Peter Jackson’s Middle-earth Movies, Ranked By Rewatchability

Adaptation of JRR Tolkien’s three notoriously “unfilmables” the Lord of the Rings back-to-back books is one of the riskiest moves in Hollywood history, but Peter Jackson pulled it off. His the Lord of the Rings The trilogy is considered a landmark in the fantasy genre and in blockbuster cinema in general. A decade later, the director returned to Middle-earth for an equally ambitious (though not quite as acclaimed) adaptation of The Hobbit. After George Lucas returns to a galaxy far, far away, The Hobbit the films marked another prequel trilogy to a beloved blockbuster phenomenon that has been criticized for its rambling storytelling and reliance on CGI.

The Lord of the Rings was already a three-part epic that Jackson had to condense to fit into a nine-hour trilogy. The Hobbit is a slim children’s book that Jackson had to stretch the same length for New Line Cinema to get its money’s worth. As a result, the films of the first trilogy are much more reviewable than the last trilogy.


6 The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies (2014)

Martin Freeman as Bilbo Baggins and Ian McKellen as Gandalf in The Hobbit Battle of the Five Armies

The last payment in The Hobbit trilogy, The Battle of the Five Armies, drags along a relatively minor event from the original novel that doesn’t feature any of the main characters in a two-and-a-half-hour epic so the trilogy can have a grand finale. A lot of The Battle of the Five Armies it’s show for show’s sake, which gets old fast.

The third Hobbit the film doubles down on fan service, bringing back the Lord of the Rings fan favorites like Christopher Lee, Orlando Bloom, Cate Blanchett and Ian Holm. But it fails to use these beloved icons in a way that greatly expands their characters or adds any real depth.

5 The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey (2012)

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey

The first one Hobbit movie, dubbed An Unexpected Journey, gave the trilogy a promising start. It takes a while for Bilbo and the Company of Dwarves to leave the Shire. They party all night at Bilbo’s house before finally leaving.

But once they get started, the movie becomes one crazy fantasy adventure. Ian McKellen is always a joy to watch as Gandalf, and he figures more prominently in An Unexpected Journey than its consequences.

4 The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring (2001)

The first one the Lord of the Rings film, The Fellowship of the Ring, starts slowly. It’s brilliantly directed, bringing Tolkien’s beautifully realized world to life on screen, but it spends some time in the Shire introducing all the characters and conflicts before Frodo and his fellow hobbits set out to destroy the Ring. Unique.

There are many exhibits in Camaraderie. It’s crucial to the plot, but it’s not very rewatchable. Once the audience knows the whole mythology, they don’t need to hear Gandalf explain it over and over again. The first film reaches an exciting climax in which Gandalf fights the Balrog, but it takes a long time to get there.

3 The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug (2013)

The second payment in The Hobbit trilogy, The desolation of Smaug, is easily the most action-packed. This tends to be the case with the second films of the trilogies. The first film is responsible for setting up the conflicts and the third film is responsible for resolving the issues. The second movie can jump right into the adventure and end on a shocking cliffhanger like Han Solo frozen in carbonite or Batman taking the rap for the crimes of Harvey Dent. In this case, it’s Smaug escaping Lonely Mountain and descending on Laketown.

The story in Desolation always feels tense. Tolkien’s thin source novel didn’t need to be adapted into three films. But the second Hobbit the film has some fun settings to compensate, such as when the dwarves escape from captivity by riding barrels downstream.

2 The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers (2002)

The Battle of Helms Deep in The Lord of the Rings The Two Towers

In the middle of the chapter The Lord of the Rings trilogy, again the second film dives into the spectacle and isn’t tasked with wrapping up the story threads in time for the end credits. There is a lot of walking The two towers – in the words of Randal Graves, “Even goddamn trees walked in those movies!” – but it’s also the most action-packed entry in the trilogy.

The centerpiece of The two towers, the Battle of Helm’s Deep, is one of the greatest action sequences ever made to film. It has epic scope, but it’s shot, choreographed, and edited through an intense, intimate lens.

1 The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (2003)

Frodo with the ring in The Lord of the Rings The Return of the King.

The grand finale of The Lord of the Rings trilogy, The king’s returnmade Oscar history on par with Ben Hur and Titanic as the film with the most Oscar wins. The threequel sadly takes a long time to get to the end credits. Almost every character in the set has their own ending before Jackson finally wraps up the trilogy. But it’s still the most rewatchable entry in the series.

Building to the final showdown in the fires of Mount Doom, The king’s return is the action-packed climax of the entire saga. It has the most compelling sets in the franchise, but it’s also the one with the most dramatic depth. The film offers an emotionally resonant resolution to the heart of the story: Frodo’s undying friendship with Sam.

NEXT: 5 Ways Peter Jackson’s King Kong Remake Is Better Than The Original (And 5 Ways It’s Worse)

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