For what it’s worth I like Ewoks. 😀
Return of the Jedi‘s problems are that:
Going back to Tatooine is unoriginal vs. having a new locale. You don’t have a character return back to his home unless you’re going to contrast who he is now (badass Jedi) with who he used to be (naïve farm boy looking for adventure), but since the earlier movies didn’t give us any open plot threads about life on Tatooine and didn’t establish any characters he left behind, there’s little to latch onto. If Star Wars had set up Jabba as this oppressive gangster, Luke’s coming home to free his people from his clutches with his newfound Jedi powers and important allies would be a good story beat, but since we have none of that, there’s no payoff to his homecoming. It should have just been a different planet. (It also very slightly weakens Han. Why was he still on the same planet as Jabba in Star Wars if their falling out was so severe he was sending the likes of Greedo to kill him? Wouldn’t Han have put a bit more distance between them?)
The entire Jabba sequence has no connection to the rest of the movie. Number 1 above notwithstanding, I really like the opening, but ideally something gotten or learned in act 1 should be useful in act 3 to tie it all together. An easy fix would be that since they need stolen imperial codes to infiltrate the Empire base at the end of the movie, maybe someone in Jabba’s employ could be bribed to provide them. Then the mission would be 1) rescue Han, 2) get the codes.
Reusing the Death Star instead of inventing a new threat. The movie didn’t even really need a new super weapon. The real menace is that the Emperor is already a step ahead of the Rebel and knows all about their attack plans. Instead of reusing the Death Star, which undercuts the victory from the first movie, they could have just had the Emperor’s base/throne be on Endor (the planet). The plan would be the same: the shield protecting it is on the forest moon. The ground forces need to take it down before the ships can start an air assault on the planet itself (instead of Death Star II). The planet could even have a surprise stationary weapon based on Death Star technology.
The Leia-as-sister plot is undercooked. This is a result of Lucas crunching down his plans for a sequel trilogy into one movie. His original idea was that the third movie would focus on Luke taking down Vader, then a new set of movies would involve him seeking out the “other” Yoda and Obi-Wan had mentioned, teaming up, and fighting the Emperor. When he got burned out, Lucas instead revealed Leia to be the “other,” did nothing with this revelation, and then had Luke confront Vader and the Emperor at once (which part does totally work, in fairness).
In general Han and Leia have no character development in the third movie. Han has already decided to stop being a scoundrel and joined up with the good guys in the first movie, and paid for his former life in Empire. Leia goes from being a leader of the rebellion in Star Wars to sitting out the last fight entirely in Jedi. It’s maybe okay for Han to stay where he is, but Leia‘s an easy fix: have her give the mission briefing instead of Mon Mothma. Then have her set up a radio on the moon during the fight and show her calling a few of the shots.
This is a smaller gripe, but I’d have preferred Boba Fett to just not be in this movie at all rather than him to appear and die having done nothing at all. That’s part of a larger problem I have with Star Wars universe stuff is that Star Wars was so magical because of how it implied a larger, lived-in universe that we were only seeing one adventure from. Ben refers to the “Clone Wars” but we don’t know what it was (initially). Han pulled something over on Lando that caused bad blood but we aren’t told what. The point of these little throwaway references is to show that the characters had full lives before we tuned in. The need to explain everything cuts against this. So, just have Boba Fett be a cool bounty hunter guy we see in a few scenes. He doesn’t need to be important outside of his brief intersection with these characters unless he’s actually going to do something.
All of that said, I think little of it winds up mattering because the movie absolutely gets its main storyline right, which is Luke pursuing his destiny. The way that Luke assumes his role is to kill Vader (as do we, because that’s how action movies typically end), but comes to learn that to really be the good guy he has to resist vengeance, is a masterful story turn. To have a character win by embracing pacifism and saving the galaxy with love and hope is tremendous and totally allows me to overlook the film’s other flaws.