13. Battle of Hoth vs. Battle of Helm’s Deep
What was the Battle of Hoth? The Imperial attack of the Rebel base on the ice planet Hoth
Who was the Battle of Helm’s Deep? The Orcish attack on the Rohirrim in their sanctuary of Helm’s Deep
Verdict: The big set piece battles of the middle movie in both trilogies. The Battle of Hoth begins Empire, while Helm’s Deep concludes Two Towers.
The Battle of Hoth and the capture of the Rebel’s Echo Base works exceptionally well on a thematic level. It’s the first we see of our heroes after having just witnessed the successful attack on the first Death Star at the end of A New Hope. It forces us to re-adjust our hopes and our expectations for the remaining two movies, and makes our heroes seem mortal. The Rebels didn’t win upon the destruction of the Empire’s talisman. Indeed, they might have just begun to lose the war.
Helm’s Deep is the flip side of this. Along with the Ent’s destruction of Isengard, it’s the turning point of our heroes’ story. Just as all hope was lost, an entire front of the war – specifically Saruman’s army of orcs from Isengard – was destroyed. Now the armies of good could concentrate their forces on the true enemy: Sauron.
Pretty straightforward stuff, even if took about six hours for Lord of the Rings to get to it.
For its relative thematic complexity, Battle of Hoth takes it.
Star Wars wins
Next: 12. Battle of Endor vs. Battle of Pelennor Fields