toys; he was the Ewoks but six feet tall and instead of an alien language spoke in a horribly offensive pidgin English. The sale of toys seemed to be a prime factor in a number of key decisions with the subsequent films; why else bring back cult icon Boba Fett (and introduce his father Jango Fett?) It certainly didn’t make any sense in the context of the story.

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 – there’s the siege of the imperial castle on Naboo, a large-scale ground battle featuring robots and the Ewok-like Gungans, the space battle involving young Anakin Skywalker (future Darth Vader) accidentally piloting his starship to victory, and a lightsaber battle involving several characters back on Naboo. There’s probably another subplot we’re forgetting in there somewhere; maybe somebody had to return a wig or something.

Since ‘Return of the Jedi’ made much more money than the dour ‘Empire Strikes Back,’ Lucas saw that as vindication. Everything in the ‘Star Wars’ universe following ‘Return of the Jedi’ would be patterned after what Lucas established in that film. There would be no major deaths besides the ones that we already knew about in the prequels, climaxes would be spread across multiple set pieces and planets, an emphasis on direct-from-the-toy-shop characters would trump any kind of psychological or spiritual complexity, and everything would be geared towards a single age group: little kids. The supposed historical value of ‘Return of the Jedi’ is that it closed out the original trilogy in grand fashion, with a swashbuckling, visually dazzling battle between good and evil. But it’s true legacy is that it ruined the ‘Star Wars’ franchise through a series of poor decisions that, instead of being quickly rectified, were repeated and elaborated upon until this very day. That’s a 30-year descent to the Dark Side.

Agree, disagree? Let us know below along with your thoughts on how Lucas, Abrams and company can make things right with “Star Wars: Episode 7.”

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I agree with MAL. I saw SW aged 8, then TESB at 11. Loved them both, TESB more than SW. I was really looking forward to ROTJ, but I recall leaving the cinema quite disappointed.Looking at it now, it looks so flat and dull compared to TESB, with tick-box TV movie photography and lighting as well.


Yeah, this feels pretty spot on. Growing up, ROTJ was hands down my favorite movie of the trilogy. However, I haven’t actually watched it in the last 10 years – and on a rewatch as a bona fide adult, it simply doesn’t age well whereas Empire unequivocally does.

I literally cringed during more than a few ROTJ scenes, and the entire thing just feels so sloppy and kid-centric. Empire was definitely a downer, and much less child friendly – but it has and will continue to stand the test of time. Ewoks won’t.


Drew, you said that:
”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.”
You have completely taken out Lucas from the ESB equation, event though his script involvement was big.
You see, Lucas wrote a story, which Leigh Brackett turned into a screnplay. Lucas wasn’t completely satisfied, so Brackett was about to start a second draft. However, she unfortunatelly died before that. So, Lucas wrote the second draft himself, and later hired Lawrence Kasdan, who wrote the final draft.
The fact that Leigh is credited in the end of the film has more to do with Lucas really liking her, than with how much of her script ended up in the final film – so Lucas himself was only credited as the story writer, and not the co-writer of the screenplay, like he was.

Fox Gulba

"A Jedi does not take revenge!" If You don’t like Jedi or the prequels don’t watch them!!!! It’s that simple as you Suck your thumb cause the vision is not your way…boo hoo. The Endor battle, the space dog fight, the lightsaber duel had me cheering as a six year old little boy in the theater! I was thrilled, dazzled & excited! Lucas made these movies for 7, 8 year old little boys from A New Hope to Jedi! During the production of Empire Lucas consulted psychologist about the content of the film especially Luke and Vader, how 8 yr. Old boys would be effected by it Lucas made the films for kids, though they largely appealed to adults, by the time of episode I Lucas had a couple of kids, his son Jet came up with Jar Jar. So Lucas was a different film maker now as a family man, that’s why anakin was made younger! Artist rights there’s no rule book that says he couldn’t do that! It’s the power of mythology…in the Bible there was an 8 year old child who was king of Israel, so the young Anakin, and teen queen wasn’t far fetched! Midi-chlorians, doesn’t rob the force of the spiritual mystical side—Jesus was God, but being born of a virgin, becoming flesh, blood, his dna, blood was differ being a 100% divine, 100% man, it did not rob Christ of his diety, mystical spiritual divineness…Christ like the symbolic Anakin was tested, tempted, afflicted but unlike Anakin didn’t loose his faith, turn to the darkside. After reading about midichlorians in the Star Wars insider, the concept goes deeper beyond what I wrote about above in this comment, it blew me away…the prequels are to deep for most people’s finite minds in a material world! Lucas is a deep intellectual, philosopher, genius as well! The CGI is Lucas on the cutting edge of the digital age, most people can’t accept change its more a generational thing! The prequels were a masterpiece, the had me a grown adult with tears in my eyes, when Anakin leaves his mom at 9! Disturbed when he closes his dead mother’s eyes in episode II. I cried from start to finish watching Revenge of the Sith, every time ever since on home video…Lucas did not loose his touch as a director, story teller…the Anakin/Padme love story is very Shakesperian, poetic. AOTC had the best dialogue for the romance, the comedy of C-3po!

Fox Gulba

Lucas was an independent film maker putting the money up himself to produce and finance them on his own. The money from the toys, merchandising help him do that. Unlike Spielberg, Lucas movies are not bankrolled by Hollywood…awe gee Darth Vader died, Yoda died, Boba Fett died, Bib Fortuna died, Jabba the Hutt died, the emperor died, all their action figures purposely sold!!! Who the hell wanted to watch Han Solo get rescued from Jabba only to die a little into the movie…Harrison Ford wanted Indiana Jones to die later on to as well! Lucas is a pure genius, his personal involvement on Empire was very deeply involved/concerned creatively…on the video covers, movie posters Lucas executive producer credit is down where the directors should be on both Empire, Jedi…it’s also like that on both Ewok movies, More American Graffitti. Lucas was heavily involved in Empire Strikes Back it was his story, his vision. Besides his story credit, Lucas was an uncredited screenplay writer, it was Lucas who created Yoda to speak backward. Lucas was dissatisfied with Bracketts script, but she died of cancer a few days later, he hept just one thing from her draft, rewrote several, Kasadan actually wrote at least 4 more drafts until it was a polished screenplay right before shooting. Lucas ended staying longer on the Empire set cause Kershner was having difficulty, running up the budget along with Kurtz…Marquand and Kershner directed the actors, but Lucas had to be there all the time on Jedi cause Marquand had a hard time with the visual complex effects. Lucas also had to personally supervise his vision, story, he was the boss…Jedi is awesome, so are Ewoks…let’s see this critic go create a trilogy, do any better, do us a favor and stop breathing, your dragon negativity, that is foul as an open stench in grave!!!

Ali ghani

I agree with this 110% I’m so glad you spoke out on this ROTJ dropped the ball big time after ESB set it up perfectly with such an intense ending. Really disappointed in George Lucas for this nonesense

Tex Shelters

Well done. I would add the Christian salvaging ending for Darth Vader, killer of millions and and destroyer of planets, was phony. Darth didn’t meet his justice in hell, he was absolved. Can you imagine a story about Hitler finding redemption? PTS


I’ve never seen such an amalgamation of lies.
1. The Ewoks were originally supposed to be wookies but they realised that since Chewie was so smart and technologically advanced they couldn’t folloe through.
2. Revenge of the Sith was a fake name and it’s only purpose was to throw off counterfit merchandisers.
And try looking up the Jar Jar Binks Sith theory, just for good measure.


I would like to know who interviewed Richard Marquand in 2005, since he died in 1987! Interesting read!


I dont agree, Clearly the best movie is "The empire strikes back", but apart from the cuddly ewoks i think that that return is a pretty well made movie, except that the last showdown with Luke should have been emphasized more.. But to say that the movie destroyed everything is to go to far.. Actually i think the newest movie was pretty well done, so 4 epic movies out of 6 is well done, especially with the first two being some of the biggest art ever made..


Marquand has been dead since 1987, you fuckwit.


Harrison Ford’s stupid comment about "selling toys" lends to the internet fanboy trope that its ALL Lucas cared about that continues to get repeated. And if you think about it logically, it actually makes NO SENSE. Why, if GL JUST cared about making toys and making money did he stop making SW movies in ’83. He could have continued to churn out sequels/prequels/spinoffs ad nauseum for years afterwards and printed money. But that didn’t happen, did it?

Jonathan Edney

I can’t say that I have ever found the climax of Return of the Jedi confusing in terms of what is going on and the fact that it ends with a sword fight makes it, as you even say, more emotionally involving and finishes what was started in Empire. When Star Wars came out, people were not remarking on what a deep, meaningful, spiritual experience it was, they were having a blast with the epic and fun story and marvelling at the spectacle that they had never seen anything like it before. Empire went darker but Star Wars should not be a dour, miserable, dark experience without some eventual satisfying and hopeful conclusion. Star Wars is space opera, fairy tale and ultimately with the change of focus to the rise, fall and redemption of Anakin Skywalker, it comes to mean something far more across the six films than it might have done otherwise. No end of people may seemingly hate the prequels (no matter how hard I try, not that hard, I can’t), you have a very cynical outlook on Star Wars if you think the majority of decisions are anchored around selling toys. I managed not to buy a Jar Jar toy, I, like most other kids I imagine, was too busy hankering after a lightsaber after Phantom Menace came out.

    Shannon Lee Martin

    I wonder if any of you younglings will ever understand what The Phantom Menace meant to hard-core fans of the original trilogy. I don’t hate it, but the book was better. Attack of the Clones was the best of the Prequel to me, and Revenge is alright and sometimes even good, depending on my mood :D I disliked Phantom at first, but it as grown on me. I give it 3 stars now :D


First of all, killing off Han Solo would have distracted from the more important death – that of Anakin Skywalker. I’m sorry that Harrison Ford found it necessary to moan and bitch over the fact that his character wasn’t given a glorious death, but there it is.

Also, Leigh Brackett wrote the original screenplay for "THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK". Lucas didn’t like it, ditched it and re-wrote it with Larry Kasdan. He still gave Brackett screen credit, when he found out that she was dying from some illness.

[" I was appalled by the lightening from the fingertips and the ease with which Vader threw the emperor down the energy shaft."]

This is a major complaint of yours? Really?


I’m surprised no one has noted that Leigh Brackett died after turning in one draft of Empire none of which made it into the final film (Hoth, for instance, was a sort of grassland planet). Lucas picked up the writing and wrote three drafts before hiring Lawrence Kasdan to finish it. And yet people act like it there was none of him in it, when there was in fact a lot of it.

It’s also quite clear, if you’ve looked at the six drafts of Jedi, that Lucas picked both the Return and Revenge titles (it was originally Return, then Revenge, then Return again), as opposed to something he discovered from another writer and then changed.


I have many problems with Return of the Jedi, but the idea that the cross-cutting climax makes it "hard to keep track of what’s going on" is ridiculous.


I always thought Lando should have died saving Han from Jabba, Boba Fett should have been the lone survivor in the rescue on Tatooine and Luke killing the Emperor and Darth Vader would have made for an epic "Revenge of the Jedi". And the Ewoks aren’t furry Native Americans they’re furry Filipinos. Listen to the accents.


"Marquand saying in 2005 that the experience was "like trying to direct ‘King Lear’ with Shakespeare in the next room."

Marquand died in 1988.


This article was written by a stupid fool who never bothered to watch the movie or make any kind of intelligent dialoge to say in this stupid story.


I couldnt agree more with this article!! I was one of those people who stood in line 8 hours totally pumped up with anticipation following Empire & the Revenge of the Jedi preview. THAT was the film that elevated Star Wars from great fun movie to a captivating mythic universe in the spirit of tolkein or Herbert. I still remember the stunned silence at the end of ROTJ. A disappointed audience shocked at how the film completely abandoned the stage that was set. When I read Kurtz’ comments about the original treatment, it all adds up. What a shame. What Star Wars could have been…… I hope JJ Abrams remembers what a colossal mistake & disappointment ROTJ was for the quality of the Star Wars franchise.


Richard Marquand died in 1987. How was he quoted in 2005?

Fjord Prefect

If I remember correctly, the Ewok battle was originally supposed to be a Wookie battle. But the tall, long haired beasts became small, short haired ones. Note that E-WOK is very similar to WOO-KIE. Almost a reversal of phonemes.

Toy Wholesale Australia

Wow ! Very intersting story . Thanks for share kids post.


This article is full of crap. Granted, "RETURN OF THE JEDI" is my least favorite SW movie. It’s still pretty damn good. All of them are, as far as I’m concerned. And this habit of giving everyone but Lucas credit for "THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK" strikes me as nothing more than another example of fanboy bullshit.


"…with Marquand saying in 2005…" Where’s the proof reading here? Richard Marquand died in 1987!

Nunya Bidness

The article makes me want to repeatedly punch you in the face multiple times.Over and over again.


I'm glad that others share my dislike of ROTJ. It was an awful movie compared to its 2 predecessors. The Ewoks, the ridiculous and unconvincing puppets, the weak attempts to recreate the magic moments of the other films ("Leia is your sister", Jabba's cantina… err… I mean palace, another freakin' Death Star), unmasking Vader, and omg the complete BS of Vader's redemption… all of it was a disappointment.

To illustrate just how badly ROTJ messed things up, consider the state of things at the end of Empire Strikes Back:
– Han Solo's last known line was "I know"
– Boba Fett was still a mysterious, menacing badass
– Vader's revelation and Kenobi's lie were two huge unresolved issues for Luke, and Kenobi had some 'splainin to do ("From a certain point of view" … good lord how weak was that?!)
– The romantic tension between Luke & Leia was still valid.
– No notion of "Force lightning"
– No stupid moral blatherings about "If you experience a completely normal and human emotional reaction to a clear and present danger posed by undeniably evil antagonists in a manner that eliminates said threat, your path to the Dark Side will be complete".
– The Empire was winning, and seemed unbeatable.

And looking at that list, I can't help but think that the real theme of ROTJ's weakness is "missed opportunities".


Star Wars is forever. It is brainless dirtbag trolls like you who will be forgotten.


Agree with this author and producer Gary Kurtz. The original Jedi story would've aged better as it was edgy.. But alas, I remember being a kid and feeling disappointed at first learning that not only Vader and Luke were related but Leia and Luke were related. Then we have Vader creating C3PO…Yoda – friends with Chewie….and Boba Fett's Daddy…and lastly Vader's father…the Emperor. By the end the Star Wars universe had shrunk to a neighborhood block. Perhaps like the Godfather there was only enough story for two films.


    The emperor is not Vader’s father.


To begin with, the Star Wars franchise of films is truly a classic franchise. I can only think of one other – the James Bond series. What makes a classic anything, be a movie or book or play, is new generations wanting to continue to see it. You may have hated it or thought it was ruined but the numbers of people still buying it and viewing it, negate that.

The fact is though, that if anything was ruined by Star Wars it was George Lucas. Do you know the history of the movie Gone With the Wind? David O. Selznick produced it – and he was fairly young at the time – and he spent the rest of his life attempting to equal, much less top, that film – and was never able to do it.

I think Lucas's later Star Wars films were in many ways better than the first – but the first is what he's going to be remembered by. Particularly now that Disney is carrying it on. History is going to say that Lucas never topped the original Star Wars movie and that it was his curse.

It is a terrible thing to go to a man and tell him "from this point on your life is worthless, you are of no value to the world, no matter what you do from now on" but that is what happened to Lucas after Star Wars. If Lucas had run screaming some corporation would have picked up the toy distribution, and marketing, and everything would have been the same. The additional 5 movies would still have been made – just by other people – and everyone still would have compared them to the original first movie and found them wanting. The lesser writers that have filled in the Expanded Universe still would have penned their works, and we still would be arguing and discussing it.

But I will say this one thing in defense of the 6 movies. As a parent I would far, far rather have my young son as involved in Star Wars as he was – he had multiple light sabers, the Millennium Falcon, and multiple action figures when he was young – than playing Cowboy & Indians. Because, up until the 70's when Star Wars got popular, all we had for young boys was Westerns. In the movie Toy Story 2 the Prospector makes a big deal about how he hated space toys and blamed it on Sputnik but I grew up in the late 60's and 70's and space toys and playing spaceman was something that few kids my age did – it was Cowboys and Indians and to a lesser extent, war games based on old WWII movies that were constantly played on TV that we watched. Pretty sickening from my POV as a parent. But Star Wars changed all of that, it allowed all the Western stuff to be slid into the dustbin of history.

It might be a stretch to say so but I daresay that the respect and care that US society is taking of the native american Indian tribes today would never had happened if not for Star Wars successfully pushing the extremely bigoted view of the world espoused by the Western out of the minds of our younger generation. Instead of the message "the only good Indian is a dead Indian" we now have excitement and hope from the children that one day when they grow up they may meet new peoples and societies out in the stars. And I believe that Star Wars is responsible for that.


There's absolutely no way "Return of the Jedi" was supposed to be or is the "end" to Star Wars. Lucas set up the clones seen in the prequels through the imperial troopers " aren't you too short for a storm trooper" ring a bell? That's because 90% of troopers were clones. Lucas setup something else with the clones, Palpatine's ability to avoid death. Palpatine got himself cloned, to prevent an untimely demise, he killed his master Darth Palagieus to learn the way to use the force to stop death, which is how he convinced the best Jedi ever to fall to the dark side. Because Anakin loved Padme her dying was his weakness. All this Lucas setup in the first Star Wars movie "A New Hope". Sure some things have been askew from the Star Wars parts we love. But if one looks a little wider, the intention can be clearly seen.


Let's all pretend Lucas was "playing it safe" when he showed that the Ewoks cook and eat humans, set traps using dead, bloody animals, kill people with arrows, and play drums on the helmets of their enemies as they dance with glee. Methinks the haters haven't watched this movie very closely in some time.


"Lucas got skittish" print proof or retract.
"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." You have no credible source on this. Take your cynical theories and shove them. All you have is conjecture and armchair analysis. How do you know? It's not like any what you theorize is documented in any way, other than in your own subjective, opinionated mind. So stop lying and acting like you have the truth from somewhere special. Because you do not.


As if he didn't sell a ton of toys for Star Wars and Empire Strikes Back, before Return of the Jedi. I know. I was there! The movies have always had aliens, spaceships, etc. that all got made into toys. That doesn't make him a sellout.


"The sale of toys seemed to be a prime factor in a number of key decisions with the subsequent films; why else bring back cult icon Boba Fett (and introduce his father Jango Fett?) It certainly didn't make any sense in the context of the story."
So, anyone else getting tired of this "if there's a 'pointless' character in the film that isn't 100% justified being there by being tied to every major as well as minor plot point, it must've been for selling toys" mantra? How about they just put him there cause it was FUN, or was considered to be something the audience would enjoy to see? How about they put in all those colorful aliens and robots in every frame just cause it's creative and fun and makes the world look "richer", and then giving them all names and selling toys based on them was just the extension of the usual action figure practice that would've been done with all the main and supporting characters regardless?
Sure, maybe it's frivolous and self-indulgent, and "makes no sense", and that doesn't you mean you can't diss it on those terms, but this automatic "omg they want to sell toys over writing story from the heart" knee-jerk reaction is getting kinda old. Even if viewing it through a more cynical, commercial lense, the primary goal of putting Boba Fett in there could still have been drawing in (and appeasing) a larger percentage of (fan) audience, with the subsequent toy sales as a mere pleasant afterthought.
…. ooooor it could be the toys. Several possibilities there ;)

I pretty much disagree with your thesis there, as it kinda doesn't match the facts. The Phantom Menace was most certainly influenced by Jedi, in its childish humor / overall appeal to children, the wacky tribal alien army saving the day and the multiplied action climax (though that last one I happen to think is pretty neat).
However, I don't see how that in any way applies to the other two prequels – Clones' awkward, unpleasant college romance masking as the epic star-crossed love story of our generation certainly was unprecedented by anything heretofore in Star Wars (passing, clumsy similarities to Empire notwithstanding), and the hammy villainy of Sith was pretty much a new thing, too. Just like the EpI, they've been criticized for an overdose of wacky alien and droid humor, however, the seeds for that have been planted as early as in ANH; they completely lack the cutesiness or cuddliness or whimsicality, aren't really made with children in mind (Clones does kinda try to pander to the Twilight demographic, Sith pretty much full-on adult-oriented), and don't have multiple endings to top it off: Clones has the "Reel 6", a prolonged action showdown that goes through several stages but follows one single plot thread, and the parallel swordfight in Sith is just one of the many "poetic juxtapposition montages" that that movie is filled with.

Having said all that, however, I do think that the "real Star Wars" ended with Episode V, and VI doesn't really feel like the real continuation of that story – more like a forced wrap-up, or a "possible" conclusion if you will, but it just feels off in many ways.
And yes, that doesn't just go for its worst bits, as listed here, but for all the great stuff as well – totally worth it as certainly was, it just doesn't seem to fit particularly well. Why is Luke suddenly thinking of converting Vader, where did that come from? Why has Vader given up his ambitions to overthrow his master? Somehow Leia being Luke's sister doesn't seem natural or particularly logical (duh), and when you come to think of it, the original Emperor from V has been pretty much redesigned into an entirely different character.
And when you view it through that lens, then yes… indeed, Jedi has introduced a lot of the elements that "changed" the Star Wars iconography, and the prequels, along with the rest of pop culture, ultimately hinged upon. The "sad" Vader as a tragic figure, hadn't really been that before; Luke's stoic and distant mannerisms in this movie, without which the stuffy tone of the prequels pretty much would've been unthinkable… plus, A JEDI AS A MAIN CHARACTER IN THE FIRST PLACE! Hadn't been the case in the previous movies, but now pretty much par for the course in Star Wars.
The increased focus on Star Wars as a "generational family epic", thanks to Leia; the hammy evil space wizard on top; Vader's original name being *Anakin*, for that matter! Kinda silly, isn't it? And a couple others.
So, yea… this movie did change up some things, and not all of them in the good or right direction, all of which went on to influence all of the subsequent installments. However, not quite to the extent claimed in this article, and mostly in different ways… other than claimed in the article ;)


Jango Fett's genes were used to create clones for the Republic. So he was essential to the story, yes.

Jar Jam Freedom

How is this related to the Iraq war? This title is confusing.

Jar Jar Binks

Please grow up and get a life… The fact that you're still obsessing about pointless things like this almost a decade after the very last movie to come out, is just flat out pathetic. Go outside for a change, the sun will not kill you; and try to find a girl who will have sex with you, it's much better than obsessing about old movies.

An Ewok

You are such an err…USA-based entertainment consumer. I never understood this type of approach, but it makes no sense.




i can't imagine reptilians instead of ewoks, the way special effects were in 1983. maybe it was a practical decision too?

Phil Gardner

The only part of the review I disagree on is the comment you made about Lando for some reason Piloting the Falcon, The millennium falcon was owned by Lando before Han So with Solo being on Endor Lando was the obvious choice to take command, It would of been strange to see Lando on Endor but who knows.
As a kid ROTJ was my favorite film but now watching at the age of 33 it really does make me laugh how so many mistakes were made, They should have used the same team that was used on ESB .
And don't even get me started on Boba Fetts character In ROTJ, They made him look like a complete fool.


I'll be honest and say, I do not want to agree with you. I've loved RotJ since I was a kid. Like you said, huge space battles, and Luke becomes a jedi! Ewoks were cool.

But man, I get it. You make points I can't get over. I'm not with you 100%, but I'm close. Why else would we have gotten the drek of Binks if there weren't some history of childish success in the last film? I can fogive Lucas for everything but Binks. That stupid character destroyed it for me, like I guess the Ewoks did for you. No winners here.

Darth Magnolia

With all due respect, the author of this blog can go plow himself. Get a life and stop obsessing. All the movies were great, but not perfect. Phantom Menace, of course was very very very far from perfect. I try to forget it sometimes. And now I will forget I ever read this absurdly foolish collection of words.


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.


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.


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


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.


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

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.


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.

Kev Dylan

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.


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J. Alex

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

J. Alex

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


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!!


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.


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?


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

Freddie Mercury

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.


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!!


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


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.


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

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

John Steiner

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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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!


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.

Tyler Mason

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

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)


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


Yub yub….

gary geck

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

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….


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?


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.


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

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

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!


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

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.


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.

J Knokey

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.


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.


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.


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.)


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.


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.


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


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.


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.


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


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


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


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.

Jar Jar Abrams

"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.


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.


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

John Rotan

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


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.


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.


"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?


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


“The supposed historical value of ‘Return of the Jedi’ is that it closed out the original trilogy in grand fashion, with a swashbuckling, visually dazzling battle between good and evil”
I don’t agree.
Best regards, Pansy

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Daniel B

“The problem with these multiple climaxes is that it’s hard to keep track of what’s going on”

no, it’s really not, unless you are quite simple-minded.


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Gregory Smull

I happened to be a child at the time and enjoyed episode VI. It was clearly geared towards that age group and that was the point. Looking back, I agree that much of it seems quite silly now, but I look at as mere light-hearted fun. Episode V is much more serious and holds up as a superior cinematic experience. It remain my favorite of the main storyline. Looking at Episodes I-III I would agree that the franchise took a stumble down a similar path using the Episode VI template. But the same rules apply here, and I see these films geared towards more of a younger audience and therefore are to be taken much less seriously. Rogue 1 is geared more towards adults and has the same kind of feel as Episode V.


I think the author’s premise that ROTJ was a sort of template for the prequels is largely nonsense.

ROTJ has some flaws but is still a solid film.

What is true in my opinion however is that there is an essential flaw throughout the entire saga which doesn’t begin with ROTJ but here is where it first becomes problematic, and this is the essential unevenness of the tone of Star Wars movies.

There are elements serious adult elements mixed together with stuff more suited to a Saturday morning cartoon, or perhaps even an episode of The Muppet Show.

The thing that has always really irked me about ROTJ isn’t the Ewoks but Jabba the Hutt’s pair. It’s full of muppet like creatures that look about as real as Fozzie the Best. This makes it very hard to take the dramatic action involving Luke and Han Solo seriously.

There’s also always been way too much darkness in even the most lighthearted Star Wars movies to justify Lucas’ insistence that the films were always made with 6 year olds in mind. This has always struck me rather as Lucas’ stock response for people critical of the film (i.e. “Hey, it’s strictly for kids, back off!”).


This article is spot on the money. I still have a mild nostalgic enjoyment of ROTJ, but it grates my nerves far more than the two preceding it.
And to any of the Prequel Apologists here and everyone: you can put people down for denouncing those POS films all you like, it doesn’t change the fact that they’re comparably horrible in every conceivable way, or that you are completely at peace with utter mediocrity in your life.

Duncan McAlister

It looked and felt like a cross between Disney and the Muppets. Very different in tone and visually from the first two.


FIrst off this is what happens when people who are not Star Wars fans comment about Star Wars, I am fed up over the casual Star Wars viewer making stupid sweeping judgements about the movies and spreading their opinion as if it were gospel. First accept the problem that you the viewer is the problem and not the movies, if you are a cynical piece of shit than you will not get enjoyment out of all of the movies. Secondly Star Wars has been and always will be family movies they can be enjoyed from anyone from age 5 to 95. George Lucas was a wonder filmmaker and a wonderful businessman, the two don’t contradict eachother as many would have you believe. The ewoks were a fine addition to the Star Wars universe they added depth to the story if you don’t understand the ewoks read the comments about them and the vietcong. I also can’t stand the narrative as con artists such as the writer like to portray, more people love the prequels than hate the prequels the narrative that more people dislike them is false it has been many people’s agenda to show people dislike them, I would say their is more split amongst the fans than in the orignals but this nonsense they are hated is false. Also the nonsense that the prequels are all about special effects and have poor acting, the same narrative was said about the originals back in the 80’s. Many critics to this day dislike Lucas because he was a maverick he was his own boss not a studio, he wasn’t part of the guild and he did what I always admire he didn’t put critics quotes on the home video releases for his movies a giant fuck you, and all I have to say to the writer of this article if you don’t like Star Wars stop wasting your time on stupid articles like this and accept you are the problem and go about your business

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