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STAR WARS MADNESS ELITE EIGHT: #3 RETURN OF THE JEDI vs. #6 Ep. III REVENGE OF THE SITH

ROTJ vs. ROTS

Another day, another showdown in the Star Wars Madness Tournament, this time between two trilogy cappers! Following a monstrous victory in the first round, Revenge of the Sith is ready to take on a classic in Return of the Jedi, coming off a bye. Return of the Jedi is a much-beloved conclusion to the iconic Original Trilogy, marking the completion of Luke's hero journey and the demise of the Empire. Revenge of the Sith looks to continue mowing down Jedi by halting their return and ascending to the next round. For a time, both films were presumed to be the last we would see of the Star Wars saga, each bringing a sense of finality to them, and now it's time for our readers to choose which was more compelling. Was Anakin Skywalker's fall to the dark side the most gripping part of his story, or does his return to the light claim the day? VOTE BELOW!

Released: May 25th, 1983

Director: Richard Marquand

Era: Original Trilogy

Box Office: $475,306,177

Synopsis: After a daring mission to rescue Han Solo from Jabba the Hutt, the Rebels dispatch to Endor to destroy the second Death Star. Meanwhile, Luke Skywalker struggles to help Darth Vader back from the dark side without falling into the Emperor's trap.

Pros: The original swan song of the Skywalker Saga, Return of the Jedi brought the original trilogy to a thrilling conclusion. Only one word can describe the feeling of the climactic victory for the Rebel Alliance: triumph. Our heroes are all grown up, and their mission to Endor shows how much of a tight-knit family unit they've become. All of the scenes between Luke, Vader, and the Emperor in the throne room are among the best Star Wars has to offer, culminating in Anakin’s triumphant return and (what we thought) was the fulfillment of his role as the Chosen One. The space battle remains one of the best in the saga, playing well off of Luke’s date with the dark side and the seesaw Battle of Endor. Vader’s redemption and funeral always seem to strike a chord, as does the celebration that follows. As George Lucas has said, Star Wars is a fairy tale, and the happy ending for our heroes is earned and sacred.

Cons: Though it’s the weakest of the original trilogy, much of that has to do with the unparalleled greatness of its predecessors. The first act of the film can drag at times and feel detached from the rest of the plot, but the rescue of Han Solo couldn’t go ignored. The Ewoks overcoming the Empire is a little goofy and a miss for some fans (and Harrison Ford), although it does serve a thematic purpose. Having another Death Star serve as the threat to the galaxy also felt a bit repetitive, but it did help bookend the trilogy nicely. Like its predecessors, the visual effects haven't aged the best overtime. The space battle's speed and quality is a remarkable step up from the first Death Star battle. However, the green screen effects in the movie leave much to be desired, particularly on the Skiff when Luke, Han, and Chewie are being transported to their impending doom. Yoda's hair went from white in Empire to brown in this film, but maybe we can chalk that up to old age?

 

Released: May 19, 2005

Director: George Lucas

Era: Prequel Trilogy

Box Office: $850,035,635

Synopsis: Three years into the Clone Wars, the Jedi rescue Chancellor Palpatine from Count Dooku. As Obi-Wan Kenobi pursues General Grievous, Anakin Skywalker acts as a double agent between the Jedi Council and Palpatine and is lured into a sinister plan to rule the galaxy.

Pros: In many ways, Revenge of the Sith is a perfect Star Wars movie. The action is top notch, the story is emotionally taxing, the stakes are at an all-time high, the film slows itself down to dig into the characters when it needs to, John Williams’ score shines, and the movie serves as the perfect bridge between the prequel and original trilogies. The lightsaber duel between Anakin and Obi-Wan, now truly like brothers, is by far and away the best in the saga that culminates in the heartbreaking loss of Padmé and Anakin’s full transformation into Darth Vader. Ian McDiarmid steals the show as The Senate, who completes his brilliant plan to wipe out the Jedi, end the Clone War, and establish the Empire. The final four scenes of the film, showing what becomes of the mother, father, daughter, then son, are absolutely perfect and end the trilogy in tragedy, but also hope.

Cons: In some regards, Anakin’s decision to turn to the dark side can feel a bit abrupt. It’s important to remember that he’s had three years of war to get darker since his first major episode with the Tusken Raiders, but in Episode III things go downhill for him pretty quickly. It was sad to see Count Dooku last no more than a scene before being whacked, and the relative ease with which Obi-Wan took out General Grievous makes one wonder how he made it through three years of war. It's a travesty that the scenes planting the seed of the Rebel Alliance were all cut, as well as many funny moment between Anakin and Obi-Wan onboard the Invisible Hand, but at the end of the day this was a story about Anakin's fall from grace and these elements distracted and deviated from the core of the film.

OUR THOUGHTS

Andrew Gilman - I'm going with Revenge of the Sith with ease on this one. I love Return of the Jedi. It's an incredible ending to the Lucas story and just feels so good. But Episode III comes up just short to Empire as my favorite Star Wars film. These three films are the ones I grew up watching the most, and the release of III was such a special time for a young kid who loved Darth Vader. Such a powerful film.

Jack Pues - Even with the occasionally wooden acting, dated special effects, and choppy writing, Revenge of the Sith is still a great Star Wars film that will always resonate with me. It really makes the saga feel whole. Yet, in my opinion, Return of the Jedi is the greatest SW movie. The heart, heroes, adventure, emotion...there’s just nothing like it.


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