Return of the Jedi: What could have been

Brian G Turner

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Some interesting pointers about some of the original ideas for RotJ - along with quite a bit more on the politics and feuding going on:


Not sure why there's an undercurrent of being a downer on the final released film, though - IMO Return of the Jedi was never lacking as a film, it had a wonderful climax, and the space battle remains the best ever put to film to this day. However, at least we get an explanation for the "sister" issue. Oh, and I didn't realize Lucas had managed to keep all the rights!
 

paranoid marvin

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I agree. I thought RotJ was a wonderful movie, and the set piece at the Sarlaac Pit was really well done. The speeder bikes were awesome, as was the pitched space battle (although I do think that the one in Rogue One is better), and I have no criticisms about the movie at all. Even the Ewoks are great - and why shouldn't they be able to rise up against Imperial troops?
 

Swank

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Would have liked to see the version with Wookies, and much of the B-wing footage was unusable.

It would have been great if the film had the tone of Empire.
 

Rodders

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I've never understood the recent (and it is recent) downer on RotJ, either. A worthy end to possibly the greatest cliff hanger in movie history.

Luke confronts his father for the fate of the galaxy, Han's rescue from Jabba the Hutt and you are correct, Brian, this is possibly the best space battle committed to the big screen. What's not to love.

I had no issue with Ewoks at the time and although i understand people's annoyance with them, i have no issue with them as an adult. I agree with Harrison Ford and think that the death of Han Solo would be a great hero's ending and would've elevated the movie somewhat.
 
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KGeo777

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Gary Kurtz said in 2005 that the original plot of ROTJ was Luke kills Vader, Han dies, and then in the final trilogy Luke seeks out the Other before a final confrontation with the Emperor.

Disney ended up using the basic idea--it did turn out that the Other was Rey and the Emperor returned.

I think Wookies would have been more visually interesting than Ewoks. There was also a creature (called a Yuzum) which is briefly seen in Jabba's palace. That was supposed to be a species on the plains of the moon of Endor in an earlier concept.
I think they should have had the Gorax--the giant monster that appears in the tv-movie.

The planet choices don't feel as exotic. Lucas said he wanted contrasting planets as locations but Tatooine we had already seen. Dagobah also.
A forest planet is kind of boring--especially since the vegetation was so Earth-like.
And another Death Star is dull. They could have made it something like an Imperial shipyard or a giant spider web made of metal and steel and lights that they have to fly across to get to the center.

The pace of the film is very lackluster and it felt like they didn't know what to do with characters.
 

Swank

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Its a good film, it just isn't tonally a match to the first two.
 

Dave

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I've never understood the recent (and it is recent) downer on RotJ, either.
So, I did a search of this forum and I moaned about Ewoks back in 2002. Is that recent? I couldn't moan earlier than 2001 because the forum wasn't here.

But it wasn't bad and a lot of my problem with the film was the wait before it got shown in cinemas the UK. By that time, I'd already read the novelisation of the film and that was poor (and inaccurate.) So, not really a problem with the film itself.
 

Swank

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People have been down on Ewoks since the film came out. But there was no internet to document it.


Just thinking how the video claims Leia was not supposed to be the sibling or who Yoda referred to: Interesting that Luke was able message her at the end Empire. At that point he doesn't know that Han is in carbonite, yet he tries her - as if sensing she's the right one to hear him.
 

paranoid marvin

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I agree that I can't remember any criticism about Ewoks at the time of the movies release. They were cute, funny, and didn't get in the way too much. Why shouldn't they be capable of setting traps for unsuspecting, overconfident Imperial troops?

Also there were Ewok action figures and accessories, they featured in an arcade game, and there were even two movies made specifically about Ewoks. Not likely to be done if they were unpopular or unwanted.

My recollection of any criticism only came about with Jar Jar Binks, and they seemed to receive some unfair comparison and criticism to that ill thought out character. But then again everything about Phantom Menace was ill thought out.

From a kids perspective, RotJ was probably the best of the trilogy, with far more action, and far less character development going on. But to be fair, by the time of the third movie, we knew the main characters inside out, we knew who the good and bad guys were, and why they were fighting, so there was less need for this. But perhaps this is why it has left it open from some people who want more than set piece action from a film.

The idea of a second Death Star was a bit lazy, but it had worked so well in the first movie, and at least this time it was under construction, so looked somewhat different and more interesting. But when you've created the ultimate weapon in a planet killing space station, it's hard to go one better. And it did look very cool and iconic.
 

KGeo777

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The big issue with ROTJ is that it does not push the envelope in FX innovation as the previous two did--and that was the main selling point of the series.
The first two movies showed visual effects ideas that had never been done before--but ROTJ recycles some things and doesn't offer as much that is new. Some of the puppet work might be innovative (Jabba), and the biker chase (although it feels kind of underwhelming compared to the asteroids scene), but the space battles--other than number of ships, are not doing anything new. The flight through the Death Star was the most envelope-pushing sequence but not so radical compared to the asteroid sequence or the original Death Star trench attack.
The Rancor sequence isn't as exciting as it could be--the use of a rod puppet in a confined location doesn't feel every epic.
The production design is mundane--Jabba's palace and the Death Star interiors are kind of bland.

The prequels were the same--nothing really new in visual experience--the flying ships through a city had already been done in the Fifth Element--and that just makes the character and story lapses all the worse.
 

Swank

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For many fans at the time, Wookies loomed large in the series. Not only were we introduced to Chewie's family in the Holiday Special, but I also had children's book that depicted Chewie and Han saving the son from the swamp under the trees. It was an open secret that a bunch of mercurial giants were going to be tearing Stormtrooper arms off in the last film, and it was known that Lucas changed that before ROTJ came out for the reasons stated about the Wookies being too advanced due to the way Chewie is shown AND the way side media had shown the Wookies.

Throw into that all the other difficulties with a battle in trees over a swamp, getting tall extras (or short Stormtrooper costumes), the growing interest by both Lucas and Speilberg of making films that are less THX/Jaws and more Goonies and you end up with "charming" murderous teddy bears that almost ate Luke. So when some of us went to the theater, after watching making-of specials and hearing the rumors for years - ROTJ seemed kinda soft compared to all the torture and maiming that preceded it. (And kids loved that stuff, too.)
 

Brian G Turner

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The big issue with ROTJ is that it does not push the envelope in FX innovation as the previous two did--and that was the main selling point of the series.
The first two movies showed visual effects ideas that had never been done before--but ROTJ recycles some things and doesn't offer as much that is new. Some of the puppet work might be innovative (Jabba), and the biker chase (although it feels kind of underwhelming compared to the asteroids scene), but the space battles--other than number of ships, are not doing anything new. The flight through the Death Star was the most envelope-pushing sequence but not so radical compared to the asteroid sequence or the original Death Star trench attack.
Absolutely disagree!

Firstly, the new Death Star - is still under construction! That was an absolutely awesome image! And we've never seen anything like that since.

Secondly, the first attack on the Death Star when the Millennium Falcon flies through waves of TIE fighters - absolutely amazing!

Thirdly, the scope of that epic battle in the first place - amazing! And still not surpassed by any film since.

Fourthly, the flight out of the Death Star while being chased by fire - astonishing! I have never seen any other sequence anywhere that can even rival that.

So, overall, IMO, RoTJ not only did everything bigger and better, it also did things that, even after 40 years, other films still haven't managed to catch up with! :)
 

KGeo777

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So, overall, IMO, RoTJ not only did everything bigger and better, it also did things that, even after 40 years, other films still haven't managed to catch up with! :)
If we are going by SPFX innovation, it is not presenting things as groundbreaking as Stars Wars or TESB did. The battle of Hoth was unlike anything that had been done before. They were really pushing the boundaries of visual imagination with the first two.
 

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I think with effects, they perhaps didn’t push the envelope in terms of technical innovation but I think they did in terms of sheer scale. I’m thinking specifically of the scene with all the TIE fighters. Imagine the number of man-hours that would take? And we should keep in mind that, because it was stop-motion animation, it was man-hours and not computer processing hours.

Overall, as a movie, I enjoyed it as much as the first two but I’ve never been keen on teddy bears in space;)
 

BAYLOR

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I think with effects, they perhaps didn’t push the envelope in terms of technical innovation but I think they did in terms of sheer scale. I’m thinking specifically of the scene with all the TIE fighters. Imagine the number of man-hours that would take? And we should keep in mind that, because it was stop-motion animation, it was man-hours and not computer processing hours.

Overall, as a movie, I enjoyed it as much as the first two but I’ve never been keen on teddy bears in space;)

Then there's Battlefield 2 Ewok Hunt .:D
 

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