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Discussion in 'Movies' started by Robert Crawford, Dec 17, 2015.
Place holder, will officially open at 7:00 p.m. ET tonight!
This thread is now open!
Just got back from seeing TFA and loved it.
I would rate it right now a tie for second with Empire. That may change soon after a few more viewings.
I'd rank it in a tie with Jedi myself. Empire is still in a league of its own.
It's too early for me to rank it but I'll say that the new trilogy is off to a great start.
That I completely agree with. I enjoyed spending time with all the new characters!
I have to think about where I rank this after I see it again later this morning.
Obligatory reply to see this in My Content.
The more I think about it, the more I like it. Seeing it again in an hour.
For me at the moment it's V, VII, IV, VI, III, II, I.
Maybe it's just because it's so new but while TFA is clearly inspired by and respectful of the George Lucas SW movies, it's also got enough differences that it's tough for me to really compare them. And that's not a knock because I'm glad that they're already doing their own thing because this is a new series of movies so there should be differences.
Loved that Han Solo was progressively set up as the CENTRAL CHARACTER of the film, the one around which everything revolves.
I loved what Daisy Ridley made with her character.
I will see it tomorrow a 2nd time, than I'll probably be able to rank it within the canon.
But for starters:
IV = 100%
V = 95%
VI = 90%
II+III = 85%
I = 80%
VII is maybe at 90%
Yes. Yes, yes, yes!
5, 4, (6, 7 - tie), 3, 1, 2
NOTE: This is the sixth post in a series. The first five were in the Part 4 thread: The Phantom Menace, Attack of the Clones, Revenge of the Sith, Star Wars (A New Hope), The Empire Strikes Back
Return of the Jedi was actually the first Star Wars movie I ever saw on the big screen, having caught the Special Edition re-release in March of 1997 at a city movie theater that these days is moldy and barely clinging to life as a second-run operation. I fall into that gap where I was too young to experience the original trilogy in theaters the first time around, but too old to experience the prequel trilogy uncritically. When the Special Editions came out, I was probably at the upper age limit to experience them with childlike wonder, but that one time I got a glimpse of how the diehard fans who grew up with the movies got to experience them. Seeing the speeder chase through the forests of Endor is one of those cinematic experiences that has stuck with me through the years.
I saw this one on cable more than the other two combined growing up, and it probably got the most wear of the three VHS tapes as well. In 2000 or 2001, when it seemed Star Wars was never coming out on DVD, I remember importing the VCD trilogy from Malaysia and being disappointed when I spun the Return of the Jedi disc. Pan and Scan at 352x240, it was as close of a digital representation of those past viewings as it was possible to get, but I wasn't comparing it to the TV broadcasts or the VHS tape anymore. I was comparing it to that one magical screening in the theater. When the DVDs finally did arrive, I got to see it in widescreen again, but it still didn't hold up to my memory of it.
Tonight, seeing it in HD for the first time since March of 1997 via projected celluloid, was an interesting experience. For the first time in 18 years, I could watch it without feeling like I was missing something. The experience was intact in a way that it simply wasn't in any of the intervening home video presentations. At the same time, it was still a wistful reminder that the way these films are meant to be seen is on the big screen, through the eyes of a grade schooler.
In my review of Empire, I commented that it felt timeless. Return of the Jedi does not. The costumes, the hairstyles, the cinematography, the visual effects, all scream early eighties. Even though it's set in a galaxy far, far, away, there's something in the look and feel that ties it to movies like The Dark Crystal, Gremlins, The Neverending Story, Labyrinth, Legend, Little Monsters and Explorers. That's not entirely a bad thing, because I carry a lot of fond nostalgia for those movies. But it does date it.
I have a terrible memory for lyrics and dialog, but for long stretches of the movie tonight, I found myself reciting the lines along with the characters.
Of Episodes IV, V and VI, Return of the Jedi is the one I best remember the pre-Special Edition version of -- mainly because it was on TV constantly in the late eighties to mid-nineties. At the same time, because of that March 1997 screen, it's also the Special Edition I have the most fondness for. Most of the changes are to the positive: The "Jedi Rocks" number where the original, rather non-descript performance by the long lipped alien becomes a swinging duet with the new CG alien that sings like Louis Armstrong, plays so much better for me. It really helps establish Jabba as the preeminent power in his corner of Tatooine, that attracts the top-shelf talent. The digitally re-composited Rancor footage, while a subtle change, is way more effective than when you could see the outline where the two pieces of film met. The digitally enhanced Sarlacc pit is a much more immediate threat than the original, which was basically just a hole with teeth and a few fairly limp tentacles. The end celebration with the new music is also far more impactful than the Yub Nub original, both because John Williams's composition is beautiful and because the editing and glimpses of the celebrations across the galaxy carry more weight than the one little celebration in the Ewok village.
The downsides for me are relatively minor: I preferred the "It's all right, trust me!" line to "It's all right, I can see a lot better!" when Han's preparing to shoot the tentacle off Lando's leg, both because it's one of those wonderful recurring lines in the series, and because the ambiguity over whether Han actually can see any better adds some interesting tension to the beat that's no longer present. When Vader is unmasked, the alterations kind of make him look like Zordon from "Power Rangers", though I suppose if your skin hadn't been exposed to the sun for a few decades, you'd probably be pretty pasty too. I don't recall Vader's "No!" when he throws the Emperor into the improbably dangerous shaft even in the Special Edition, but I kind of like it. It's not the melodramatic "Noooooooooo!" from Revenge of the Jedi. It's the "no" of someone who has accepted as much he can, and will allow nothing further.
It's to the credit of the enormous leaps they made in miniatures work, motion control filming and optical compositing that there are very few CG replacements for the action sequences. The speeder chase remains a marvel, with the foreground plates of the speeders and the background plates tearing between the giant California redwoods perfectly in sync with each other. When I'm watching it, I never even think about how it was accomplished because I'm just swept up in the kinetic energy of it all. The POV shots throughout the sequence are enormously effective. Similarly, the end battle over Endor utilizes the three-dimensionality of space in a way that nothing in Star Wars or Empire did.
My least favorite part of the movie continues to be the opening passages in Jabba's palace. No matter how many times I watch it, I'm left feeling like Episode V set up a major cliffhanger that's dutifully being resolved before the real story can kick off. I'm distracted by the fact that Luke, who we left having taken the first tentative steps toward embracing his birthright in Empire, is now this polished and experience Jedi Knight, with no indication of what transpired to bridge the gap. The first time I saw the movie, I assumed that Luke had returned to Dagobah to resuming his training with Yoda, but when he does return later on in the film, it's made clear that this is his first time back since he ran off half-cocked. And then, when the lightsaber comes out on Jabba's sail barge, it feels like all the progress they'd made in Empire Strikes Back with the implications of such a weapon had been forgotten. It's a weapon with no mass and no force. It's like waving a blowtorch around. The only physical contact should be with other energy weapons, like blast bolts and other lightsabers. Luke shouldn't have been able to wield it like a bat against his attackers; when he brought the blade down it should have sliced through them like a knife through butter. The prequels were much more astute with how the lightsabers were utilized.
People complain about the prequels making the universe too small, but that started in Empire with the revelation that Darth Vader was Luke's father, and continued in this movie with the revelation that Leia was Luke's sister. That's not necessarily a bad thing when you understand that this is really a saga of one family at the center of history. Leia being Luke's sister neatly resolves the romantic triangle in a way that doesn't feel like a cop out, but it does create certain issues: Namely, that the story doesn't really need two last Jedi in the galaxy, and that Leia's most interesting talents don't point toward her walking the path of a Jedi. The Expanded Universe always struggled to tap dance around this revelation when the more organic direction for the character was always as a military and political leader.
I just freaking love that while everybody else has standard issue camo gear, Han somehow has a camo trenchcoat custom tailored for him that he wears like a boss.
I like that the final conflict does not devolve into an action sequence, but is instead about character. Luke, for the second time, shows himself willing to die rather than be tempted by the Dark Side. His strength where his father showed weakness was key to defeating the Emperor.
This movie does a lot of rehabilitate Lando's character. Considering that in Empire, the first black character of any significance turned out to be a selfish traitor who only took his first steps on the road to redemption by the end of the first fiim, this was a good thing and badly needed.
Given how human-centric the Empire is, what made Bothans so especially suited to Death Star design and construction?
I remember hating the Ewoks' guerrilla campaign against the Empire. Looking back, it's kind of ironic that they were likely inspired by the Mujahideen fighters (including Osama bin Laden) bogging down the Soviet Union in Afghanistan during the years the film was being made. This time through, I was actually struck by how plausible many of the guerilla tactics in the film felt. The only one that still makes me groan is when they crush the two-legged walker between the two trees that swing down on pendulums. Given what we saw of them in Empire, those trees should have just bounced off the sides.
Now that I've made it through the six existing films, I'm looking forward to experiencing number VII tomorrow afternoon. I will rejoin the discussion afterward.
I just re-watched Jedi. It's fun but other than a satisfying conclusion to the Darth/Luke story it really is weak imo. The whole first act isn't really relevant to the rest of the story. It's a standalone rescue Han mini Star Wars film. In 1983 I thought the ewoks were cute. Not so much now. It just seems very juvenile. The powerful ending saves the film for me otherwise it would be near the bottom of the list for me.
Yeah, it's a damn miracle when you think how only 6 years separated the effects seen in Star Wars and the ones in Return Of The Jedi.
I have to say that I saw Return Of The Jedi in the seven movie marathon on Thursday and I enjoyed it much more than I have in years. Maybe it was seeing it in a theater again or maybe it was the excitement of being a few hours away from a new movie or maybe I was just getting punchy from a lack of sleep but I was able to look past its flaws and have fun with it.
I'm sure if I saw it again on the big screen I would have a similar reaction.
An article I wrote on The Politics Behind the Original Star Wars was just published by the LA Review of Books:
A brief preview
"....The politics behind the creation of the original film, A New Hope, reveals a rich geography of American history, technology, race, and religious mores.
George Lucas came of age in the 1950s, 1960s, and early 1970s, and was profoundly affected by the culture and turmoil of those decades. Lucas, along with millions of other Americans, opposed US involvement in the Vietnam War. A capsule description that he wrote in 1973 described Star Wars as “a large technological empire going after a small group of freedom fighters,” — incorporating the asymmetrical quality of the Vietnam War into his space fantasy. This can be seen in the very opening scene of Star Wars, as Princess Leia’s rebel ship is completely overwhelmed in size and firepower by anImperial Star Destroyer. Lucas’s description of Star Wars, of course, could also fit other conflicts in history, which he has also acknowledged as influences, including the American Revolutionary War with its challenge to the British Empire...."