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The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings series (Image via Warner Bros.)

Ranking ‘The Lord of The Rings’ & ‘The Hobbit’ films worst to best

Whenever the words ‘Middle Earth’ are spoken, fans always know what’s being discussed. The Lord of the Rings series first arrived on the silver screen 20 years ago and shook up the culture forever. The Hobbit trilogy arrived almost ten years later and made a giant splash at the box office.


With the 20th anniversary of The Fellowship of the Ring underway, it seems only fair to take a stroll down Shire lane and see how The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit movies rank against each other.

at the age of twenty, i am finally reading lord of the rings. i surprisingly enjoyed the hobbit and after reading the first chapter of LOTR, I am beyond excited to see more of Tolkien’s writing!
6:56 AM · Dec 15, 2021

Here is a comprehensive ranking of The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit films.


(Disclaimer: This article reflects the viewpoints of the author)


How do The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit movies stack up against each other?

6) The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies

Azog the Defiler in 'The Battle of the Five Armies' (Image via Warner Bros.)

If one could look back at 2014, this was a movie great in spectacle but short on character development. If Peter Jackson was trying to make his iteration of what World War III would be like set in Middle Earth, he succeeded, but it didn’t resonate in other aspects.


What’s frustrating about the film is that Thorin Oakenshield’s character arc never seemed fully complete and was left hanging on a cliff. This was made worse through a shoehorned love story between a dwarf and an elf, and a sidelined Bilbo Baggins.

It also overuses the eagles as a film’s saving grace at the end.

Certainly, in the near-future, reception may be warmer, but for now, it is still the worst, given the high standards already put on The Lord of the Rings.

5) The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers

Sam, Frodo, and Smeagol in 'The Two Towers' (Image via Warner Bros.)

It might come as a shock to see this film so low on the list. However, when compared to the other films, this installment is uneven and, at times, loaded with characters that are undercut by Jackson’s decision to delete some scenes that would’ve shined a good light on them.

To be fair, audiences were introduced to Smeagol/Gollum on the silver screen. Andy Serkis’ performance was a joy to behold, even if the motion capture technology is dated. Nevertheless, the film is beautifully shot and sewn together by Howard Shore’s magnificent score.

4) The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey

Thorin Oakenshield in 'An Unexpected Journey' (Image via Warner Bros.)

This was the beginning of The Hobbit series and, in all honesty, it could have been better. Some of the humor is juvenile, and the visuals, in certain instances, are campy. Thankfully, the film gets by with more Middle Earth lore, epic score, and sense of nostalgia to appease enough fans of the series.

While Azog the Defiler proves to be a much weaker villain than Saruman, Sauron, or Smaug, he will be sure to get some scares out of The Lord of the Rings fanbase. The entry got many films back to the Middle Earth swing of things and began the series, for the most part, in the right direction.

3) The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug

Smaug as he appeared in 'The Desolation of Smaug' (Image via Warner Bros.)

Who else could rattle an entire theater with his mere presence? The answer is Smaug the dragon. It stands out with its appearance of Sauron as the necromancer. Admittedly, it was seen in the previous film, but not to this extent.

“There is no light, Wizard…that can defeat darkness.”
-The Necromancer, “The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug”
8:53 AM · Sep 30, 2016

The film is a lot darker than An Unexpected Journey and brings back some more recognizable characters like Legolas. The darkness surrounds the film when Smaug comes fee-fi-fo-fumming to frighten the hearts of any man who gets in his way.

2) The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring

Gandalf and Frodo in 'The Fellowship of the Ring' (Image via Warner Bros.)

This was the film that began the series. Unlike the first films of Spider-Man and Star Wars, this film has aged tremendously well and doesn't overstay its welcome. The Fellowship of the Ring has so many great moments that could never be matched in cinema history.

The film opens with the forging of a set of rings that were divided among different parties until Sauron of Mordor creates the master ring to rule over all other rings.

Sadness, pith, and an incredibly mean-spirited Balrog dominated the silver screen back in 2001. It was a treat for filmgoers and much-needed therapy for J.R.R. Tolkien fans who already read the books. However, it’s still not the best Lord of the Rings film.

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

Elijah Wood as Frodo Baggins (Image via Warner Bros.)

Is there a better way to wrap up The Lord of the Rings trilogy? Probably not. The film follows Frodo and Sam attempting to make their way through Mordor with the “help” of Smeagol.

This film perfectly dots the I’s and crosses the T’s. It is considered one of the greatest fantasy films ever made alongside Harry Potter and Star Wars. It cleverly balances moments of absolute terror with serenity and calm, which is an achievement most films lack.

As of now, it’s a film that you can watch anytime and it never feels old.


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Edited by
Rhythm Bhatia
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