It has been a long standing debate amongst my friends and I; which Star Wars movie is better, Empire Strikes Back, or Return of the Jedi. Understand that I am obviously not unbiased in this argument, but I feel that there should at least be some closure on the subject. That and my friends don’t believe I would actually write out a long standing paper* about how I am right.** So without further interruption, I give you:
Empire or Jedi: The Debate from a Long Time Ago, about a Galaxy Far Far Away
Among the fans of Star Wars franchise there tends to arise a constant debate. This debate is stems from the passion the fans of Star Wars have about their favorite movie. What these fans often fail to consider, is that just because a movie is their favorite, does not make it the better movie. More often than not the fans’ feelings get attached to a particular episode of Star Wars and, to them, it becomes the episode unto which all other episodes are measured against. It has been found that the main split in the debate comes between which episode, Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back or Episode VI: Return of the Jedi, is the better movie. While Jedi is the culmination of the events of its former two movies, Empire delivers passion, action, and the essential plot and character development that is vital for a film to stand by itself in the movie industry. This ability to stand alone outside of the series, unlike Return of the Jedi, makes The Empire Strikes Back the better of the two films.
Return of the Jedi, is an excellent culmination of the series and in no way a sub par film. Without Jedi, there are several loose ends that get tied up, however they were not pivotal points that needed to be wrapped up. There are a few instances in which Return of the Jedi does shine. The beginning of the film displays the rescue of the smuggler turned Alliance member Han Solo, Princess Leia in the most attractive outfit she will wear, and Luke Skywalker almost becoming a full fledged Jedi. Jedi also has some of the best action sequences, from the battle on Tattooine, to the Battle of Endor (this includes both the space battle at the Second Death Star, as well as the battle on the forest moon of Endor). Yet these breath taking action events, as well as the eventual overthrow of the Emperor*** do not make up for what is missing from Jedi to make it the better movie.
What Return of the Jedi ultimately lacks is what most major motion pictures tend to lack when action is the focus. That of course is the character development and plot progression. The events of Jedi go as such; Han’s rescue, battle on Jabba’s sand barge, Luke comforts a dying Yoda, planning to attack the Second Death Star, the Battle of Endor, Emperor’s death, to finally the end of the movie. The film is missing the natural progression of events leading up to the Battle of Endor. Up until the Second Death Star is shown to the audience, the viewer has no idea that a second Death Star was under construction. More importantly, when did the Rebels gain the information about the second Death Star or find time to assemble such a large and overwhelming strike force. The audience is just told that this is what will happen, no progression in the film leads to these events. Finally there is almost no character development in Return of the Jedi. The majority of the movie is for the fans of Star Wars watch Luke Skywalker finally become a Jedi, and assure the audience that, Good does triumph over Evil. The reason Jedi does not lack all character development is the final end progression of Anakin Skywalker. Jedi reveals that after about forty years, the Dark Lord of the Sith finally turns his back on the Dark Side, and take his place alongside Jedi past. However, it is almost a charity that Jedi is awarded this part in the character development of Anakin Skywalker, seeing as this is culmination of six movies and at least two mini series. Still there is a startling lack of plot progression and character development to have Return of the Jedi stand up against The Empire Strikes Back.
When it comes to plot and character development as well as an even balance between the action and interludes, The Empire Strikes Back is the clear choice of the movies. Empire stands alone because of its ability to give you insight to the characters that have been established. Even without Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope, Empire establishes the characters in its own film. A member of the audience could watch Empire without have ever seeing A New Hope and not be confused as to what is happening in the film. Also there is a basic progression in the plot of the film. The audience is never left wondering “Why are the onscreen characters doing that?” In fact each action is explained, and each action helps build the characters. Love scenes and Luke’s struggle to become a “Jedi like his father before him” are what makes Empire more than just a flashing space battle. The playful flirting between Han and Leia finally comes to fruition in Empire with Leia’s confession of her love for Han. This provides closure for the audience, as well as keeps them emotionally attached to the relationship that formed. Luke’s Jedi trials, as well, reach an apex during his confrontation with Darth Vader. This light saber battle also delivers one of pivotal lines from the entire trilogy, “Luke, I am your father.” Darth Vader was responsible for this plot reveal, making Luke second guess his choice to become “a Jedi like his father before him.” Plot twists keep The Empire Strikes Back moving consistently as opposed to space battles and flashing lights.
Action sequences, as well, are evenly spread through out The Empire Strikes Back as to not overload the viewer with one flashing space battle after another. The Battle of Hoth provides an excellent appetizer for the action to follow, which do not take place in space ships, moreover in dazzling hand to hand combat. Each time confrontation arises between the Empire and the Rebels it is met with a delicate touch and does not blind the viewer with fantastic explosions and the like. As previously stated the better of the action sequences is not a dazzling battle of space ships, but more an eloquent and well choreographed battle between two light saber wielding Jedi. These battles kept in check by consistent plot progression keep The Empire Strikes Back a visually stimulating film.
The debate between which film is the better of the trilogy continues to go on between Star Wars fans. Unfortunatley the problem with this debate is that it continually is intertwined with the feelings of the fans. Because of this more often than not each movie’s fan base feels the need to argue which movie is their favorite. A debate of this manner is not productive nor is it educated. What is often overlooked is each film’s merits as feats in cinema. Plot progression, character development as well as action scenes in between, keep a film interesting as well as stimulating to the audience. Because of these factors that Empire has and Jedi lacks, the better film is Empire. Return of the Jedi is the coming together of the events set up throughout the trilogy, however plot progression, and character development are very absent from the film, making The Empire Strikes Back the better of the two films.
There ya have it folks, I figured I’d beat you over the head with just how right I am.**** I’d like to thank Dr. McClurken***** for essentially teaching me how to write like that, and if they are any imperfections, that was all me.******
That’s it for today.
* Paper, blog post, really the same thing right. AND I’m saving trees, I’ll take any and all nominations for the Nobel Peace Prize
** Just in case you didn’t know, I’m always right.
*** No pun intended really
**** Once again, I’m always right.
***** Feel free to follow him on twitter here, and also tell him any of your thoughts on me or my discussion above
****** Just because I’m right doesn’t mean I’m perfect… sheesh people what do you think I am?!