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#55: Apocalypse v Empire (Poll Closed)

Results for this poll have been set to private.
Posted 2 years.


  • "Apocalypse" is mesmerizing, haunting, and incredibly cool; it bottles the twisted, bloody angst of an era and filters it through an equally poetic 19th century novel. There are other films about the Vietnam War which portray the facts better, but none sweep the emotion of that conflict into a more suitably twisted opera. It's iconic and I've always loved it.

    For all the operatic sheen, though, it's a little shaggy; a little lumpy. "Empire" is a better made film. Say what you will about "Star Wars: A New Hope." The narrative is a little thin; the dialog is hokey; it's naive to a fault. That movie's great achievement was setting the table, and that's where "Empire" swept in and remains something of a monument: it has no trench sequence, no Death Star, and no principle characters kick the bucket, but it took the sketch that was "A New Hope" and crafted a fully fleshed-out, living, breathing, beautifully realized universe around it. Hell - you could probably argue that while the first film was a big commercial success, "Empire" is what welded Star Wars to popular culture, and it did it by proving the franchise was no fluke. It did it by being an exceptionally well-crafted film. The sketches, here, become lovely renderings, and they lasted.

    I see your clicks and raise you a parsec.

  • Felix Kortsch - 2 years ago

    See? Now we just had Goodfellas VS Pulp Fiction which are both good but not pantheon films. One of which will advance and here you're forcing me to chose betwen the one really good Star Wars movie and one of the most influential and masterfull films of our generation! How am I supposed to make that choice?

    Well my language gave it away I voted apocalypse now as it is not just good but a fundamental piece of cinema. Still can't I kick both Pulp Fiction And Goodfellas and have both of these move on? ;-)

  • Eric Winter - 2 years ago

    The Empire Strikes Back is a perfect adventure movie, while Apacolypse Now is flawed and rambling. Still, there are individual shots in Apacolypse Now that are greater than the entirety of the Star Wars trilogy. Terminate TESB with extreme prejudice.

  • Egbert from Doha - 2 years ago

    I have a fake Time magazine cover dated July 1968 featuring one Colonel Kurtz hanging on my office wall. Have a look: Because sometimes it is like going up the river that snakes through life like a main circuit cable plugged right into the heart of darkness.

    AT-ATs are cool and Empire is still great. Apocalypse Now is not just endlessly re-watchable as great cinematic opera, but as I get older I begin to understand better why the truth can sometimes only be revealed as fiction.

    I wanted a movie and for my sins they gave me one ..... Apocalypse Now and forever.......

  • Devon - LIC, NY - 2 years ago

    This is as much a protest vote over All the President's Men being trounced so handily on the last round as it is a vote for Empire. I need to revisit Apocalypse, as my only viewing was the Redux, but still.

  • Oliver Cation - 2 years ago

    Like a machete through a sacrificial cow. Goodbye to Apocalypse Now.

  • Monkey Mike - 2 years ago

    What are you going to see on the 20th viewing of Empire that you didn't already see on the 2nd? A new Ewok you never noticed before? Is Chewy going to make a new sound?!?!?!


  • Allen Childs - 2 years ago

    Apocalypse Now checks so many boxes: visually, it is as stunning as any movie I can think of. The soundtrack is killer. The performances stick with me - Sheen's voiceovers are embedded in my psyche, and as much as I dislike Dennis Hopper, I'll never forget his manic photographer. How can I vote against a movie that is based on an incredible novel, is directed by one of the most daring filmmakers of the greatest decade of American cinema, and that features both Marlon Brando and The End by The Doors? Well, I revisited both Apocalypse Now and The Deer Hunter last fall, and I was a little surprised to walk away greatly preferring The Deer Hunter. The Deer Hunter ripped my heart out, and even though Apocalypse Now checks just about every box, I felt almost nothing when I watched it. Like the girlfriend or boyfriend who seems to have every quality you ever wanted but who just doesn't do it for you, there is some sort of magic "it factor" or special sauce that I cannot locate in Apocalypse Now as badly as I wish I could feel it.

    If Apocalypse Now isn't even the best Vietnam movie of the late 70s, how can I vote it ahead of arguably the greatest entry in arguably the most enduring film achievement humanity has seen - the original Star Wars trilogy? (Yes, I know a lot of people don't like Jedi, but that's neither here nor there) I have already spent all day writing these comments so I don't want to repeat myself from my Star Wars (A New Hope) post, but the original Star Wars trilogy has it all, and Empire has its share if not more. Groundbreaking effects, iconic characters, adventure, humor, romance, coming of age, and a timeless good vs. evil story with a message of hope, faith, and redemption that has touched literally billions of people - and for good reason. It will be awfully hard for me to side against either remaining Star Wars film because Star Wars is what the magic of movies is all about.

  • Hang on! Lets assume "Star Wars" disappears forever, does it remain gone if "Empire" wins? Shouldn't it at the very least return from the netherworlds of the force, surrounded by a blue buzzy shimmer? I don't know why I'm asking, as I'm voting against both movies - with all of Star Wars gone, "Spaceballs" will take its place in cinema history; finally, the schwartz awakens!

  • I went into this round of Madness promising to adhere to a few tenets of fairness and decency: no voting in matchups where I haven't seen the candidates, no ignoring my gut in favor of critical acclaim, and most importantly no spite ballots, voting out of vengeance instead of love. Given all of that, this round should be a gimme: I have no attachment to Apocalypse Now, and the Star Wars trilogy was my first intense taste of fandom and very much part of my pop culture DNA. But dag flabbit all, Singin' in the Rain has fallen far too young at the hands of the Dark Side, and Lord Vader must pay for what he's done. I've clearly become all that I despise in film criticism, but my vote represents Don Lockwood and Kathy Selden spitting in Vader's pasty plague-ridden face with their dying breath, and not being able to look at myself in the mirror is a small price to pay for justice. I'm a terrible person. Carry on, soldiers.

  • Billy Ray Brewton - 2 years ago

    This is the toughest match-up for me, this round. I refuse to vote for either and submit a write-in vote: JAWS. Can we bring it back please? K, thanks.

  • Manuel - 2 years ago

    The horror. The horror.

  • Deborah Overstreet - 2 years ago

    Smells like victory! Apocalypse always.

  • W. David Lichty - 2 years ago

    Apocalypse Now is a flawed masterpiece (actually two flawed masterpieces) whose flaws fade with repeat viewings. It became great, I think in reputation, and certainly to me. The Empire Strikes back was never not great, and it has not faded. It has not become silly over time, nor uninteresting.

    Also, The Empire Strikes back is not a great Star Wars film. It's a great film. Being part of a series has hidden that from the view of many, but I stand by it, great like Seven Samurai, Casablanca, Back to the Future, Sherlock jr., Modern Times - you name it, it is at that level.

  • Chris Massa - 2 years ago

    As good as Empire Strikes Back is, and it's very, very good, Apocalypse Now is just... MORE. It's bigger, messier, and has Marlon Brando. I can live without Han Solo in carbonite, but I don't think I can live without the smell of napalm in the morning.

  • Stephen Hill - 2 years ago

    As an Empire fan since age 9, the nostalgia factor runs high, and when it comes to Apocalypse Now, it just doesn't resonate the same way with me. It's telling that of all the films in the Original Star Wars trilogy, Empire is the one Lucas altered the least.

  • Steve Kimes Portland, OR - 2 years ago

    To quote the asteroid monster (whose voice cannot be heard in space)-- AAAARRRRRRGH!

    Apocalypse Now
    Perfectly rendered scenes of madness
    Descent into darkness
    The perfect war film

    Empire Strikes Back
    Star Wars marathons (Okay, let's go straight from A New Hope to Return... I think not)
    Everyone misquoting Darth Vader
    My youth (part 2)

    Okay, I watch Apocalypse Now one more time and then vote for Empire.

    But wait! Perhaps AN Redux is still available? That's a different film, right? Right? (I'm desperate, here)

  • Levi Williams - 2 years ago

    Best Star Wars movie versus best movie? Sorry George, maybe if you tinker with it some more.

  • Andy Decker - Chicago - 2 years ago

    No question here. Apocalypse Now is rife with incredible performances, stunning cinematography, and mesmerising editing cutting through its bleak, acrid napalm smoke-filled atmosphere. And I'd argue it has just as many memorable lines as your beloved Star Wars, so don't get started on quotability. Apocalypse Now is genius, the definition of a masterpiece; The Empire Strikes Back is merely good fun. If 80's sci-fi takes out another one of the greatest films ever made, then I give up.

  • Tom Gallegos (Boston) - 2 years ago

    You guys are killing me. Wait! I just remembered a cheat. I get to keep Empire AND I can still read Heart of Darkness. Ha ha, Filmspotting, joke's on you. Wait, are you monsters burning books too?

  • Henrik Hansen - Yalding, UK - 2 years ago

    Interesting paring. These are both journeys into the unknown with bold visuals, excellent soundtracks and heartbreaking endings. But Apocalypse now puts you into the jungle and through the wringer in a way that few films have. For the sake of Coppola's vision I am prepared to terminate my love for Empire with extreme prejudice.

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