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Face-Off: Lord of the Rings Trilogy vs. Star Wars OT

05.10.2012by: Paul Huffman
In last week's Face Off two of our beloved Avengers and their solo movies faced off (see what I did there?) against one another with Iron Man emerging victorious over Thor.

This week we are gonna examine two of the most loved and respected trilogies of all time in Lord of the Rings vs. the Star Wars Original Trilogy. We'll break down each movie from each trilogy and see which installments come out on top over the others. We'll do things this way because in so many ways including time LOTR has the advantage over Star Wars. But with that said, technological advancements aren't what make these films what they are. It's the classic stories. So here we go.
Fellowship/A New Hope
Fellowship of the Ring had a killer opening did it not? One of the most entrancing exposition sections that I've ever seen. You were hooked immediately. From there the film did it's job: introduced us to our main players (the bonus being that they're characters we came to care about), developed said characters while giving us our action/suspension beats when we needed them, and in doing so left us wanting more. The only thing associated with Fellowship of the Ring I didn't like was that I didn't get into it soon enough and missed it's run in theaters. See anything about the actual film in that complaint? Damn right you don't.
A New Hope: A couple droids are minding their own business and find themselves thrust in the middle of a feud between a society of rebels and the dreaded Empire. Oh, and a bit of a family feud as well but that's nothing to worry about. When I saw this film I wanted to be Han, I wanted a grandpa like Ben Kenobi, and I wanted Leia before that bikini ever came into the picture. To put it simply, it wasn't a mistake that George Lucas created a monster with this film.
Two Towers/ESB
I'll be honest, for me The Two Towers dragged in parts, but it was nowhere near as boring as some people I've spoken to make it out to be. We get the intro of Gollum and the wonderful performance by Andy Serkis, we get one epic ass battle at Helms Deep, we get a new and improved Gandalf that is done f*cking around, and we get humorous moments with Legolas and Gimli. As far as the middle child goes, Two Towers did what it was supposed to, set us up for the home stretch in an entertaining enough way.

PS. Ten points for the kick ass monologue from Samwise.
Three things define why Empire Strikes Back is my favorite Star Wars film: the introduction of Yoda and his whimsical wisdom, the best chemistry of the saga between Han and Leia (seriously was that too hard to duplicate between Anakin and Padme?) and of course the famous scene that people often misquote. The tone of the whole film set us up beautifully for the bomb drop that we didn't see coming and filled us all with a sense of dread, with a hint of hope from the now not so new...erm, hope.

PS. Twenty points for Darth Vader was at the height of what made him one of the most kick ass villains of all time throughout this whole film.
ROTK/ROTJ
Return of the King won every award it was nominated for its Academy Award season, including Best Picture? Was it undeserved? Hell frakkin no!! Unnecessary thirty minute fourth act aside, this is one of the few films in my eyes that deserves the distinction of being called a masterpiece. Gone was the lagging feeling I got with certain points in Two Towers, everything came full circle in a massive way and I walked away a happy camper with a sense of loss that it was all over. One of the main things I loved about this trilogy that was in abundance in ROTK in particular was the length of time that was given to develop all of the characters we have come to know. I mean ALL of the characters, development is a big thing with me.
Return of the Jedi really picks up at the end when Luke gets passed that whole I'm not going to fight my father thing. The dynamic between Luke and Vader near the end of the film had one thing that ROTK didn't have, my investment on a more emotional level. While I wasn't as annoyed with those damn Ewoks as others, the first two acts of the film just didn't do it for me. It's by no means a bad film, and it wasn't the level of disappointment that Godfather III is known for, and I don't even know if disappointment is the right word. It just wasn't on the level of greatness as the first two films were.

PS. Ten points for the bikini and the short and sweet ending. (come on ROTK).
Tie Breaker
Fellowship of the Ring aside, I felt more connected with this trilogy because it was of my generation. I got to watch these films with a group of family, friends, and strangers in the comfort of a dark theater. I got to anticipate the next entry, I was swept up in the genius musical score, every single character was memorable. These films were beautiful to look at, which in theory shouldn't even be discussed due to the time frame of these two trilogies, but these films trumped even the prequel trilogy in the looks department. Lord of The Rings is just packed with the best of everything.
I wish I had been born in the era where this trilogy first hit the scene, I wish I could have been in the theater when that famous line in Empire Strikes Back was spoken. I feel robbed. I'm a sucker for a good family feud in my fiction, the tragedy of this story always resonated with me, even in the prequel films. Every single installment had something to remember, something that will stay with a film lover for the rest of their lives. The empire that George Lucas has built around his beloved trilogy is no fluke. Bless the people who took a chance on it.
Lord of the Rings
There you have it for this week Schmoes, Lord of the Rings graced my life at a time that I needed my own trilogy to love as much as others love their Star Wars. Many are in love with both. What takes the cake for you? And why? Let us know.

If you have an idea that you'd like to see in a future FACE OFF column, feel free to shoot an email to me at paulhuffman@joblo.com with your ideas and some ideas for the critique to base your ideas off. Thank you and in the meantime...

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