Being 6 years old when RETURN OF THE JEDI was released, the Ewoks never bothered me. Watching the film now as an adult the 'teddy bears' still don't bother me, but man the Endor stuff is just boring nowadays. The end is still cool with the second Death Star battle, and Luke fighting Vader, but everything else on Endor drags. And it's not the Ewoks fault.
After the success of THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK you would think Lucas and company had a better idea for EPISODE VI? If memory serves, George Lucas even mentions in the commentary on the DVD that Endor, Luke facing Vader, and the second Death Star battle were the only ideas he had for the third film. Really? That just seems odd to me. Rescuing Han Solo was an afterthought apparently? Which leads me to believe that at one time Lucas was okay with killing off the character, but changed his mind because of action figure sales. I'm sure he never was fine with the idea of killing off Han heroically, but you never know.
I mentioned earlier how now watching the movie as a adult that most of the stuff that takes place on Endor drags RETURN OF THE JEDI to a grinding halt. Of course because of the Ewoks being all cute for the kids. But also because Harrison Ford is phoning-it-in on his performance. Now this is pure speculation on my part but I believe this has something to do with Ford and the film's screenwriter wanting to kill off Han Solo. George Lucas said no, and that's why we've got a half hearten Han Solo in Episode VI.
Once everything is over with on Tatooine, the only interesting character arc for the rest of the film is Luke Skywalker. Which makes sense...I guess?
Just as the seasons change so does my opinion of my favorite Star Wars film. Probably never again, but there have been a few times that RETURN OF THE JEDI was my favorite film in the saga. The last time was during the 1997 re release in theaters. I think it had to do with seeing the film on the big screen mixed with the Rebellion defeating the Empire. And the story arc of Darth Vader. Make fun of Lucas all you want (I do), but the man had a vision for this original trilogy.
The film being my favorite of the trilogy lasted for a couple of years before Episode V took back the title. Then there was a long stretch until just recently that STAR WARS was my favorite. I fell in love with how simple the story was. A fairy tale in space.
While both STAR WARS and THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK had lots of classic iconic moments, some of my favorite scenes in RETURN OF THE JEDI were the small ones. Like the confirmation from Yoda that Vader was indeed Luke's father. “Tell you, did he”? Man, I still love that scene! And everything during Luke's surrender to Vader and the Emperor.
Probably not (because of the Endor stuff), but there is a chance RETURN OF THE JEDI could again become my favorite. And that is if the theatrical release was ever made available. It is my dream to have an unaltered HD home video release of RETURN OF THE JEDI. As a kid I remember Jabba's Palace being a strange and somewhat scary place? Not anymore, thanks to the Special Edition. Instead, now the vile gangster's home has been child proofed. The “new and improved” dance number is the worst added sequence in the history of Special Edition additions.
Despite all the flaws I have with the movie, it's still part of the original trilogy, it's still Star Wars, and it's still a part of my childhood. Therefore, I am still always going to love it.
At the time of this post we are practically a month away from STAR WARS THE FORCE AWAKENS. How crazy is that! This is the moment that fans have waited 32 years for! A new Star Wars film!