January 31, 2017
I love the original trilogy. A lot. Those films are some of my all-time favorites. However, Return of the Jedi always seemed a bit…off… to me. Not bad, mind you, just off. [One reviewer mentions “cut scenes”. I think that’s a pretty good description of how some parts of ROTJ feel.]
As I thought about it, I came to realize that this “off balance” feeling the original version of the film has is due to three key distractions in Return of the Jedi:
1. Jabba’s palace silliness. The focus should be on Luke rescuing his friends, but instead we’re treated to a musical number and other cartoonish elements.
2. Han Solo seems jealous of Luke, which shouldn’t have been a focus of the film. His jealousy made his character arc move weirdly backwards. He seemed very immature and lame in Return of the Jedi, at times.
3. Obviously, the Ewoks. Nothing against them or their cuteness, it’s just that the battle as was presented in the original version of the film was unrealistic and thus distracted from the prime conflict of the film: Luke becoming a Jedi and confronting his father.
This edit takes care of all three. Lapti Nek/Jedi Rocks [and droid screaming] is excised, Han’s problematic lines are (sometimes quite brilliantly) removed.
The Endor ground battle was fantastic. It’s completely believable. Han and Leia get trapped in the bunker, C3PO and the Ewoks realize this and get help. They arrive as a distraction when the rebels are brought outside with their hands up. The Imperials go after them, and get a nasty surprise from the Ewok’s bow&arrows. From there on out, Han, Leia, Chewbacca, and the rebels fight the fight and get their job done. The Ewoks do their part and run around and distract the empire. They try to fight but their sticks and stones just can’t beat the imperials. Finally, Chewie breaks into an AT-AT, does some real damage, Han and Leia get into the base, and the rest is history.
The only place this lost points were some audio transitions that didn’t necessarily sound natural. Unfortunately, I think these kind of things are unavoidable when you are not the person who made the film—and thus you don’t have full access to all the audio resources used for the movie.
Anyway, the result of the edit is a version of Return of the Jedi that retains everything we love about the film. It is still a worthy conclusion to a great trilogy, but now it is also fantastic film in its own right. I would recommend this edit to anyone who has had the same feelings of Return of the Jedi as me.