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Face-Off: Original Indiana Jones Trilogy vs. Original Star Wars Trilogy

09.07.2012by: Paul Huffman
In last weeks Face Off, two of the best films of the gangster genre went head to head in the form of Godfather vs. Goodfellas. It was a hell of a battle with The Godfather pulling out the victory by a couple points.

This week, in celebration of Raiders of the Lost Ark being re-released in IMAX, we have decided to throw two of the best trilogies against each other and let the chips fall where they may. Both trilogies have had films follow the beloved original films, both of which some die hard fans have chosen to ignore. So let's focus on the films that originally captured our hearts shall we? I'll be mixing and matching the films according to their quality in my eyes. You ready for this?
Temple of Doom/A New Hope
I recently watched the Nostalgia Critic episode focusing on this addition to the trilogy, and just shook my head at all the mans points. First of all back up off Short Round the little shit was awesome, second of all those opening minutes were awesome, especially the life raft plummeting unbelievably down a mountain. Plenty moments of memorable situations Indy had to pull himself out of, a plethora of comedic moments, and when I was younger the proceedings actually freaked the piss out of me. What scares me most these days is that little kid. Yeesh. All in all, Temple of Doom is actually my second favorite in the series. Take that Nostalgia Critic.
What can you say about A New Hope? The original New Hope that set the story that would become Star Wars so beautifully, the New Hope that only alluded to how bad ass Jaba the Hutt was, The New Hope where Han shot first. From the first appearance of Vader you knew you were getting something that wasn't soon going to fade out of the public heart. So much mythology, packed in with so much adventure. The chemistry between all the actors was pitch perfect, and the revolutionary effects...well those just speak for themselves. Temple of Doom kept Indiana Jones going strong, A New Hope changed cinema forever.
Raiders/ESB
Raiders embodied everything an action adventure film should be. The film started off with a bang in booby trap heaven, while throwing in some character development in the form of a little twinge of fear around snakes. They didn't mess around when it came to the heroes opposition either, I mean you know shit is going to go down when you're going up against a gang of Nazi's. The cast was great, John Williams showed up and supplied Spielberg with another iconic score, the set pieces were great to look at...bottom line all the elements were there to make this the film that set the bar for the adventure films that came after it.
Empire Strikes Back, now and forever known as the Godfather II of sci-fi films. This entire film was filled with a mixture of hope and dread right from the opening scroll. The mythology evolved, the stakes were raised, Vader was at the peak of his ruthlessness, and its best quality being that everything wasn't wrapped up in a pretty little bow by the time the end credits rolled. Understatement of the century, no? Something has to be said for the wonderful chemistry between Ford and Fisher that made for a convincing love story, it took up so much of the film and it would have suffered had it not been so easy to invest in those two. Props to them both. Don't even get me started on the inclusion of Yoda.
Last Crusade/ROTJ
My favorite Indy film from the original trilogy. A glimpse into the adventures of young Indy (which explained a few things), probably the most enthralling story of the all of the films, and the dynamic between Junior and good ol pops. Character interaction like this is exactly what Indy needed, and the comedic moments that resulted were much appreciated. I really got into the action bits in this installment as well, so much wonderful use of vehicles. I could go on and on about Last Crusade, but I think the moment that perfectly captures the magic of this bad boy is its last shot, literally riding off into the sunset. Would have been a perfect ending. Extra points for the chilling Hitler confrontation.
Return of the Jedi could have been worse than it was, with the potential there for a better film. Everything was wrapped up pretty perfectly, but there are elements I could have done without...I think we all know to what I am referring. Han's attitude being mostly gone was a bit of a negative, that sequence with Leia's clothes being mostly gone was a huge positive, while villainous Vader was missed, his redemption was satisfying. If ESB is the Godfather II of Star Wars, then ROTJ is definitely the Godfather III. Didn't quite reach the level of the two that came before it, but definitely held its own. That is all we could really ask.
Overall
Every film of Indy's original adventures was a hit. Pure fun, and unrelated to this particular discussion I found myself enjoying even Crystal Skull more on a second viewing. A wonderful hero, memorable supporting characters throughout, thank god they snagged Sean Connery for a film, a perfect ending of Toy Story 3 proportions if they had decided to end it at Last Crusade. I will welcome several more adventures from Indy is they manage to capture some of the magic that this trilogy put forth. I just want one more glimpse of that warehouse full of crates. God bless the entire team of minds that brought this character to life, you contributed to my love of cinema, and many others.
I love a story of redemption, so when I was able to see this trilogy as a whole and was old enough to appreciate it for all that it was, it rocked my soul. I went through two stages with these films, as a youngster when the films were passed on and being swept away by the visuals and the imagination behind it. Then again, as the man I am today being able to appreciate the story Lucas envisioned for it all. It takes more than revolutionizing the industry from a technical standpoint to create something as long lasting as this franchise has been, and Lucas and team captured it. Say what you will about some of the material that has come after this, but these movies are the reason all of that has been allowed. That's powerful.
Star Wars Trilogy
So there is my two cents. Some of you may see this as the obvious verdict, but the tie breaker turned out to be more difficult to determine for me than I initially gave it credit for. Both these franchises are packed with greatness. The majority of you I know dearly love both, but which do you love more? 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...

Which trilogy is your favourite?
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