The cultural impact of Peter Jackson The Lord of the Rings movies rivals that of giant franchises as Harry Potter and star wars. Its box office success launched the high fantasy genre of the world of big-screen novels into mainstream culture. The first part of the trilogy, The Fellowship of the Ring, grossed $897 million worldwide. The second film in the series, The two towers beat its predecessor with $947 million – an unusual feat for many sequels. The last film in the series, The king’s return, again surpassed the previous two films, being the second film after Titanic gross over $1 billion worldwide.
The reverberations of The Lord of the Rings the films were felt around the world. The original novels and other works of JRR Tolkien have seen a resurgence of interest. New Zealand, the location where many of the film’s magnificent scenes were shot, saw a growth in tourism after the film’s release. In homes around the world, extended versions of the films have been released, with the latest iteration of 2021 being disc 31 collector’s edition containing the six films of The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit. This edition features audio remastering, enhanced visual effects and a 4k Blu-ray format, and continues in the tradition of massive excesses in The Lord of the Rings, from execution times to budgets; the latest example being Amazon’s anticipated new series, The Rings of Power, which will have a budget of $465 million.
The first movie in The Hobbit The trilogy was released in 2012 and is again directed by Peter Jackson. All three films are based on the 1937 novel written by JRR Tolkien which predates the the Lord of the Rings novels. This series received mixed reviews, but in a media landscape with limited high fantasy blockbusters and an incredibly robust fan base, the film was a success in many ways. How do these films compare to others? Well, here’s every the Lord of the Rings movie, rated.
7 The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies
This is the third and final film from the Hobbit trilogy. It was released in 2014 and details the climatic war between Bilbo, the dwarves and their allies against the evils of the orc army. This film is last on our list today, not because it’s a bad film, but because this film illustrates the problems of turning a novel into three feature films. Short, The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies feels a bit bloated. Long, drawn-out scenes are a classic part of the Lord of the Rings movies (again indicative of its tendency to overdo it), but usually these sequences have a point and propel the narrative forward. The scenes revolving around the Master of Lake-town and his cronies seem to work as comic relief and less about story or world-building.
On the plus side, this film contains many interesting action sequences. It uses an incredible amount of CGI, which may be refreshing to some compared to the original series. We can see all the disgusting details of the Orcs, the magic at the head of Gandalf and the terrifying horror that is Smaug. If you’re an action fan then this movie might be one of your favorites, but if you’re a die-hard fan of the original trilogy then this concluding feature might have left a taste less than tasty for the Hobbit trilogy.
6 The Hobbit and the Lord of the Rings (1977 and 1978)
They are two separate films that were released less than a year apart in the late 70s. They are grouped together because the two are animated in the same style and are often paired back-to-back, and although they are based on the same source material, they are not in the same canon as the newer ones. Hobbit or the Lord of the Rings series. Instead, the two films tell the story of Bilbo and Frodo respectively, basing their narratives on Tolkien’s original novels.
The Hobbit was first released in 1977 and is directed by Jules Bass and Arthur Rankin. The Lord of the Rings is directed by the great animator Ralph Bakshi, and has become something of an underground cult classic for many. Both movies offer a refreshing and interesting take on the original novel, and through animation, both movies can do things that live action often can’t, and create an artistic and enjoyable viewing experience because of that. Although nowhere near as epic, dramatic, and awe-inspiring as live-action films, if you’re a fan of The Lord of the Rings and enjoy animated content, these are two charming little adaptations to check out.
5 The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug
Now let’s go back to the Hobbit series. Fifth on our list is The Hobbit: Desolation of Smaug. In this film, we pick up where the first Hobbit part, which is the pursuit of Lonely Mountain and the treasures that lie below. A handful of very interesting mythical creatures are introduced in this film, including giant spiders, a skin changer, wood elves, and Smoug. The start of the film is filled with misadventures to the Lonely Mountain, but once Bilbo and the dwarves reach the mountain, Smaug is introduced.
Perhaps one of the best character introductions of the entire series, it involves Bilbo sneaking into the Lonely Mountain to find the treasure known as the Arkenstone. Wading through mountains of gold, Bilbo stumbles across Smaug, who so far is believed to be dead. Voiced by Benedict Cumberbatch, the monstrous echoes of Smaug’s words reverberate throughout the entire Lonely Mountain. This scene induces an overwhelming sense of awe and dread, and while it might require some editing, the entire film is incredibly gripping and worthy of the praise it’s received.
4 The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey
The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey is the highest ranked Hobbit movies on our list today. He does an amazing job of capturing the sense of adventure and travel that The Lord of the Rings the movies do it so well, but do it with a much lighter, folksy tone, as the film’s reviews point out. Starting the film in the county, with unexpected dwarf guests showing up at Bilbo’s house, you are immediately taken back to the first the Lord of the Rings film and the similar circumstances that take place in this film. It’s the perfect blend of familiarity and novelty with the entire film that does a beautiful job of painting the fantasy world of Middle-earth we know and love.
3 The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers
The top three spots on this list are taken by the original trilogy. The second film in the series, The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers, finds Frodo and Sam closing in on Mordor with the help of the ancient hobbit Gollum. The dynamic between them three is fantastic. Gollum claims to know a hidden path to Mordor but is also obsessed with the ring Frodo keeps. Frodo trusts Gollum but Sam’s suspicions of the creature continue to be raised.
Meanwhile, Sauuman’s story progresses as he has pledged allegiance to Sauron. This movie is truly an incredible epic, and when it comes to the three Lord of the Rings movies, they’re all almost equally engrossing, but the middle parts of the trilogies are usually still a bit short compared to the thrilling introductions of the first movies and the satisfying conclusions of the third films.
2 The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring
The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring it all started for most people. This is our first time meeting all of the characters we grow with as their arcs develop. It’s also here that the amazing cast throughout this trilogy should be noted. Elijah Wood as Frodo fits the bill perfectly; with his pace and cadence, he perfectly embodies the Hobbit mentality. Next is everyone’s favorite Hobbit, Sam, played by Sean Astin. He approaches the charismatic, lovable character with such grace and poise, and the acting is as beautiful as the friendship Sam and Frodo have built throughout the series.
Although he doesn’t have amazing screen time, Ian Holm does a superb job playing Bilbo. His role in creating an exposition of the ring’s power through its addictive attributes is central to the lore of this story. And finally, Ian McKellen as Gandalf, the affable magical grandfather we all want in our lives. This cast, the story, and this film hold a place in cinema that few have achieved. It really is a masterpiece.
1 The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King
The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King has the huge advantage of bringing the story and character arcs of the previous the Lord of the Rings movies at an end. At the end of the trilogy, there is a bittersweet feeling. The film is truly amazing, and the way the story develops and ends after much darkness is surprisingly sweet and heartwarming. The bitterness only comes when the credits roll and the incredibly fantastic story ends. Fortunately, this trilogy is easy to consume, as the end of each film feeds into the beginning of the next, and with a 31-disc Collector’s Edition and extra runtime for all films, there’s a ton of content for fans. So, if you have 10 spare hours and you haven’t participated in your the Lord of the Rings marathon is a great weekend activity!
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