Friday, 28 February 2014

Star Wars Episode VI: Triumph of the Ewoks

Despite the fact Return of the Jedi is often seen as the weakest of the Original Trilogy (and rightly so), it was my favourite Star Wars movie as a kid. Although A New Hope is now my favourite Star Wars movie (and favourite movie period), and while I recognise that The Empire Strikes Back is the best movie of the trilogy, Return of the Jedi will always hold a warm place in my heart.

There are enough scenes of Luke Skywalker being a badass in the first third of the movie while he's rescuing Han Solo to stir those childhood moments when I thought he was the coolest wizard in the galaxy.

Jedis are wizards, right? My 10 year old self could barely comprehend that they occasionally used blasters in addition to light-swords and magic. 

However, it is rather unusual that Luke occupies the cool character role at all. This is because the previous movies had conditioned us to think that he was just a whiny farm boy who also just so happened to have a bitching light-sword and could move things with his mind (if he tried really hard and didn't give up like he generally did because he was a punk and made Yoda sad). In the Episodes IV and V of the Star Wars Saga, one character, and one character only, occupied the coolest-motherfucker-in-the-galaxy role and that was Han Solo.

I'm just going to leave this up here...

Han is the epitome of cool. He radiates cool like the way uranium radiates radiation. It's just what he does. A swashbuckling anti-hero for the ages and galaxies, Han is the perfect wish fulfillment fantasy, equal parts cowboy/outlaw/rogue/ruffian/rock 'n' roller/pilot/pirate/surprisingly sensitive lover, he is a huge part of what makes Star Wars amazing.

Unfortunately, being cryogenic frozen in carbonite had quite the chilling (sorry) impact on Han's cool (I'm so sorry), putting him out of commission for the first third of the film, leaving Luke to pick up the slack.  
"Cloud City Carbonite Freezing - Putting your cool on ice for 50 years!"

Indeed, Return of the Jedi can actually be thought of as a film of two halves. The first half is pure rescue mission with the whole gang trying to save Han's cool from being eternally encased in carbonite as Jabba the Hutt's favourite decoration, leading them to kill bounty hunters and feed the Sarlaac while Han revives. At this stage of the film he is practically as helpless as a child, weak and blinded by the loss of his cool factor.

Although he soon recovers enough for GIF sized witty banter, the healing process was somewhat slow and full recovery took a whole act.

The second half is a bit more interwoven, with a three plotlines occurring simultaneously as Luke confronts the Emperor and Darth Vader, Lando Calrissian flies the Millennium Falcon in a pretty awesome space battle (complete with laser blasts and exploding spaceships) against the Imperial Starfleet, while Han and Leia team up with the teddy bears on Endor to overthrow the Empire.
"Sorry. What? Repeat that last part..." - Han Solo

Although few people like to admit it, the Empire was totally overthrow by a bunch of cuddly jungle teddy bears armed with sticks and stones. No, literally. Amongst their weaponry are such diverse elements as: sticks, stones, slingshots, spears, bows and arrows, but mostly sticks and stones.

I guess your armory is never empty when you can basically just pick up ammunition off the floor. 

While the thought of the evil and galaxy spanning Empire being overthrown by what are essentially forest moon Care Bears is initially upsetting, it actually makes a lot of sense. The Empire was never going to be taken down by another equally formidable military force; remember, the Rebel Alliance was a ragtag bunch of misfits staffed by outlaws and runaway politicians, with little in the way of advanced weaponry (see sticks and stones entry above) or military intelligence.

When your general is a talking calamari whose only military insight is knowing that something is a trap when it is in the process of trapping him, you might be lacking in the battle strategist department.

The Rebellion is constantly on the back-foot, on the run from the Empire, lacking facilities or a stable stronghold, unable to fight the Empire directly due to their small and insufficient military might. Furthermore, we are told by random stoic lady in white, Mon Mothma (who despite never being seen or mentioned again in the movie, is apparently some sort of leader in the Alliance) that the schematics of the new, as yet incomplete, Death Star cost the lives of many Bothan spies to collect.

A Bothan. Obviously.

While this seems rather tragic and raises the stakes due to the price that the information cost, once we learn later that this was false information that the Emperor planted and let them gather to trick the Alliance into attacking the fully armed and operational battle station, it just becomes sad. Because now those poor mammalian anthropoid Bothans died for nothing and were actually quite inept at their job, which was to gather information. Sadly, Bothans make bad spies.


But this just highlights why the military might of teddy bears on a forest moon are the only logical way the Empire could have been defeated: they are the ultimate underdogs.

No, not that Underdog.

And underdogs will always win out against bigger, stronger, and more organised opponents with better intelligence and more advanced technology. It's science.

Pictured: A utterly superior and better equipped starfleet.
Totally doomed.

And that's why Endor's Care Bears are the harbingers of destruction for the Empire. Their cute and non-intimidating physical appearance and pathetic prehistoric weaponry is so hopelessly outclassed by the Stormtroopers blasters, giant AT-ATs (the big walking tanks/killing machines) and speeder bikes that is there is no way the Empire could ever conceive of winning with the odds so strongly in their favour. Really, they should have retreated, it was practically suicide.

You laugh but that's because you forget that this happened.

These forest moon teddy bears are really agents of death for any superior or more technologically advanced enemy force. Really, the greater the size of the enemy force the more doomed they are to crushing and humiliating defeat at the hands (paws?) of those adorable little fur-bags.

Originally, the battle was to set on the Wookie home planet and while that initially sounds unbelievably awesome, it would have inevitably spelt doom for the Rebel Alliance. Wookiees are a fierce, powerful, and technologically advanced race of Sasquatches that rip off the arms of whomever they're playing a friendly game of Dejarik with if they lose.

Fantastic warriors, poor losers.

While I am aware that the "Oh. My. God. A-battle-on-the-Wookiee-home-planet-would-be-frigging-amazing!!!" part of your brain is still flashing, there actually was a battle on the Wookiee home planet. During the Galactic Civil War. Which the good guys (including Wookiees) lost. Because they were just too badass to be anywhere close to the sort of underdog needed to defeat an evil Empire that spanned a whole galaxy.

But behold, the destroyer of empires!

No, in order to defeat a galaxy spanning evil Empire dedicated to the Dark Side and the elimination of democracy, you need an underdog like no other. An underdog so technologically inert they think that whatever sticks or stones lying on the ground are good enough against blasters and metal walking tanks. A race of aliens so utterly cute that it literally makes you sick to your stomach how completely adorable they are.

"Awww, look! It's flying on little wings it made to glide about. And see the tiny rocks it's going to drop on us. Isn't it adorable?" - A Stormtrooper mere seconds before his death.

The Rebel Alliance won against the Empire, not because Luke manage to turn Darth Vader back to the Light Side of the Force or Vader subsequently killing the Emperor, or even Lando Calrissian blowing up the Death Star (Mk.II). Rather, it was the mere fact that Han and Leia got on really well with some Care Bears on a forest moon and convinced them to join their side.

Isn't it?


Hijinks Ensue (read it, it's amazing)

Return of the Jedi Wikipedia page

Ewok Wikipedia page

Bothan Wookieepedia page

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