Star Wars Episode VI: Return of the Jedi (1983) – There is Good but Prequel Problems Begin

Star Wars Episode VI Return of the Jedi

     I enjoyed “Return of the Jedi,” but it has really serious problems that Prequels have on full display. Whether it is spending way too long with characters that don’t matter, having our villains be toothless and useless and going for cutesy kids stuff to sell toys and referencing better films (Let’s build another “Death Star”), there is a lot bringing this film down. It is still good, but only just. It isn’t great like the two Original Films that came before…and if I was reviewing the “Special Edition” than “Revenge of the Sith” would be better as I’d have no patience for the changes that were made and problems that were exasperated as most of the changes Lucas made to his films ended up creating (Throwing young Anakin into the film, the CGI singer in Jabba’s Palace, etc.). I’m not reviewing the Special Edition of “Return of the Jedi” though so the score will be higher.

      “Return of the Jedi” was directed by Richard Marquand and written by George Lucas and Lawrence Kasdan and produced by Howard Kazanjian.

      The story involves Luke and our heroes rescuing Han from the clutches of Jabba the Hutt and confronting the Empire as the Empire builds it’s Second Death Star to finally bring an end to the Rebellion.

The Pros: The Soundtrack – John Williams continues to be awesome and creates a haunting score in the Vader and Luke rematch. His score gives us joy, tension and sorrow and he continues to show on why these films would not have been as unforgettable if not for him.

Luke’s Entrace to Jabba’s Palace – Luke’s entrance to Jabba’s palace really shows how powerful he is. He forces the door open, he force chokes Jabba’s guard and uses Jabba’s own second in command to enforce his will on Jabba. Jabba is an actual antagonist though so he can’t force Jabba to do what he wants.

The Rancor Fight – The Rancor fight is pretty great. Luke is forced to think on his feet and he doesn’t use the force or his lightsaber to win. It is small but it shows that Luke has grown in self awareness that he doesn’t depend on the force for everything.

C-3PO and R2-D2 – These two actually serve a purpose in this! C-3PO gets the Ewoks on their side against the Empire when they worship him as a God and R2-D2 is key in freeing our Heroes from the clutches of Jabba.

Admiral Akbar – Akbar is a great guy and we see how deeply he is invested in the fleet. He actually wants them to retreat once they learn the Death Star is operational since he knows they are outmatched and can’t do anything with the Death Star’s shield up.

Lando – Lando’s arc begins with him seeking redemption as he is putting all his efforts into freeing Han from Jabba. This almost leads to him dying from the Sarlac and in the end and Han are friends again. We also see he is firmly for other now and flies The Millennium Falcon in the final battle against the Second Death Star and with Biggs destroys the reactor, defeating the Empire. Billy Dee Williams does a fantastic job.

Yoda – Yoda dies of old age and it’s easily one of the best scenes of the film. He shows Luke that no one escapes their own mortality and how important it is that he complete his training by stopping Vader before he becomes one with the force. He later appears as a force ghost at the end of the film. Frank Oz is fantastic.

Obi-Wan Kenobi – Obi-Wan’s ghost has a good scene with Luke where he shirks responsibility on not telling Luke the full truth of who Darth Vader is but still manages gives us the stakes as Leia could be turned if the Emperor learned of her existence and that Vader is still the greatest threat to peace in the galaxy and must be stopped.

Han – Han spends the first half of the film needing to be saved, but once he has the chance to fight he is the Rebel General entering onto Endor’s moon to destroy the reactor that is powering the shield around the Second Death Star. We see him grow and mature a lot and get over his entitlement and will die for his friends. It’s Harrison Ford and though he is at times a bit too smarmy in this film and feels more like Harrison than Han, he still is great.

Leia – Leia’s is chained up for a third of this film though thankfully she rescues herself and kills her captor who enslaved her after she freed Han from the carbonite. I wish we could have seen more of her as the leader of the Rebellion but instead bland Mon Mothma is back in charge and Leia is another soldier on Han’s infiltration mission. She is good though and manages to get out of a lot of scrapes and she takes the knowledge of Luke being her brother and Vader being her father pretty well…it takes her about a day to take it all in. I wish we could have got more on what those relationships mean to her though. Carrie Fisher is awesome.

The Emperor/Darth Sidious – The Emperor is the big bad and a powerhouse as initially the battle is one-sided in his favor until the Ewoks and Vader change the course of events. He’s arrogant and powerful and felt like a good threat, though I would have liked to see more of his ruthlessness early on in the Trilogy and this film. He still feels more like a symbol, even with the Prequels behind him…which is a shame as Ian McDiarmid is a great actor.

Darth Vader/Anakin Skywalker – No Hayden Christiensen, his being thrown in ruined this film for me when I saw the Special Edition since it made no sense as Luke had never met young Anakin and Old Anakin was not Young Anakin. David Prowse was perfect as the redeemed fatherly figure. Prowse and James Earl Jones gave vulnerability to this character and though I hated the fact that Vader doesn’t do much this film he has a great fight with Luke and he is the one who destroys the Emperor in the end, not our hero Luke. That is powerful and shows that this monster did have good in him making the complicated and complex fallen hero.

Luke – Luke’s arc gets completed in this as he goes full Jedi and doesn’t kill Vader or Sidious. He lets go of his hate and embraces reason…which is contrasted with the fact that force is what made it possible to save Han. In the end he is able to let all of that go and even risk his life so that his father can find Anakin within again. In this Luke is worthy of the title Jedi and we see it in all his actions throughout the film. We also see him finally get over his romantic feelings for Leia as they develop a relationship as siblings without any of the awkward romantic tension from the last two films.

Okay: Jabba the Hutt – He was threatening but we spent way too long with him. He felt stronger than the Empire and that is bad in any Star Wars film, especially the Original Trilogy. He’s a gangster not a Galactic dictator…in this way I could never take the threat of Jabba seriously, Empire had already shown that the Empire was greater…though we never really see that this film. Jabba is a consistently bigger threat to our heroes during the film than the Empire and that is sad.

The Cons: Endor and the Ewoks – Part of defanging the Empire and making them not feel like threats is the Battle of Endor. Little Teddy Bears with spears have enough power to take out the Empire’s strongest, the 501st…in what universe does this makes sense? The tail of Star Wars getting ready for the Prequels apparently. These aliens feel designed to sell toys for small children (which is strange given how dark Jabba’s palace was with enslaving and molesting Leia), which plays into how the tone was a bit broken in this.

Problem of Tone – Anytime we are on the Second Death Star with Vader and the Emperor and darkness contrasted with the kiddy battle of the Ewoks who worship 3PO…okay, these two tones clash. This was a problem on the Prequels had but that “A New Hope” and “The Empire Strikes Back” did not have.

Another Death Star – We’ve already destroyed one and this one has a bigger hole in it? Forgive me if I don’t feel like this one is a threat, the other Death Star destroyed a planet, this one isn’t even finished. Sorry, not a threat. Move along.

Too Long with Jabba – We spend way too long with Jabba and it makes him feel like a greater threat than the Empire, this is a problem as Jabba is not the final boss. I blame Lucas mostly for this as the Leia slave outfit and overdoing it with Muppets rather than story are a completely Lucas thing to do.

Vader’s Lack of Action – Vader doesn’t do anything but pick up Luke and fight Luke…this is weird given how driven he was in the last film and didn’t quite fit his character. If the Emperor was smart he would have let Vader do his job since he chased the rebels into oblivion in the last film and managed to capture and freeze one of our heroes. Not having him do anything took away from him feeling like a threat to Luke in the final fight.

The Empire Never Felt Like a Threat – This is due to what was done above, the Ewoks weren’t threatening, we spent way too long with Jabba, Vader didn’t do anything and we were given an unfinished Death Star when the rebels already had one destroyed under their belt, and the clash of tone took away from them being a world ending threat. You can’t do this to your primary villains.

    The characters are what really save this film. Luke is finally a Jedi and feels like a true Jedi Knight, Leia turns every chance she gets caught on it’s head and protect Han and Han Solo grows up into a leader and embraces his role in the Rebellion and his love for Leia. Most importantly we also see Vader’s arc come to a close and Anakin is found again when he sacrifices himself because he loves his son. It’s powerful and these moments help balance out the corny making this a good but not great film. There was so much potential if these character arcs hadn’t been bogged down by excess.

Final Score: 7.5 / 10

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Star Wars: The Clone Wars – Season 3, Episodes 8-9, Season 1, Episode 22 – “The Hutt Revenge Arc” – Cad Bane is Amazing and Hutt Deception

Epguide308

     Cad Bane is the best thing besides Ahsoka to come of “Star Wars: The Clone Wars” as an original creation. In this we see just how good he is at the job and get to know the politics of the Hutts. Each episode is a rush against time as Cad has very limited resources and help and is on a timer to achieve each end, be it getting Senate Building info, freeing Ziro or finding Ziro. All of these are things that put Bane under pressure and give us a chance to see that he is the best bounty hunter of this era.

      “Evil Plans,” was directed by Brian Kalin O’Connell and written by Steve Mitchell and Craig Van Sickle. “Hostage Crisis,” was directed by Giancarlo Volpe and written by Eoghan Mahony, Brian Larsen and Drew Z. Greenberg. “Hunt for Ziro” was directed by Steward Lee and written by Steve Mitchell and Craig Van Sickle.

      The story kicks off with Jabba hiring Bane to steal the information for the plans of the Senate Building from R2-D2 and C-3PO, from here the story unfolds as Cad Bane and a group of bounty hunters take a group of senators hostage in order to rescue Ziro the Hutt and deliver him to the Hutt Council for judgement and finally ending Quinlan Vos and Obi-Wan traveling to the Hutt homeworld in order to find Ziro and bring him to justice while dealing with machinists of the Council, Ziro, Jabba and Bane.

The Pros: Padme and Anakin – Anakin gives Padme his lightsaber during “Hostage Crisis” and for much the episode they are hiding their love for one another and Padme is trying to hide why she has it while Bane and his bounty hunters are holding them hostages. They do a good job working together and avoiding questions though they look very suspicious later, anyone paying attention would see romance there.

The Bounty Hunters – Cad Bane and his crew are awesome! Aurra Sing is the sniper and takes out the Senate defenders easily, IG-86, Shahan and Robinino who is the hacker also helps capture Anakin when the bounty hunters ambush him. They are victorious and only IG-86 is destroyed.

The Hutts – The Hutts are Crime Lords and their homeworld is like vegas with dancing Twi’leks. There are five leaders and all of them have respect for Cad Bane because of how good he is at his job. They also see Ziro as a personal matter since he has secrets that could bring them down. Ziro trying to hold his own against them was pretty cool too as well as his drive at revenge for being locked up again.

Jabba and Sy – Jabba hires Ziro’s ex-lover Sy who is the singer at the homeworld who kills Ziro and gets Jabba the data pad. It is great seeing that, plus seeing that Ty was a better hunter than the Jedi and Bane.

Quinlan Vos and Obi-Wan – These two have a great dynamic! Vos is a Grey Jedi in the EU and it shows here as Obi-Wan and the others see him as crazy. He is confident and arrogant and anything but proper while Obi-Wan is all about politeness and diplomacy. They work well together though and I like that Vos is in this show. He makes Anakin look moderate.

Cad Bane – Bane is amazing in this and the reason to watch the episode! In this we see him do a full job and succeed at each one except killing Ziro as Ty already did, but he does escape the Jedi and holds his own against them, showing just how powerful he is. This guy is cold, calculating, strategic and all about business. It makes him a great player too as he has limitations and has to depend on his mind to win.

The Cons: R2-D2 and C-3PO – Their episode is droid hijinks with C-3PO getting tortured and R2 going to a droid spa. It is so weird and out there that I didn’t like it. There was no point for it but to keep R2 around so he could get captured and Bane could wipe their memories for his attack on the senate building.

   This was a great arc and one I’d highly recommend! Seeing the Hutt world and Hutt Politics was fascinating as well as seeing Quinlan Vos outside the EU and his relationship with Obi-Wan, and of course the main reason to watch it is Cad Bane who is the best Bounty Hunter on this show and is one of the best characters this show created.

Final Score: 9.4 / 10

Star Wars: The Clone Wars (2008): Great Television Film, Should Not Have Got a Theatrical Release

Star Wars The Clone Wars

   “Star Wars: The Clone Wars” is a really fun television movie that finishes up the Christophsis arc and introduces us to Ahsoka and the huts as players in the game of the Clone Wars. It gives us a lot of good world building but the writing and even the cinematography show that this should have only been released to television, not to theaters as it was.

    The film was directed by Dave Filoni, written by Henry Gilroy, Steven Melching and Scott Murphy and produced by George Lucas and Catherine Winder.

    The story begins with Jabba’s son being captured by the Separatists and Yoda ordering Obi-Wan and Anakin to find and rescue his son and deliver him to Jabba. This is also when Yoda sends Anakin his new apprentice Ahsoka. They must all work together to win the battle of Christophsis and to find and rescue Jabba’s son before the Separatists make a deal that will give them control of Jabba’s routes through the Outer Rim.

The Pros: The Soundtrack – Kevin Kiner did a great job on this soundtrack! The music was the best part of this film. It had a very “Battlestar Galactica” feel to it and during the action sequences especially it made the stakes feel high.

The Action – This is a good action movie. Lots fights to show how powerful each of the factions are in the Clone Wars and how powerful the individual Jedi or Sith are as well. This made for some wonderful fights, especially Dooku and Anakin and Obi-Wan and Ventress.

The Battle of Christophsis – The Christophsis arc is finally complete! Thanks to the action of Ahsoka and Anakin in shutting down the Separatist shield that was protecting their forces and Obi-Wan capturing the general we have a Republic victory! It takes a lot to get there though and many die on both sides. It isn’t glorified and the Republic troops arriving to occupy doesn’t exactly give hope either.

Count Dooku – Dooku is being played by Sidious as Sidious wins no matter what happens (Jabba working with the Republic is a win for him, Jabba working against them will lead to him getting more power). Dooku is being played in this though and we see him fail against his enemies and his blaming Ventress for in it for her initial failure. In this we see his cruelty, manipulation and why he is a Sith.

Ventress – Ventress puts up a good fight in this but is cornered in the end by Obi-Wan. This doesn’t stop her from fulfilling her duties though as she warns Dooku of Skywalker’s approach and manages to escape Obi-Wan to fight another day.

Obi-Wan Kenobi – Obi-Wan is the clear headed one who has no problem taking a new apprentice. It is he who realizes that Ahsoka will be good for Anakin and will help Anakin to grow as Anakin has helped him to grow. We also see his arrogance too as he gloats to Ventress when he knows Ahsoka and Anakin have escaped the Monastery.

Anakin Skywalker – Anakin doesn’t want a padawan, but comes around when he sees how similar Ahsoka is to him and that gives him self awareness about how he is reckless and cocky. They have a great dynamic too and he does share his hatred of the Tatooine and the desert with her as has lost so much to the Hutts and remembers his life as a slave quite clearly. It is a great character moment and we see how Ahsoka is making him a better person.

Ahsoka – I really like Ahsoka! She’s young for a padawan but is powerful in the force. We see her save Anakin multiple times and show a kindness Anakin lacks. She cares for Jabba’s son at one point and we see her hold Anakin responsible for his recklessness as he does to her. It’s a great dynamic and they act a lot like a mixture of friends and siblings. I can’t wait to see how her character grows and changes from the Clone Wars.

Okay: The Minor Characters – Whether it was Cody or Rex, Yoda or Windu, Jabba’s Uncle or Padme…none of them felt fully fleshed out. They felt more like plot devices and not full characters in this. This is a shame as the main characters had some wonderful character moments.

Delivering Jabba’s Son – The delivery of Jabba’s son is okay, I liked the fight between Anakin and Dooku as they seemed more closely matched, but it dragged. Especially in regards to the droids against Ahsoka. Jabba was also far to easy to play.

The Cons: The Script – The script is corny and not nearly as solid and tight as it would if it was an episode or part of an arc made into a single film. At times it lags just to give us money shots of the landscape when that time could have been cut out or given us more character moments.

The Tone – The tone is all over the place. We get some really brutal deaths and Jabba even has dancing girls but we also have lots of jokes and humor that kids would clearly enjoy. This clash of tones kept it from being great.

It Going to Theatres – This film should not have gone to theaters and if I’d seen this in theaters I would not be as kind to it as I am now. It is better than the prequels in regards to it’s potrayal of Anakin and his relationship to others but it also is not quality enough to go to the theaters. Like “Spark of Rebellion” this should have been a tv movie as it just feels like a long episode. Because of the choice of how it was originally presented is going to be counted against it.

  This film should not have gone to theatres but it is still good as a tv film. We finally finish the Christophsis arc, get to see Dooku in action and see that the Hutts and Gangs are a 3rd faction in the war just as they are usually presented in the later eras as the X Factor in the war between the Empire and Rebellion. Ahsoka is a wonderful character too and I really like the character dynamic between her and Anakin. The final bit, the soundtrack is super memorable and is worth listening too, even if you have no plan to see the film.

Final Score: 8 / 10.