Vebber & Gould 2
26. Obvious Missed Opportunities.
It’s ironic that something “obvious” is still obscure to me after multiple readings. I can’t even find anything to quote here. Basically, V&G complain that the things Lucas talked about doing preproduction never made it into the film, such as Kashyyk being replaced by Endor or Lando not surviving. The bloodthirsty Vebber and Gould also lament that a bunch of X-wings didn’t crash and burn into the Death Star’s shields. Senseless carnage FTW? I guess? They claim that ROTJ is a “missed opportunity in the context of the trilogy,” but I have no idea what that means. This is the dumbest thing I’ve ever read. If you know what they’re talking about, tell me, and I’ll give a better rebuttal.
27. Yoda. “In Empire, Yoda was a sagacious sprite who brought to mind Gaelic legend. In Jedi, he’s an annoying toad who sounds like Super Grover. . . . Jedi’s Yoda is lacking in wisdom and festering with cuteness.”
I have to say, first of all, that if this is what you think cute looks like, I don’t want to see your spouses . . . Eugh. In all seriousness, this is actually true. But like several other places where Vebber and Gould are correct — if this is a reason for ROTJ to suck, it’s a reason for all the rest to suck! Yoda was never wise. He was always an annoying toad. Period. To the insistence that ESB all had us recalling Gaelic legends (nope), I reply that Yoda has always made me want to see how far I could punt him. His blind arrogance allowed the Republic to be destroyed, and he was willing to stack up as many dead innocents as possible to camouflage his error. He was basically training Luke for a suicide mission. If Yoda irritates you in ROTJ, fine, now you now know how I feel all the time.
28. The Opening Text Crawl.
Ha, you think the ROTJ crawl is bad? Just wait until Episode III comes out . . . This complaint mostly consists of them quoting the Trilogy crawls, which, if you don’t have them committed to memory already. you probably aren’t even reading this list.
The primary objection is that the ROTJ crawl begins its focus on the word “friend” and resembles something out of the TV Guide. I think they’re alone in thinking this, but I will address their complaint that they want to be watching “something a bit larger than a buddy picture”: the word friend gets used more frequently in ESB than in ROTJ, and friendship is an enduring theme of the saga. This is far from belittling: what is more important than friendship?
29. Imperial Technology. “Imperial engineers should really figure out a way to keep their vehicles from blowing up so easily. . . . a single crashed A-Wing take[s] out an entire eight-kilometer Super Star Destroyer . . . Based on what Jedi shows us, the Empire could have been defeated with a couple of well-placed safety pins.”
And if there were no explosions in the film, they’d gripe about there being no explosions. And I thought I was impossible to please. But on the practical side, I’m pretty sure no one has ever thought of a way to fuel spaceships with anything other than highly explosive materials. The crashed A-wing is not what destroys the Executor: it was pure dumb nerf luck. Lacking shields, the bridge is helpless when the A-wing plows into it, and with its control center knocked out, the ship begins to drift. If she had not been so close to the Death Star’s gravitational pull, the Executor almost certainly would’ve survived, drifting in space until the repair crews could get the bridge functional again. But they weren’t, and thus perishes a noble ship and crew.
30. Jabba’s Droid Torture Room. “First of all, torturing droids is stupid on a purely conceptual level, seeing as how they’re machines and all. But what on earth was going through Lucas and Marquand’s heads when they decided to play the scene in Jabba’s droid room for laughs?”
I almost can’t add anything. I’m astonished and bewildered that anyone could think this scene was “played for laughs.” Apparently, because Vebber and Gould spend two paragraphs on their disgust for a “humorous droid torture scene.” I’m stupefied. Absolutely nothing cues that this scene is meant to be funny. No wonder these two complain about all the “failed humor” in the movie, though, if this their idea of a comedic scene.
Technology in the galaxy far, far away clearly exists to impart sensation to metal. Luke even says “ow” when the droid pokes his prosthetic hand. Threepio numerous times says things like “that hurts” and “ouch.” Far from being conceptually stupid, droids with the ability to feel pain make a lot of sense. In fact, since pain is designed to help organics from doing damage to themselves, it’s even more sensible to program this ability into droids that are more likely to become damaged and less likely to notice it. And underworld creatures are as likely to exploit and abuse droids where they can, no differently than organics.
31. Use of Earth Slang and Pop Culture. “We were almost willing to forgive the fact that an Ewok exclaims ‘Yahoo,’ or that Threepio uses the supposedly Ewokese word boom, until we saw the abominable scene where an Ewok swings from a vine and lets out a note-for-note copy of Tarzan’s famous yell. Have we mentioned that we hate the Ewoks?”
Ah, another tired mope about Ewoks existing. The bizarre hatred of Ewoks notwithstanding, have I mentioned this list would have been much shorter if these guys had actually consolidated their complaints instead of trying to milk as many as possible out of them? Boom is an onomatopoeia, which is rendered bom in Arabic, bum in Bulgarian, boem in Dutch, boum in French, bam in Greek, bumm in Hungarian, bum in Lithuanian, Macedonian, Russian, and Romanian, and the despised boom in Portuguese as well as English. I’m pretty sure it’s okay if the Ewoks have it, too. This is sort of like complaining that all the characters speak English when they’re from another galaxy!
32. Jedi Afterlife. “You can screw up your entire life, strangle scores of people, and oversee the construction of a planet-destroying battle station, but as long as you repent with your last breath, you get to party with Yoda and Ben in the netherworld. . . . Why does Anakin’s ghost get to regrow his hair and get all spiffed up and nice looking, while Yoda, who managed to resist the dark side all his nine-hundred-plus years, still looks like a crumpled old salamander?”
First–the Star Wars saga is about the fall and redemption of Anakin Skywalker. Redemption is a huge part of redemption, okay? It means repent and it is all washed away. Yes, it’s a Christian concept. It’s also one near and dear to most human hearts, that there’s always, somehow, another chance. Why watch the movie if this is such a horrible concept to you?
Second–Haha, imagine these two when they saw the ’04 DVD edition! I don’t necessarily disagree, of course. I think Obi-Wan should’ve been his younger, hotter self upon death. In the practical realm of things, obviously Alec Guinness is a bigger deal than Sebastian Shaw. But I have an in-universe explanation as well: the manifestation of a Force-ghost appears in a way the viewer would recognize. The viewer is Luke, so he sees Yoda and Obi-Wan as he knew them. He never saw Anakin Skywalker, so he sees him how he would have upon first meeting him. (This is also why Qui-Gon doesn’t appear in the scene: Luke never knew him and has no reason to see him.)
33. Unrealistic, Boring Fight Sequences. “Why stage an elaborate hand-to-hand fight with a scout trooper when you can just have Solo use the old ‘shoulder tap’ trick? Or when you can throw a duffel bag at an Imperial guard and he’ll backflip over a railing?”
Given that these two specifically list the lightsaber duel and the space battle as “the best ever,” I’d think these sorts of things would be moot. I understand that movies are about entertainment, but if you were Han Solo, and you were running out of time, why would you stop for an elaborate fight when you could just psych him? Is anyone denying that throwing a bag at someone precariously balanced by a railing would make him tip over it? There’s no unrealistic factor. In fact, it seems to me that the realism is the complaint here! (That anyone would choose to knock someone over a railing rather than get tangled in an elaborate hand-to-hand fight.)
34. Stormtroopers Have Become Pussies. “‘Look out–teddy bear creatures! And they’ve got primitive handmade weapons! Let’s forget our years of intense military training, put down our high-tech weaponry, and run away!'”
At no point in ROTJ do any Stormtroopers ever run away from Ewoks. This complaint is also the same as #33 and #9. Again: the Ewoks weren’t winning until Chewie helps them capture an AT-ST. Then troopers scatter, but that’s not what V&G are complaining about here.
35. Vader’s Real Face. “It should have been David Prowse under that helmet. . . . He deserved that much, and probably would have been willing to shave his head. . . . That pudgy head just doesn’t match up with the body we see on Vader throughout the rest of the trilogy.”
David Prowse’s head from the nose up, shaved and scarred, probably would not have looked less egglike than Sebastian Shaw’s. Also, their ignorant assertion that Prowse “probably would have” been willing to do anything is misinformed. He was vehemently opposed to Vader’s turning good at the end, which, as far as I know, is the real reason another actor was brought on to play the part. (Shaw may also have been used just to further obfuscate the ending. Embittered Prowse, who decades later is still not invited to any event Lucas is attending, probably couldn’t be trusted with spoilers.) I’ve also never understood the disconnect people have experienced with Anakin Skywalker’s mild face and Vader’s imposing body: his armor was the shell protecting a fragile being inside, the monster around the man.
36. Bad Editing. “That Jedi has problems with its editing is largely a subjective opinion and hard to quantify, but we base our believe [sic] on the fact that certain scenes just plain lack the punch and pacing we know they could and should have had.”
“Subjective and hard to quantify” really sums up all 50 points on this list. “Certain scenes” tells me nothing, “lacks punch” gives me nothing to work with . . . no examples? No comment.
37. The Alien Languages are Poorly Presented. “Bib Fortuna repeatedly lapses from Huttese into English for no apparent reason, and we learn from Leia’s bounty hunter alter ego that at least one translation of ‘Thirty thousand, no less’ is ‘Yoto. Yoto.’ Huh? . . . If Threepio is Jabba’s translator, why does he translate what other are saying into English rather than Huttese?”
I’m sure both Vebber and Gould are translation experts with multiple degrees in linguistics and language theory? Ha, right. I’m not, either, but I think my linguistics course in college and language study makes me a little more of an expert than they are in this case.
- A bilingual or multilingual person will go back and forth seamlessly between the languages, more so when speaking with someone — such as a translator droid — who knows the same languages. Huttese is a major language on Ryloth, where Bib Fortuna is from, and this objection is sort of like criticizing an LAPD detective for oscillating between Spanish and English while talking to a Hispanic witness.
- It’s “fifty thousand, no less,” not thirty. Had they even watched the films recently?
- Anyone who doubts “yoto yoto” could mean “fifty thousand, no less” has clearly never watched foreign films with the subtitles on. I’ve watched Ringu three times, where something that sounds like “Yoichi ya” appears in the captions as “Yoichi, are you coming home for dinner soon or are you eating at school?” Threepio’s garrulousness may have taken some liberty with the translation, or offered the sense of the meaning rather than the literal translation. Perhaps yoto means 50,000, and in Ubese, repeating the number twice gives it an emphasis expressed by “no less.” Or yoto could have multiple meanings, as ma in Chinese has five different possible translations.
- It’s Basic, not English.
- Threepio is translating Huttese for the benefit of anyone in the court who does not speak it. He’s not actually translating for Jabba — the gangster understands a number of langauges but refuses to utter anything but Huttese because of pride. That’s canon.
38. Inconsistency Within the Established Universe. “It strikes us as sloppy that codes on Jedi’s computer screens are in alien gobbledygook language, while the tractor beam controls in Wars were in English. And speaking of English, almost all the Imperials in Wars and Empire have an English accent. Jedi doesn’t continue this trend–unfortunately, because as everyone knows, the British are inherently terrifying.”
This is cheap absurdity. The ratio of English to American accent is pretty consistent in all three films: Motti has an American accent, while General Dodonna has a British one. Leia’s accent comes and goes at will. “Gobbledygook” is in fact Aurebesh, which was retrospectively added to ANH just to make things look more alien. There’s no actual inconsistency.
39. Yoda’s Death Sequence. “What does Luke do while his beloved master lies choking and gasping for his final breaths? Well, he just sort of sits there like a doofus and watches him writhe in pain. Not that dialing 911 is an option on Dagobah, but a simple, ‘Hey, Master–you okay?’would have been a nice gesture.”
And doubtless if Luke had done that, Vebber and Gould’s complaint would have been that Luke was a moron to ask an obviously dying 900 year old man if he was okay. After Yoda already said he was dying — and one would expect a Jedi master to know and not exaggerate — and added that he’s 900 years old, I think Luke has the only reaction one could reasonably have. He is stunned, respectful, but struggling. Have you ever watched someone die of old age? There’s nothing else you can do.
40. The Alliance Briefing. “In Wars, the briefing before the attack on the Death Star had the feel of a serious military operation. In Jedi, the briefing is a forum for witty repartee . . . Eventually, Luke barges in unannounced and the ‘meeting’ breaks up with all the parliamentary procedure of porno night at the Elks Club.”
Having never been to porno night at the Elks Club, I can’t comment on the supposed similarity. But I do know that there is no witty repartee during the meeting: Han and Lando’s conversation takes place before the meeting starts. The start is in fact signaled by a chime and dimming of lights. There is also a clear cut dismissal before Luke comes in. In fact the briefing scene in ROTJ is not much different than the one in ANH, which has a rookie pilot interjecting a defense of the strategy with womp rat analogies while still dressed in his farmboy clothes.
41. Paradoxical Lessons in the Force. “Yoda says the only way Luke can become a Jedi is to face Vader. Minutes later, he says it’s unfortunate that Luke rushes to face Vader. This is in addition to Yoda’s assertion in Empire that if Luke faces Vader, he’ll become an agent of evil.”
I mentioned closed captions a minute ago. This entire essay would be a very different thing if Vebber & Gould had ever bothered to watch this “beloved trilogy” with the subtitles on! In ESB, Yoda says Luke must complete his training before facing Vader, not instead of facing Vader. In ROTJ, what Yoda actually says is it was unfortunate that Luke rushed — past tense, rushed — to face him in the previous film. Luke isn’t rushing to face anyone in ROTJ — he repeatedly says he won’t or can’t.
The point does stand that Yoda’s lessons are stupid, contradictory, and frustrating, just like the old frog himself. Yoda doesn’t care if Luke succeeds, which is obvious by the haphazard and ineffective “training” he gave Luke before setting him up for an obvious suicide mission. Yoda wants Luke to face Vader on Yoda’s terms — so Luke will never know who his father was and kill Vader. Or be killed by the Emperor just to prove Yoda’s arrogant belief if failed I did, succeed NO ONE can.
42. Vader’s Not-So-Special Shuttle. “When we first saw Vader’s shuttle with its clean lines and sleek, triwing design, it seemed a fitting vessel to transport a leader of his stature. But later we find out that apparently every Imperial shuttle . . . looks like like Vader’s.”
Yet another inane objection. Do limousines become less special because every wealthy person routinely travels in one? V&G appear to be saying that they liked something and ceased to like it just because it wasn’t unique. (Actually, apart from the rebel spies, Vader and the Emperor are the only people seen using the Lambdas. Guess that doesn’t make a difference.)
43. Sloppy Continuity Errors. “In quick cuts between two different views of a character, it’s a good bet that his or her expression and/or stance will be jarring inconsistent.”
I felt like I couldn’t say anything about people’s lips being out of sync, because I really have no ability to tell if lips are out of sync, but this I can refute by my own testimony. For well over ten years, it has been my common movie-watching practice to watch people I’m not supposed to be focused on. With a movie I’ve seen as many times as ROTJ, I can tell you I’ve spent whole watchings not following the camera’s focus at all. I have never seen this, and they give no examples.
44. That Scene With the Ewok on the Speeder Bike. “This scene doesn’t really exemplify any of the larger points in this article, but we hate it so much we couldn’t just ignore it.”
More padding. They want to complain about the “unrealism” in ROTJ, but the fact is, we’re rooting for underdogs who don’t have the resources to meet the Empire might for might. The scene exemplifies that these creatures may be small and furry but they’re not to be underestimated: they are capable of quick thinking, strategy, and also figuring out how to activate and operate an alien piece of technology. V&G in fact express their desire to see the Ewok crash into a tree and die, which I think suggests something more about their psychology than the movie itself.
45. Generally Dumb Dialogue.
Wasn’t General Lee Dumb Dialogue the real mastermind behind Waterloo? Oh, wait. So, yes, this actually sounds like a third redundant dialogue complaint, they actually spent the entire paragraph complaining that Vader says Luke’s skills are complete because he built a lightsaber. They then theorized that Tim Allen would be a Jedi because it seems to take nothing more than “read[ing] a Time/Life book on electronics and solder[ing] together some transistors.”But any Star Warrior worth his or her salt knows that only Jedi can make lightsabers because the Force is an integral part of them. It is the final rite of passage before knighthood, like a capstone project before a degree is awarded. It proves that the previous knowledge was assimilated and can be used properly — it does not suggest that the lightsaber is the only thing that keeps one from being a Jedi!
46. Admiral Ackbar. “Sure, Admiral Ackbar looks neat, but he’s quite the wishy-washy leader, judging from how Lando continually questions, ignores, and overrides his orders. Dumbest of all . . . Admiral Ackbar’s fishlike race is called the Mon Calamari. Ha, ha, ha!”
More disturbing racism from this morning talk show duo. Lando does not “continually” question, ignore, or override Ackbar. Once, when Ackbar calls for retreat, Lando makes a very reasonable observation that they can’t bail now. And yes, okay, filmmakers in 1983 thought it was funny to call a fish race “Mon Calamari.” Barely a page ago, these two were calling Ithorians “Hammerheads,” but now — and you want to talk about a name that doesn’t appear in the films — “Mon Calamari” is worthy of derision.
47. Dumb Resolution of Problems. “The most pathetic example of facile problem solving is the ‘secret back door’ on the shield generator base, which means our team won’t have to be bothered with devising an interesting way to break in.”
Honestly, these two sound like a couple of petulant children. At least ten of these highly repetitive reasons have been “this was boring.” Could you think military for two seconds? Bases have secret back entrances, which are less heavily guarded, and our intrepid rebels are trying to prevent causalities, not stir up fire fights. I can’t even imagine what kind of a Michael Bay film Vebber and Gould were secretly hankering for ROTJ to be.
48. Artoo. “He’s supposed to be the brave, assured one to Threepio’s sissy-boy, but in a couple of scenes he whimsically shakes and shivers with fear like Scooby-Doo. Is he into this whole Rebellion thing or not?”
And at this point I seriously question whether these two ever even liked the previous Star Wars films. Once Artoo shivers, in Jabba’s palace. Otherwise, he always plows ahead, whether senselessly or not. No telling why this couldn’t have been grouped in with their complaint on Threepio . . .? Oh, right, trying to puff the list to 50.
49. The Wizard of Oz Homage at Jabba’s Front Door. “Anyone who’s ever seen MGM’s seminal musical fantasy experiences more than a little deja vu when Threepio knocks on Jabba’s door and asks the whimsical attendant to admit him to the Emerald City–er–rusty palace. Had there been a precedent of scene-specific homage . . . we might have been more forgiving . . . but the scene as presented in Jedi sticks out and degrades the overall integrity of the mythos established . . . (Sure, Wars mimicked Kurosawa’s The Hidden Fortress almost scene for scene, but only socially maladapted film geeks noticed that.)”
Once again, utterly absurd. First of all, I’d seen Wizard of Oz a couple of times and fairly recently the first time I saw ROTJ and it was a decade later I found out it was supposed to be an homage. Even if literally everyone else went, “Hey, Oz!” on seeing it, why is that a bad thing, exactly? But this objection is pretty much disqualified because they say, “There was no precedent, except for in the entire first film, but no one notices that, so that was inoffensive and this is offensive because people notice it.” Yeah, no, nice try. You’re done. Remember Joseph Campbell I mentioned earlier? Every part of every film is an homage to something.
50. “The Sarlacc Pitt [sic]as Freud’s Vagina Dentata. “Come on, like it never occurred to you.”
If I am honest, it had not in fact occurred to me until I read this list when I was about 16 or 17. Yet this is one of the very, very few valid points in their list: yes. Yes, it does. There’s a lot in the saga to suggest that Lucas has a deep seated terror of women, and the sarlaac diagram in the visual dictionary borders on obscene. His belated attempt to cover up the resemblance in 1997 didn’t help, but on the whole, one gross, rather disturbing creature in one scene is not a reason — nor are any of these any reason — for the best Star Wars movie ever to “suck.”
And there you have it! I have completely rebutted all 50 — actually it’s probably closer to 35 with repeats — reasons why two uninformed fans thought ROTJ could suck. Honestly, I don’t know how they even got into this compendium. It’s supposed to be a humorous piece, yet their genuine frustration saturates every word, and I know the fandom is filled with people still spewing bile that ROTJ wasn’t the film they dreamed it would be. If you’ve never been one of those people, perhaps the pieces I’ve quoted here will give you some insight into how they think. If you’re an ROTJ hater, maybe my rebuttal will make you think. But in all, the purpose is really to enjoy.