The edit is not always seamless and *sometimes* I have to do a few logical jumps, but most of the time it's pretty sound. Spence crafted a very unique take on the film which is surely very influential in ROTJ edits, and many of his cuts here should honestly become standard for all ROTJ edits going forward. Not really my go-to but a worthy and very necessary step in ROTJ fan editing.
I was originally going to compare it to your original edit, but as I have not required that yet (someone feel free to help) then I will have to review this first. This is a positive review and I believe this will be my "come-to-edit" whenever I decide to watch Return Of The Jedi, so here we go with the review...
First off, the editor does move scenes around in this final cut and I think it's for the better. From memory, the Luke and Yoda scenes appear very early on in the edit and it's much better placed for me personally. There isn't a long death scene for Yoda and the viewer can learn about Leia from the beginning, which I think benefits the pacing too. Obi-Wan is completely gone - for me that's a positive, as whenever the supposedly "wise" Obi-Wan opens his mouth in RotJ you just wish he had kept it shut. No force ghosts appear in this film whatsoever....I didn't miss them.
Jabba's Palace begins with Leia rescuing Han and that's how it should have been in the original as there's no dawdling 3PO and R2 and all the unnecessary padding is cut. I think the only cuts that did catch my eye was with Luke sensing that Leia and Han was in trouble whilst still on Dagobah. Did they need to be in the edit? I don't know. I'll be honest and say that for myself, they felt slightly out of place, but I think the editor may have wanted Luke's presence to be more announced to the audience, perhaps....
I personally loved there being no songs or dancers at Jabba's Palace. It somehow makes the palace look less trashy. But most importantly (or controversially I should say) is that the Rancor is completely gone. That may divide Star Wars fans somewhat, but I couldn't care less about the Rancor or his obese crying owner either. I think the absence works and quickens the pace as we are quickly led straight into the original (yes - the original!) Sarlacc Pit, which is personally my favourite part of the film. I think what was most creative about this scene edit in particular was that the editor made 3PO and R2 fall off the deck due to the explosion that Luke caused. I liked that very much. But best of all - there is NO Boba Fett - and it's a big plus, as his supposed "death" is bloody awful and still annoys me to this day. You'd think Lucas with his "brilliant remasters" would have done something with the much loved Boba Fett character? Ah well. One day....
Other scenes that I will say a few words on are:
- The removal of the Wicket scenes. I believe you edited most of the Ewoks stuff on the original edit, so I'm yet to watch and comment on that. I personally cannot stand the bloody sight of them, so naturally I thought they were in this too much! I personally think the whole Battle of Endor goes on way too long and is just a bit boring (even Death Star II could be cut further down).
- The Luke Skywalker/Darth Vader fight scenes were stunning and the editing work you did was stunning. They worked so well together! Somehow you made it join together flawlessly. The music was a surprise and managed to find a few more inches of suspense in those fight scenes!
- Having "Anakin's Theme" for Anakin's death was possibly the greatest thing you did with this entire edit. It simply worked. It's so much better than the original dull "Darth Vader's Death" score, which frankly makes the scene cold and an oddity. Instead you created the right tone and this tone should have been made originally when I repeatedly watched that particular bit again and again. You actually improved Return Of The Jedi as a whole with that.
- I didn't miss the original cheesy ending. I think you made the sensible choice with your edit.
First off, a big hand must be given to musiced921 for supplying me with this edit. I was actually looking for the one without the Ewoks in it, but obviously it didn't satisfy Spence at the time, hence why he re-did it, and this is the edit I ended up receiving. Nevertheless, it was an interesting edit, running rather leanly at just one hour and thirty three minutes, it rearranges scenes, creating a more meaningful first scene for Luke that establishes his path.
In the original cut, he kind of acts a bit high and mighty already, almost as if he didn't need to go to Dagobah and complete his training, but here the crawl and the scene on Dagobah is structured to follow on from Vader's arrival, and we follow Luke on his journey to Tatoonie, not entirely sure of himself as Yoda says he must confront Vader to be fully realised. It's a very well woven scene, and gives both Luke and the audience less detachment from what Luke had been up to in between Empire and this.
The idea of placing the Emperor on the Star Destroyer is another great touch. After all, why would the Emperor risk making himself a sitting duck on the Death Star when chances are his plan could go tits up? Being on a Star Destroyer at least gives him the chance to take off as soon as things do.
The restructuring of the battle of Endor rattles along, there is more urgency, you feel this is a costly battle as good men die and Luke feels more entrapped with the walls closing in, his fateful duel with Vader is even accompanied by familiar cues such as duel of the fates!
I've seen a few edits that have utilised the ending with Luke burning Anakin's body as the fireworks rage on, but it's still powerful imagery to end the original trilogy on. I'd still somewhat like to see the Ewok party as it gives us all a chance to see the group of friends, now very much a family, a chance to be together one last time. Luke can always bury Vader after seeing the ghosts. Maybe the ghosts could have been watching Luke burn Anakin, there's an idea. Ah well.
And lastly the additional end credits are a hoot...though I do wonder who 'lordsidi' is and what he did to warrant an "absolutely no thanks to..." credit. Feels a bit weird to promote the DVD version of this in the credits when all I have of this is the MP4, but ah well...if someone could track the DVD version down, let me know what I'm missing, because it doesn't tell you anything here.
Most fans of Star Wars can admit that Jedi is nowhere near on-par with Empire. Having been released thirty years ago, I decided to do some research to find out what the awesome community at Fanedit.org was doing about this film. Spence's final cut was the first edit of Jedi that I watched, and I wasn't very moved. Many of the cuts made were great, and I have to compliment the editor on the entire last act (save a few music choices I'll mention). The complete rearranging of the final battle added more tension than I ever felt during that scene. The Ewoks and their "shenanigans" were limited and tolerable, drawing the focus to the Rebellion in a much more convincing way.
Most of my problems come from personal preference, though I'll try to stay unbiased: The Tatooine scene was cut way too short. Jabba's palace has this slow buildup in Jedi, which I think adds more to Han's rescue in terms of tension and adventure. Some cuts of redundant conversations were good, but the scene moved much too quickly, which resulted in a "tying up loose ends" scene from that whole Cloud City arc from Empire. The strongest part of Jedi, I felt, suffered the most amount of cuts in this edit.
There were a lot of smaller cuts, mostly with Han, that I actually approve of. His humor was tagged down in this edit, I think that adds a ton to his character's growing maturity (which, of course, stemmed from the moment he joined the Alliance). Some transitions from scene to scene were a bit too jarring, but the characters didn't suffer from it.
The biggest problems I have with the edit involve the choice of adding tracks from the prequels. I love those soundtracks, but Duel of the Fates did not fit at all. That scene didn't need music, it dragged my focus away from the Vader/Luke conflict. The new song over their last conversation was also distracting and too overbearing. Simplicity and a minimalistic sound worked well in both those scenes in Jedi, they seem too bogged down now.
Was the edit truly bad? Not at all, and I can see why it won Edit of the Month. Would I watch it again? No, most of the cuts were just too radical for my taste.
I really like Return of the Jedi, but in terms of ending a saga, it's really disappointing. The story is flat and tensionless. The special editions added more nonsense to an already weak entry to the saga.
I presume the source for this edit was the 2004 Special Edition DVD + 2006 GOUT DVD (for replacing SE nonsense), so the quality isn't the best. Same goes for the editing. It's not bad, but in some places it feels choppy. Especially in Tatooine where Luke senses his friends. Still a minor problem though, it doesn't hurt the experience.
Spence has created a great narrative in this edit. He fixed the Tatooine plot perfectly, for example. In my opinion, the Dagobah scene should have been left as it is, Obi-Wan and all. Also the new ending is IMO too abrubpt. I wish that would have been left in. The biggest problem, though, is the Death Star/Star Destroyer swap. In the original movie, we find out that The Emperor is confident enough to see the final stages of the Death Star II, and so he is in it. The Rebels decide to end the war once and for all with this information and destroy the Death Star. There was tension there, but not enough. Here, though, he goes to the Star Destroyer, and the Rebels attack the Death Star. Huh? This plan makes no sense, why not destroy the Star Destroyer? Also the tension is gone here. And Luke ends the war. It's abrubpt again.
Finally, we end up with a fanedit that is just as good as the original, but I prefer the original because of the narrative making more sense. It's a good edit, though. Just not as good as I expected.