The Lord of the Rings Movies Ranking

by Hope Hanson
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Lord of the rings movies aesthetic

Today is March 25th, also known as Tolkien Reading Day. And in honor of the date of the One Ring’s destruction, I bring you some Tolkien-themed content. So, welcome to what is likely the ten-thousandth Lord of the Rings movies ranking. Including my thoughts on The Hobbit film trilogy, of course.

But first, a little context. Because why not?

Every March 25th, I wake early. I head down to the TV, pop in my An Unexpected Journey DVD, and embark on an epic quest across Middle-earth. Six movies; all extended editions; over twenty-one hours. It’s truly an amazing experience. I highly recommend it.

Anyway, that’s the reason I choose to do a film adaptation review rather than a book-related post. Since I’ll be watching the movies when this goes live, I thought it appropriate. And don’t worry; I won’t make these too long. I mostly just want to share some of my favorite things about each of these movies, as well as a couple of the pet peeves I have with them. And of course, share which I like the best and the least.

So, without further delay, on to the ranking!

#6: The Battle of the Five Armies

I think the problem with this one is obvious. It just can’t be denied that The Hobbit should have been made into two movies. At most, that is. And that’s more obvious in this final movie than in any other. So, while there are some great fighting sequences in this final movie, that fact remains that it feels too stretched out.

Still, that doesn’t mean there aren’t parts of this movie that I enjoy! As I said, the movie does have some seriously amazing battle scenes. And obviously, the storyline does generally follow the overall plot from the books, so I do enjoy the story. Even though there is plenty that’s different, it’s not unenjoyable.

Still, this one definitely ranks last for these six movies. It’s part of the reason I always watch The Hobbit movies first for my marathon. Not only does chronological order make more sense to me, but I would also hate to be watching this one at four in the morning after almost twenty-four hours without sleep.

#4.5 (Tied): An Unexpected Journey

Okay, to start with, I love that they chose to include some of the songs in this movie. When I first watched this and saw both the singing sequences in the beginning, I was so happy. After all, the verse in Tolkien’s books are some of the best parts! And I think everyone was sad to see that taken out of the Lord of the Rings movies. (Though, there is some included in the extended editions. This is why you just have to watch the extended versions.)

Plus, this movie has some great scenes.

The only big issue I have with this movie, and with The Hobbit film trilogy in general, is the overuse of CGI and special effects. Don’t get me wrong; I appreciate some of those stunning visuals, I really do. But there’s something to be said for the lack of feeling and realness in those shots. It just can’t compare to the more realistic visuals of the original trilogy, in my opinion. I think the best example I can give is the scene at the end when the eagles carry the group away from the burning trees and the Wargs; it’s an undeniably breathtaking scene, but it also just feels fake.

#4.5 (Tied) The Desolation of Smaug

I really can’t choose between these two. I like the action in Desolation more, but An Unexpected Journey is just such a fun movie if that makes sense. Honestly, I like them equally, and I couldn’t pick one over the other.

Though, I will say that I like the added material in An Unexpected Journey more. I don’t necessarily dislike the Tauriel storyline that starts in this movie, but I’m also a stick in the mud who is very loyal to the source material. (Although, let’s be real. She has some seriously badass and awesome fighting sequences. You just can’t deny that. And so does Legolas, who only really features in the movie because Tauriel does.)

#3: The Two Towers

Look, the fact of the matter is that when it comes to a movie, watching Frodo and Sam trek their away across Middle-earth to Mordor is the least exciting out of these three movies. Obviously, I just like the original trilogy better so this ranks above all The Hobbit movies, but… Well, it is my least favorite of the Lord of the Rings films.

Obviously, it’s still an amazing movie, but relative to the other films in this trilogy, it is my least favorite. Though, I must say, I’ve always appreciated the panoramic shots and the visuals in this movie the most.

And of course, as a final note, The Two Towers does boast one of my favorite scenes in any of these movies: The ever-wonderful cut with Legolas when the orcs attack the party on their way to Helm’s Deep. And I know, I know. It’s edited special effects and blah, blah, blah. But the way he just holds onto that horse and flips up by his fingertips alone never fails to make me laugh.

#2: The Fellowship of the Ring

There’s just so much that’s great about this movie. The way the film introduces all of the different characters and storylines is excellent, in my opinion. And even though some of the special effects are a little wonky (it was the early 2000s, after all), it’s like I said before; there’s a certain sense of realism and magic to the original movies because of the minimized use of CGI and so forth. I think that shows most of all in this first film, which is one of the reasons I enjoy it so much.

So, even though some great scenes were left out of this film, it’s still definitely my second favorite out of the six.

#1: The Return of the King

I think most people agree that this one takes first place. I honestly don’t even know what more to say than, “It’s amazing.” The feel of the movie is spot-on; there are so many amazing scenes; it stays largely true to the plot of the book; everything wraps up and comes full circle. Additionally, it’s the most action-packed of the original three movies, with some seriously incredible battle scenes and fight sequences.

All in all, it’s just an awesome movie. It doesn’t matter how many times I watch it, I always enjoy the experience.


So, I hope you enjoyed my rankings of these films. Honestly, this was mostly just for fun; the truth is that I love all these movies, and I take great joy in watching them all at once every year. It’s an experience I highly recommend; there’s just something to be said for undertaking the entire Middle-earth journey all in one day.

And of course, feel free to leave a comment down below letting me about how you would do your Lord of the Rings movies ranking! I’d love to hear your thoughts on these films.

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