I agree with the Faneditor that "Return of the Jedi" was a letdown in the original trilogy.
First, the video quality is amazing. The edits are smooth. My familiarity with the original movie made me aware of the cuts, but if I had never seen it, I wouldn't have noticed.
The trims to Darth Vader's dialog alone make him far more menacing for longer, which improves the film. Much of the silliness of the Ewoks has been trimmed and they are the better for it.
I definitely recommend this as it utilizes the restored original and not the Special Edition. The ending of the film has been rearranged and I feel it definitely improves the storyline and the feeling of "fulfilment."
It's been so long since I've been able to see the original theatrical cut of this film! Not since the mid-90's, and I'd forgotten the massive changes the 'Special Editions' did to the Jabba's palace and the end celebrations segments. The puppets still look like puppets, but I'd argue these have aged much better than the late 90's CGI of the Special Edition. Such a pleasure to see these again. I doubt the original theatrical could be better looking than what's presented here. On the other hand, the Special Edition also cleaned a lot of the original's more grainy, washed-out look for the colors, so if you're used to the SE you may miss it here.
Surprisingly, the content of the film is largely intact. This is a very conservative edit in a lot of ways, with some but not all of ROTJ's silly moments still here. The pacing has been improved and the minor dialogue excisions are thoughtful, character-driven, and indeed invisible for anyone who hasn't seen this movie 20 times already.
The new opening crawl is better than the original's (at least it doesn't sound like a blurb from TV Guide, now) and the nips and tucks that DonkeyKonga has made add up in the end. A great edit of the classic film, one of the best!
Looks beautiful! Im an 80s kid so growing up the first 3 star wars were magical and rotj was my favorite. as i grew up i started to hate it, too silly, too many puppets, it just seemed like such a little kid movie - especially after how dark empire ends. The trims made this movie much more adult, much more organized better paced.
I have a lot of mixed thoughts about this edit. I was very excited to see how it worked out, taking one of my favorite flawed movies and improving upon it big time. DonkeyKonga's edit list sounded pretty interesting so I gave it a watch. After doing so, I figured my review would work better in a good/bad split way:
What I liked:
• Flipped Boba Fett to face the right way in Jabba's palace.
• Much fewer Ewok antics.
• Trimming the first Vader/Luke convo was great. Vader is now less sad and unsure sounding. Keeping him still very cold and serious, but the last shot brilliantly shows he’s internally having some doubts about his loyalty to the Emperor.
• It was really good to remove the Imperial general saying the Emperor has "a special surprise" for the Rebels. Now it’s actually surprising when the Emperor reveals to Luke the Death Star is operational.
What I didn't like:
• The video quality is kind of low. It looks like a softer past version, especially since this is based off of the original theatrical cut and not the more recent Special Edition (which has some great fixes TBH).
• Kept the original Jabba's palace musical number. I hated that and the Special Edition one so excising both would have been better.
• Trimming the Obi-Wan/Luke convo led to losing the 'certain point of view' line that ties into the prequels. Also not confirming Leia as Luke's sister gives him no struggle to hide the truth from Vader.
• This causes another issue: When Luke and Leia reunite she asks him 'What is it?', to which he replies knowingly 'Ask me again sometime." With the earlier reveal to Luke cut it now doesn't make sense that it looks like he knows something.
• Han and Lando's goodbye scene is too short now. I know it's to omit some cheesy dialogue but it makes it odd with some dialogue over the pan-down and music, and ultimately almost feels unneeded since it's so brief.
• Some of Han's quips are cut short. It was good to lower the humor in the edit but these cuts felt a bit sudden.
• Removing Vader saying "Tell your sister... you were right". It was a nice line where Anakin returns to the light and acknowledges both of his children.
• Removing Luke reuniting with his friends after burning the body of Vader, panning up to the ships' fireworks, and see all the freedom across the galaxy.
• Removing Anakin, Obi-Wan, and Yoda's ghosts appearing at the end (either the Sebastian Shaw or Hayden Christensen versions). It gets rid of a touching moment where Anakin becomes one with The Force, and he and the other Jedi say goodbye to Luke and Leia.
What I would have done differently:
• Used a high def version of ROTJ's Special Edition, which has a sharper image with more vibrant colors.
• Had the updated scene of unmasking Vader with his eyebrows removed (he was burned on Mustafar).
• Replaced the original Yub Nub song kept in from the end of the theatrical cut with the orchestral John Williams song from the Special Edition. More dramatic and emotionally uplifting.
A great attempt with some solid fixes, but most of the changes weren't my cup of tea. Still, big props for making your vision of a ROTJ edit!
Do you recommend this edit?
Owner's replyFebruary 07, 2023
Reading this I realise there will definitely be a chuck of the Star Wars fanbase who will be displeased with this edit. I never kept the PT in mind when editing this because I saw them once in the cinemas and never looked back at them. I really dont know much about them besides the occasional 'hello there' meme. I'm one of those OT purists, which is why the source material was the theatrical 4k scan, which to me feels more authentic than any official release.
Problem with editing this movie, as other reviewers have pointed out is that any cut will be noticeable to fans, especially star wars fans who basically live and breathe these films.
For example: I am almost 100% sure if you show a first time viewer this they wont think the 'ask me again sometime' line is out of place at all. He is happy because he has family and a military briefing that's about to start is not the time nor the place.
One thing I strongly disagree is the cut where Obi wan reveals to luke who his sister is: In the original Obi Wan tells Luke to hide his feelings from Vader but he FIRST tells Luke he has a sister? That makes no sense. That means he knowingly puts Luke in danger. And then he doubles down and even confirms to Luke who she is, making matters even worse. In my edit he underestimates how strong this family bond is, which makes far more sense narratively.
Thank you for taking the time to write such an in depth review!