Movies & TV Shows

Every Lord Of The Rings/Hobbit Movie Ranked From Worst To Best (According To Metacritic)

Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings movies helped to bring to life some of the greatest fantasy books ever written in breathtaking fashion with the Hobbit movies recapturing a lot of the same magic. Now, with Amazon’s lavishly-budgeted Middle-Earth series, The Rings of Power, set to make waves, fans of the movies are revisiting them once again. Not that they need an excuse.

Every fan has their favorites, but how do critics rank all of Jackson’s films? In the eyes of critics, what’s the best Lord of the Rings movie, and what’s the best Hobbit movie?


6 The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey (2012)

Metacritic score: 58

• Available on HBO Max and Amazon Prime Video

It may come as a shock to some fans to see this as the lowest-rated of the Hobbit movies, but a lot of critics simply weren’t impressed with An Unexpected Journey when comparing it to the triumphant success of The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King.

The film is a lot more family-friendly than any of the Lord of the Rings movies with songs and crude jokes being staples. There also isn’t quite as much action in it as other films, with Bilbo just starting out on his adventure with the Dwarves to retake Erebor. There is a strong reliance on CGI at points as well, which stood in stark contrast to the prominence of practical effects in The Fellowship of the Ring.

5 The Hobbit: The Battle Of The Five Armies (2014)

Metacritic score: 59

• Available on HBO Max and Amazon Prime Video

Only just edging out the first Hobbit movie, The Battle of The Five Armies is the climax of Bilbo’s adventure, bringing things to an end for his story and leading onto the beginnings of Frodo’s journey as the ring-bearer in the LotR movies.

It’s the Hobbit movie with the most action as there is, as the title would suggest, a major battle at the end as all the plot threads, heroes, and villains converge at Erebor. However, the different characters at play in that battle aren’t nearly as developed as they should be, which means that a lot of the big dramatic moments fall slightly flat. While the film does a nice job with Thorin Oakenshield’s psychological state and how things change for him overall, the movie also came up short for critics who had no real choice but to compare it to The Return of the King.

4 The Hobbit: The Desolation Of Smaug (2013)

Metacritic score: 66

• Available on Amazon Prime Video

The best Hobbit movie, according to Metacritic, is The Desolation of Smaug which has the most satisfying balance between action and character development in the Hobbit movies as the main bulk of the adventure from the original book plays out. The build-up to Smaug causing terror and havoc was well done, with the scenes between the dragon and Bilbo Baggins, in particular, being very strong.

The film also introduced a new character, the elf Tauriel, as well as bringing back Orlando Bloom as Legolas, which proved to be a great decision. Nevertheless, the Hobbit movies never reached the same heights as the Lord of the Rings movies in terms of reviews.

3 The Lord Of The Rings: The Two Towers (2002)

Metacritic score: 87

• Available on HBO Max and Amazon Prime Video

The weakest of the three movies from the original trilogy, according to Metacritic, is The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers, but with an 87 rating, it is clearly still a beloved film amongst critics. For many fans, this movie is their favorite, which showcases the strength of the trilogy, with this chapter of the story really upping the adventure aspects of the franchise.

With the group all split up at the end of the first movie, this film has lots of different storylines running side by side which opens up the vast fictional world even more than before, introducing Rohan and the beginnings of the dark world of Mordor that Sam and Frodo must find a way into. It allowed more detail to be placed into each character and every aspect of the journey, immersing fans in the rich detail of the production.

2 The Lord Of The Rings: The Fellowship Of The Ring (2001)

Metacritic score: 92

• Available on HBO Max

The original Middle Earth movie, that catapulted Peter Jackson from a respected cult director to being one of the biggest names in filmmaking, was The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring. This film had huge pressure on its shoulders to deliver in an engaging manner as world-building and character development were its primary jobs, establishing the high stakes of the story as well as the long history of the One Ring.

The movie does an amazing job at making each character compelling, developing their individual personalities all while setting up the epic quests that will be taking place throughout the rest of the trilogy. While it doesn’t have as much action as the two movies that followed it, The Fellowship of the Ring is still filled with scenes that live rent-free in every fan’s head and just misses out on being crowned the best Lord of the Rings movie by Metacritic’s calculations.

1 The Lord Of The Rings: Return Of The King (2003)

Metacritic score: 94

• Available on HBO Max and Amazon Prime Video

There’s a reason that The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King cleaned up at the Oscars. It is not only the biggest film from the franchise but one of the best movies of all time according to film fans voting on IMDb. It has a little–to a lot–of everything that audiences crave, with amazing action scenes, brilliant dialogue, and some really emotional goodbye scenes.

The film manages to scale everything up to make the final battles feel more important than what’s been seen before, all while keeping the movie grounded with a focus on the core characters throughout. Aragorn faces his destiny as he steps up to become a true leader and Frodo faces his final challenges on his quest to destroy the One Ring. It was an incredibly difficult task that the production team had, but they managed to wrap things up with the very best of the bunch, and it’s the best Lord of the Rings movie, according to Metacritic.

NEXT: 8 Gandalf Quotes That Should Have Been In The Lord Of The Rings Movies

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