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The Bones of Star Wars Episode VI: Return of the Jedi

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Today we’re talking about the bones of my favorite film in the Skywalker Star Wars Saga!

Episode VI: Return of the Jedi

If you missed any of the previous installments of Good Bones, you can find them here:
Episode I
Episode II
Episode III
Episode IV
Episode V

Let’s get to it!

Episode VI: Return of the Jedi

This movie came out when I was eight years old. I’d seen the first two, and was really upset when I found out my dad, who was in the ARMY Reserves, got to see it before we did because the ARMY had gotten a copy to show them at their two week training camp.
So. Unfair.
I still remember sitting in the old Villa theater in Salt Lake City, watching this film. One of my sisters leaned over to me to read the subtitles for Jabba the Hutt, and I was like, “I can read it myself!” I should probably apologize for that.

The Bones:
The fate of Han Solo
Return of the Jedi?
What about the rebels?

The fate of Han Solo
Han Solo has been in frozen. Leia admitted she loved him. At the end of Episode IV Lando and Chewie were headed to rescue Han. Now what???

I’d never noticed before that the first third of this movie is spent rescuing Han. I love the cheese and fun that goes along with the rescue, so I don’t mind.

The first 20-25% of any story is usually spent on set-up, or showing the character’s daily life, why they need a change, and how that change might come about.

Granted, this is the third film in the trilogy, so the characters don’t need a lengthy introduction. We know who they are and what they can do. Although we do see that Luke has a few new tricks up his sleeve, which is very cool.

The writers give us everything we’re expecting as Lando fights to redeem himself to Han, Leia is out to rescue the man she loves, and Luke, relying on his newfound powers, makes sure none of his friends are going to be left to the mercy of Jabba.

As I watched this film again, I realized that this first section is one of the reasons I love it so much. I’m all about the bonds of friendship and love. Camaraderie is maybe my favorite trope of all time, and I’m a total sucker for it.

However, I’m not sure I would have written this the same way. The characters—all of them leaders—put the rebellion on hold to rescue one man. Neither the rebellion or the Empire are really mentioned until Luke comes back from Dagobah.

I’m not sure why this works, but it does.

Return of the Jedi?

Luke’s story is the crux of this movie.

Mostly.

Luke goes back to Yoda, who dies, leaving him alone. He learns about a sister, which makes a particular scene in Episode V very awkward, and then decides he can turn Vader back from the dark side.

Is that even a thing? I haven’t read/watched everything that goes before the original trilogy, but I don’t recall anyone having gone to the dark side deciding to come back to the light side.

Maybe it’s never happened before!

Imagine Yoda and Obi Wan watching Luke run off to face Vader and shaking their heads at the fact he thinks he can bring his father back. Of course, their way didn’t work, so why not try it?

While joyful, I bet it was a bit of a slap in the face knowing that family and love are what brought Vader back. Of course that’s what turned him in the first place, so there’s that.

In the end, we have to wonder if the Jedi returning was Luke beginning a new order, or Anakin sloughing off his dark ways to re-embrace the light. Perhaps it is both.

The scene with the Emperor, while not as flashy as the prequels, is much more emotional. The callback to cutting off Luke’s hand is great. There is just enough talking to keep Luke and Vader off balance.

As a kid I used to wonder if Palpatine had just shut his stupid face if Luke would have cut Vader down. Palaptine interrupts him, which gives us the tidbit that turning to the dark side has to be a conscious act. Which is interesting.

I probably wouldn’t change much through here. It works the way it is.

What about the rebels?

While Luke is on the Death Star, fighting for the fate of his soul, his friends are on the moon, working with those silly teddy bears, trying to get the shield down so Lando and the others can attack.

Without the Emperor being on the Death Star, this mission would have been a big deal. With him there, it gives the rebellion the chance they’ve been hoping for—end the Emperor and therefore the Empire once and for all.

The stakes are high. They turn to their best people to get it done. Or should I say, their best people step up to get it done.

Each battle is fierce. Because I saw this movie when I was eight years old, I’m a fan of the Ewoks. I’m the demographic Lucas was going for. I still like them. They’re primitive, and somewhat silly, but in the end they step up and use what they know to help Han and Leia.

There is a lot of humor in this film, and for whatever reason it works. Yes, it’s campy in places. Other times the dialogue is genuinely delightful:
Han: How we doing?
Luke: Same as always.
Han: That bad, huh?

The mix of action and humor really hits the spot for me. C-3PO is sometimes over the top, but not nearly as bad as they make him in the prequels.

The Bones of this movie are spot on.

The story telling isn’t bad either.

I’ve heard that originally the Ewoks were going to be Wookies. That would have been a great callback to Episode III…if it would have been written first. In the end Lucas leaned toward merchandising, and it worked for him.

What do you think of the bones of Return of the Jedi?


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The Bones of Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back

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Today we’re talking about what most people feel is the best film in the Skywalker Star Wars Saga!

Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back

If you missed any of the previous installments of Good Bones, you can find them here:
Episode I
Episode II
Episode III
Episode IV

Let’s dive right in!

Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back

I honestly wasn’t ready for this film. I was only 5 years old when it came out, and I think I was only six or seven the first time I saw it.

Back then I was idealistic, and didn’t understand a flawed hero or the second act of a story. Yoda was mean, Degobah was icky, something bad happened in the cave, Han Solo ends up frozen, Luke got his hand cut off, and he didn’t win!

To tell you the truth, I mostly tolerated this film until I was in my early teens, when I suppose the hormones kicked in and I finally “got it.”

The Bones:
What happened to the rebellion after they blew up the Death Star?
How is the Empire taking this?
What’s Darth Vader up to?
Where is Luke at with the Force?
Are Han and Leia flirting?
Jedi Training?
Luke…I am your father…

What happened to the rebellion after they blew up the Death Star?

They’re hiding. Again. They seem to be low on resources and places to run.

I noticed something in the opening scroll the other week when we watched this movie. It states that “a group of freedom fighters led by Luke Skywalker has established a base…” I’m not usually sensitive about this stuff, but Like is far from in charge. Maybe the fighters are led by him, but I didn’t see that in the film either. Don’t get me wrong, Luke is my hero in these movies, but give credit where it’s due!

Leia is clearly in charge, which is awesome. I’d never noticed that she doesn’t get credit for that in the opening scroll.

How is the Empire taking this?

The Empire is hunting the rebellion, and considering the Empire has an endless array of assets to throw at the search, it’s only a matter of time before they find them.

Can I just say how much I like Admiral Piett? The fact that he makes a few mistakes and personally apologizes to Vader for them, knowing full well how that might end, makes him one of the biggest bad a**es in the film!

What is Darth Vader up to?

He seems to be heading up the hunt for the rebels. However, he’s really after Luke. He strangles one of his commanders to death, then assaults at least two more in this movie.

As a kid I was terrified of Vader! For good reason, mind you, but after seeing the prequels, this is just Anakin’s impatient, whiny side coming out. Now instead of not getting his way, he kills people who hold him back. Not cool, man.

Although it is a great way to show us how crazy he is at this point.

If you look through the eyes of the prequels, this is the son of the woman he thought he’d killed. Luke is his hope to defeat the Emperor, and bring the kind of order to the galaxy he’s always wanted. Vader is genuinely desperate in this film.

Where is Luke at with the Force?

At first we see Luke doing a mundane patrol. Then he gets attacked and taken by the Wampa. So far no Force stuff.

Then Luke wakes up hanging from the ceiling and sees his lightsaber nearby but out of reach. The Wampa is coming for him, and he takes a moment to calm down and uses the force to cut himself free and chop the Wampa’s arm off.

This gives us the sense that Luke has been exploring his powers.

Then Obi Wan’s force ghost appears to him, giving him orders to find Yoda.

The battle of Hoth ensues, the rebels get clear by the skin of their teeth, and Luke goes off to find Yoda.

Alone.

He doesn’t tell anyone.

This has always irked me. Han Solo and Luke are clearly good friends by this point, but Luke keeps his secret from everyone. As Yoda later says, Luke doesn’t think before he acts. Sometimes that’s good and sometimes that’s bad.

Are Han and Leia…flirting?

Yes, yes they are.

Leia even kisses Luke to make Han jealous.

The banter between Han and Leia is hilarious in this film.

Han : You want me to stay because of the way you feel about me.
Leia tries to hide her feelings. Yes, you’re great help to us. You’re a natural leader.
Han Solo : No! That’s not it. Come on. Come on!
Princess Leia : You’re imagining things.
Han Solo : Am I? Then why are you following me? Afraid I was gonna leave without giving you a goodbye kiss?
Princess Leia : I’d just as soon kiss a Wookiee.
Han Solo : I can arrange that.
[Leia walks away]
Han Solo : You could use a good kiss!

What is that? Maybe ten lines of dialogue? The romance is already better than the prequels. The fact that several people walk between the arguing couple tells me they’ve been at it for quite some time.

Oh George Lucas, why didn’t you let this writer create the dialogue for Episode II?

And let’s not forget
Leia : I love you
Han : I know
Right before he gets frozen in carbonite. That’s pretty awesome.

Luke, I am you Father…

I won’t get into everything on Degobah. Luke starts his Jedi training and leaves before it’s complete.

Pfft. He was there what, maybe a week? The prequels showed us that Jedi training takes a lifetime. What could Luke possibly lean in a week?

I give Yoda props here for thinking outside the box. He knows he won’t have much time, and has probably seen the outcome of Luke and Vader’s first meeting already. Still, he decides to forego the ancient ways and try something different. Darth Sidious blind-sided him and I’m sure he’s been thinking about that for the past twenty years. Luke can’t be a traditional Jedi.

Luke once again reminds us that he’s related to Anakin when he runs off to save his friends without listening to his elders. Still, Han came back for him at the end of the last movie, and I’ve always liked the fact that Luke held his friends in such high regard. Maybe the Jedi were weak because they had no ties. Love does make you stronger.

Vader is clearly toying with Luke in their fight. Trying to provoke him into doing something stupid. Luke’s ideals—his friends and the fact that he sees the Empire, along with Vader, as evil—keep him on the right track. Even when Vader reveals that he’s Luke’s father.

Which, by the way, was quite a shock to those of us who only had Episode IV before this. Luke’s response is overly emotional, but that actually works. Instead of allowing his emotions to carry him to the dark side, he instead decides he’d rather end his life than let Vader have him.

It’s hard to pick at these bones. There is a reason a huge amount of fans count this as their favorite film. It’s well written and works as the perfect second act to the original trilogy.

What are your thoughts on the matter?


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The Bones of Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope

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Now that we got the prequels out of the way, we’re on to the original trilogy of the Skywalker Star Wars Saga!

This week we’re delving into Episode IV: A New Hope

If you missed any of the previous installments of Good Bones, you can find them here:
Episode I
Episode II
Episode III

And now, for one of my favorite films of all time!

Episode IV: A New Hope

I will offer transparency when I say that I love the next three films in the saga. I grew up on them. At one point we rented a VCR as well as the movie to watch this one at my birthday party. I think I was six.

I’ll try to be unbiased…but we all know there is no try.

The Bones:
Where are the Skywalkers now?
Anakin
Leia
Luke
Hello Obi Wan
Show us the growth of the Empire
Show us the rebels
Bring on the Swagger

Where are the Skywalkers Now?

Anakin

Now called Darth Vader. He’s terrorizing the rebels, strangling people left and right and torturing his own daughter. He’s a bad guy. This is why we love him so much!
Leia
Political activist, running plans for the rebellion and not being intimidated by Darth Vader, whom she does not know is her father. Neither did the rest of oldie moldies us until episode VI. She’s doing Padmé’s legacy proud. (The before Episode III Padmé.)
Luke
Typical teenager. Wants out of the boring farm life and go to the Academy. Or, as we find out in a cut scene, he actually wants to join the rebellion. Whines when he doesn’t get his way. Seems to be a competent mechanic and is dumb enough to trust Artoo. Yup, he’s Anakin’s son alright.

Hello Obi Wan
We all thought he was a crazy old man with some fizzled out powers. We had no idea how bad a** he was back in the day.
He’s the one who opens Luke’s mind to the Force. Then he takes one for the team and lets Darth Vader kill him.

These bones are hard to pick, because these movies were actually made first. Luke never suggests he has special abilities, but if he’s so powerful, and his dad was unwittingly showing off his force abilities at ten, then unless Obi Wan had been stifling him, Luke should have felt something before this. All other force users have. Also, Leia. But, since we didn’t have the foundation of the first three movies to build on, the characters were in square one and we didn’t know any better.
The fight between Obi Wan and Vader should have been much more intense. So. Much. More. Intense. But again, we don’t get it because Lucas didn’t really know the power of that moment. Check out this fan made film that beefs up their fight. It’s kind of awesome!

Show us the Growth of the Empire
Well, they’re clearly in control, and they’re not very nice. We don’t see the Emperor in the original cut of this film, but Darth Vader is enough.

Show us the Rebels
The rebels are small, but encapsulate being the underdog. The Empire has a space station the size of a moon, along with Vader. They seem to be numberless and can get whatever they want. The rebels are few, and they pull us in because they hold to the hope that what they’re doing is right and that it will matter.
The rebellion brings Luke and Leia together, which is key for the rest of the films.

Bring on the Swagger
Let’s be honest. Who’s the real deal in this film? Han Solo. Yes, he shot first. Yes, he’s a scoundrel. Yes, he charges Luke and arm and a leg to get off of Tatooine. Yes, it looks like he’s going to take his money and run. But who gives Luke the chance to take down the Death Star?
Han Solo, that’s who.
He brings the fun, he brings the experience that Luke is sorely lacking, and in the end it’s him who has the biggest change of heart. He didn’t have to come back, he wanted to. For Luke. For Leia. Probably for himself.
Sure, Luke relies on the Force and takes out the Death Star without his targeting computer, his first real step in becoming a Jedi, but without Han Luke would have been blown up a moment before that. By his own father. What is it with Skywalkers killing their own family??

Without the prequels, this movie gives us a glimpse into what the Force can do. With them we see that Luke is his father’s son.

The bones of this movie are solid. Most of the movie is solid. Luke is pretty whiny, but look at his dad. Sheesh, it could have been much worse. Leia is a strong female character when there weren’t too many in science fiction. Han Solo is the guy we all want to watch our backs. And don’t forget Chewie, who is the one who watches Han’s back, and for that we love him.
Vader is great in this film.

I warned you I was biased about this one. It’s stood the test of time for more than 40 years, and will continue to pull viewers in for years to come.

What are your thoughts on Episode IV?


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The Bones of Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith

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Welcome back to the Good Bones of the Skywalker Star Wars Saga!

This week we’re diving head first into Episode III: Revenge of the Sith

If you missed the first two installments of Good Bones, you can find the first one HERE.

And now, for the last of the prequels:

Episode III: Revenge of the Sith

I’ve only seen this movie once before…in the theater. It didn’t capture me then, and this time around the only reason I liked it better is because last year we watched the animated Clone Wars Series.

The Clone Wars Series sets up SO MUCH of this movie. I kind of loved it. However, I’m not going to include this series in my assessment of the movies. Movies only.

 

The Bones:

The Jedi Order Must Fall

Palpatine Becomes Emperor and the Empire Emerges

Anakin Completes His Fall to the Dark Side and Becomes Darth Vader

Obi Wan Saves Anakin’s Family

The Jedi Order Must Fall

This movie tried to tell/show us that Palpatine has been working on Anakin for a while. In the opening sequence Anakin and Obi Wan are in the middle of a huge space battle and out to rescue Chancellor Palpatine from Count Dooku.

They do so. Obi Wan gets knocked out and Anakin—after Palpatine’s urging—kills Dooku.

This scene…isn’t all bad. It does show that Anakin is more powerful than Obi Wan. It also shows us that Palpatine’s influence over Anakin is stronger than his Jedi training.

I’m not sure if it’s the acting or the writing that makes the whole thing seem disjointed and lame, but there you go. The bones were there.

We soon find out that Anakin is having dreams about Padmé in pain and dying—reminiscent of his mother. Anakin’s distress gets worse when he finds out she’s pregnant.

Does he go to Obi Wan or even Yoda about this? No. He goes to Palpatine.

The reason for this is apparent when Palpatine asks that Anakin become his special advisor on the Jedi council. The council decides (grudgingly) that Anakin can be on the council, but they don’t make him a Jedi Master.

Anakin is all bent out of shape about this and pouts just like he did in the last episode. Then Obi Wan asks Anakin, on the council’s behalf, if he’ll spy on Palpatine for them.

How. Dumb. Are. The. Jedi?

They know Anakin. They know he has a personal relationship with Palpatine. So yes, it makes sense that he could get information through him, but seriously? You know he’s going to be upset about it. Why not just talk to him like a normal human being when you need to know something? Ask Anakin his opinion and then what the Chancellor is thinking. You’ll attract more flies with honey than vinegar, dummies.

Yoda is 800 years old. He should know better.

Obi Wan is supposedly like a brother to Anakin. He should know better.

Once this crack has appeared, things go downhill. Yes, after Palpatine reveals himself as a Sith, Anakin goes to the council to tattle, but it’s too late. Palpatine already has his claws into Anakin, and when he has to choose between Mace Windu and Palpatine, he chooses the man who has shown him kindness and respect.

Duh.

Palpatine Becomes Emperor and the Empire Emerges

Most of this in the movie works. It is, unfortunately, built on the stupidity of the Jedi, but whatever, bring forth the Empire!

Yoda and Palpatine’s fight is epic. I like that Yoda looses, even after we’ve seen how powerful he is. Good job there.

Having the clones turn against the Jedi is brilliant. Talk about heartbreaking!

Palpatine has been setting pieces in place for this since before Episode I, and it pays off here. Frankly, I’d love to see a vignette of Palpatine’s manipulations. The conversations, the promises made, messing with the Jedi so the force was out of balance. That would be cool.

I mentioned in my review of Episode I that the whole bringing balance to the force thing never actually happens. We still don’t know what that should look like and why it’s out of balance now. It’s probably Palpatine’s fault, but they never show us. This is a huge ball dropped.

Anakin Completes His Fall to the Dark Side and Becomes Darth Vader

This is really what the movie is about, and bits and pieces of it are sprinkled throughout.

The dreams about Padmé are genius. This is his fear and Palpatine plays him like a fiddle.

If you just take the instances in the film where Palpatine breaks Anakin down, it’s not bad. It’s great that he loses control and hurts Padmé. Especially since he turned to the dark side for her. (Remember I said this is the most important relationship in the films?) So he could save her. The execution in the film is a little clumsy, but the bones are totally there.

My biggest beef with Anakin’s fall is at the Jedi Temple.

If he’s so powerful, I want to see him wading through Jedi to get the clones in. Kill a few people we care about. Heck, have the librarian lady be bad a** and give him a run for his money, until he gets irritated and basically squishes her like a bug.

Now for the moment in the film that actually jumped the shark for me.

Killing the Jedi children.

Show them begging. Show them pleading. Show them running toward Anakin in hopes of being saved, then have him turn the clones loose on them with a lazy wave of his hand. He’s too good to be bothered with killing weaklings like them. Show me that he doesn’t care. Give him space to fall farther when he hurts Padmé and fights with Obi Wan.

Obi Wan hides aboard Padmé’s ship when she goes to Anakin on Mustafar. Anakin thinks she betrayed him and he strangles her. This works.

I do like a meme I saw that said a woman who is eight months pregnant wouldn’t be prancing around asking Anakin what was wrong, she’d be like, “What the h*** Anakin? What are you doing??”

Then the fight…

The dueling is awesome. The hubby thinks it’s a bit long, but I disagree. The reason it feels long, is because it’s about the spectacle (cough-Lucas) and not the dark side and the light side. Or the bond of friendship that is supposed to be between these too. No, instead we get a lot of fancy special effects while Anakin tries to chop Obi Wan in half.

When Obi Wan tells Anakin the they were brothers…that he was supposed to be the chosen one…it falls flat. I mean, Ewan McGegor delivers the lines like a pro, but without some build up before that, it isn’t as powerful as it could be.

In my opinion, they should have been talking the entire fight. Obi Wan hardly ever stops talking before this, and he would be trying to slap some sense into Anakin. Every blow should have been a frustration between them, or something Obi Wan thought was awesome but Anakin counters with how he’s been treated and feeling for the past 15 years or whatever. Build up to those last moments and show us why Obi Wan can’t bring himself to kill Anakin. His friend. His brother.

There should have been tears!!!! And instead most of us were just waiting to watch Anakin burn. Which was, I must say, most impressive.

The more I thought about this movie, the better the bones felt to me. Execution was, in true Lucas style, too focused on the spectacle.

Obi Wan Saves Anakin’s Family…well the kids anyway

Okay, Obi Wan and Yoda save the kids. Ish. This had to happen for Episode 4 to happen. So there you go.

Let’s talk about Padmé for a second.

Padmé’s character was totally different than in the other two films. She needed more of a back bone. Strong women like that don’t just roll over when a strong man comes into their life. Especially if they’re hormonal. She probably could have taken the entire senate in a meeting by herself, but no, she sat back and watched.

Also the girl who fought her way back into her palace in episode I and then out of the pit of monsters in episode II is not going to die of a broken heart. Not unless we have a lot more context to work with. Even in the Clone Wars Series (yes, I’m bringing it up) there is plenty of tension between her and Anakin. Without showing us their passion, which doesn’t have to be sexual—this is a Star Wars movie—I can’t fathom giving up on life when you’ve just had two children.

Yes, I know she had to die while Leia was young (ugh on this too), but this could have been executed better.

Other tidbits

General Grievous…ugh…I know they needed someone for Obi Wan to beat up, but seriously? He’s better if you’ve seen the Clone Wars, where they gave the two of them quite a bit of history, but it didn’t work in this film. They should have introduced him in Episode II.

I do have to say that the last two minutes of Rogue One, where Darth Vader is after the stolen plans to the death star, makes him 100% cooler than he was in all three of the prequels combined. Why does it work so well? Because they SHOW us what he can do. They SHOW us how terrified everyone is of him, and then they follow up by having him easily wade through a bunch of fighters to get what he wants. Everyone in the theater cheered during that scene.

That’s what good storytelling can do.

 

Do you have any thoughts? Leave a comment below!


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