On its own accord, “Return of the Jedi” has a lot of problems. But compared to “Star Wars” and “The Empire Strikes Back,” it’s just plain bad. Search your feelings-you know it to be true. Like most of you out there, we love Star Wars more than words can say, and will always respect and thank George Lucas for providing a generation of moviegoers with the most significant mythos of the last 25 years.
But also like most of you out there, whenever we watch the Trilogy, the awed reverence with which we watch Wars and Empire is replaced during Jedi by laughing, moaning and shouted insults that make MST3K look tame by comparison. Nearly 14 years after its release, it’s become sadly evident that Jedi hasn’t aged well at all, while Wars and Empire increasingly gain acceptance as cinema classics. (We could have just as easily made a list of 100 reasons Star Wars and The Empire Strikes Back are two of the greatest films ever made, but where’s the fun in that?)
It would be easy to put the blame for Jedi’s failure squarely on the shoulders of its director, the late Richard Marquand. But while few would argue that Marquand wasn’t the greatest choice to inherit the franchise, the fact remains that it was Executive Producer Lucas who hired him, who told him how to handle the material, and who always had the final say. So we’ll let Marquand rest in peace; chances are he did the best he could.
What Lucas was thinking is another story. Whether Jedi’s faults are a result of his sincere artistic vision or of something more sinister (read: “marketable”) may never truly be known. But by comparing the genesis of each of the three films, we can make a pretty good educated guess. When Star Wars was conceived, no one had any idea how much money it would eventually pull in. Empire was still a risk, as successful sequels were rare at that point in time.
When it came time to do Jedi, however, the machinery was fully in place to sell it to the hilt. Lucas knew he could make far more money from merchandise than from theater grosses, so it’s likely that the question, “How easily will this translate into a Kenner toy?” figured more prominently in many of his Jedi decisions than it did in those that formed the first two Star Wars films. (And honestly, who can blame him? If we had the chance to build a ranch estate and media empire as vast as those owned by Lucas, we’d sell out in less time than it takes to shut one of those pressure doors on the Death Star.)
There are plenty of fervent fans who argue that by mere nature of its being part of the Trilogy, Jedi should be above criticism. We’d ask those people whose initial response to this list is one of anger to and apply the 50 points below to their next Jedi viewing, and join us in hoping that Jedi’s problems were the result of a fluke, and not of downward trends that will continue into the new films.
1. Ewoks, Ewoks, Ewoks – One of the miracles of the Star Wars Trilogy is that Lucas’ bizarre and ever-present fascination with little people didn’t hurt the first two films. The Jawas were cool. The Ugnaughts were cool. Kenny Baker as Artoo was cool. But George had to push his luck. The Ewoks are not cool. Period. In circles of die-hard Star Wars fans, to say you hate the Ewoks is like saying you enjoy breathing air. The Ewoks are the primary example of many of the points on this list: their unapologetic cuddliness is uncharacteristic and unwelcome; they look fake; they engage in constant physical comedy; their teddy bear design is wholly uninteresting; they live in boring surroundings; several of the film’s dumbest scenes revolve around them; they were originally supposed to have been Wookies and they sing that damn song at the end.
But aside from what we see onscreen, the Ewoks are miserable little creatures for a completely different reason: they are the single clearest example of Lucas’ willingness to compromise the integrity of his Trilogy in favor of merchandising dollars. How intensely were the Ewoks marketed? Consider this: “Ewok” is a household word, despite the fact that it’s never once spoken in the film.
2. The Tone is Inconsistent – The Rebellion is in ruins, Darth Vader is Luke’s father and Han is frozen. Why Lucas decided to smother these ambitious plot elements under a load of feel-good clichés and textbook plot structure is anyone’s guess (it’s our theory that he was infected with the same mania that caused Spielberg to make Hook eight years later). Jedi never has any idea what it’s trying to be.
Throughout, the mood and pacing is herky-jerked back and forth between dramatic and lighthearted. The scenes with Vader look and feel like they’re taking place in a different film than those with our heroes, and no amount of special effects or nostalgia for Wars and Empire can make the pieces fit together. Lacking any consistent driving force (pun intended), Jedi is impossible to take seriously, and has little to none of the mythic, transporting feel of its predecessors. We’re always aware we’re watching a big-budget movie.
3. The Look is All Wrong – After the second film, did the Empire celebrate its trouncing of the Rebellion by going through the galaxy with a big bottle of Windex? Everything in Jedi looks clean and polished, from the ships to the costumes to the backgrounds. One of the triumphs of the first two films was the fact that it was next to impossible to imagine they were filmed right here on Earth. In contrast, Jedi’s sets look like sets. We can picture cameras, plywood and the key grip eating a sandwich just outside the frame. Marquand never seems to know where to put the camera, and is constrained by the space his scenes inhabit instead of inspired by it. In the end, it’s surprising that Jedi doesn’t have any cardboard tombstones falling over, or a brief appearance by Vampira as the ghoul’s wife.
4. It’s Just A Bunch of Muppets! – Admittedly, Wars had its share of fake-looking aliens in the Mos Eisley Cantina scene, but many of them were genuinely innovative at the time (Hammerhead is STILL impressive) and none of them crossed the not-so-thin line between costume and (shudder) Muppet. Even Yoda in Empire was constructed, filmed and voiced well enough that we never thought to look for the hand up his rear.
Don’t get us wrong-we love Muppets, just not in the Star Wars universe. And Jedi’s Gamorrean Guards (only slightly less realistic than a Tor Johnson Halloween mask), Salacious Crumb (it’s good to see the Great Gonzo is still getting work) and Max Rebo (the blue piano-playing elephant with the oft-visible wire controlling his trunk) are proof that you can take the Henson Studio out of Sesame Street, but you can’t take Sesame Street out of the Henson Studio. Will the Criterion Edition laserdisc include the deleted footage of Statler and Waldorf cracking wise from the balcony?
5. Painful Lack of Innovation – When it comes to scavenging, Lucas could teach even the Jawas a thing or two. Jedi borrows from Wars on levels ranging from conceptual to minute. There’s another opening scene with a Star Destroyer (though this time it isn’t even permitted to finish its awesome crawl across the top of the screen). There’s another Imperial stronghold to infiltrate, and another energy beam to turn off. And of course, there’s another Death Star to blow up for the film’s climax (though at least the Emperor had enough brains to plug up that pesky exhaust port).
Most of the creatures and droids seen on Tatooine in Wars make background appearances in Jabba’s court-even Greedo’s alive and well! (Okay, maybe it’s a different Rodian. They all look the same to us.) Finally, little thought seems to have been given to developing or maturing any of the main characters in a realistic manner. Han and Threepio suffer most, coming across as catchphrase-spouting caricatures of their previous selves.
6. Witty banter – Note to writer Lawrence Kasdan: If you must fill your script with witty banter, at least try and make it, well, witty. With one or two exceptions, the humor in Wars and Empire was subtle, based around throwaway lines and the personality quirks of well-written characters. Jedi’s overly contrived “humor” too often seems inspired by the setup-to-punchline wordplay found in a typical episode of Three’s Company. In what is probably the film’s single most painful moment, Solo requests Threepio do a number of chores. After continually tapping him on the shoulder and preventing him from leaving to complete his duties, Solo quips, “Hurry up, will ya? I haven’t got all day.” Har-dee-har-har. Based on witticisms like that, it’s amazing that Luke never rebuked the Emperor by stating, “Up your nose with a rubber hose.”
7. Physical comedy – This is a Galactic rebellion, for heaven’s sake! Yet an Ewok clocks himself with his own slingshot. Threepio’s legs point skyward after he falls off the skiff into the sand. Countless adorable muppets zanily cover their eyes or flip-duck off their perches when faced with tense situations. Worst of all, there are two solid instances where burps are used for cheap laughs. Burps! And where are the fart jokes? Well, maybe in the next film. Jedi is as good a parody of the Trilogy as one could hope for; there was really no need for Mel Brooks to make Spaceballs.
8. Uninteresting Locales – Wars and Empire took us to locales that many of us have never been to in real-life, namely a vast desert, a run-down spaceport, an enormous space battle station, a planet of ice and snow, a dense, slithering swamp and a floating cloud city. Jedi just rehashes what we’ve already seen (though Jedi’s Tatooine looks significantly less exotic than it did in Wars, having been filmed in California instead of Tunisia), adding only one new biome: the woods (Oh, so THAT’S what trees look like).
If this pattern continues, expect the next Star Wars film to be set on the mysterious planet of sidewalks and suburban ranch homes.
9. The Forest Battle on Endor – If we wanted to see improbable jungle shenanigans, we’d have rented Battle For The Planet of the Apes. The myriad traps and offensive weapons constructed by the Ewoks (apparently over the course of one night) work with such predictable precision against the Imperials, the “battle” is little more than scene after predictable scene of sticks and stones taking out high-tech weaponry and forest-trained stormtroopers. Jedi may be a fantasy film, but the Ewoks’ victory still flies in the face of all reason, logic and precedent. It’s a cute little war in which dozens of human stormtroopers are beaten to death, but we’re only treated to one dead Ewok.
Happily, audiences have always responded to the stupidity of this imbalance: in screening after screening, the Ewok’s groaning demise is typically met with more cheers and applause than the destruction of the Death Star.
10. Solo – In Empire, Threepio stated that the carbonite would keep Solo safe, provided he survived the freezing process. Safe, yes, but Threepio said nothing about the side-effects. Namely, that people in carbon-freeze gain 20 pounds and take on the demeanor of Ward Cleaver on Quaaludes. Wars and Empire established Solo as a braggart, pirate and all-around scoundrel. In Jedi, he’s just a good-hearted, slack-jawed simp whose comments and actions are almost exclusively played for laughs.
In not a single scene does Solo have the same acerbic edge he possessed in the previous films. Harrison Ford does nothing to help the situation (perhaps to his credit), acting with a boredom rarely paralleled as he kills time waiting for another Indiana Jones installment.
11. Music – The soundtrack to Wars is a unquestioned classic. Empire’s soundtrack gave us the Trilogy’s best piece of music: The Imperial March. What does Jedi have to offer? Some playful “Peter and the Wolf”-esque Ewok tunes and Jabba’s foam-and-latex band. The song “Lapti Nek” was translated into English for an MTV video, and we learned that “Lapti Nek” actually means “workin’ out.” That whole Flashdance craze was certainly popular back in ’83, but now it’s just embarrassing. Jabba’s band is a pale imitation of Wars’ cantina musicians. The Muppets look fake, and the music they play is truly wretched.
(Yet one of the scenes being added to this spring’s “updated” Jedi release is another song by the band!)
Even more insipid, though, is the Ewoks’ celebratory “Yub-yub” number at the end (cut from the Special Edition), which sounds suspiciously as if it’s sung not by Ewoks, but by humans. The theme to the Alien Nation TV show sounded more authentic.
12. Threepio – Threepio was bearable in Wars because he and Artoo played an integral role in the unfolding of the plot. He got on our nerves in Empire, but we could at least sympathize with the human characters, who were more or less stuck with him and expressed their irritation. In Jedi, Threepio’s along by choice, and everyone just loves chuckling at the way he screws everything up. They decide to bring him along to Endor for no good reason, and we’re all forced to endure another barrage of predictable outbursts highlighting the shiny droid’s cowardice, ego and annoying verbosity. Shut him up or shut him down.
13. Obi Wan’s Appearance to Luke – In case you missed the first two films, Obi-Wan Kenobi is supposed to be dead. In Wars and Empire, he made himself known to Luke through an occasional voice in the head or in a floating vision. In Jedi, all of Obi-Wan’s street credibility as a wizened spiritual guide is thrown out the window when he appears on Dagobah and shuffles around like Fred G. Sanford in a coat of glow paint.
Rather than floating in one place, he fades in 20 feet away and walks up to Luke, eventually resting his non-corporeal butt on a rock. The ensuing two-way conversation scrambles to tie up too many loose ends at once, made worse by the fact that the character saying it all shouldn’t even be there on such a literal level. And unlike his similarly flawed Dagobah appearance in Empire, Jedi never lets us see Obi-Wan fade back into oblivion once his message is delivered. For all we know, he and Luke could have spent hours hanging out and gossiping like housewives.
14. Luke – We like Mark Hamill, really. But though he was perfectly cast as the wet-behind-the-ears student in the first two films, he simply lacks the dignity to pull off a believable Jedi Knight. To top things off, he has Aunt Beru’s haircut from the first film. We forget-was Jedi released before or after the advent of the Supercuts salon chain?
15. Surprise! They’re Brother and Sister! - After Jedi came out, Lucas would routinely go on record stating that in his mind, Star Wars was always first and foremost a story about a brother and a sister. Does anybody really buy this? Wars and Empire both had sexually charged scenes that play significantly creepier when watched with the knowledge that Luke and Leia are siblings. It seems unlikely that Lucas would have included those scenes if he knew that one day people would be seeing them from such a different perspective. What seems likely, however, is that when Jedi came around, Lucas was grasping at straws, searching desperately for a plot revelation to equal Empire’s classic father/son moment. Oh, well-even if Lucas is telling the truth (Yoda did, after all, say in Empire that there was “another”), the issue could have been handled in a less clumsy fashion. Having Luke and Leia learn about their relationship through means other than spur-of-the-moment (albeit Force-guided) guesses would have been a start.
16. Unforgivable Dialogue – Threepio approaching Jabba’s palace: “I have a bad feeling about this.”
Han Solo, when confronted by Ewoks: “I have a bad feeling about this.”
Leia, after releasing Solo from carbon freeze: “I gotta get you outta here.”
Leia, after being freed from Jabba’s chains: “We gotta get outta here.”
Leia, after she and an Ewok are ambushed on Endor: “Let’s get outta here.”
With dialogue like this, it seems Lucas finally put that “million monkeys at a million typewriters” theory to the test.
17. Horrible Exposition – “Artoo, look! It’s Captain Solo-and he’s still frozen in carbonite!” Lines like this are for those people who somehow missed the first two movies. Threepio is the main offender throughout, even going so far as to offer a long, Ewokese summary of the Trilogy’s plot thus far (with sound effects, no less). Of course, Lucas would probably say that scene was to show “the entrancing magic of storytelling.” Call us cynical, but entrancing magic makes us want to puke.
18. Jabba the Muppet – Er-Hutt. Jabba isn’t all that scary. It seems Lucas became so enamored of his technology that he forgot humans are far more ominous than any shop-built alien lifeform could ever hope to be. Remember Grand Moff Tarkin? Now THERE was a creepy villain. We were so busy trying to figure out where all the puppeteers were hiding beneath Jabba’s frame that we’re never able to accept him as a living, breathing character.
And no matter how you cut it, his eyelids still look fake. If only they hadn’t lost the phone number of that fat, Irish guy who originally played him in that deleted Wars scene.
19. Stupid Coincidences – “We have been without an interpreter since our master got angry with our last protocol droid and disintegrated him.” Pan over to said droid being pulled apart in a machine, to allow for a startled reaction shot by Threepio. Numerous scenes like this further damage Jedi’s ability to convince us this stuff is really happening. Jabba and his minions silently hiding behind the “Let’s Make A Deal” curtain and the fact that the escape skiff just happens to have two magnetic retrieval devices to pluck the fallen droids out of the sand are further examples of this problem.
None of these scenes needed to center around such ridiculous leaps in logic; more often than not, they’re simply indicative of lazy screenwriting, or inserted for excessive rimshot-ready moments.
20. Boba Fett’s Death – It’s inexcusable that such an imposing figure as Boba Fett-the one bounty hunter good enough to capture Solo-flies clumsily to his death in the Sarlaac pit while screaming like Shemp from the Three Stooges. Any Star Wars geek worth his weight in trading cards will tell you that Boba Fett is the Trilogy’s most underused character. His brief but badass appearance in Empire had us all anxiously awaiting the next film, assuming his role would be greatly expanded by the events surrounding what we then thought would be an incredible escape by Han.
Not only does Fett have nothing to do in Jedi, but in the ultimate indignity, he’s killed off without ceremony or honor for no better reason than another damn burp joke. According to the novels and comics, Fett survived. But that’s not what’s implied in the film itself, and it doesn’t make the scene any less shameful.
21. Terrible, Terrible Post-Production Looping – In about half of Jedi’s scenes, little attempt is made to match the dialogue with the characters’ lip movements-it’s almost like watching a Mothra flick. If Lucas were smart, he’d blame this on the film’s being dubbed from its original language. You know-the one they spoke a long time ago in that galaxy far, far away.
22: Sub-Par Special Effects – It’s strange that the film that gave us sci-fi’s most intricate and well-choreographed space battle to date also gave us so many effects that just look plain silly. The Rancor aside (see below), consider Han’s light-streaming release from the carbonite, the seemingly magic-markered shadow under Jabba’s sail barge and the explosion of the shield generator on Endor (in which Han and his team, about twenty feet from the bunker, aren’t affected in the slightest by its explosion, which from our viewpoint engulfs several square miles of forest).
23. The Rancor Effects – Quite probably the worst use of a blue screen in the history of big-budget film, the Rancor looks so awful it deserves its own separate mention. Planning this sequence, the ILM team seems to have been inspired by old episodes of Lidsville, as the admittedly well-designed puppet appears at all times either flat and two-dimensional, or surrounded by an unearthly glow. This is one effect we won’t mind seeing cleaned up in the re-release.
24. Leia and Han’s Relationship – It’s A Galaxy Far, Far Away 90210! The subtle, repressed passion of Empire is simplified to high-school relationship levels in Jedi. They kiss, they say “I love you,” Han throws a hissy fit and gets jealous of Luke. The couple play off each other in such obvious ways, we’re reminded of the Screenwriting 101 rule of show, don’t tell. Han and Leia never look or act like two adults in love – and no amount of gushy language can cover up that fact.
25. Carrie Fisher’s “Acting” – Han: Who are you?- Leia: Someone who LOVES you!- When Carrie Fisher isn’t staring vacantly into space, she’s emoting to degrees previously seen only in Mexican soap operas. At least today she’s cool enough to admit that she was zoned out on coke the entire time.
26. Obvious missed opportunities – Putting aside the fact that the entire movie is a missed opportunity in the context of the Trilogy, Jedi has specific missed opportunities too numerous to count within its own structure. These range from major (Lucas’ throwaway admission that he had originally intended Endor to be a planet of Wookies; the fact that Lando doesn’t die in the Death Star assault, as Jedi’s original script dictated) to picayune (when the Alliance fleet suddenly realizes the Death Star’s shield is still functional, it would have been nice to see one or two X-Wings crash into said shield and explode, having not had enough time to pull up).
27. Yoda – In Empire, Yoda was a sagacious sprite who brought to mind Gælic legend. In Jedi, he’s an annoying toad who sounds like Super Grover (thanks to Frank Oz’s forgetting how to do the voice) and looks about as realistic as his Kenner action figure likeness (thanks to bad, overlit cinematography, see point #3).
Like the movie he’s stuck in, Jedi’s Yoda is lacking in wisdom and festering with cuteness. Get out your laserdiscs (okay, or your videotapes) and compare the two Yodas head-to-head. You’ll be surprised.
28. The Opening Text Crawl – In which we are given our first taste of each of the three films. Let’s compare their opening sentences, shall we?
WARS: “It is a period of civil war….”
EMPIRE: “It is a dark time for the Rebellion…”
JEDI: “Luke Skywalker has returned to his home planet of Tatooine in an attempt to rescue his friend Han Solo from the clutches of the vile gangster Jabba the Hutt. Charro guest stars.”
Okay, we threw in the part about Charro. But the point is, we’re talking mythic tracts versus a blurb from TV Guide. The first sentence in Jedi centers around the word “friend.” Well, that’s just peachy, but we much prefer the first two films’ implications that we’re about to see something a bit larger than a buddy picture.
29. Imperial Technology – Imperial engineers should really figure out a way to keep their vehicles from blowing up so easily, both in space and on the ground. In Jedi, not only does a single crashed A-wing take out an entire eight-kilometer super star destroyer, but several scout walkers explode like Pintos whenever something taps them a little too hard. (True, the Imperial walkers in Empire could be tripped up a bit easily, but at least they didn’t burst into fireballs until hit by Rebel blaster fire.)
It seems strange that the Rebels even bothered procuring spaceships and blasters-based on what Jedi shows us, the Empire could have been defeated with a couple of well-placed safety pins.
30. Jabba’s Droid Torture Room – First of all, torturing droids is stupid on a purely conceptual level, seeing as how they’re machines and all. But what on earth was going through Lucas and Marquand’s heads when they decided to play the scene in Jabba’s droid room for laughs? Wars and Empire both have torture scenes. They’re pretty unsettling. Know why? BECAUSE THEY’RE TORTURE SCENES, FOR CHRIST’S SAKE! Torture’s not supposed to be funny-no one wants to laugh at a screaming power droid as a bad steam effect shoots out of its feet to simulate the application of intense heat. But to the makers of Jedi, there’s nothing like a little humor at the sake of torture victims, even if they are mechanical.
Following the release of Jedi, Amnesty International must have logged hundreds of reports of people flogging their waffle irons and blenders.
31. Use of Earth Slang and Pop Culture – We were almost willing to forgive the fact that an Ewok exclaims “yahoo,” or that Threepio uses the supposedly Ewokese word “boom” until we saw the abominable scene where an Ewok swings from a vine and lets out a note-for-note copy of Tarzan’s famous yell. Have we mentioned that we hate the Ewoks?
32. Jedi Afterlife – The Jedis apparently have a lot in common with the Catholics. You can screw up your entire life, strangle scores of people and oversee the construction of a planet-destroying battle station, but as long as you repent with your last breath, you get to party with Yoda and Ben in the nether-world. Speaking of that, Yoda seems to have gotten the short end of the afterlife stick-why does Anakin’s ghost get to regrow his hair and get all spiffed up and nice looking, while Yoda, who managed to resist the Dark Side all his 900-plus years, still looks like a crumpled old salamander?
33. Unrealistic, Boring Fight Sequences – But why stage an elaborate hand-to-hand fight with a scout trooper when you can just have Solo use the old “shoulder tap” trick? Or when you can throw a duffel bag at an Imperial guard and he’ll backflip over a railing and into the shield generator’s energy core? Not since Charlton Heston took out a gorilla bare-handed have we been asked to swallow such nonsense.
34. Stormtroopers Have Become Pussies – “Look out-teddy bear creatures! And they’ve got primitive handmade weapons! Let’s forget our years of intense military training, put down our high-tech weaponry and run away!”
35. Vader’s Real Face – You know, Darth, that scar will never heal unless you stop scratching it. But enough with the clever bon-mots: it should have been David Prowse under that helmet. Period. He deserved at least that much, and probably would have been willing to shave his head. Sebastian Whatsisname (Shaw) delivers an acceptable acting job (actually, one of Jedi’s only acceptable acting jobs), but that pudgy head just doesn’t match up with the body we see on Vader throughout the rest of the Trilogy.
36. Bad Editing – It seems that the folks at Supercuts were hired on by Lucasfilm not only to style the actors’ coifs, but to hack and splice the film, as well. That Jedi has problems with its editing is largely a subjective opinion and hard to quantify, but we base our belief on the fact that certain scenes just plain lack the punch and pacing we know they could and should have had. (Though whether this is the director’s fault or the editor’s isn’t always clear.)
37. The Alien Languages Are Badly Presented – Bib Fortuna repeatedly lapses from Huttese into English for no apparent reason, and we learn from Leia’s bounty hunter alter-ego that at least one translation of “Thirty-thousand, no less” is “Yoto. Yoto.” Huh?
And while we’re on the subject, if Threepio is Jabba’s translator, why does he translate what others are saying into English rather than Huttese? The precedent is there to employ subtitles, but they’re only rarely used to suggest some iota of realism.
38. Inconsistency Within the Established Universe – It can always be argued that the Star Wars universe contains a wide array of peoples and languages. Still, it strikes us as sloppy that codes on Jedi’s computer screens are in alien gobbledygook language, while the tractor beam controls in Wars were in English. And speaking of English, almost all the Imperials in Wars and Empire have an English accent. Jedi doesn’t continue this trend-unfortunate, because as everyone knows, the British are inherently terrifying.
39. Yoda’s Death Sequence – Yoda says, “Soon will I rest. Yes, forever sleep.” Less than four minutes later-Bam! He’s a goner. And what does Luke do while his beloved master lays choking and gasping for his final breaths? Well, he just sort of sits there like a doofus and watches him writhe in pain. Not that dialing 911 is an option on Dagobah, but a simple “Hey, Master-you okay?” would have been a nice gesture.
40. The Alliance Briefing – In Wars, the briefing before the attack on the Death Star had the feel of a serious military operation. In Jedi, the briefing is a forum for witty repartee, attended by chuckling, smirking buddies and a medical droid who has no business being there other than to fill a vacant seat. It’s no wonder the Rebels got their asses kicked in Empire if this is how their top military leaders conduct themselves when the Galaxy is at stake. Eventually, Luke barges in unannounced and the “meeting” breaks up with all the Parliamentary Procedure of porno night at the Elk’s Club.
41. Paradoxical Lessons in the Force – Yoda says the only way Luke can become a Jedi is to face Vader. Minutes later, he says it’s unfortunate that Luke rushes to face Vader. This in addition to Yoda’s assertion in Empire that if Luke faces Vader, he’ll become an agent of evil. So he needs to face Vader to become a Jedi, but he can’t face Vader or else he’ll become a slave to the Dark Side. This is a paradox on par with the one Kirk used to confuse and blow up Nomad.
42. Vader’s Not-So-Special Shuttle – When we first saw Vader’s shuttle with its clean lines and sleek, tri-wing design, it seemed a fitting vessel to transport a leader of his stature. But later, we find out that apparently every Imperial shuttle-even the ones that transport supplies to work sites-look just like Vader’s.
One explanation: After Vader damaged that fancy bent-wing TIE fighter they gave him in Wars, he lost his special ship privileges. The more likely explanation: Someone at Lucasfilm was too lazy or cheap to just design and build a model for a different style of shuttlecraft.
43. Sloppy Continuity Errors – In quick cuts between two different views of a character, it’s a good bet that his or her expression and/or stance will be jarringly inconsistent. Check out Bib Fortuna in the scene where Jabba refers to the newly defrosted Solo as “bantha fodder.”
Our favorite slip, however, is the starfield behind the Emperor’s throne, which in every shot consists of the same group of stars crawling slowly to the left of the screen.
44. That Scene with the Ewok on the Speeder Bike – This scene doesn’t really exemplify any of the larger points in this article, but we hate it so much that we couldn’t just ignore it. If Jedi weren’t so darned cutesy, that Ewok would have been splattered into tree pizza, and we’d have been a lot happier. Have we mentioned we hate Ewoks?
45. Generally Dumb Dialogue- A couple of examples:
Vader, upon seeing that Luke has constructed a lightsaber: “Your skills are complete. Indeed, you are powerful as the Emperor has foreseen.”
(Wait a second-all because he read a Time/Life book on electronics and soldered together some transistors? Does this mean Tim Allen is a Jedi?)
Yoda, near death, to Luke: “Remember: A Jedi’s strength flows from the Force.” (That’s more of a first-day lesson, isn’t it, Yoda? Something tells us Luke had that particular bit of wisdom written on a Post-It-Note and stuck to his X-Wing cockpit long ago.)
46. Admiral Ackbar – Sure, Admiral Ackbar looks neat, but he’s quite the wishy-washy leader, judging from how Lando continually questions, ignores and overrides his orders. Dumbest of all (though never actually mentioned in the film), Admiral Ackbar’s fish-like race is called the Mon Calamari. Ha ha ha! (The joke isn’t quite so funny when you realize there are more fish people in Jedi than there are black people or female people.)
47. Dumb Resolution of Problems – The most pathetic example of this is the “secret backdoor” on the shield generator base, which means our team won’t have to be bothered with devising an interesting way to break in. Luckily for them, the base is apparently staffed by the one garrison in the Empire commanded by Colonel Klink.
48. Artoo - Of all the main characters, Artoo is the only one who isn’t handled in a totally embarrassing fashion, but there are still some inconsistencies in how his personality is presented. He’s supposed to be the brave, assured one to Threepio’s sissy-boy, but in a couple scenes he whimsically shakes and shivers with fear like Scooby-Doo. Is he into this whole Rebellion thing or not?
49. The WIZARD OF OZ Homage at Jabba’s Front Door – Anyone who’s ever seen MGM’s seminal musical fantasy experiences more than a little deja-vu when Threepio knocks on Jabba’s door and asks the whimsical attendant to admit him to the Emerald City-er…rusty palace. Had there been a precedent of scene-specific homage in Wars or Empire, we might have been more forgiving on this point, but the scene as presented in Jedi sticks out and degrades the overall integrity of the mythos established in the first two films. (Sure, Wars mimicked Kurasawa’s The Hidden Fortress almost scene-for-scene, but only socially maladapted film geeks noticed that.)
50. The Sarlaac Pit as Freud’s Vagina Dentate – Come on, like it never occurred to you.
Posted on May 15, 2001 in Features by Dan Vebber
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