There are many movies that are worth seeing, but there are a lot of stinkers as well. My goal here is to weed out the good from the bad.
The Rebellion was able to destroy the Death Star at the battle of Yavin, but the Empire has not given up on their planet destroying super-weapon, and a new Death Star is under construction off of the forest moon of Endor. The Empire will surely account for the design flaw that the Rebellion exploited last time, so if the Empire is able to complete the new Death Star, the Rebellion will have no hope of destroying it. Meanwhile, Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill) has completed his Jedi training, and Han Solo (Harrison Ford) is being held by Jabba the Hutt on Tatooine. Luke, Leia (Carrie Fisher), and Chewbacca (Peter Mayhew) have hatched a plan to save their friend, but the threat of the Empire still hangs over them. Luke also still considers what he learned about Darth Vader (David Prowse and James Earl Jones). As he prepares himself for another confrontation with the ruthless Sith Lord, Luke feels there is still good somewhere beneath the mask. However, the Emperor has his dark grip wrapped tightly around Darth Vader, and he hopes to do the same to the young Luke Skywalker.
The Pros & Cons
|The Pros||The Cons|
Jabba’s Palace (+8pts)
Luke’s Training (-2pts)
Luke & Vader (+10pts)
Underestimating The Ewoks (-4pts)
Endor & The Death Star (+8pts)
C-3PO & The Ewoks (-2pts)
Pro: Jabba’s Palace (+8pts)
Jabba's Palace was a great way to start this movie. The filmmakers wasted no time in throwing the audience right into some intense Star Wars action in the middle of an interesting new setting. Jabba the Hutt was a really effective antagonist and a challenging obstacle that the protagonists had to overcome right out of the gate. His palace was filled with interesting aliens, it felt like it had plenty of history in the area, it had some deadly monsters, and it was really just an interesting setting.
I also enjoyed the rescue mission that the protagonists attempted. Han Solo was an important member of their group, and his friends were risking a lot to try to rescue him. Jabba's Palace was not one that would be easy to infiltrate, and the protagonists were well aware of this, so it was interesting to see how tried to accomplish their mission. The story moved on from Jabba the Hutt and his palace pretty quickly, but it was still a fun setting to explore, it came with plenty of action, and it was a great way to kick off this movie.
Con: Luke’s Training (-2pts)
This was something that the movie kind of just glossed over. When we left Luke at the end of Star Wars: Episode V - The Empire Strikes Back, he had still only scratched the surface of his Jedi training. Then we saw him at the beginning of this movie, and we saw that he was incredibly comfortable using the force, and he seemed to have completed his training. I understand that plenty of time had passed between the two movies, and I get that this movie was already over two hours long and that the filmmakers did not have time to dive deeper into Luke's training. However, it was more than just Luke's familiarity with the force that evolved off-screen between the two movies. The character seemed to have grown a lot between the two movies. This was definitely not a big issue, as I got over it pretty quick due to everything happening on screen, but I thought the movie could have used at least a little more context regarding how much time had passed between the two movies and how Luke continued his training.
Pro: Luke & Vader (+10pts)
These two characters were great, and by this movie, they had history with one another. Luke popped up on Darth Vader's radar in a big way in Star Wars: Episode IV - A New Hope and then the two had an emotional duel in Star Wars: Episode V - The Empire Strikes Back. By this movie, the two characters were certainly familiar with one another, but as Luke had grown as a character, the relationship between these two characters had grown as well. In the previous movies, Luke saw Darth Vader as an absolute evil, but with this movie, Luke's view of Darth Vader had changed drastically. He actually believed that there was still some good left in the Sith Lord, and I thought this was an interesting development. Luke's new viewpoint made the second duel between these two characters feel fresh, because it added extra tension and emotional depth to a feud that was already tense and emotional. To put it simply, I enjoyed the feud between these two characters in the last movies, but this movie made the feud a lot more interesting and complex.
Con: Underestimating The Ewoks (-4pts)
The Ewoks get a lot of hate for being annoying. I thought the characters were effective at keeping kids entertained, but I had issue with the filmmakers using their species as a massive plot device. I had issue with how much the Empire underestimated a race that was clearly advanced enough to make their own weapons. I also had issue with how effective the Ewoks' weapons were against the Empire, with all of their armor and equipment. It all just felt really convenient for the protagonists. In reality, a militarized group like the Empire, with all of the Empire's weapons and resources would have mopped the floor with the Ewoks. I am not saying that I wanted to see that happen, but these little creatures taking out Imperial Troops so easily just felt silly and convenient, and it diminished how intimidating Storm Troopers and AT-STs were.
Pro: Endor & The Death Star (+8pts)
I liked all of the settings in this movie’s climax. With The Death Star, we had Luke going after Darth Vader and the Emperor. I have already mentioned what I liked about the relationship between Luke and Darth Vader, and the Emperor was an interesting new player in that story. Then there was the space battle, with the Rebels trying to destroy the new Death Star, and it was the epic space battle that you would expect from a Star Wars movie.
The Rebellion used everything they had in their assault, but I liked the concept of the Empire having a shield generator on the forest moon of Endor. This forced the battle into a third location. While the protagonists needed Luke inside the space station, and the Rebellion fleet outside trying to destroy the space-station, they also needed Rebels on the ground to bring the shields down. This split the battle into three different sections, but each felt like an essential part to the overall plan. This allowed the filmmakers to use all of the movie’s protagonists in a way that felt like they each contributed something, while also providing a climax that felt fresh and exciting.
Con: C-3PO & The Ewoks (-2pts)
This is going to be a bit more of me hating on the Ewoks, but again, I really do think that they were effective at being cute little characters to entertain kids and I do not find them as annoying as some do. However, I still thought the filmmakers used them poorly in terms of their involvement in the plot of this story. They definitely should not have been anywhere near as effective as they were against the Stormtroopers, but I also thought the C-3PO stuff was ridiculous. Sure, it was supposed to be silly, but the Ewoks' reaction to seeing C-3PO was as ridiculous as it was convenient for the protagonists. It was not a major issue on its own, but it was just more evidence of the lazy writing surrounding this species. They were, as a group, one massive plot device that the filmmakers used to deliver silly moments and to lazily write themselves out of any corner they found themselves in.
Grade: A- (93pts)
There were high expectations going into this movie, and it mostly delivered. Sure, the Ewoks were used poorly, but I do not think they deserved the level of hate they have received over the years. It was unrealistic for them to be so effective against Imperial forces, and their reaction to C-3PO was ridiculous, but these characters were intended to keep kids entertained and they were mostly effective at doing so. The filmmakers also sort of just glossed over Luke’s training in addition to some off-screen character development, but I ended up getting over that pretty quickly. These were all minor issues, however, as there was a lot that the filmmakers did well with this movie.
The feud between Luke and Darth Vader evolved in an interesting and personal way since the last movie, and it was interesting to see the Emperor coming into the equation. Jabba’s Palace served as a really great first act of the movie by delivering a pretty intense rescue mission. Then there was the climactic third act that consisted of a massive battle on three different fronts, which gave all of the protagonists something relevant. Each part of the battle felt important, and the filmmakers balanced them all together masterfully. The climax had plenty of action, and it was always exciting, making it a fitting conclusion to the trilogy.
Best of the Star Wars Franchise
Star Wars: Episode V - The Empire Strikes Back
Star Wars: Episode VI - Return of the Jedi
Star Wars: Episode IV - A New Hope
Star Wars: Episode VII - The Force Awakens
Rogue One: A Star Wars Story
Star Wars: Episode III - Revenge of the Sith
Star Wars: Episode IX - The Rise of Skywalker
Star Wars: Episode VIII - The Last Jedi
Star Wars: Episode II - Attack of the Clones
Solo: A Star Wars Story
Star Wars: Episode I - The Phantom Menace