The Lord of the Rings and I go way back. Aside from Star Wars, it’s probably my favorite series of movies ever. If I remember right, I was somewhere between 7 and 9 when I first watched the trilogy. It was definitely early primary school age. The whole series in particular is one of the first ones that I can still remember watching with my dad on Saturday afternoons. As I went through my teenage years, my interest in the trilogy waxed and waned (as it did with movies in general). I’d say once I hit my twenties is when I really started to appreciate the series for what it was and wasn’t. I’ve read the books a few times and tend to reread The Hobbit every year and they get better every time. My dad, my siblings, and my friends all love it as much as I do and it makes it all the more enjoyable watching these movies with your own fellowship.
LOTR is one of the ultimate good vs. evil stories and remains a timeless adaptation due to the unflinching commitment from Peter Jackson to get it right. With this week seeing the premiere of the Amazon original series The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power, today seemed like a fitting day for me to officially score one of the greatest and most robust trilogies ever made.
Watching the trilogy is an all day affair, regardless of if you watch the extended editions or the theatrical editions. I tend to do a full marathon at least once per year and it’s made all the better recently by the remastered 4K versions. Throw that together with a big tv screen and a decent soundbar and you’ve got the makings for a great weekend marathon. Or you could check and see if your local theater is showing them as a rerun. I was fortunate enough to see my local theater show the extended editions on their big screen with my dad and two of my brothers before they moved. It was one movie a week for 3 weeks and it was like going to a Marvel movie for me. I bought our tickets a week in advance for each movie and we got there 30 minutes early for the best seats. I’ve seen this flashback cinema deal at AMC so keep an eye out for it. In the meantime, the entire trilogy (theatrical and extended versions) are streaming on HBO Max.
The Fellowship of the Ring
Kicking off the franchise is The Fellowship of the Ring, which premiered in 2001. I was too young to notice the hype and the fear mongering that went around when it was announced that the trilogy was being made by an indie horror director out of New Zealand. I’m sure it’s of the same ilk as modern day YouTube comments. As a kid, this was my least favorite movie in the trilogy. I was always puzzled when my dad said he enjoyed it the most. It just didn’t have the action that the other two did. But as I’ve gotten older, Fellowship has grown on me and represents a lot of what I love about the trilogy.
It’s a bold step in the direction that the franchise would go and raises the bar for fantasy filmmaking. It is the unadaptable, adapted. The weight of Boromir’s death and the breaking of the fellowship has so much more impact on me now than it did when I was a kid. I can appreciate how much it meant to the characters and what it does to the story. The loss of Gandalf as a leader to the fellowship was always obvious but the real danger that represented to the characters went right over my head until I was old enough to get it.
The Two Towers
Generally considered to be the third best movie of the trilogy, I think that that The Two Towers gets an unfair rep sometimes. It premiered the next year in 2002 and introduced the world to King Théoden and Rohan. Building on the groundwork of Fellowship, The Two Towers raised the stakes and gave audiences one of the best battles of all time in The Battle of Helm’s Deep.
That battle sequence has become the standard to which fantasy battles are compared and deservedly so. Aragorn, Legolas, and Gimli have ascended to meme status with all the quips and quotable lines. With hundreds of on screen deaths and master swordsmanship on display from Viggo Mortenson, any other franchise would be lucky to have a sequel as good as The Two Towers.
The Return of the King
Closing out the trilogy in 2003 with stunning visuals and the highest stakes possible is The Return of the King. It is the epic conclusion to the incredible franchise. With so many loose ends to wrap up in order to create a satisfying conclusion and stick the landing, Peter Jackson and crew had to be perfect. There was no room for error and they delivered in spectacular fashion.
Years of consecutive filming and post production work had finally paid off and audiences were given a robust and complete trilogy. While the multiple continued endings have become memes in it of themselves, The Return of the King is the crown jewel of the franchise in my opinion. Théoden’s speech, the ghost soldiers, and Sam’s bravery all come together for a triumphant and meaningful conclusion as the trilogy of the century comes to a close.
I don’t talk about the live action Hobbit movies much. There’s a couple fan edits out there that are a pain in the ass to download and watch. I haven’t seen any of the theatrical versions since they were in theaters. And I’ve only watched one fan edit way back in like 2016. I much prefer the animated Hobbit from 1977. It’s a lot shorter and more concise version of the story and I’ve watched it like 200 times. Great soundtrack, highly recommend.
I got this tattoo earlier this summer for my own fellowship. It matches the one that the cast of Fellowship got after filming.
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What are you watching this weekend?
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