I really like Jedi, but as I've grown older, I've discovered more and more why it was always seen as the worst of the original trilogy (not that that makes it bad).
Jedi, to me, strikes me as the film that caters a little too much to children and to the ulterior motive of promoting Star Wars merchandising. It also has a pacing problem in the middle.
In the very beginning, C-3PO is made to explain things a little too much, as though Lucas thought the audience (kids) wouldn't fully remember the earlier films. "Look it's Han Solo and he's still frozen in carbonite!" as the camera is showing...Han Solo...clearly still frozen in Carbonite.
Then there's that annoying little rat in Jabba's palace, Boba Fett's death being used to have a burp joke, and of course...the Ewoks.
I liked Ewoks as a kid, but I can't really stand them now.
For one, Luke, Han, and the gang's capture by the Ewoks takes up way too much time in the film and slows the plot to a crawl. Two, they should have never been what turns the tide against the Empire on Endor. It's entirely unbelievable, and the fact that they use spears, rocks, arrows and other primitive weapons is a bit of a joke.
To me Ewoks were the first sign of what Lucas would do with the special editions and the prequels. And it's unfortunate.
There's other problematic elements. Using a Death Star again just seemed a little unoriginal although it did mirror the first film like many closing chapters do. And there's that 80s music scene. I mean, why is that scene even in the film? I'm sure the rancor could have been introduced in another way.
But there are also so many moments in Jedi that capture the magic of Star Wars and the emotions of Empire.
Jabba is an iconic character with an iconic voice and laugh. Boba Fett is even cool as hell in the scenes he's shown in until he meets his demise. Leia's reveal as the bounty hunter is great. The Emperor is a great and compelling villain. And that speeder bike chase was indeed awesome.
But what really makes Jedi compelling to me is Luke.
Like Empire was Vader's film, Jedi is Luke's.
After dealing with a young, whiny Luke for two movies, we get to see him enter Jabba's palace as a different man. And what a bad ass entrance it is!
Force chokes! Jedi mind tricks! Force pulling a blaster like his father did to Han! And calmly, confidently (really arrogantly) confronting one of the most feared gangsters in the galaxy.
The scene where he turns the tide on Jabba and goes on the attack is so great. The editing and the music really sell the scene, and it's so fun to watch Luke Skywalker competently and skillfully wield a lightsaber to dispatch a group of villains.
When Luke confronts Vader on Endor, he is calm and in control. He has gained mastery over himself and knows he can bring out the good in his father. Even Vader is affected, as it is the second time we see how Luke brings out something different in him. "It's too late for me, son." That "son" is significant.
And eventually this leads to my favorite parts of the entire trilogy: Luke's confrontation of Vader and the Emperor in the throne room.
There's just so much going on. The Emperor is trying to goad Luke into killing his father and taking Vader's place as his apprentice, Luke is trying to save his father's soul and bring him back to the light, and Vader is trapped in the middle, too weak to stand up to the Emperor and disobey, but also too conflicted to truly hurt his son. It makes for great dramatic tension, and that scene with the crossed sabers is wonderful.
Luke and the Emperor also have great exchanges.
"Your overconfidence is your weakness."
"Your faith in your friends is yours."
And of course my favorite exchange:
"I am a Jedi, like my father before me."
"So be it...Jedi."
Here the Emperor himself ends Luke's training and confirms his advancement as a true Jedi.
And it's made even better by the fact that the Emperor's overconfidence causes this. His decision to provoke Luke before he can deliver the killing blow. snaps Luke back to the light.
And what a great lightsaber battle that was. The emotion at the end when Vader mentions Leia combined with that music! It's great.
Then of course, there's Vader's redemption. There's so much emotion conveyed again in just head movements as Vader looks from the Emperor to Luke as the former is killing his son. The "noo" added to the blu rays remained my most hated change ever.
These moments are so great that it saddens me that they have to be cheapened by the Ewoks and other cornier parts of Jedi.
I really believe that changing the Ewoks to Wookies who wielded their own laser weapons and were putting up resistance to the Empire (as well as removing other more childish elements) would have made this film as great as the others.
But oh well. it's still great and offers a satisfying conclusion to the trilogy.
Now I can't wait for VII!