Earlier this week, the new Star Wars: The Force Awakens trailer came out, and our own Albert Burneko took a moment to express a bit of perfectly warranted skepticism about its prospects. HOWEVER, Bert’s post was essentially a Trojan Horse for a lengthy revisionist diatribe on Return of the Jedi.
Here is his pedantic encapsulation of it:
I am very sorry to say that Return of the Jedi is butt.
Oh, well, thank YOU for setting the record straight, sir. Now, I love Burneko (we never speak outside of work) and respect him as a colleague, but fuck him. No, Bert. No, it is I who am very sorry. Because Return of the Jedi was awesome, and the only thing that’s butt here is YOUR FACE. I find it interesting that you claim Jedi sucks, and yet you know every word, scene, and nuance of it … 32 GODDAMN YEARS AFTER IT WAS RELEASED. If a movie is still causing you to debate and argue and think about it more than three decades later, I would say that its duty in entertaining you has been more than fulfilled. I don’t think you hate that movie. I think you’re IN LOVE with it, and you’re just a bitter BUTTHURTER angling for clicks! CLICKBERT!
Now, let’s break down some of Burneko’s complaints about Jedi, some of which have been expressed by a few other self-proclaimed brave souls.
1. Obi-Wan is a fucking moron. Obi-Wan has been dead for two movies, but he’s still helping out, even though he doesn’t tell Luke that Vader is his father or Leia is his sister (because he senses that if Luke knows, Vader will be able to invade his head and find out), despite the fact that Luke and Leia are this close to doing it. Instead, Obi-Wan acts like a deranged unschooler parent who wants Luke to seek the truth for himself. All of this is true. He’s an insufferable twit. All of that is also fine. Obi-Wan is supposed to be a failure. Vader says so himself. His breathtakingly annoying “from a certain point of view” speech will be enshrined forever in the annals of Poor Leadership. In Star Wars, even the good guys are flawed and need to answer for their fuckups. That’s why it’s cool.
2. The first act on Tatooine is too long. No, it’s not. It’s got Jabba, and the Rancor, and Slave Leia in the Slave Leia outfit (BOINGGGGGGG), and Boba Fett, and a defrosted Han Solo, and a fucking living pit that eats people. Oh, I’m sorry. Did that BORE you? Are you so unimpressed with the magic of cinema that such a sequence would leave you with your arms folded and frowning, like some asshole Yankees fan?
3. Darth Vader isn’t quite as badass as he was in the first two movies. Here’s Burneko complaining about Darth’s turn toward the end of the movie:
Vader, one of the great terrors in film history, isn’t frightening anymore; he’s already all but explicitly told us he doesn’t like his job and doesn’t want to do it. He’s just a big weak-willed bodyguard acting out of a sense of duty.
Yes. That’s exactly the point. That is the deliberate story arc of a masterful first trilogy: a son journeying through the galaxy in order to redeem his father and find himself in the process. Would you have preferred that Vader just be an asshole all the way through? Yes, let’s make a version of Jedi where no characters change at all, and Luke murders his dad at the end and then says, I’M THE CAPTAIN NOW. Yeah, that’s definitely an improvement. Fantastic. Awesome.
The point of Jedi is to expose Vader for what he truly is: weak, subservient, and full of regret. It’s easy to look at the awful prequels and apply all that whininess to the Darth in Jedi, but that would be an enormous mistake. The most badass thing that Vader does in the whole trilogy is work up the courage to turn on the Emperor (who is awesome) and then throw his ass down a garbage chute. Any other ending to that movie would have been worse.
4. The Ewoks. Here is major fanboy sticking point on Jedi: “It’s great, but the Ewoks suck.” You know what? The Ewoks are fine. They are not an army of Jar-Jars. Jar-Jar was MUCH worse. The Ewoks are a furry guerrilla army that help Han and Leia do all kinds of awesome shit like tie up Scout Walker legs and knock hapless bad guys off of speeder bikes and crush a Scout Walker’s skull with swinging logs. That shit was awesome. I find it amusing that people who ADORE Chewbacca would also hate the Ewoks. Oh, the big hairy ape who grunt-talks is for GROWNUPS LIKE ME, but fuck those teddy bears, man.
One of the reasons the Ewoks get such a bad rap now is because of the made-for-TV Battle for Endor movie, which was lousy. But in the context of Jedi? They’re alright. Everyone on the internet loves cats and puppies, but show them an army of savage bear-children and suddenly they draw the line. Gimme a break.
Jedi isn’t a perfect movie by any means, but that doesn’t qualify it as outright BAD. You can parse anything to death on the internet now if you feel like it, but you’d never enjoy anything that way. You’d have to be a loon to think Jedi sucks when it’s become so firmly entrenched in the cultural firmament and given us:
- Imperial Guards in cool outfits
- Yoda dying. When those blankets collapse, man … [chokes up]
- That one big Star Destroyer piercing the Death Star like a sword OMG SO METAL
- “It’s a trap!”
- Lando commandeering the Millennium Falcon and blowing up the Death Star real good and screaming AIIIEEEEEEE!!!! just as it escapes the fireball
- Nien Nunb
- All that evil chanting in the background of the score whenever the Emperor has a scene. OHHHHH OH OHHHHHH OH!!! So awesome.
- “Oh, I’m afraid the deflector shield will be quite operational when your friends arrive.” Hehehehehe. This guy was the original troll!
- Vader gets unmasked! And there’s old cheese coming out of his head!
- Leia saves Han! SO PROGRESSIVE.
Add it all up and it’s clear why Jedi has been adored and pored over for generations now. “This was a good movie!” is a needless and obvious take, and yet I have been forced to defend it this week against a man who likes mayonnaise and says stuff like, “The ways Return of the Jedi sucks are the ways the prequels suck.” No. No, you’re wrong and dumb. Those movies were poorly written hackwork with no visual relation to the original trilogy. Jedi was rewritten by Lawrence Kasdan (who also worked on Force Awakens, yay!) and directed by someone OTHER than George Lucas, and that is why it’s such a fantastic piece of entertainment and not a miserable slog. And that’s why I have faith in The Force Awakens. It may not be flawless, but god dammit, I will enjoy it without being a humorless butt who wants to impress everyone by picking it apart. EAT AN EWOK’S BUTTHOLE, BURNEKO.