Star Wars Episode VI: Return of the Jedi (a 15-Minute Force production): Chapter Eight: The Redemption of Anakin Skywalker (Or: Look for the Hayden Christensen Cameo and Wonder Why Ewan McGregor and Liam Neeson Aren’t with Him)

 

15minuteKaboom

01:45:01 – THE END

Welcome to the final chapter of the Jedi Edition of the 15-Minute Force.

This will conclude our annotated synopses of the prequel trilogy, the standalone Rogue One, and the original trilogy. From here, we’re moving on to The Force Awakens, which I’ve seen only twice so far, and then The Last Jedi, which I’ve seen only in the theater.

At the end of Chapter Seven, Emperor Sheev Palpatine was still subjecting Luke Skywalker to mental torture, while goading him to pick up his lightsaber and strike the Emperor down in his cool, high-backed swivel chair.

As this chapter opens, he’s doing more of the same, until, finally, Luke can resist no longer. He uses the Force to bring his lightsaber hilt into his hand and immediately slashes at the Emperor. His attack is easily blocked by Darth Vader’s own red lightsaber laser blade. The Emperor cackles with glee.

We cut back to the battle on the forest moon of Endor. The Ewoks, who should be getting slaughtered by the Imperial stormtroopers with their guns and walkers and speederbikes, are holding their own. Of course, Chewbacca the Wookiee is helping them in the fight. Maybe that’s what tilts the odds in their favor.

Chewie gives a Tarzan yell as he swings on a vine to the roof of one of the Imperial chicken-walkers. I didn’t care for the Edgar Rice Burroughs homage when I saw the movie the first time, and I still thought it was hokey this time. One of the Ewoks peeks in at the Imperial soldiers through a cockpit window, luring one of them out through the roof hatch, where he expected to make short work of Teddy Ruxpin and his pals. Instead, the walker soldier gets yanked from the hatch by Chewie and tossed overboard.

Ewoks drop inside the walker cockpit and beat the pilot senseless. Now the Rebels have the firepower of an Imperial walker on their side.

The quick-cut scenes that follow show that the Ewoks are beginning to win the battle. A speederbike is lassoed so that it winds itself around a tree very quickly and explodes. Speederbike scouts are clotheslined on vines strung between tree trunks. Swinging tree trunks smash into a chicken-walker, destroying it. From platforms above, Ewoks pelt stormtroopers with rocks. A treefall of rigged logs is loosed at the feet of a walker, which comically slips on them and crashes.

Not that we ever thought otherwise, but it looks like the feral teddy bear creatures are going to win this battle and eat well tonight. When they’re celebrating later, just keep in mind that they eat bipedal humanoids.

Over at the shield generator bunker, Han Solo is still trying to hot-wire the bunker door. He says he has it, but then a second set of blast doors closes over the first. That wacky Han. Leia, who has been protecting her boyfriend with covering fire, suddenly cries out in pain as her shoulder is struck by a blaster shot.

As Han is checking the severity of Leia’s wound, two stormtroopers get the drop on them, telling them not to move. Leia has her own blaster ready in her hand, blocked from the stormtroopers’ view by Han. Han and Leia look into each other’s eyes.

Han says, “I love you.”

Leia smiles. “I know.”

A nice touch, because it mirrors their exchange in the carbon freezing chamber on Cloud City. Which, of course, you already knew.

Han moves out of the way and Leia easily disposes of the two stormtroopers. However, it looks like their story ends here anyway because they are suddenly faced with a giant walker, its weapons aimed right at them.

But, it’s the walker Chewie and the Ewoks commandeered. Chewie sticks his head out of the hatch and everyone is happy. The sudden arrival of the walker gives Han an idea, though. We’ll find out what that is in just a few minutes.

We have to return to the Emperor’s tower, where Luke and Darth Vader are engaged in another lightsaber duel. Luke doesn’t look outmatched the way he did on Cloud City.

The Emperor notices this, too. He encourages Luke to use his aggressive feelings, to let the hate flow through him. Luke knows what the Emperor is trying to do. He turns off his lightsaber and goes all Zen, trying to let go of all the bad feelings.

Obi-Wan has taught you well,” Vader tells his son.

I will not fight you, Father.”

You are unwise to lower your defenses.”

Vader attacks Luke again, of course. He’s a Sith Lord. Luke uses the Force to execute an impressive gravity-defying somersault to the catwalk above them. All the while, he’s yammering on about still sensing the good in Vader. The Sith Lord couldn’t bring himself to kill Luke on Cloud City, and Luke doesn’t think he will do so now.

You underestimate the power of the Dark Side. If you will not fight, then you will meet your destiny.”

Vader executes a neat boomerang trick with his own lightsaber, throwing it through the air to slice through the supports holding up the catwalk and then returning to his hand. Luke tumbles to the deck.

Out in space, the battle between the Rebel fleet and the Imperials rages on. The Rebels are experiencing some minor victories but they need for the shield to be dropped from the Death Star II.

Back at the bunker, Han uses the communicator in the walker to tell the Imperial soldiers inside the bunker that the Rebels have been routed but they need reinforcements to continue the pursuit.

The control room commander orders the bunker doors opened. The Imperial troops come out and are immediately surrounded by Rebels and Ewoks.

Back on the Death Star II, in the Emperor’s tower, Vader is stalking Luke. Luke’s thoughts betray him and Vader finds out that Luke has a twin sister.

Obi-Wan was wise to hide her from me. Now his failure is complete. If you will not turn to the Dark Side, then perhaps she will.”

This provokes Luke enough to attack. He lops off Vader’s right hand, which was already a robot hand, and is about to kill Vader as the Emperor encourages him to do so. He wants Luke to fulfill his destiny and take his father’s place at his side. The Sith Rule of Two, you understand.

Luke, who has his own robot hand, realizes that he’s more like his father than he had ever suspected. He extinguishes his lightsaber yet again. Luke is a huge proponent of passive resistance. Luke explains to the Emperor that he has failed, that he will never turn to the Dark Side.

I am a Jedi, like my father before me.”

The Emperor’s near-orgasmic glee now turns to rage.

So be it . . . Jedi.”

Elsewhere, the shield generator blows up, thanks to Han, Leia, Chewie and an army of Rebels and Ewoks. Above the forest moon, Admiral Ackbar orders the Rebel fleet to attack the Death Star II. Lando is happy that his buddy Han came through.

And Luke is zapped with Force lightning that comes from the Emperor’s pallid, limp hands. It seems to hurt. In his pain, staring defeat straight in the face, Luke turns to Vader.

Father, please,” he begs.

Darth Vader grabs the Emperor, who can’t turn off his Force lightning in mid-stream, and throws his Master down a deep, deep matte painting. The Emperor’s body explodes far down the shaft for some reason. I think it’s safe to assume that he is dead.

Wedge Antilles, Hero of the Rebellion, and Lando Calrissian, former baron administrator of Cloud City and current pilot of the Millennium Falcon, are the first two to enter the unfinished sphere that is the new Death Star. They lock onto the strongest power source, assuming that will be the main reactor.

Out in space, Admiral Ackbar and the rest of the Rebel fleet manage to take out Vader’s Imperial Star Destroyer, which crashes bow first into the Death Star.

Luke is dragging Vader toward an Imperial shuttle. The Death Star is rocked by explosions and tremors. Vader wants Luke’s help to take off his mask. Just for once, he wants to look on his son with his own eyes.

Under the mask is a scarred bald man with maggot-white skin who resembles Uncle Fester from The Addams Family more than a little. He looks nothing at all like Hayden Christensen. He has what appears to be a harmonica rig around his neck like Bob Dylan used to wear.

Anakin Skywalker—Darth Vader no more—tells his son to leave him, and to tell his sister that Luke was right about him. Luke says he won’t leave him. Then, Anakin Skywalker dies.

Lando and Wedge locate the reactor and blow it up while Luke leaves the station in one of those bad-guy Imperial shuttles. Lando emerges from the station’s innards just in the nick of time. The second Death Star explodes much like the first one did. And there is a huge Praxis ring. If you like it you shoulda put a ring on it.

Those on the forest moon of Endor can see the Death Star explosion above. Han looks at Leia and says he’s sure Luke wasn’t on that thing when it blew. Leia says that she knows he wasn’t. Han, the ever-jealous boyfriend, says, “You love him, don’t you?”

Yes”

All right. I understand. When he comes back, I won’t get in the way.”

Silly Han. “He’s my brother, jackass,” Leia says, but without the “jackass” part.

Later that night—or some night, at any rate—Luke uses a torch to light the funeral pyre where Anakin Skywalker’s body lies. For some unknown reason, the body is fully dressed in his Darth Vader mask and helmet. Seems like an odd choice to me. Maybe there’s a canonical rationalization for this. I think it was because it was easier to burn a mannequin dressed in plastic armor and a mask than an actor made up to be old, maggot-white Anakin.

The fireworks begin and we see glimpses of celebrations throughout the Star Wars galaxy. Places that look like Tatooine, Naboo, Coruscant . . . as well as Endor.

In the midst of the celebrations, Luke looks over and sees three Force ghost figures in the shadows. Obi-Wan Kenobi (the older Alec Guinness version), Yoda, and Anakin Skywalker (the Hayden Christensen version in this special edition). Why the older Obi-Wan and the younger Anakin? I don’t know. I’ll let you argue that one among yourselves.

My work here is done.

Until we begin watching The Force Awakens . . .Your Feeble Skills Are No Match for the Power of the Dark Side. You Have Paid the Price for Your Lack of Vision . . . and May the 15-Minute Force Be With You. Always.

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