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Saga Revenge of the Sith VS. Return of the Jedi

Discussion in 'Star Wars Saga In-Depth' started by Darkslayer, Dec 9, 2013.


Which is better

  1. Episode III: Revenge of the Sith

  2. Episode VI: Return of the Jedi

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  1. Darkslayer

    Darkslayer Force Ghost star 6

    Mar 26, 2013
    Which one concludes their respective trilogy better? Which one is a better film in general?
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  2. Cryogenic

    Cryogenic Force Ghost star 5

    Jul 20, 2005
    Not another "vs". thread! My mind's gonna 'splode!

    Okay... ROTS.

    Well, sort of ROTS. But mostly ROTS. Mostly.

    Oh, I dunno. ROTJ is so good, such an odd blend of trashy pulp exploitation (slave Leia) and epic, life-stirring plot points, sound and imagery (Luke's journey, Vader's redemption).

    While ROTS is sort of in a league of its own: a rich, prototypical digital confection, with wonderful hints of "Golden Age" classicism and sweeping, symphonic tessellation.

    How about Order 66? ROTJ has some impressive set-pieces -- Jabba's sail barge, the speeder bike chase, and the entire Battle of Endor -- but Order 66, as a moving action montage, is a mountain of poetry. The beauty, the colouring, the sheer detail and cascading quality of every frame. And the music. Whoa, the music.

    ROTS, in terms of story content, also packs a wallop. It starts in some place tantamount to heaven, but now Dante-esque, with a war raging (literally above the clouds), lulls into a kind of sensuous somnambulance for a while, then explodes back to life with a hurtling Faustian narrative that climaxes with the old world order literally demolished and overturned. And then it ends sadly, mournfully, but with gentle hints of hope, in a final montage of pure serenity.

    In terms of concluding power, I think that ROTS walks away with it. It has a lot of loose ends to tie up. And Lucas admitted that he basically wrote himself into a corner and had to throw out his original outline for the film and start all over again. But Lucas is a great pragmatist and can be quite brutal with himself to get to that proverbial pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. In my estimation, he nailed the finished product. I really think he did an estimable job bringing a genuine sense of closure to a lot of ambitious plot points he laid out in TPM and AOTC -- and many more, surely, that had been rattling around in his head for decades. Also, despite ROTS being the sixth SW movie, and the fourth directed by Lucas himself, it manages to look, feel, and sound fresh. It's no retread. Just think how difficult that actually is to achieve in the same series using the same grammar. Yet everyone has a great look: Anakin, Obi-Wan, Padme, Yoda, the ships, the planets, etc. Every aspect is up to the task of delivering big, from the music, to the sound design, to the remarkable cinematography and visual effects. Again, five sequels in, and relatively little, if anything, feels phoned-in.

    As for "all round" brilliance and appeal, hmm... If ROTJ represents a very hard swing away from the sepulchral tone of TESB, concluding the Skywalker drama with timeless ebullience, though fused with harder, quasi-religious stylings -- a rather dashing capitulation to the warmth and humour of the first movie; and a hint of the saga's general rhythmic spontaneity and unpredictability -- ROTS is, well, the "Dark Side" of TPM brought forward, and the second in a two-part movie treatment of the mythical Clone Wars, and a dizzying overture to the more sedate, fallen world of the OT, which makes it brash, busy, and rather extraordinary to watch. In many ways, it is the movie climax to end all movie climaxes, and, clearly, the most technologically-splendid of all the films, and yet it's only the mid-point of the saga as it currently stands. That's kinda weird and worth shouting about. Which isn't to say that ROTJ doesn't also pull a few rabbits out of its snazzy hat. It's really excellent, and, thankfully, manages to distance itself from the other movies with some neat structural innovations, like being the only SW movie to have a true overture (the first scene with Vader -- our only glimpse of the Empire until the Jabba subplot has been completely resolved), or the only one to put its lead character through several intense one-on-ones (Luke with Obi-Wan, Luke with Leia, Luke with Vader, Luke's battle of wits/inner mettle against the Emperor). Luke also REALLY looks like he means business in that sleek black priestly clothing -- again, the only time a lead Skywalker truly chooses to dress himself so darkly in all the movies. That might almost sound like a shallow observation if the films weren't so visually engaging to begin with. But they *are*. That black really makes a point or two.

    Great film-making in both. And I do love both. But if you're going to FORCE me to choose (pun intended), I'll have to say ROTS.
  3. Count Yubnub

    Count Yubnub Jedi Knight star 4

    Oct 1, 2012
    ROTJ is great. But ROTS wins this one.
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  4. Han Burgundy

    Han Burgundy Jedi Master star 3

    Jan 28, 2013
    Ugh, this was tough for me... on my personal ranking of Star Wars films, I've always had these two pretty much equal.

    Ultimately I went for Revenge. Mostly because of the first question you asked. While ROTJ does a great job wrapping up its trilogy (but more on that in a bit) ROTS has the added benefit of actually making the preceding two installment much richer films retroactively. I liked TPM and AOTC on their own just fine, but seeing all the chips fall down in Revenge, seeing all the brewing confrontation and drama of episodes 1 and 2 explode into a cacophony of "End of Days" chaos and anguish was just fantastic. I could go on a huge rant about how much and why I love ROTS, but instead I want to mention why I think ROTJ loses this matchup.

    If there is one film that is actually hurt in a significant way by the existence of a six part saga rather than just a trilogy, it's ROTJ. Ever since 2005, ROTJ has carried the burden of being the culmination of five films worth of conflict. And in that regard it falls terribly short. There is a smallness to ROTJ that never bothered me until I watched all six films in a row. The entire second half of the film takes place in... the redwood forest. And it's filled with teddy bears (I will defend the ewoks as comedic relief till I die, but the extent of their presence in the film is far too, well, extensive). And while the space battle is a technical marvel and the scenes between Luke, Vader, and Palpatine are gold, there's still something lacking about the film. I appreciate the "galaxy-wide celebration" sequence George put in there 14 years later, but it's not enough.

    If there's one thing that excites me about a sequel trilogy, it's the possibility that episode 9 will give us the massive, unabashedly indulgent, epic conclusion that the saga deserves.
  5. Alexrd

    Alexrd Force Ghost star 5

    Jul 7, 2009
    Revenge of the Sith gets my vote. Return of the Jedi is probably the movie I like the least, although it has some of my favourite scenes (Luke, Vader, Sidious) of the saga.
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  6. Force Smuggler

    Force Smuggler Force Ghost star 7

    Sep 2, 2012
    ROTJ for the lightsaber duel and confrontation with the Emperor, the Battle of Endor space and land, the Emperor in general, the speeder bike chase, the Ewok tree village, the Rancor, Jabba's palace, the Sarlacc, Luke finding out the truth.
    ROTS for Anakin, the Tragedy of Darth Plagueis the Wise, the duel between Obi-Wan and Anakin, Anakin becoming Vader in name and suit, the first minute of the film and showing how everything minus the Rebellion scenes brought us to the start of the OT.

    Major toss up.
  7. Ingram_I

    Ingram_I Jedi Master star 4

    Sep 7, 2012
    Return of the Jedi

    Revenge of the Sith is actually my least favorite of the whole set, though I still love it to pieces on its own. It's probably the more concentrated artistic effort of the two and maybe even the most liberated and fully realized of Lucas' overall 'Star Wars' vision. It's also a bit stuffy and preoccupied with its own third-act momentum. And despite featuring more planet-scapes than any other installment, it nonetheless feels more regulated to characters standing around in rooms having conversations. Out of all six, it is the least curious about its own storied universe -- a universe gazed mostly in passing -- lacking that leisurely sense of exploration and deviation. Of course, I'm only speaking relatively here, as it's still a Star Wars movie through and through, with all the Star Wars trimmings. It's an operatic powerhouse. Greek tragedy wrapped in dynamite.

    Return of the Jedi is, in many ways, the most workmanlike installment of the saga or, at the very least, the most artistically transparent. And I love it for that. Humbled in this respect, and the most devoted to a logistical narrative, it in turn evokes a sense of 'high adventure' unmatched by the others. It's a straight action film: a swashbuckling escape from swarthy Orientalist crime lords which then gives way to an aboriginal forest fantasy and Guns of Navarone/Dam Busters-like 'special mission' exploit. At the center of all this concludes the Skywalker saga at its most personal, unguarded yet mature; all the cards are on the table at this point between Ben, Yoda and Luke--Luke, Vader, and the Emperor. And it's Luke Skywalker at his best: in-black, confident, driven and a Jedi like no other.

    So, that's my answer.
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  8. TX-20

    TX-20 Jedi Master star 4

    Jun 21, 2013
    Return of the Jedi is the better film.

    In fact, it's the only film. ROTS was shot on video.
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  9. ezekiel22x

    ezekiel22x Force Ghost star 5

    Aug 9, 2002
    The Luke vs. Vader stuff in Jedi makes for the some of the best moments in the series. In particular the swordplay that culminates with Luke battering Vader into submission before holding back from the killing blow just might be the most powerful moment in all the series. Aside from that stuff, though, ROTJ strikes me as too much of an attempt to channel ANH with the Tatooine opener, which seems like one big extended cantina gone crazy scene, as well as the Death Star redo, which despite its technical excellence is a bit of a lazy way to end a three film epic, let alone a six film one. I've said before and it still remains true for me: as an 80s fantasy film Jedi is a classic. As Episode VI of Star Wars, it just strikes me as way too subdued outside of Luke's story.

    ROTS has some annoying stylistic quirks, and it's biggest problem for me is Padme being way too passive compared to the strong leader portrayed in the first two episodes. Despite these problems, though, the film is intensely moving. Order 66 plays out like a tragic symphony, Padme's Ruminations a living painting probing the labyrinthine trap of isolation and longing, and the Battle of the Heroes excels at making the metaphor close to real as possible as I watch Anakin's final, epic clash inside his personal hell. It's a work that doesn't seem to stop once it gets going, yet has no trouble slowing down and offering quietly effective moments like the opera house conversation and Obi-Wan's "I'm so sorry" to Padme in between the multitude of fantastic action sequences. For me, ROTS is what we get when the power of Luke vs. Vader in ROTJ is played out throughout the entire movie, and for that reason Sith is better.
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  10. Cryogenic

    Cryogenic Force Ghost star 5

    Jul 20, 2005
    And a bloody great answer it is.
  11. -NaTaLie-

    -NaTaLie- Jedi Grand Master star 4

    Nov 5, 2001
    It's not even a competition. ROTS wins hands down. Much of ROTJ feels like a filler to me and it's also the least interesting installment on the visual level. By contrast, I actually want ROTS to slow down and give some scenes more room to breathe. Or add some more scenes such as the beginning of the Rebellion.
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  12. Frank T.

    Frank T. Force Ghost star 6

    Sep 2, 2012
    Jedi is the one I enjoy watching more and it is also the one that is the more important part of the Saga.
  13. VadersLaMent

    VadersLaMent 2017 Celebrity Deathpool Winner star 10

    Apr 3, 2002
    Return of The Jedi. The ROTS lightsaber duel was fun but far too cgi over the top. Vader's suited lines were not good at all. Overall ROTJ is just a better film. But not by a landslide. I was quite pleased with ROTS.
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  14. I Are The Internets

    I Are The Internets Force Ghost star 8

    Nov 20, 2012
  15. markdeez33

    markdeez33 Jedi Knight star 3

    Jan 25, 2013
    Revenge of The Sith is my favorite episode in the entire saga, so I gotta go with ROTS
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  16. Allana_Rey

    Allana_Rey Jedi Master star 4

    Sep 2, 2012
    They're both amazing films, but I think I'd have to go with ROTJ on this one. Such a classic and gives me so much nostalgia.
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  17. Carbon1985

    Carbon1985 Jedi Knight star 3

    Apr 23, 2013
    ROTJ is the better movie, although its a very uneven movie with really great parts and really mediocre parts. I have said in other threads that ROTS is the most overrated PT movie as AOTC is light years better then it, but I will discuss this more in a future AOTC vs ROTS thread someone will make.
  18. I Are The Internets

    I Are The Internets Force Ghost star 8

    Nov 20, 2012
    ROTS is also the most beautiful looking SW film besides ESB. The cinematography is just gorgeous.
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  19. MOC Vober Dand

    MOC Vober Dand Manager Emeritus star 5 VIP - Former Mod/RSA

    Jan 6, 2004
    I went with ROTS, but not by a large margin. A year ago I would've gone with Sith easily, but with each subsequent watching there's more and more of it that doesn't impress me. The opera and Order 66 are still sensational, however. ROTJ's throne room scene, the unmasking and death of Anakin are among the very best in the saga for me, but other than that I don't rate it highly. Numbers 4 and 5 on my ranking system these days.
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  20. Aaronaman

    Aaronaman Jedi Knight star 4

    Mar 12, 2013
    The duel between Anakin and Obi-Wan in ROTS is the best out of the entire Saga (imo) but even that can't knock ROTJ of the top spot here....ROTJ just has so many classis SWs moments.
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  21. skyrimcat9416

    skyrimcat9416 Jedi Knight star 1

    Nov 1, 2013
    Revenge of the Sith, because its a fantastic film, and my second favorite in the Saga.

    ROTS had the Fall of the Empire, Anakin's turn to the Dark Side, Anakin vs. Obi-Wan Mustafar fight, Ian McDiarmid's excellent performance as Darth Sidious, and General Grevious.

    I love Return of the Jedi, but ROTS just edges it out and made a better and more fitting finale.
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  22. Deputy Rick Grimes

    Deputy Rick Grimes Jedi Grand Master star 6

    Sep 3, 2012
    ROTS by a mile
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  23. Mr. Forest

    Mr. Forest Jedi Master star 4

    Nov 1, 2012
    I share this opinion.
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  24. -Jedi Joe-

    -Jedi Joe- Jedi Knight star 2

    May 6, 2013
    My favorite of each trilogy! I pick RotS, mainly because it is better-paced and is solid throughout. I still think that Vader's redemption in RotJ is the single greatest scene in the entire saga, though.
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  25. Samnz

    Samnz Jedi Master star 3

    Sep 4, 2012
    I agree and disagree.

    I agree that Endor is somewhat of a "boring" location for the ultimate finale (although is is fitting in a way that "primitive life" returns with the Ewoks as a complement to Jar Jar in TPM).

    I disagree, however, with your notion that ROTJ is overall weakened by the six-part-saga. One of my issues with ROTJ is Luke's wonderous belief in his father. It was never supported in any way by the events of the OT alone. With ROTS - although probably unintentional - there is a bit of a background with Padmé's last words.
    Furthermore, there is Vader's decision to save Luke. I find it much more rewarding with ROTS in mind. Anakin turned dark because he wanted to save Padmé. But he didn't do that primarily to save her life, but to keep her with him. Now in ROTJ, Anakin saves Luke knowing he will die as a result. He saves his life because Luke deserves to live. Not because he wants to live with him.
    He has finally learnt to love.

    Mom, you said that the biggest problem in the universe is no one helps each other.
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