CL Tournament of Summer Movie Blockbusters Round 1: The Empire Strikes Back vs. Batman Returns

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The Empire Strikes Back is the second film in the original Star Wars trilogy. The darkest chapter in the series (Hand amputation! Han Solo frozen solid! Who's your daddy, Luke?!!?), Empire benefited from the solid direction of Irving Kershner and an excellent script by Leigh Brackett (Rio Bravo) and Lawrence Kasdan (Raiders of the Lost Ark) — all of whom managed to avoid the many kid-movie creature flourishes that hamstrung Lucas' later series. Empire is also the first Star Wars film to include Yoda, perhaps the greatest character to spill from Lucas' imagination. In addition to being a rousing space opera, The Empire Strikes Back is almost universally applauded by Star Wars fans as the greatest adventure of them all.


Final Box Office Gross: $290,475,067.00


Rank on AFI's "100 Years … 100 Movies" list: N/A


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It's a battle of sequels today, as Empire is facing off against Tim Burton's second Michael Keaton Batman offering, Batman Returns. As I remember it (and correct me if I'm wrong) Batman Returns was generally hated upon its 1992 release despite the huge box office. (Don't let the below $200-million gross fool you; in 1992 this was the summer blockbuster.) Perhaps it was The Penguin's army of little birds launching rockets at Gotham, or the one-villain-too-many calculus of The Penguin (Danny DeVito), Catwoman (Michelle Pfeiffer) and evil business tycoon Max Shreck (Christopher Walken) all battling Batman simultaneously. Personally, I found Returns to be superior to the original Batman, mostly because the film is more fun and takes itself less seriously than the original without falling into the parody territory of Batman & Robin. Still, no one in Returns matches Nicholson's crazed genius as The Joker — though Pfeiffer's Catwoman is almost as satisfying a villain, but in a different way.


Final Box Office Gross: $162,831,698.00


Rank on AFI's "100 Years … 100 Movies" list: N/A

Note: This is our first Tournament of Summer Movie Blockbuster. In case you missed it, here's the skinny on the tourney and a full list of competing films. And for news and reviews of this summer's blockbusters, be sure and check CL's Movies & TV site.

Sorry for the delay in continuing the Tourney of Blockbusters. I'm back and ready to roll through the rest of Round One. In case you missed last week's battle, the residents of Jurassic Park devoured the dark lords of Revenge of the Sith to move into Round Two. Today, the polls are open for an epic battle between #2-seed The Empire Strikes Back and #7 Batman Returns.

Details on the films and your chance to vote are after the break.

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