Number of Times Seen – At least 50 times, if not more (yes, I said 50 times) (17 times in the theater, Cable, video, DVD, Special Edition in Theater in 1997 and 19 Jan 2014)
Brief Synopsis – The Droids are sent to Jabba the Hutt’s palace on Tatooine to bargain for Han Solo’s life while the Empire is in the process of building a new Death Star.
My Take on it – This movie is fitting to be my 500th movie review on this site because it is clearly (by-far) the movie that I have seen the most amount of times in my life. I saw it a total of 18 times on the big screen and at least another 30 on cable, video and DVD.
I use to know the names of all of the strange creatures in Jabba’s Palace and even their backstories, now I unfortunately only recall some of them. 😦
Watching a movie like this so many times obviously has an effect on someone and this movie clearly had the largest impact on my youth and for my subsequent love of everything Star Wars and sci-fi in general.
The whole Jabba’s palace scene is Lucas’ self-compensation for not being able to do the Cantina scene the way he wanted to originally, due to both budgetary and technological constraints. The cast of characters are truly very diverse and he even got the whole drool thing done right. Jabba must have needed to pay a specialized cleaner at the palace to wipe up all the drool from those Gammorian Guards and the Rancor 🙂
The Special edition adds a few creatures and also adds a new song to the palace scenes. I like both the original song and the new one so it didn’t bother me very much that it was changed.
Luke is a whole new person here because he somehow now has the confidence that he was missing (before he lost his hand). He truly seems like a Jedi Master here instead of the precocious kid he was in Empire.
The battle with the Rancor was great back then and with slightly enhanced visual effects is even better now.
The Battle by the Sarlacc Pit is fantastic and for the first time we got to see how a Jedi can take on numerous opponents and still use that to his advantage. The music works well in this scene and eventhough I love Boba Fett, he sorta died in a punk way (unlike Mace Windu in Sith). We at least got the Sarlacc’s burp after he fell in. In the Star Wars canon books it is actually explained how he survived and lived to fight another day.
I wish that I could see the sandstorm scene that was cut from the movie. It sounds very cool, but oh well.
Once again, our heroes are split up here for a bit where Luke returns to visit Yoda and the others journey to rejoin the Rebel fleet amassed near Sullust.
It was nice to see Yoda again and they gave him a worthy death for a Jedi Master who finally could have peace knowing that the Jedi line will continue. He survived during his 25 year+ self-imposed exile hoping that one day he would find a Jedi to restore order in the galaxy. Now that he finished training Luke and accomplished that feat, he could die peacefully.
It was great seeing the Rebel meeting and being able to get acquainted with Admiral Ackbar, General Madine and of course Mon Monthma. We get to see the high level members of the Rebel Alliance and hear their plans to destroy the rule of the Emperor and his Empire.
Next we get to see a new kind of terrain on a planet, a forest.
The speeder chase is terrific , but the introduction of the Ewoks and their help in the battle is a bit much. As a kid, I enjoyed those loveable furry creatures and how they helped the rebels win, but as an adult, I do see the absurdity of it. It added a bit of humor to the fight, but perhaps if they were taller it would have seemed more plausible that a primitive culture could help defeat the Empire.
The Battle in space is done in a such a chaotic manner that it’s very believable as an air battle. So much is going on and it’s not easy to follow it all, but that’s the whole point and they get it right.
It was great to see large ships also joining the fight and instead of a bombing raid thru a trench like in the original, they had ships around the perimeter holding off the Imperial fleet (and the fully-operational Death Star) while the smaller fighters and the Falcon could go inside the thing and destroy the reactor core.
It added a lot to the realism of the battle.
Finally, the sword fight between Vader and Luke is even better than their previous encounter and is an even more fluid fight that again shows that Lucas realized that the fights needed to get better in each subsequent movie.
The fact that Lucas (and Director Richard Marquand) edited these three battles (land, space and throne room) so tightly together that the action kept jumping between all 3 also shows that they know how to keep the crowd pleased and on the edge of their seat throughout.
In the Special edition two major changes are made at the end and I think both were the right choices.
1. The changing of the ghost image of Anakin at the end to an image of Hayden Christensen instead of Sebastian Shaw (the original actor who played Anakin as an adult). After having seen Christensen in two of the prequel movies, it makes sense that his pure soul was stuck in his younger form and that is what Luke sees floating with Kenobi and Yoda.
2. The music and visuals during the Ewok celebration scene is changed. The music is now purely instrumental instead of the dub-dub music that was in the original cut. I like both songs, so it doesn’t bother me at all that it was changed. The visuals now also include parties on Coruscant (The Imperial Capital), Bespin and Tatooine. I like these visuals and I think they work.
Overall, this is the most action-packed of the original trilogy and had they used a more realistic species to help defeat the Empire, it might have been the best of the 3.
Bottom Line – Most action-packed movie in the original trilogy, lots of great new creatures, and locations. The Battle of Endor is truly epic, especially since it’s being fought on three fronts at the same time. Continues the tradition of amazing Special Effects and Theme Music. Highly Recommended.
Rating – Oscar Worthy
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