Challenge: Improve "Return of the Jedi"

Coming out of semi-retirement because MMQ'ing movies is always fun.

As others have said, the big problem with Jedi is that it stops fucking dead for about 45 minutes, and this comes right after establishing the incredibly high stakes for the mission. Think about it; the heroes are briefed on the mission (thus letting the audience know just how high the stakes are) and jet off with the entire surprise attack resting on their shoulders, only to drop everything and take a victory lap with the Ewoks. Really, the Ewoks in-and-of-themselves aren't bad, but they're emblematic of the film lacking a second act and just sort of waiting around for the climax to start (something it shares with The Force Awakens and Rogue One; all three films are all first and second act with no clear way to get from A to C).

So, the easiest thing to do is just beef up the second act. Instead of the heroes immediately linking up with the fleet post-Jabba's palace and prepping for Endor, they instead link up with the Rebel fleet and are given a secret mission (don't trim that down except remove Special Edition bullshit like the musical sequences). Luke still makes his stop over on Dagobah to say goodbye to Yoda and still learns that Leia is his sister (despite what people say, if it ain't broke don't fix it; Leia being Luke's sister is a perfectly acceptable twist). He still tells Obi-Wan that he thinks he can save Vader, blah blah blah. Maybe throw in a scene where Luke and Vader have an Empire-style moment of connection via the Force, with Luke being all "Nah my father is still in there", with Vader shutting him down. Anyway, the heroes link back up with the main Rebel force and receive a new mission; instead of some offscreen references to Manny Bothans heroic sacrifice, actually have the heroes be the ones to complete that mission. I dunno, they need to meet up with an Imperial Informant on some random world we haven't seen (some kind of Takodanna-like scoundrel haven? I dunno) in order to secure the intel about the Emperor's movements (stealing an Imperial Shuttle along the way)

But then oh shit! Someone's tipped off the Imperials and they storm the meeting. Big shootout, some mooks get got, and it looks like the heroes aren't going to be able to escape. Luke, knowing that he's too valuable to the Empire to be killed, stages a distraction and allows himself to be captured, allowing the heroes to escape with the intel. Once back at Rebel HQ, the intel is decoded and it turns out that the Emperor is hosting a Super Secret Meeting on Endor (no Death Star II here baby!), to decide how to best defeat the Rebels. Since this is a secret meeting, security is going to be very light. The Rebels see this as an opportunity they can't pass up, and marshal their forces for a surprise attack. Leia, now knowing that Luke is her brother, advocates for a rescue mission to save Luke, but the Rebels shoot her down (with Han ultimately being the one who makes the case that they can't pass up this chance in favor of what sounds like a suicide mission). Leia can't believe Han didn't back her up and they have a fight where we see how they've changed as characters (Han is now a committed Rebel in favor of the bigger picture, while Leia is now interested in saving her one family member). Han leaves to go plan the attack on Endor.

Luke is taken to Endor to meet with the Emperor, who reveals the whole thing is an enormous trap; the Empire has built a Mass Shadow Generator on Endor that will trap the Rebel fleet, letting the Imperial forces who are hiding on the far side of the moon easily destroy them. Luke tells the Emperor he's overconfident, the Emperor says something something something Dark Side, you get the idea. In his cell, Luke manages to contact Leia and tells her of the Mass Shadow Generator, before he's cut off by the Emperor. Leia tries to tell the Rebels, but they don't believe her and think it's an Imperial trick (or decide to call off the attack; regardless, things don't look good). A few (including Chewie and Lando) do, however, and she recruits a small team to jet off to Endor to de-activate the generator and save Luke. They jet off (not before Han and Leia tentatively reconcile, maybe he tells her "I love you" and she says "I know" then?), and Han rallies the Rebels to go after them.

Leia and the ground team arrive on Endor and link up with the Wookie resistance, who lead them to the generator. In the Imperial Compound, the Emperor, Luke, and Vader spar (both verbally and physically), basically the same as what we got. In space, Han leads the Rebel fleet from the cockpit of the Falcon (maybe 3PO or R2 is his co-pilot, just for fun?) as they try and buy the ground team time (so, basically the OTL Battle of Endor, but with the pressure being that they need the shield/generator de-activated so they can escape and/or call in reinforcements). Basically, we get the same three-way split climax, only now one of the main heroes is participating in all three; Han leading the fight in space (and demonstrating how far he's come), Leia leading the ground team, and Luke fighting Vader and the Emperor. Ultimately, Vader betrays the Emperor but dies of his wounds, Leia and the ground team destroy the Mass Shadow Generator, and Han and the Rebel fleet prove victorious (maybe the Executor crashes into Endor instead of the Death Star).

Post battle everyone meets up to party with the Wookies, Luke and Leia see the Force Ghosts of Obi-Wan, Yoda, and Anakin, cue-Yub Nub, roll credits.
 
Just get rid of the damned Ewoks altogether. Replace them with some kick-ass wookiees and we're all good.

This makes more sense than my idea of inserting the apes from "Planet of the Apes."

Of course with wookies the storm troopers wouldn't be traveling on those cute air scooters but yeah.





IMO Jabba was one of the best things about ROTJ. But I see your point about trying to make him more threatening as a villain.
I thought Jabba was pretty damn threatening. Granted, I was eleven when the film came out.
 
I'll reboot this thread with my outline for how "Return of the Jedi" could've been as great as the first two:

The overall film should've had a greater emphasis on completing Luke's hero's journey. To do this, introduce Luke earlier in the movie and flesh out his motivations from the get go: rescue his friend Han, come to grips with his father's true nature, and restore freedom to the Galaxy. The best scenes in ROTJ deal with these themes, and had they been expanded the movie would've been that more compelling.

Beyond character development, the film's script needed improvements. The three act structure isn't bad, but it's uneven at times. The initial sequence on Tatooine goes on way too long, and most of the interaction with the Ewoks drags the movie down. The movie also lacks the same level of scale and dramatic tension as the first two. Attacking yet another Death Star is just repetitive and squanders the potential for a bigger and better story. Instead of the OTL script, an improved ROTJ could've opened with Luke returning to Tatooine to examine his past and negotiate Han's release from Jabba - who in this version is clearly aligned with the Empire. When Jabba tries to kill him, Luke uses his powers to escape the trap and he calls in the Rebellion. Leia leads a Rebel force that overtakes Jabba's Palace, frees Han, and defeats the Imperial presence on Tatooine.

In the second act, Luke witnesses Yoda's death in Degobah and speaks to Ben about Vader being his father - as in OTL. But unlike in OTL, Leia isn't established as Luke's sister. Instead - as set up in the ending of Empire - Leia is revealed to have the power of the force. In the second act, Leia moves to take the fight to the Empire by striking at the Imperial capital of Coruscant. First, they must take the strategic planet of Kashyyyk - the wookie homeworld. Han has a larger role as we see the former smuggler commit himself to the Rebellion and resolve his conflict with Lando. After Luke is called in to join the fight, he reveals to Leia that Vader is his father and that she must use the force in order to defeat the Empire. Although the rebels, working with the Wookies, defeat the Empire at Kashyyyk Luke is captured by Vader and he's sent to Coruscant where the Emperor plans to turn him to the dark side.

In the third act, Luke attempts to convince his father to turn to the light side as he's transported to Coruscant. He fails at first, but Luke plants the seed for Vader's transformation in the film's climax. Leia gathers an intergalactic force to wage an all-out assault on Coruscant and beat the Empire for good. The chances for success are slim to none. But Leia takes Luke's advice and trusts the Force to guide her actions. Luke is introduced to the Emperor not in a Second Death Star but at the Imperial Throne Room. Luke is tempted to give into the dark side but as in OTL he refuses and duels Vader a second time. Meanwhile the final fight for the galaxy is the most massive out of all the original Star Wars movies. Luke gains the upper hand over Vader but as in OTL he tosses aside his lightsaber, proclaiming himself a Jedi. Outside the Empire unleashes heavy weaponry that tears through Rebel fighters as Rebel soldiers are mowed down by Stormtroopers. The Emperor electrocutes Luke who's helpless to stop him. It appears that all is lost and the Empire will win. Just as the Rebellion is set to lose, Han bravely sacrifices himself to destroy the central generator powering Coruscant City. A devastated Leia taps into the power of the Force to guide the Rebels to victory as Vader makes the fateful decision to kill the Emperor and save his son. Although he redeems himself, Vader is critically wounded and dies in Luke's arms.

In the finale, the Rebels mourn Han's death and Leia is elected Chancellor of the new Galactic Republic. Gary Kurtz' original ending for Luke, with Skywalker heading off into the sunset after the Empire is no more, is shot and included in the final film. After Luke says his final goodbye to Leia and the rebellion, he returns to his family's old farm on Tatooine to begin training new Jedi. As he makes plans for a life without the Empire and Vader, Luke gazes at the horizon as the twin suns set - mirroring the iconic moment from the 1977 original.

What do you folks think?
 
I'll reboot this thread with my outline for how "Return of the Jedi" could've been as great as the first two:

The overall film should've had a greater emphasis on completing Luke's hero's journey. To do this, introduce Luke earlier in the movie and flesh out his motivations from the get go: rescue his friend Han, come to grips with his father's true nature, and restore freedom to the Galaxy. The best scenes in ROTJ deal with these themes, and had they been expanded the movie would've been that more compelling.

Beyond character development, the film's script needed improvements. The three act structure isn't bad, but it's uneven at times. The initial sequence on Tatooine goes on way too long, and most of the interaction with the Ewoks drags the movie down. The movie also lacks the same level of scale and dramatic tension as the first two. Attacking yet another Death Star is just repetitive and squanders the potential for a bigger and better story. Instead of the OTL script, an improved ROTJ could've opened with Luke returning to Tatooine to examine his past and negotiate Han's release from Jabba - who in this version is clearly aligned with the Empire. When Jabba tries to kill him, Luke uses his powers to escape the trap and he calls in the Rebellion. Leia leads a Rebel force that overtakes Jabba's Palace, frees Han, and defeats the Imperial presence on Tatooine.

In the second act, Luke witnesses Yoda's death in Degobah and speaks to Ben about Vader being his father - as in OTL. But unlike in OTL, Leia isn't established as Luke's sister. Instead - as set up in the ending of Empire - Leia is revealed to have the power of the force. In the second act, Leia moves to take the fight to the Empire by striking at the Imperial capital of Coruscant. First, they must take the strategic planet of Kashyyyk - the wookie homeworld. Han has a larger role as we see the former smuggler commit himself to the Rebellion and resolve his conflict with Lando. After Luke is called in to join the fight, he reveals to Leia that Vader is his father and that she must use the force in order to defeat the Empire. Although the rebels, working with the Wookies, defeat the Empire at Kashyyyk Luke is captured by Vader and he's sent to Coruscant where the Emperor plans to turn him to the dark side.

In the third act, Luke attempts to convince his father to turn to the light side as he's transported to Coruscant. He fails at first, but Luke plants the seed for Vader's transformation in the film's climax. Leia gathers an intergalactic force to wage an all-out assault on Coruscant and beat the Empire for good. The chances for success are slim to none. But Leia takes Luke's advice and trusts the Force to guide her actions. Luke is introduced to the Emperor not in a Second Death Star but at the Imperial Throne Room. Luke is tempted to give into the dark side but as in OTL he refuses and duels Vader a second time. Meanwhile the final fight for the galaxy is the most massive out of all the original Star Wars movies. Luke gains the upper hand over Vader but as in OTL he tosses aside his lightsaber, proclaiming himself a Jedi. Outside the Empire unleashes heavy weaponry that tears through Rebel fighters as Rebel soldiers are mowed down by Stormtroopers. The Emperor electrocutes Luke who's helpless to stop him. It appears that all is lost and the Empire will win. Just as the Rebellion is set to lose, Han bravely sacrifices himself to destroy the central generator powering Coruscant City. A devastated Leia taps into the power of the Force to guide the Rebels to victory as Vader makes the fateful decision to kill the Emperor and save his son. Although he redeems himself, Vader is critically wounded and dies in Luke's arms.

In the finale, the Rebels mourn Han's death and Leia is elected Chancellor of the new Galactic Republic. Gary Kurtz' original ending for Luke, with Skywalker heading off into the sunset after the Empire is no more, is shot and included in the final film. After Luke says his final goodbye to Leia and the rebellion, he returns to his family's old farm on Tatooine to begin training new Jedi. As he makes plans for a life without the Empire and Vader, Luke gazes at the horizon as the twin suns set - mirroring the iconic moment from the 1977 original.

What do you folks think?
I quite like it- solves the fundamental issue of OTL, which is that Leia and Han have nothing significant to do. Only major thing I'd add is greatly expanding Boba Fett's role; he'd escape Jabba's palace and work for the Empire basically for money. In the third act he and Han would fight, and he'd serve as a foil for Han given that Han in ANH very well could have ended up with the Empire, further developing his decision to sacrifice himself.
 
I quite like it- solves the fundamental issue of OTL, which is that Leia and Han have nothing significant to do. Only major thing I'd add is greatly expanding Boba Fett's role; he'd escape Jabba's palace and work for the Empire basically for money. In the third act he and Han would fight, and he'd serve as a foil for Han given that Han in ANH very well could have ended up with the Empire, further developing his decision to sacrifice himself.
Good idea. Fett could serve as a foil to Han throughout the film before having a final confrontation on Coruscant. Han kills Fett but he's forced to make a choice to either flee or sacrifice his life to save the rebellion. Han chooses to destroy the central power station underneath Coruscant and dies in the process. But this turns the tide and the Rebellion wins.

I'll add that if Han is killed off, he should have one last conversation with Leia via radio telling her he's making the ultimate sacrifice. He says, "I love you," and Leia says, "I know," as a tear comes down her face - a throwback to the Carbonite scene from Empire.
 
One other point to mention is that although ROTJ was the last of the original trilogy to be released, its effects in some ways looked worse than what we saw in the previous two. I think this had to do with an overeliance on muppets, and as we've discussed before the Ewoks simply don't look convincing. They look like kids in Halloween costumes, not real creatures.

Perhaps if Lucas hired a director more accustomed to special effects than Richard Marquand, ROTJ would've turned out to be the most sophisticated of the three.
 
One other point to mention is that although ROTJ was the last of the original trilogy to be released, its effects in some ways looked worse than what we saw in the previous two. I think this had to do with an overeliance on muppets, and as we've discussed before the Ewoks simply don't look convincing. They look like kids in Halloween costumes, not real creatures.

Perhaps if Lucas hired a director more accustomed to special effects than Richard Marquand, ROTJ would've turned out to be the most sophisticated of the three.
I read somewhere that Stuart Freeborn the makeup artist on the First Two films was less hand on for ROTJ. Instead of creating the makeup himself , he let the crew at ILM do the work.
Many of the people there, had never done Makeup before and it show.
 
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