Monday, June 27, 2016

Guest Review: Intersellar (2014)

by Koshcat

I am of two minds when it comes to Interstellar the science fiction drama directed by Christopher Nolan: I liked it but the forced tensions bug me.

Overall the basic plot is simple. Crop blight is slowly destroying Earth’s crops and threatening humanity with starvation and lack of oxygen. Joseph Cooper (Matthew McConaughey) is a former NASA pilot, now widower farmer trying to raise two kids. A message from a “ghost” to his daughter leads him to a secret program to find a new planet for colonization.

A wormhole mysteriously appears near Saturn that allows passage to a distant galaxy where Professor Brand (Michael Caine) has sent 12 volunteers to find a suitable planet. They have transmitted that there are three promising sites near a black hole. There are two plans for colonization: A) move everyone from Earth to the new planet and B) repopulate the new planet with frozen embryos. Professor Brand is trying to work out plan A but the math doesn’t compute.

Cooper’s daughter, Murphy, joins Professor Brand in hopes of deriving the right formula but she needs the information hidden inside a black hole. Mr. Cooper agrees to pilot the spaceship with hopes of quickly finding the right planet and then returning to his family. Due to relativity, what takes Cooper months turns into decades back home. The first two planets turn out to be duds and Cooper sacrifices his life to push his crew mate Amelia Brand (Anne Hathaway), who is Professor Brand’s daughter, to the third and eventually suitable planet. His sacrifice is to fall into the blackhole where he is able to learn the secret formula and transmit it to his daughter as the “ghost” allowing the rest of humanity to be saved.

Why I liked this film, despite the gargantuan plot holes, is it focused more on the story and characters rather than the CGI to move the plot. The characters have fear and despair but other still have hope. Nobody is evil for evil’s sake. The closest “bad guys” might either be Professor Brand or Dr. Mann (Matt Damon), one of the first 12 astronauts. Professor Brand has faked the calculations for years because he has decided it is physically impossible to implement plan A. Plan B was the plan all along but lied to Cooper so he would leave his family in hopes of finding a new place for them. This isn’t from a place of evil but a decision out of despair and rationality. Dr. Mann is trapped on an inhospitable planet to die alone and has been transmitting false data. He is afraid, weak, and a coward and tries to kill Cooper to get off the planet. His decision is based on irrationality not evil intent. There is no greedy politician trying to control the Earth or multinational company trying to get rich. And any movie that makes Matt Damon look like a dick is ok with me.

The CGI is beautiful and acts as a backdrop rather than the central plot. The story behind the development of the black hole is fascinating as the most up to date theoretical equations where entered into the rendering software which then developed the visual effect (LINK). Finally, how many movies can discuss and show the theory of relativity and still keep people in their seats? This is what true Sci-Fi should look like.
What distracts me from the movie is the unnecessary and forced conflicts. Let’s start with the blight. Anyone with a rudimentary understanding of biology knows that a disease that attacks completely different species is extremely rare to the point of impossibility. For the billions spent on building spaceships and sending people through wormholes, couldn’t they have built self-contained cities? It is also unlikely a blight would effect the plants underwater, wouldn’t it be easier to live there? How about just developing plants immune to the blight? Maybe they shouldn’t be so anti-GMO.

The next is the lying by Professor Brand. Why does he need to lie? Why can’t he just say that he can’t complete the formula without more information? Another is Murphy being so pissed at her dad for leaving that she won’t speak to him for decades and then accuses him of lying to her about the possibility of his never returning. I understand being angry and sad that her dad left, but couldn’t that emotion be better served to get him back? Eventually it does but her resentments simmers for years and seems like wasted energy. There is also tension between Murphy and her brother, Tom (Casey Affleck), that doesn’t seem to make any sense. Why did Tom punch her boyfriend who only wanted to help his family? If Tom had given up on life, why was he still farming? Why does Casey, a much better actor, get less attention than Ben?
Another issue is why do the robots have a sense of humor level? An honesty level? I would want my robot helpers to be boring and brutally honest. Having the potential planets around a blackhole leads to interesting scientific dilemmas, but seems like a terrible place to find a new home. Dr. Mann lying about the planet so he wouldn’t die alone makes sense to me, but killing the other astronauts doesn’t. It leads to a great scene where Cooper has to stabilize the ship, but I guess a simple malfunction or stray asteroid wouldn’t have provided enough tension. Finally, the whole scene inside the blackhole is all dues ex machina and Cooper’s return was, frankly, lame.

I watched it a second time with my wife and kids. My wife and daughter where crying through the whole movie and were irritated at the end despite the happy ending. I found this to be interesting. This movie touches and pulls on a lot of emotional strings, which a good movie should, but perhaps it was too much? I like the movie more than I disliked it because Nolan at least seems to understand that a good movie is dependent on story and characters and not how many spaceships are moving behind Yoda.

[+]

Friday, June 24, 2016

Film Friday: Captain America: Civil War (2016)

With the Brexit, I thought it would be a good time to review Captain America: Civil War. Oy vey. Where to being? How’s this: I really disliked this film.

Let me start by saying that I’m not the biggest fan of most comic book movies. Many lack depth and interesting characters, and they try to hide this by substituting tired recycled plot points, pathetic teenage-level family “issues,” and a CGI frosting that lasts so long you want to claw your way out of the theater exit to escape.

That said, there have been definite instances where these films have been done right. These are films that involve clever new plot twists, genuine characters with real relationships, and typically a strong sense of humor. The Avengers, like the Iron Man movies and the X-Men films, have generally fallen into this category. DC films, the putrid Fantastic Four and the Hulk movies have generally fallen into the other category.
During Captain America: Civil War, there is a fight at an airport in Germany where the two competing camps of Avengers do battle. Iron Man and his team have come to capture Captain America and his team. The fight is fun to watch. It’s surprising. It’s really funny at times. It highlights the genuine relationships between the characters. And it lets the actors flex the character muscles we have come to love.

The rest of the movie is a dark, depressing pile of sh*t that made me want to walk out.


Turn down the lights and suck the color rods from your eyes, because this is one of those films done in a brown and dark blue pallet. I thought we were rid of that crap, but apparently not. The film begins with a fight you can’t watch because it’s all shaky cam. Apparently, some guy decides to blow up some disease center in Africa (as if) so he can steal a killer virus. But his real plan seems to be to get captured and blow up Captain America. At the time, this makes sense, but it won’t if you think about it later.

Indeed, let me give you the plot in a nutshell. Some guy’s father was killed off-screen in Age of Ultron. Guy decides to blow things up, in the hopes that the Avengers will kill innocent people in the process, which will lead the UN to decide to force the Avengers to accept evil bosses, which will result in the Avengers splitting into two camps who will then fight to the death after Captain America decides to save his frenemie Bucky the Winter Soldier while Iron Man decides to try to kill him. Why go this Rube Goldberg way? Because no one but an Avenger can kill an Avenger.
See any holes in that one? How about every single thought.

Anyways, the guy blows stuff up, the UN is given power over the Avengers, there’s some fake talk about what is right, and Captain America and Iron Man split. The rest of the movie is a chase scene as Iron Man hunts down Captain America’s team and makes them all look sad in prison while we are constantly lectured about all the people who died that the Avengers didn’t care about.
The whole thing ends up in a CGI ice cave as we learn that the whole plot was a red herring just to make the Avengers fight. Yeah, ok.

Why I Really Disliked This Film

This movie is visually and spiritually dark. It is a nine hour two-hour-thirty-minute finger wag in your face stupidly accusing the heroes you have come to like of being cold-blooded murders. Not one single character throughout this film ever points out the millions of lives they’ve saved. Not one character outside the Avengers ever supports them at any point in this film. Not one single character ever gives a speech telling you why it is important that the Avengers be allowed to save people’s lives without first having to clear every sh*t they take with the UN. Even after the UN bureaucrats start imposing Nazi-like surveillance, sanctioning torture, and locking up the Avengers for disobedience no one suggests that they are wrong.
Only Captain America stands against them (with a couple blind followers) and all he does is whine about how bad he feels for everyone he’s killed.
Other than that happiness, the film is a depressing CGI assault of buildings being blown up by terrorist bombs or Avenger mistakes. The UN guys are monsters. The themes we run into over and over are “you killed my family and you don’t even know who they were!”... saw that a dozen times. Or you have Avengers admitting that they can’t control themselves. Or you have Bucky and Captain America talking about how bad things have gotten. Or you have Iron Man dealing with the death of his mother and father, which it turns out is a secret Captain America kept from Stark. You have Iron Man losing Pepper. Cap dealing with the death of Peggy Carter. The Black Panther dealing with the death of his father. How about Don Cheadle being paralyzed? Not a moment of this film, other than the airport, is light-hearted. It is an unrelenting downer trafficking in death, destruction and regret.
What’s worse, it’s all stolen! The film style was taken from Jason Bourne, as were the locations... all of them. The public turning against superheroes for the deaths they cause without thinking about the lives they save is so worn it should be considered abuse to use it. So is the weapon’s lab in the ice cave. Seen the prison too. Seen the vet recovering from being crippled. Seen the dead mentor, the “you killed my parents!,” the “you didn’t even care” and all the other “conflicts” too. Nothing in this film felt original. Nor did it feel organic.

A lot of people compared this film to Batman v. Superman, but that’s actually not the right comparison. This film is not Batman v. Superman... it’s Watchmen. This is a film about a group of corrupted superheroes who do the corrupt government’s bidding and find themselves banned because they scare people and now live in a dark cynical world.

Between this, the angry Fantastic Four and the trend toward “adult” (read: 30 year old man-child) storylies, this all bodes poorly for Marvel, which has seems intent on ending a golden age premised on films built around the interactions of fun, likeable characters as they fight villains who are destined to lose.
[+]

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Comic-Con Advice and Thoughts

Howdy everyone! As you know, I just finished my first trip ever to a Comic-Con! I thought I would share some thoughts and tips with you in case you ever decide to go yourselves. So here are a couple thoughts...

First, some tips:

1. Get your tickets in advance. We had three days passes, so we had no problems. But Saturday sold out, and many people did get turned away. They had over 100,000 people on Saturday.
2. Bring a bag with some food and water in it. We had a Doctor Who/Tardis backpack! 😊 By and large, there was little food there to buy and the lines were VERY long. It wasn't as expensive as I expected, but getting to it was a pain. Drinks were about $2.50 each. Food was around $9 for a sandwich.

3. We stayed about five blocks away and walked. That was easiest. Parking near the Convention Center was a mess. We also could have taken the light rail, but we wanted to walk. We didn't try to drive in because it was just insane.

4. About half the people were in costume. You will see everything. We saw dinosaurs, daleks (a wheelchair costume), anime characters, movie characters, etc. There were dozens of Doctor Whos. Girls seemed to gravitate toward quasi-sexy anime characters, guys seemed to gravitate toward things in armor. There were people dressed like several musicians -- Prince, David Bowie, Meatloaf, the Beatles. There was a Carmen Sandiego. Tons of Star Trek, Star Wars, Dr. Who, anime. The most common costume was Deadpool for males and Harley (from Batman) for girls. That said, weight, body type, gender didn't matter, everyone was cool with anything. Whatever people wore, everyone liked it... and the self-made costumes were the most popular. I didn't hear one negative word from anyone all weekend about the costumes. And everyone we ask to take their picture was thrilled that we asked.

I would estimate the crowd was about 50/50 male to female, of all races, and there were lots of father/son and mother/daughter combos there -- in and out of costume. One of the cutest moments was a father/son Batman and Robin walking down the hallway together.
5. When you sign up, they should send you a link to an app with a schedule (they also have them in paper at the door). Look through it and figure out if you are interested in anything. We found that the BIG events were hardest to get into, but the smaller ones were no problem at all. My daughter got to meet several anime voice actors, a guy who taught us the basic phonetics of Japanese, and sat through some "how to" classes on cosplay and animation with no difficulty at all. That said, getting in to see Stan Lee proved impossible.

If they have a super special guest (like Stan Lee) and you want to get an autograph, it would be best to buy a VIP pass if they have them. There were only about 20 people around Stan Lee with VIP passes, but then well over 5,000 tried to see him at the public signing.

6. We enjoyed walking through the sale/merchandise floor (I would guess it was six high school gyms wide and three long). The seminars were great too -- wish we had gone to more of those. But the coolest thing was just seeing the costumes. For that, you can walk around, OR you can find some spot in the main hallway and everyone will walk right past you... several times. I estimate we walked about five miles a day, by the way. So keep that in mind. There were girls there doing it in major heels and I felt pretty bad for them by the end of the day. But you really can just find a place to sit and see a large part without all the walking we did.
7. It looks like a lot of the cosplay stuff takes place in the evenings, by the way. We plan to see more of that next time -- we were wiped out by six each night this time.

Finally, some thoughts.

We had an amazing time. It was really neat to see so many people just enjoying themselves. Half the crowd (or maybe even more) was women. A sizable chunk was black or Hispanic. There were some obviously gay people there too. All ages were represented as well. There were parents with kids, groups of friends, and even some single people. And the best thing of all... everyone got along happily. There was no anger. Everyone was polite and courteous. Everyone was happy to see everyone. There was immense creativity too. Not only in the costumes, but in the products people sold or displayed, and in hearing people talk about whatever "project" they had going in their lives (people walking around as well as people on stage).

So I highly recommend going to Comic-Con and just being a part of that world. It's the way society should be, and it shows how society can be.
[+]

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Film Friday: The Jungle Book (2016)

Disney has been "re-imagining" their classic animated films as live action films of late. Most have done really well at the box office, though frankly, undeservedly so. As a general rule, they've been poor copies of the originals with a few nods to modern cynicism and washed out storytelling. The Jungle Book is better than most, but not by much. It is an enjoyable film, but it underscores the problems with modern Hollywood.


By and large, the Disney re-imaginings have followed the storylines of the original animated films. There are changes around the edges and new themes and angles added, but generally, these have been re-tellings of the same story. Jungle Book falls into that same category and it mostly follows the original story. The story begins by introducing Mowgli as a member of the wolf pack. There is a drought. The animals all gather around a disappearing watering hole and call a water truce. At that point, Shere Kahn (Idris Elba) appears and says he will kill Mowgli because the script calls for it.
The wolves decide that the only safe place for Mowgli is the human village. Bahgeera (Ben Kingsley) agrees to take him there. As he goes, Shere Kahn attacks and they get separated. This lets Mowgli run into Kaa (Scarlett Johansson) and Baloo (Bill Murray). Baloo tricks Mowgli into helping him get some honey he cannot reach and them promises to let him live a life of leisure in the jungle. Meanwhile, Shere Khan has killed the leader of the wolf pack and basically promises to keep killing hostages until Mowgli is handed over to him.

Bahgeera finds Mowgli again. He and Baloo argue. In the meantime, Mowgli saves a baby elephant with his gadgets. Oh, did I mention that Mowgli is every Asian kid ever put on screen by Steven Spielberg? Yep, he makes gadgets as needed to serve the script. (Good thing he's not fat or he wouldn't be able to stop eating.) Anyhoo, Mowgli runs away when Baloo agrees that he will only be safe in the village. This leads to King Louie (Christopher Walken), a bizarrely oversized ape inappropriately played like a mobster. Eventually, there's a final fight with Shere Khan.
Why This Film Wasn't Better

Generally speaking, Jungle Book was a good film. It held my attention and I didn't feel like I'd wasted my time or money. I do wonder though if I would have enjoyed it as much if I didn't have the original to pre-excite me about the film? I wonder this because throughout the movie I found myself most excited as I waited in anticipation to see how they would handle the introduction of the next iconic character. Watching the scenes themselves wasn't as interesting. So I wonder if I did not have a pre-love of the film coming in, would I have been as interested in this film? I'm not sure. One thing I do know, however, is that this film handicapped itself with a number of typical modern Hollywood mistakes.

The first mistake was the desire to fill every role with a famous actor: Elba, Walken, Murray, Johansson, Kingsley, etc. This has become par for the course in Hollywood because they think this will bring fans of the actors into the film. Unfortunately, few named actors are any good at voice work. And when you hire them to play themselves, as they did with Walken, you get some awful moments.
The problem here, at a fundamental level, was that many of the voices never fit. Elba and Kingsley were fine. Murray lacked the bass to play a giant bear and came across more as Garfield (a character his voice suited much more appropriately). Even without knowing the original Baloo as a comparison, Murray's Baloo voice was too small and too weak. Johansson was a mistake too. Now, I don't care that they made Kaa a woman, but they definitely picked the wrong woman. First of all, let's be honest: women in Hollywood are so interchangeable that there was no point in attaching a famous name to the voice. Her voice, like a bevy of other blonde T&A models, simply lacks interest, character or gravitas. It was entirely too bland to represent a giant, hypnotic python. For that, the voice needed to be more unsettlingly sweet. It needed a layer of menace. It needed an actress who could add those qualities to her voice, i.e. a genuine voice actress.

The real crime though was King Louie. The original King Louie is an amazing character. He's an insane-ish ape who has surrounded himself with fools so he can play the king who would be man. Voiced by the incomparable Louie Prima, he stand unique in the world of cartoon villains as a complex character who wants something so simple, yet so impossible, and wrongly thinks Mowgli can give it to him. Walken loses all of that subtlety, as well as Louie's charm. He plays Louie as if he were the Godfather, only with Walken's semi-retarded speaking style. This doesn't fit the jungle, or the movie, or the character.
None of these mistakes kill the movie, though Louie comes close, but they detract. Louie sucks. Baloo isn't all he should be. Kaa becomes forgettable.

The film does an amazing job with CGI, by the way. All of the landscapes are CGI and you'll never be able to tell. The sets are gorgeous and pull you into the jungle in a fantastic way. The only real flaw is again King Louis. His was made too large to make sense in this world.

The other problem is character. Character remains a problem for modern Hollywood, as again seen in this film. In the animated film, Shere Khan is pure menace with class, always acting with reason. Baloo is a true, loyal friend who just happens to be irresponsible when it comes to life. Bahgeera is a loyal friend, but a worrier. Louie we've already discussed. Kaa is a menacing villain, but a coward. And Mowgli... Mowgli really is the main character. The story is about him meeting these characters as he tries to run away from his fear so he can remain in childhood forever. He is eventually forced to face his fears, to grow up, and to become a man. This is symbolized in the end when Mowgli goes to the man village of his own accord to be with the girl.
The remake lost most of that. In this film, Shere Khan is menace for the sake of menace. His motivation in hating Mowgli is messy and confused. It's implied that it's part sport, part fear of Mowgli getting fire, and part revenge for an injury Shere Khan suffered while killing Mowgli's father. Baloo is Garfield... a snarky reluctant hero. Kaa is a plot point. And Mowgli... well, Mowgli's just passing through the film as we watch the other characters do their thing. He's not looking to grow up. He's not running from any fear. In fact, he's not afraid of Shere Khan at all. He's not looking to grow up or become a man either, and he doesn't leave for the village at the end -- he remains perpetually a child in the jungle. What drives his character eventually is revenge as he learns that Shere Khan killed his father... because every event in a film must be tightly connected to the main character these days. Heaven help you if the final fight of the film doesn't sprout from the seeds of cosmic destiny.

Hollywood has lost the ability to tell a story that can be universally understood. A boy running from his fears is universally understood. A boy becoming a man is universally understood. The struggle between the worrier and the irresponsible is universally understood. Villains who act out of self-preservation (Kaa), fear (Khan), and jealousy (Louie) are understood. These are all things each of us experiences in our lives and things we instantly recognize and understand. But this film has none of those. This film replaces all of that with a standard revenge film and a series of set pieces.

That's why even though this wasn't a bad film, it wasn't a great film either and it certainly wasn't anywhere near the level of the original.
[+]

Monday, June 13, 2016


You know they're remaking Ghostbusters, right? Well, things aren't going well and it's the fault of all you misogynist men!! It's not MY movie that sucks, it's you!! Boo hoo hoo! Good grief.

Let me start with the obvious. Ghostbusters is a classic film. It should not be remade. It is impossible to take a movie like this, where everything in it was just perfect, and improve it... lightening in a bottle cannot happen twice. The best you can do is make a poor knock off. What's more, NO ONE was calling out for this film to be remade because it didn't have any weaknesses that could be fixed or alternatives that could be explored. But the powers that be in Moneywood crave money. So they decided to remake Ghostbusters.

Having decided to start down this path of doom, they hired a hack -- Paul Feig -- who did what hacks always do. He decided to hire current "names" to fill the roles and let them do their thing. In other words, he decided not to make "Ghostbusters," he decided to make a Melissa McCarthy and Kristen Wiig film that uses Ghostbusters as a setting. If you watch the trailer, you will see this. You will see McCarthy doing her "I'm fat and stupid" routine over and over and Wiig doing her "I'm an incompetent drunken slut" routine. So not only does no one want to see Ghostbusters exploited, but the people who would do not want to see a McCarthy/Wiig comedy vehicle. That's like giving Gone With The Wind to Judd Apatow.
That's bad.

Then Feig made his brilliant decision (snicker). He did what hacks always do in this situation. He made sure to change the genders of the characters because that generates controversy and scores free publicity. It outrages the fans who don't want to see the characters they love pointlessly changed and they spread the word because they can't stop talking, it brings the approval of Hollywood feminists because it means women replacing men, and it gives the hack a big smuggie.

Finally, said hack films the most pathetic, washed out, derivative crap you can imagine using the new cast.

Well, they released the first trailer and waited for the kudos to come streaming in. Instead, they got sh*t on. The trailer promptly became the most hated trailer of all time on Youtube. The production was in trouble. So what is a hack to do? Well, Feig and his team have gone on the offensive. They are telling everyone that if you don't like this film, it's because you are a woman hater... a misogynist. Yep. Here's a quote from a recent discussion Feig gave on the subject:
“I have been hit with some of the worst misogynistic stuff,” said Feig, adding that prior to Ghostbusters he was oblivious to the darker sides of the internet. “I used to [hear] that people had haters and I was, like, 'How does that happen?'”
Uh no. The problem isn't that you did the film with chicks. The problem is that (1) you did the film, (2) you made the most derivative crap imaginable -- watch the trailer and you will groan at how overused the jokes are and how oblivious the actresses seem to the fact they are blandly repeating things that have been done a million times, (3) you turned Ghostbusters into a vehicle for two lousy single-note comedians, and (4) you are getting snotty about the criticism.

The first trailer was truly awful. It included things like the fat girl trying to crowd surf at a concert and getting dropped. Yawn. This weekend, I saw a new trailer. It has removed some of the most obviously hack material, but it includes things like one of the characters explaining to each of the others who they are as characters and what their skills are. Talk about hack writing! The rest looks like filler. The audience I saw the trailer with didn't react once to any moment in the trailer. That's how bad it was. It might as well have been an add to go buy insurance in the lobby.

There are times I wish I could short a movie. This thing is a horrible idea done about as poorly as possible and now they are trying to shame people into seeing it because their attempt at generating controversy blew up on them. In fact, I'm laughing that Feig's cynical attempt to anger fans resulted in actual fan anger and has cost him big time. His failure is well deserved.

[+]

Sunday, June 12, 2016


Sorry about the lack of film reviews lately. The scheduling issues should be over starting this week and I expect to start having two articles each week again from now on -- Tuesday and Friday. I'm still debating if I should do more Summer of 70s films or start Summer of 80s or perhaps Summer of Classics. Any thoughts?
[+]

Monday, June 6, 2016

Alternate Ending: Return of the Jedi

For a long time now, the ending of Return of the Jedi has bothered me. Despite having such a great setup from the first two movies, I've often felt that the ending of Return of the Jedi was weak. The impact is missing. Well, I was thinking about this last weekend and it finally struck me both what was wrong with the ending and how to improve it.

The problem as I see it with the ending of Return of the Jedi is that it lacks emotional punch. This comes from the characters not being consistent with their motivations. For example, Luke has been taught to be "a Jedi." We are told over and over that a Jedi will not fight out of anger. Luke accepts this and even lets himself be captured by Vader with the hope of turning him to the good side. This is reminiscent of Ben Kenobi letting Vader kill him, a tremendously emotional moment.

But Lucas doesn't know how to write a dramatic ending without a fight, so he gives Luke a pretext to get angry and start fighting -- the discovery that Leah is a Jedi. That's both inconsistent with his Jedi training and it makes all of his motivations throughout the earlier part of the film irrelevant. Essentially, Luke's Jedi training is now pointless.

Vader also gets shortchanged. Vader was once good, but got co-opted. Luke thinks he can be saved and there is some hint of that, but Vader doesn't really struggle with it at all until the Emperor is on the verge of killing Luke. Then he suddenly saves Luke and thereby saves himself. Meh. Too easy, too obvious.

The Emperor too gets shortchanged. He has this influence over Vader, but he never gets to show it. There is no struggle for Vader's soul. He sucks at converting Luke too. And besides that, this most powerful of Sith Lords is basically chairbound.

The result of these defects is that the finale of the film, the climax of climaxes... is kinda dull. Want proof? Ask yourself if anyone talks about the lightsaber battle being all that special.

So think about this instead...

The scene begins aboard the Death Star. Luke has given himself up to convert Vader. It seems to have failed. The Emperor makes a sales pitch to Luke, but Luke holds firm. Luke, at the same time, keeps trying to convert Vader. Finally, the Emperor decides to switch to torture. When he does, Luke frees himself and escapes into the dark maze of the unfinished room.

The Emperor orders Vader to hunt Luke down and kill him. Vader, however, shows conflicting emotion and hesitates. His hesitation angers the Emperor. The Emperor takes his own lightsaber and goes after Luke, leaving Vader out of the chase.

As the Emperor hunts Luke, Luke is doing his best to re-awaken Anakin Skywalker inside Vader by talking about father-son relationships. It frustrates the Emperor that he needs to fight Luke for Vader's soul and he becomes increasingly angry. Meanwhile, Luke remains calm. He refuses to draw his lightsaber. He knows he cannot beat the Emperor in a fight because the Emperor is too good of a swordsman, plus he knows that if he draws his lightsaber, Vader will respond instinctively to the danger and will revert to the Dark Side. He also realizes that if he does fight, he will violate his Jedi beliefs and will corrupt himself. Hence, he is stuck with nonviolence.

Finally, the Emperor finds Luke and starts destroying the object blocking him from Luke. At this point, Vader finally loses control and blocks the Emperor's blow. The Emperor pushes him aside and says that he has taken everything else from Vader, he will now take his son. Vader goes into rage mode and brutally attacks the Emperor with his lightsaber. The Emperor is stunned by the force Vader uses because he combines both the Force and the Dark Side of the Force in his attack because he now has a foot in both camps. Vader overpowers the Emperor and knocks him to the ground with his blows. Then in one final strike, Vader hits the Emperor's lightsaber so hard that he cuts through the Emperor's lightsaber blade (a seeming impossibility) and kills the Emperor. However, using this much force mortally wounds Vader and he dies after a quick discussion with Luke about regret.

The end.

I think this would be much more true to the ideals of the characters. I think the battle for Vader's soul would be much more dramatic than the half-assed lightsaber fight between Vader and Luke. I think the symbolism of cutting the Emperor's lightsaber in half would be amazing and would become the most talked about moment in the entire series. It would also finish the same cirle of betrayal that the Emperor started when he got Vader to betray Ben.

[+]