Every The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit ranked, worst to best.

Which of the films based on J.R.R. Tolkien’s epic The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit books is hotter than Mount Doom.

J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit, published in 1937 and immediately successful, presented Middle-earth, the literary fantasy land that would dominate them all. With The Fellowship of the Ring, the first installment of Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings trilogy, published in 1954, Tolkien began expanding his mythology, gaining even more praise and cementing the series as a culturally-defining body of work.

9. The Return Of The King (1980)

The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit
The Return of the King, from 1980, is by far the weakest of the five. Arthur Rankin Jr. and Jules Bass agreed to adapt Tolkien’s climactic last book into a 2-hour animated adventure after previously adapting The Hobbit. The effort was eventually described by Rankin himself as “not a very good film,” which tells you everything you need to know about this early Return of the King tale. The tone is off, the production is shoddy, and the plot is rushed, resulting in a cartoon that doesn’t even come close to paying homage to the original material.

8. The Two Towers

The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit
The Lord of the Rings cartoon from 1978 has poor animation due to the use of the rotoscope technique, which involves tracing images of live-action actors.
Bakshi’s The Lord of the Rings was largely seen as a cheerless drug trip weighed down by evident production problems and mediocre performances, whilst other Middle-earth cartoons fell into the trap of pandering to youngsters.
Bakshi’s The Lord of the Rings is best described as a curiosity inside the larger Tolkien tapestry, maybe an amazing achievement for its time. It’s worth a shot but proceed with caution.

7. The Hobbit

The Hobbit is almost entirely aimed at children, and the disjointed plot leaves far too many gaps, weakening what made J.R.R. Tolkien’s first journey through Middle-earth so memorable.

The voice cast (which includes Orson Bean, John Huston, and Theodore Gottlieb) does an excellent job, but the images and language have a juvenile quaintness to them that detracts from any attempt to convey the book’s charm.

6. The battle of five armies.

The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit
The essential strength of The Battle of Five Armies resides in its calmer moments, like the conclusion of Bilbo Baggins’ trip and Thorin Oakenshield’s struggle to retake Erebor.
The emotional basis of The Battle of Five Armies is the bonds between Hobbit and dwarf, yet the lack of focus draws attention away from that.
Meanwhile, obvious CGI padding drags down Peter Jackson’s last chapter, underscoring the folly of making The Hobbit into a trilogy once more.

5. The desolation of Smaug

The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit
The Desolation of Smaug also puts the audience’s enthusiasm for computer-generated imagery to the test.
The Desolation of Smaug’s sheer number of computer effects diminishes the tactile earthiness that grounded The Lord of the Rings, despite (largely) replicating the high-quality expected from WETA.

4. The unexpected journey

Though An Unexpected Journey received a mixed reception upon its initial release, its prospects were damaged by the arduous burden of following Peter Jackson’s The Lord of the Rings trilogy, whereas expectations for The Hobbit’s two sequels were appropriately decreased.

3. The two towers

The Two Towers is far superior to The Desolation of Smaug, and while the finale is inevitably unfinished, the film’s many qualities compensate for the lack of closure.

2. The return of the king

The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit
If box money and Oscar awards are any indications, Peter Jackson’s Middle-earth success reached its zenith with 2003’s The Return of the King.
Jackson realized that to equal the ambition of Tolkien’s ending, his final chapter would have to be a step higher, so he dialed everything up to eleven for Return of the King.

1. The fellowship of the ring

The only real problem in The Fellowship of the Ring is that it ends on such an open, unresolved tone. Of course, this is by design, and it’s a trait inherited from Tolkien’s original works.
It’s tough to think of a greater adaption than The Fellowship of the Ring.

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