Written by: Chefelf
Edited by: Jacques

Nitpick #1
Jabba's House Band
An insult to Max Rebo... I remember a time when Jabba's house band featured a man named Max Rebo. While the band is still technically named "The Max Rebo Band," it bares little resemblance to the band we see in the original version of this movie. I guess we can add Max Rebo to the list of characters, real and fake, who have been slighted by Lucas's digital hand. Max's 20 year reign as bandleader of Jabba's house band has pretty much been erased by the Special Edition. Max, along with Sy Snootles on vocals and Droopy McCool on the pipe, formed the complete band. The Star Wars Databank now refers to the original band as "the band's core" in their entry for the Max Rebo Band. However, they break canon rather shamelessly by pronouncing Joh Yowza as part of the "core" of the band.

"I went to The Julliard School for this?" Thought the wretched green turd.

The rest of the band comprises the "full stage performance". This is made up of Barquin D'an, the Bith, the Rodian Doda Bodonawieedo, Rappertunie, Ak-rev, and Umpass-stay. The backup singers and dancers are listed as Lyn Me, Rystáll and Greeata (not to be confused with Greeda from The Passions of Greedo).

Bith Blood, Rodian Sweat & Ithorian Tears

It is perhaps an understatement to say that Max Rebo takes a back seat to everyone else in this band (except, perhaps, Droopy McCool). Max is just some hired monkey, mindlessly throwing his sausage fingers down onto his Red Ball Jett keyboard. The show is completely stolen now by the ridiculous CGI antics of Sy Snootles and her cartoonish, expanding red lips. At one point the lips are in danger of swallowing the camera and the audience with it.

"Working out! Feeling Good! Lapti Nek!"

As if this was not enough insult to Max, fans, and the movie franchise as a whole, there is the additional inclusion of Joh Yowza. The Star Wars Databank lets us know that Joh is a Yuzzum from the plains of Endor. Apparently Endor is home to not one but at least two small, furry, annoying sentient races. Joh's harmonica is just the start as he begins belting out a gravelly, obnoxious song while displaying his quaking uvula to the terrified audience who has already been nearly swallowed by Sy Snootles's cherry-red lips.

"It doesn't matter what I say; So long as I sing with inflection!"

The only solace I find in any of this is knowing that that entire band perished in a fiery death upon Jabba's sail barge somewhere over the Dune Sea.

The CGI Jabba Scale of Special Edition Stupidity

Nitpick #2
Backup Singers
Max Rebo's backup singers build a strong case for the use of more CGI. While, as a rule, I hate CGI characters, these characters represent possibly the worst live action makeup and costume jobs in film history. The three of them look like they're about to come in tenth place in a Star Wars costume contest.

A long time ago, in the early 1980s.

How is it that the crappy Rodian suit in A New Hope is so much more believable than the crappy Rodian suit presented here? Perhaps it is just the plastic sheen that makes it so unbelievable and lifeless. Perhaps it is just the general crappiness of all Special Edition additions that makes it seem this way.

The CGI Jabba Scale of Special Edition Stupidity

Nitpick #3
Jedi Rocks
I hate to carry on about Jabba's band*, but I would just like to state that the official title of the song they are performing is Jedi Rocks. I don't believe there is any need for comment, sarcastic, witty or otherwise. The song is called Jedi Rocks. Max Rebo's band is performing a song and that song is a song that is called Jedi Rocks. Think Lapti Nek was a dumb name for a song? You're right. However, I would like to point out that the name of the new song is Jedi Rocks. Jedi Rocks.

* I don't actually hate to do it at all.

The CGI Jabba Scale of Special Edition Stupidity

Nitpick #4
Boba Fonzarelli
In an unending effort to make Boba Fett seem cooler than he is, Lucasfilm chose to add a scene to Return of the Jedi where Boba Fett is seen flirting with the female backup singers of Max Rebo's band. He gently tickles one of their chins before making his way over to help Jabba deal with Boushh (Princess Leia in disguise). Here's a thought. If they wanted Boba Fett to be more kickass, instead of adding a scene to show him being playful with some ladies, how about removing the scene where he dies because a blind Han Solo accidentally bumped into him?


The Yaddle Scale of Prequel Stupidity

The CGI Jabba Scale of Special Edition Stupidity

Nitpick #5
Oola La!
With yet more of Lucas's new grab-you-by-the-shoulders-and-shake-you-violently film philosophy, we are treated to an extended scene of Oola in the rancor's pit. In the original version of the film, you only see Oola fall into the pit and then hear growls and screaming. It makes it very tricky for the viewer to figure out what had happened. What exactly was going on down there? Did someone startle her wearing a scary mask? Was it simply a waterslide and were the screams actually of excitement and joy?

The Wampa Scale of Insignificance

Nitpick #6
Rancor Scene
The rancor scene is a great example of what the Star Wars DVDs should be, a beautifully cleaned up version of the original scenes that looks far superior to the originals. We are not subjected to Luke doing unnecessary flips to evade the rancor. We do not get treated to a song and dance number by the rancor's keeper. There is not a shot of the rancor doing a bit of softshoe while smoking a cigar and wearing a top hat. Just a cleaned up, digitally mastered scene. Was that so hard?

The Lando Calrissian Scale of Greatness

Nitpick #7
Rancor With a Side of Calamari
When a movie is released when you are five years old, you don't really give it the same critical analysis that you are able to give at twenty-seven. Something I may have noted as a five-year-old, had my vocabulary been a bit stronger, is that calling a monster "rancor" is just plain dumb. When I later learned the meaning of the word a few years later (at age seven or eight, I assume) I remember thinking: Wow. It makes sense why they called that monster the rancor! Neat! However, when I reached my early teens I realized that it wasn't "neat". It was really dumb. Don't believe me? How about one of these alternate names for the rancor?

  • The Acrimony
  • The Grudge
  • The Ill Will
  • The Unfriendliness
  • The Malevolence
  • The Bitterness

The same principle applies to the inclusion of a squid-like race called the Mon Calamari. That same lack of understanding applied to my five-year-old self as to the meaning of the word calamari. The same "Ooooooh, I get it!" feeling came when I later figured out the meaning of the word. And the same feeling of shame and disappointment dawned on me in my early teen years when I realized that they were simply named after some fried squid. It would be like having a bird-like race and naming it El Kentucky Fried Pollo.

Nitpick #8
Herd of Banthas
Yeah. There's a herd of banthas. Really gives you a sense of how there were some banthas.

The Wampa Scale of Insignificance

Nitpick #9
Sarlacc Changes
The changes to the Sarlacc have always confused me. The Sarlacc pit seemed to work fine when it was just a central spiky pit with some tentacles. The inclusion of a centralized carnivorous worm seems like an odd choice. As far as I can figure, Lucasfilm wasn't satisfied with the similarities between Tatooine and Frank Herbert's Dune. The exchange may have went something like this:

George Lucas: What could we do to make Tatooine more derivative of Dune?
Lucasfilm Exec: Have spice?
George Lucas: Well I think we already explored spice and spice mining enough, so I feel that area has been explored.
Lucasfilm Exec: So the real question is: What else is there in Dune that we haven't nicked yet?

A silent, contemplative moment.

Lucasfilm Exec: Worms!
George Lucas: That's it! We'll add Dune-like worms to the Sarlacc pit! Brilliant!
Lucasfilm Exec: The spice is the worm!
George Lucas: The worm is the spice!
Together: Spice!


The Wampa Scale of Insignificance

The CGI Jabba Scale of Special Edition Stupidity

Nitpick #10
Han's Strong Feet
In the first version of Return of the Jedi, Han was almost knocked off one of the sail barges, but managed to hang on by his toes. We can only assume that Han has been doing calf and ankle exercises regularly in anticipation of such an event. This would be a difficult task if the sail barge were level and Han only had to hang on at a 90 degree angle to the barge. However, a stray laser blast that hit the barge had knocked it off angle. Han then had to keep himself attached to the barge at a 120 degree angle.

Sure, Chewbacca came to his aid by holding his feet in place, but that doesn't really explain the few seconds he had to manage this prior to Chewie arriving. Still an amazing feat.

The Special Edition tries to fix this by adding some ropes to Han's feet. I can't tell if this change is for the better or for the worse. Sure, it helps us to understand how Han accomplished this, but begs the question: Why are there ropes on Han's feet all of a sudden? Previously, I would assume that Han somehow used the Force to cling onto the sail barge. Now I assume that he used the Force to tie some ropes to his feet as he was falling over the edge.

The Lando Calrissian Scale of Greatness

Nitpick #11
Han's Dialogue
In the original version of Return of the Jedi, Han raises his blaster to shoot at the tentacle of the Sarlacc monster, who has latched onto Lando and is dragging him into its spiked belly. When Lando sees the blaster pointed at him he screams, "No wait, I thought you were blind!" To which Han replies, "It's all right, trust me!"

That's fine, right? Wrong! You aren't thinking like George Lucas. Why leave an average line of dialogue in the movie when you could go through all the trouble of replacing it with another average line of dialogue that doesn't change anything at all? Now Han Solo's response to Lando is: "It's all right, I can see a lot better!"

One thing worth mentioning is that this changed line, as with the addition of ropes on Han's feet, eliminates any possible speculation that Han may be Force sensitive. This is something I hadn't given a lot of thought to before these changes, but now it is clear. Han's feet were bound to the railing of the sail barge, which means he did not use the Force to balance himself. Han also miraculously regained his vision, which means he wasn't using the Force to guide his blaster shot. Of course he could have used the Force to cure his blindness, but that's open to debate.

The Wampa Scale of Insignificance

Nitpick #12
The Ewoks, in theory, are a good idea. Hear me out. The idea of a primitive race of people that can overthrow the might of the Galactic Empire is a neat idea. The execution, however, is poor. It's bad enough that the stormtrooper armor offers absolutely zero protection against any sort of laser blast that hits their body. A weak laser blast to the left calf = death. The idea that sticks and blunt, poorly shot arrows also kill the stormtroopers (without any visual armor penetration) is a bit of a stretch.

The Ewoks, with their fluffy good looks and NERF® weaponry, manage to pull off one of the greatest strategic battle wins in the history of cinema. The Ewok forces, which seem to be numbered pretty evenly against battle trained troops with laser rifles and superior technology, only seem to suffer one battlefield casualty. The scene where the fallen Ewok soldier is mourned should be removed from the Special Edition. One casualty? That's not even worth mourning if it's your own brother. They should realize that they got off easy and just battle on.

Perhaps making the Ewoks fight a bit more savagely would have lent credibility to the idea that they could even stand up against the Empire. I'm not even suggesting a change in their cuddly appearance, just a bit more bloodlust. Instead, what we are left with is a comically idiotic battle between the worst soldiers in the universe and a troop of waddling teddy bears. This is particularly soft after the dark nature of the film that preceded it.

Ideally, the Special Editions would have addressed some of these issues. We should have seen more battle fatalities to the good guys and an Ewok force that fought with much more aggression. Instead, we are forced to sit through a battle that makes the cartoon battle at the end of The Phantom Menace look like serious war.

The Chewbacca's Tarzan Yell Scale of Changes that Should Have Been Made

Nitpick #13
Chewbacca of the Jungle
I can scarcely think of something that pulls you out of the movies more than this moment. It reminds you that you aren't watching a story of what happened a long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away. You are, instead, in a very present time in a galaxy right here. Aside from the inclusion of E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial in the senate chamber in The Phantom Menace -- which, by the way, proves that Earth exists in the Star Wars universe -- this is the most egregious display of Earth happenings in the entire franchise.

Chewbacca swings, with two Ewoks clinging to him, onto an AT-ST using a vine. I'm cool with that. However, he chooses to let off a Tarzan yell. I'd call it something else, but there is nothing else to call it. It's a Tarzan yell. It's the yell that Tarzan makes when he swings on a vine. I can't refer to it as anything else because Tarzan made it up. It's his yell. The fact that Chewbacca makes the same yell when he swings on a vine can only mean one thing: he's seen a Tarzan movie. Presumably he, E.T. and Doctor Emmett Brown all caught a matinee sometime in the mid 1950's. The real question is this: Did this happen before or after the Clone Wars?

"Watch out for that tree!"

The Chewbacca's Tarzan Yell Scale of Changes that Should Have Been Made

Nitpick #14
Anakin's Eyebrows
It is hard to think of a more frivolous use of Lucasfilm's technology than the removal of Sebastian Shaw's eyebrows from the final Vader/Anakin scene. It's as if he's brainstorming the most ridiculous and unnecessary changes, or trying to find new and inventive ways to occupy the time of his computer effects wizards. It still remains to be seen how Anakin gets injured and lands himself in the Vader suit, but the speculation at this point seems to revolve heavily around some lava. I'm no vulcanologist, but even I know that falling into lava, in most cases, just results in some nasty injuries and singed eyebrows. Nothing that a little cybernetics can't fix. It makes me wonder why Vader didn't have metallic cyborg eyebrows. Now that would have been a great use of his digital effects experts.

"Luuuke... help me... take these... eyebrows off."

Another option is that, upon further consideration, Lucas decided that Vader meticulously shaved his eyebrows. It's just something that really adds depth to the character. After all, what do you think Vader was doing in that meditation chamber onboard the Executor, meditating?

The lava thing makes perfect sense. I mean, what's cooler than having Vader get injured by some lava? Well, I guess having him get attacked by six dinosaurs would have been cooler. The classic struggle of Jedi versus dinosaur often ends poorly for the Jedi.

The Wampa Scale of Insignificance

The Lando Calrissian Scale of Greatness

Nitpick #15
Celebrate the Love
The implication that the death of the emperor means instant freedom for the people of the galaxy is rather unsupported by our knowledge of the previous movies. If recent events are any indicator, the death of a dictator rarely results in instant freedom for everyone. Usually, a dictator, when setting himself up as such, puts in place some form of military enforcement to make sure his insane demands and laws are upheld. Unless the dictator controls his various enforcement agencies with a hive mind (like the Great Bee King of Angola), then those agencies are usually left standing in his wake.

Political inner-workings aside, the end of Return of the Jedi: Special Edition presents us with a rather silly montage that shows celebrations on various planets ten minutes after the Death Star blows up. We get to see Tatooine, which never fell under the direct jurisdiction of the Republic or the Empire, celebrate with great joy. It must be very rewarding for them to know that there will now be another new government that will ignore it and allow its human slavery trade to continue, unhindered by meddling politicians and their silly laws.

Coruscant, the capital of the Empire, and the Republic before it, is featured as a wild mob yanks down a statue of Emperor Palpatine with seemingly no trouble at all. This scene was presented first in 1997, and U.S. soldiers tried to recreate the moment in Iraq last year by clumsily attempting to topple a statue of Saddam Hussein. They found that statues don't just tip over with a gentle push. Usually, they're made from heavy materials like metal and/or rock.

"Well, that was easy. We should've done that years ago!"

Lastly, we see Naboo, everyone's favorite prequel planet with a funny name. High above the Theed Palace, we see Gungans, creeping about like spiders, and we hear one of them yell, "Weesa free!" Yousa free, all right. Yousa free, indeed.

The Wampa Scale of Insignificance

The CGI Jabba Scale of Special Edition Stupidity

The Yaddle Scale of Prequel Stupidity

Nitpick #16
New Song
No longer are we treated to the wonderful Ewok classic Yub Nub Victory Celebration. In its place is a more serious flute and tribal drum song composed by John Williams for the 1997 Special Edition release. The change goes a long way to changing the overall feeling of the scene, but ultimately I feel indifferent about it. I think both songs are equally good and appropriate. One of the problems is that the new composition is much mellower, causing the Ewok's silly, hyper dancing seem a bit inappropriate. Most affected seems to be the shot where the Ewoks use a collection of stormtrooper helmets as percussive instruments. Dumb, yes, but in the original movie it is accompanied musically by the Williams Victory Celebration on some sort of xylophone or marimba. Now that one shot seems considerably out of place. Overall, the carnival atmosphere is lost and what we are presented with is a somewhat out of place musical number that is suitable for the closing of the trilogy yet does a poor job of blending with the clownish antics of the Ewoks.

The Wampa Scale of Insignificance

Nitpick #17
Perhaps the most lamented change to the Specialer Edition is that of Hayden Christensen appearing as Anakin's Jedi apparition at the very end of the movie. It raises quite a few questions. Was Obi-Wan right after all? Did Anakin die when he became Lord Vader? Is that why he appears much younger than Obi-Wan and Yoda, who are represented by apparitions that show their age at the time of their deaths? Is Lucas just trying to get back at Sebastian Shaw for pissing him off? Is this related to Vader's lack of eyebrows?

Obi-Wan: "Who the hell are you?" Yoda: "Broken bread, we have not."

So many questions. So much room for interpretation. One thing is for sure: we can all rest assured that these questions won't be answered by Lucas's next revision of his classic trilogy. More questions may be piled on, but this latest installment of questions will merely be debated endlessly in the theaters and on numerous Star Wars forums until our generation becomes too old to type and future generations have moved on to even stupider uses of their free time.

The CGI Jabba Scale of Special Edition Stupidity

The Flying R2-D2 Scale of Sequel to Prequel Inconsistency

The Yaddle Scale of Prequel Stupidity

In Conclusion...

Return of the Jedi already gave us plenty of reasons to think it has problems. If that was any doubt that Return of the Jedi is the weakest movie of the original trilogy, that doubt has been cleanly removed with the release of the Special Edition. Any hope for the original trilogy is quickly fading. The best we can hope for now is some changes in the inevitable next release of the original trilogy special edition. However, we all know better than that by now, don't we?

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Reasons to Hate Star Wars

Episode I (78 Reasons to Hate!)

Episode II (64+ Reasons to Hate!)

Episode III (91 Reasons to Hate!)

The Nitpicker's Guide to Star Wars

Episode IV: Special Edition (12 Nitpicks!)

Episode V: Special Edition (8 Nitpicks!)

Episode VI: Special Edition (17 Nitpicks!)

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