Hello IlFanEditore. Thank you again for sharing your edit with me. It was a joy re-watching ROTJ in your newly edited take. Overall, this version was much more streamlined, which I positively recommend over the 1997 SE version of the film. Though, not without its cons…
I’ve been a fan of the franchise since 1983. The story and its characters have stuck with me throughout my growing life, up until this day. As with anyone else, and as much as we love the official films, there are certain narratives and editing decisions that most of us fans wished they had played out a bit better. For this very reason, I became largely interested in Star Wars fan edits. It’s sounds exciting to me that editors are able to customize their own saga, of the popular Skywalker storyline, with the amount of film and audio files that are available to them. It’s a thrill to watch edited scenes play in ways we could only previously imagine. I am not a film editor but the hobby certainly intrigues me. While I’d like to take a chance at editing films myself, I may actually never have the time to tackle it at my age. For now, I simply enjoy customizing my own Star Wars “playlist”. I seem to always be on the hunt for the next best fan edit to add to or swap out in my current playlist. Listed below is how I currently enjoy the saga in order. I generally base my reviews on the Despecialized versions of the OT and the edits I decided to include in my saga playlist for continuity.
Episode I - The Phantom Menace (Jeremy M West Anti-Cheese edit)
Episode II - Attack of the Clones (Jeremy M West Anti-Cheese edit)
Episode III - Revenge of the Sith (Jeremy M West Anti-Cheese edit)
Episode III.III - The Coaxium Heist (Dig_modification Solo edit)
Episode III.IV - Obi-Wan Kenobi (The Kai Patterson cut)
Episode III.V - Rise of the Rebellion (Dig_modification Rogue One edit)
Episode IV - A New Hope (Buzz Lightyear sc38 edit)
Episode V - The Empire Strikes Back (Adywan Revisited edit)
Episode VI - Return of the Jedi (Harmy’s Despecialized edit)
Episode VI.I - A Vergence in the Force (Smudger9 Mando edit)
Episode VI.II - Search for the Jedi (Smudger9 Mando edit)
Episode VI.III - A New Way (Smudger9 The Book of Boba Fett edit)
Episode VII - Heir to the Force (Wakeupkeo Anti-TLJ edit)
With that being said, IlFanEditore’s ROTJ Renewed edit is a strong contender in replacing the current Despecialized edit in my playlist, but it’s not quite there yet in my opinion. Firstly, what stood out to me the most were the proper scene cuts made to move the story along and the removal of any unnecessary silliness that become more apparent in the original version of ROTJ. The transitions were very smooth minor some scenes, which I will explain further in my review. The first noticeable change is in the opening, in which Darth Sidious arrives on the Death Star instead, versus Darth Vader’s initial arrival with a threat of the Emperor’s upcoming visit. I wasn’t ready for this change however, I turned to like it because it removes the idea of Vader being less threatening/more forgiving than Sidious during his speech with the Death Star’s Commander. Other than this, the original opening truly has no purpose and the new edit assists with moving the Empire’s plot along.
What I preferred less of were the noticeable frame rate drops in some of the earlier space scenes that consisted of ships passing by. I’m comparing the Despecialized edit here, which shows ships flying in a smoother pace. In the Renewed edit, there are noticeable “hiccups” in frames with ships passing by. Also to that point, I’m not in favor of the re-colored ship engines, the Falcon’s “enhanced” engine lighting, lens-flares, and blooming effects. The original engine colors simply look better. I don’t really understand why pink/purple is the better choice here. The “enhanced” lighting for Han’s ship is far too bright, creating too much light around the back of the ship. There is a blooming effect applied to all ships, which looks worse on the Falcon. Then, there is some healthy use of lens-flares, which poses more as a unnecessary distraction rather than an enhancement. This feels like an unwelcome addition in my experience, similar to the add-ons that were made for the SE editions. I think what the OT mostly requires is smart editing choices when cutting scenes. I think it needs much less of additional filter effects. The blooming effects are hit or miss, as some scenes serve the effect well by clearing up rougher edges, while in other scenes, visuals become distractingly fuzzier. One example of the overuse in blooming is the Command Bridge on the Mon Calamari Cruiser. It would be best to apply this process as a “band-aid” for scenes that would benefit more from the effect instead of applying it to the entire film. I imagine it to be a delicate balancing act when using filters and effects to clean up scenes. Less is more.
With the rescue of Han Solo at Jabba’s Palace, I generally liked that the entire plot moved along a lot quicker, which required the removal of the musical scene, Boba Fett’s presence, and Boushh’s bargaining scene. However, I found myself quickly defending the missing scenes as I am used to seeing Jabba sacrificing his Twi’lek dancer, Boba Fett maintaining is quick draw on any “false moves” (somewhat explaining more of his presence in relation to the Book of Boba Fett), and Boushh’s bargaining scene explaining how Chewie ended up as a prisoner in Jabba’s Palace. Though, I do not care for the musical number and was glad to see it removed. The outside shot of Jabba’s Palace is also a nice edit, now matching the structure from The Book of Boba Fett. Similar edits like this are noticeable later on in the film. The only downside is that these edited scenes are a bit “shaky”, revealing the changed edit. The splicing between the old and new background scenes is not entirely seemless. It would be visually better if the inserted background scenes could somehow be more stabilized, but I understand that this may pose the challenge to even do so. Another change I would recommend is removing the Droid torturing scenes. Specifically the Gonk Droid getting his “feet” burned doesn’t make much sense.
The Barge Sail fight over the Sarlacc pit also plays out much better and I agree with the several edits made in the plot here (see listed edits on PAGE 1). I really like that Han Solo no longer questions Boba Fett’s presence. Here I like to think that Boba’s “demise” was merely an accident (wrong place, wrong time) while he attempted to confront a Jedi in his drunken stupor and not fully aware of Han’s blinded actions. Boba falling into the Sarlacc is missing here, which does create a small gap for me between what happened to him in ROTJ and A New Way (Smudger9 The Book of Boba Fett edit). He just flies away. Where does he actually go? Any Star Wars fan can tell you, but taking it from an outside perspective, he could have just as easily escaped, never actually coming into contact with the Sarlacc. The overall coloration of the dune sea looks great here, and while a bit cartoony, I welcomed the Bantha herd with a big smile. A little detail like this can set a continuity of what’s to come in later episodes.
Let’s talk about the 3 stumbling, Force related plots that don’t make much sense to me in this film. Until now, I had thought that every editor was in favor of not including these segments in their edits. I tend to be more or less wrong about things, but here is my input regarding the Force: 1. Obi-Wan Kenobi’s “from a certain point of view” theory is a silly explanation to Luke that could initially be avoided and less embarrassing by editing this out. 2. Leia’s memory of her mother is rather plausible unless she is using the Force to “see” her for that moment when Luke questions Leia about her. However, Leia was merely a newborn when Padme passed while giving birth. I assume George Lucas may have had a different story plot at the time of shooting ROTJ but ROTS shows us that Leia did not get the chance to meet her mother. Or, are we basing Leia’s knowledge of her mother on Obi-Wan’s relationship with Padme, shared with Leia? 3. Anakin Skywalker’s Force Ghost is of many debates that seems to be a difficult one to settle on. I understand both arguments. In my opinion, I prefer the Sebastian Shaw version, because it truly solidifies the return of the Jedi, an older Anakin redeeming himself by saving his son that still believed in the good in him. Using Sebastian Shaw’ as Anakin’s Force Ghost closes the first Skywalker storyline nicely. I like Christian Haydensen as the younger Anakin Skywalker, but his Force Ghost feels out of place. From an outside perspective, it creates the unnecessary question as to why his younger self is suddenly present. It makes it difficult to believe that Yoda chose his senile self or Obi-Wan chose his hermit self as a Force Ghost, after death. The Jedi can choose what version of themselves to project theory just doesn’t sell well in this story.
Lastly, some thoughts that stood out to me while watching and comparing edits. The force shields added to the hangars is an example of an edit well done. A small change like this adds to the continuity in comparison to the newer films versus adding unnecessary CGI and gags just for the sake of being able to do so. Han’s jealousy over Luke removed is also outstandingly well done. It’s such an easy edit but the implication makes such a huge difference. The relations between Luke, Han, and Leia aren’t as awkward to digest anymore. Removing Vader’s “I must obey my master.” line is another welcome edit that helps the character maintain his ruthlessness. As mentioned earlier, there are additional scenes that contain replaced backgrounds, which overall look great. Another example is the replaced scene of the Imperial forest station on Endor. The only problem hurting these edited scenes is the splicing between the unstable, original frame and the newly inserted background still. It gives the scene a “swimming” affect, which is difficult to ignore but understandable if it is an editing challenge. The Emperor’s eyes cross in a scene during the attempt to corrupt Luke. I didn’t notice this until I watched the Emperor’s edited eyes. I like the yellowing of the eyes, giving the Sith a menacing look, but this also unfortunately enhances the misplaced contact on Ian McDiarmid’s eye. The hideousness of his eyes are broken by a scene at the 1:28:00 mark, when Sidious’ eyes are briefly crossed. 2 other breaking scenes I can remember are on Endor as well. There is an AT-ST that suddenly becomes translucent at the ~ 1:36:00 mark, when Chewie navigates it towards the shield bunker. I can see the trees through the vehicle. There is a scene doubling effect around the ~ 1:40:00 mark, when Han jump-scapes the shield bunker explosion. There is a body trailing effect of Han. On the positive side of things, I welcome the removal of “Tarzan” Chewie. It’s unnecessary, silly, and doesn’t fit the tone during a battle scene with the Empire (even if Ewoks are involved). This also makes me appreciate the removal of the Ewok AT-ST traps. It helps maintain the Empire’s power over a primitive species. It wasn’t until I got towards the end of the film when I noticed PT themed music appearing during Luke and Vader’s confrontation. I had to rewind and listened back to the musical score changes you have done. This was very well done and seamless, as I hadn’t noticed these changes until late in the film.
To recap, I would roughly give this edit an 85% in completion. There are definitely a lot of changes I liked more over the changes I did not like. It is currently a strong contender for replacing Harmy’s Despecialized edit in my playlist. However, it is not perfect and it could use some more polishing work and frame fixes to get its completion rate up. An exciting job well done nevertheless! Let me know if you have any questions for me.