Star Wars vs LOTR

I thought it would be interesting to do a comparison of these two giants of multi-part epic film-making. We haven’t seen all of the films but let’s stick to the ones we have.

(Also I think it’s reasonable to assume that the remaining two LOTR movies are roughly the same quality as the first one since they are made by the same people at more or less the same time. Also it’s likely that the last Star Wars film will be ,at best ,a modest improvement over the AOTC. So we have a pretty good idea of how the two series will end up looking like.)

It’s been a while since I have seen the first three Star Wars films so I will just put up a few points and hopefully others can add more detailed comments:

1)Star Wars went seriously downhill begining with the Ewoks in Episode 6. Episode 1 and 2 were mediocre at best. LOTR is likely to maintain much greater consistency over the three episodes. Early indications are that TTT is about as good as FOTR and some people say even better. No reason why ROTK isn’t at least as good.

2)Even compared to the first two episodes IMO FOTR is superior in some respects: for instance the acting and the writing are better overall. The visual effects are obviously far superior after two decades but even apart from the superior technology, FOTR paid more attention to the visual detail and bringing Tolkien’s world to life than Star Wars.

  1. I haven’t read the LOTR books so I don’t know how the story goes . But so far in terms of epic story telling ,excitement and memorable characters I would rate LOTR and the Episodes 4,5 of Star Wars roughly the same. Of course 1 and 2 were seriously inferior.

Overall, assuming that TTT and ROTK maintain standards, I would say that LOTR beats Star Wars quite easily. Episodes 1 and 2 and the latter part of Episode 6 are simply too weak and even if, against the odds, Lucas produces a masterpiece for episode 3 the damage has been done.

Smiling Bandit HATES comparitive movie reviews!


I pretty much agree that LOTR will probably end up being “better” overall (acting, writing, effects, etc.)

HOWEVER, it will never be able to have the same kind of impact on society that the first three Star Wars films (eps 4-6) have had. When the first Star Wars came out in '78 (?) there was nothing else like it. The marketing blitz that came along with it was also unprecedented. Everyone saw the Star Wars movies and just about every kid I knew (including me) had Star Wars action figures and toys. We grew up with Star Wars as a big part of our fantasy/play life.

The same cannot be said for LOTR. Despite the fact that they have been and will continue to be tremendously successful, not everyone will go to see the movies. Not every kid will grow up playing with LOTR action figures, and even the ones that do will also have lots of other movies to watch and other toys to buy. Society is now inundated with event movies and special effects movies to the extent that even the standout movies like FOTR have a somewhat muted impact.

That said, I think FOTR is awesome and I can’t wait to see TTT!

1977- Star wars
1980- Empire
1983- Jedi
1999- Phantom Menace
2002- Clones

I suppose one might rightly say that we have LotR because we had Star Wars. And LotR would not have been nearly as awe-inspiring without SW.

And Star Wars, along with a great deal of science fiction and fantasy, drew from the tradition of the LOTR books themselves.

It’s the circle of life!

I’m putting my vote down for LOTR, even though I haven’t seen the next two movies yet. I know I’ll get a lot of stuff chucked at me for this, but to me there is no comparison. LOTRs kicks serious ass and Star Wars…just doesn’t…

awaiting beat downs

Why would one say that? There is a lot of factors that have contributed to LOTRs. I think LOTRs would’ve eventually made it to the screen regardless of Star Wars. The books were very popular on there own. It was only a matter of time before LOTRs was made properly .

I’m sure the good professor would appreciate the high praise. :rolleyes:

I’m pretty sure CyberPundit is referring to Peter Jackson’s cinematic interpretation of Lord of the Rings, not JRR Tolkien’s literary work.


I hope you’re right. More to the point, I hope I live to see it.

Unfortunately, what we’ve got is a film version of LOTR that is just good enough to forestall that event for a long time to come. For a generation, at least.

With the caveat that we’re comparing only the original Star Wars trilogy to the Peter Jackson LOTR trilogy, Star Wars wins easily, IMHO, even despite RotJ.

Addressing the similarities between the two and the impact of each on popular culture

But the basic origins differ:

SW is based on Greek myths and the archetypes of Heroes, The Traveling Companions, Friendly Beast, Pure Evil, etc.

LOTR is based on English “history”. Because England has been invaded by outsiders for centuries England did not have much to rival the Sagas that was its own. Even King Arthur was Saxon.

Though LOTR so far has not made as large an impact as SW, I feel that given time, there will be an impact on the popular culture. SW (though being Fantasy itself I’m going to call it SF) came in the Science Fiction era of popular culture of SW, ST, even Alien, up through Independence Day. Nowadays the trend is moving to Fantasy. Harry Potter, Artemis Fowl, Lord of the Rings, Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials, Chronicle’s of Narnia, the Bartimaeus trilogy, Abarat -all movies out or in scheduled to be out in the next couple of years- and Everquest, Magic, and D&D are all ‘modestly’ successful games. Not every child may own a Frodo, legions have at least a HP related item.

Er, why compare things? You might as well say that “Requiem For A Dream” wouldn’t have made it to the screen without “Drugstore Cowboy” coming first.

Well considering the second trilogy of Star Wars films are just 2 hour commercials for Lucas’s ILM, THX Group and so on, my vote is for LOTR.

Diferent story if you include all 6 SW films.

It’s a non-question.

The original trilogy helped sell the public on special-effects laden multi-movie epics, paving the way for LOTR. I would argue that it was not inevitable, especially in multi-movie form, or it would have be done before now.

SW is an orignal work (Lucas and co made it all up themselves, for better or worse). LOTR is a cinematic adaptation of a modern classic (Jackson was already bound to a very successful novel, for better or worse). Jackson’s challenge was different than Lucas’, making comparisons unfair.

LOTR will neither preform quite as well at the box office as SW, nor will it make the splash on the popular conciousness as SW 4-6. They are, I think, better films than the Star Wars series, but that doesn’t mean much.

But of course, LOTR has been made before–there was the (horrible) 1978 animated version, which was supposed to be the first film of two. There were also a couple of aborted attempts to make it during the 1960s. (The Beatles expressed an interest at one point.) LOTR couldn’t be made properly until special effects increased in power and decreased in price, though, which is why no live action version was attempted until the late '90s.

While Star Wars happened to be the movie that defined the mega-blockbuster, special-effects-intensive, merchandising-mad film, that genre was bound to emerge whether Lucas made his movie or not. The industry had been building up to it for years.

Kubrick and Trumbull had shown that great space special effects were possible in 2001. Disaster movies (remember them?), Jaws, and the Exorcist had shown that audiences would line up around the block for effects-heavy “event” movies. Disney had shown that merchandising to kids was very profitable. Someone was bound to put those pieces together sooner or later.

Well of course there are differences beween LOTR and Star Wars but there are differences between any two films so that doesn’t make a comparison pointless. In fact a meaningful comparison requires both interesting differences and similarities otherwise it would be rather boring.

There are also great similarities between the two series: basically both are multi-part films about an epic battle between good and evil in an alternate universe with an unlikely hero. How many films can you say that about? Only the Matrx comes to mind. And maybe Harry Potter which is much more kid-oriented. So both LOTR and SW belong to a fairly narrow genre.

I agree that commercially (not artistically) Star Wars may have paved the way for LOTR. However it’s entirely possible that even without Star Wars some other series later would have done the same thing. After all it was Jaws which really started the summer blockbuster genre and Indiana Jones was also a hugely successful adventure series in a semi-fantasy setting. Who knows, perhaps LOTR could have become the pioneer instead of Star Wars. After all it had the advantage of being a popular book.

As for why to do comparisons. Well why are people interested in discussions about the best comedy or the best Hitchcock film? I dunno; I find it inherently interesting. As I said LOTR and Star Wars belong to a rather narrow genre so it seems quite interesting to ask which is the better series.

I think one thing you aren’t addressing is that SWs has been out for twenty + years. They have been given time to ingrain themselves in the popular consciousness. LOTRs, has had a few crappy movies done, but this is the first time some quality has been put into the movie. I think in another 5 years or so, LOTRs will have the same effect on popular consciousness.

Personally, if the other two movies are as good as the last, I think it will eclipse the money-making machine that is SW. After all, LOTRs has the book fans, and the newly emerging movie fans.

I was two differnt people when I saw the two movies. I saw Star Wars with the anything is possible openess of a ten year old. I saw LOTR as a wiser, more cynical 33 year old. LOTR may be a better movie, but subjectively, I doubt anything will overtake the original Star Wars in my consciousness.

I used to be a SW person. I never read any of the books, owned one or two action figures, rented but never bought the video games, but revered the movies as great and holy and better than the Star Trek crap. But with the newer trilogy my faith was weakened, I recognized there is some goodness in Star Trek and most of the appeal to SW are the zoom-zoom-lasers and audiences today aren’t as impressed by them as they used to be (hence the shortcomings of the newest trilogy). But if I’m a geek (see the thread wherein a Member turns in his geek badge) I’m a PopCul geek and LOTR made me a small Fantasy geek too.