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The Best and Worst of... Lord of the Rings Trilogy


This is part of the "Best of..." series.

Lord of the Rings is one of the most successful trilogies in cinema history. The three films were released in consecutive years, from 2001 to 2003. Based on Tolkien's classic fantasy works, the films grossed over $3Billion globally and the third installment, The Return of the King, became the second film to gross over $1Billion worldwide, after Titanic.

A series that won 17 of the 30 Academy Award nominations - 4 of 13 for The Fellowship of the Ring (2001), 2 of 6 for The Two Towers and 11 out of 11 for The Return of the King - I will now detail what I think are the five best and worst parts of the trilogy.

BEST #5 - The release of King Theoden

King Theoden under Saruman's curse

Bernard Hill, the actor who plays King Theoden, is the only actor to appear in both films to win 11 Academy Awards. We first see him as an old and decrepit man on his throne with Wormtongue "controlling" things in his stead. It is, of course, Saruman's work. Gandalf walks in, now "the White", with our heroes and frees the king from the spell he is under. While we already know Gandalf is no longer Grey, it is a great way of introducing his new power and influence. What makes this scene so powerful is the connection you see between Theoden and Eowyn, as well as the fear and anger Theoden has towards what Wormtongue has done. It helps drive the later conflict (pardon the pun) Theoden has about taking his people to war, having already not really been there to protect them.

Bernard Hill, one of the best actors in the series.

BEST #4 - Sean Bean

Boromir address the Council of Elrond

Spoiler warning - Sean Bean dies. Apart from Sharpe and The Martian, when does he not die? I joke, of course. He doesn't die all that often. As Boromir, he has some of the most iconic lines, one of the most noble deaths and one of the saddest final lines.

One does not simply walk into Mordor.

Sean is one of those great actors who is you know instantly. He is charismatic and has a flair for action and was a fantastic casting call for the relatively short "cameo". The series is 6 hours long and he was in it for less than a third of that - its a cameo!

BEST #3 - The Ents go to war

A flaming Ent about to dowse itself

This is a scene that I think is truly brilliant. The Ents gather and attack Saruman at Isengard. He has torn down the trees for the fires in the Urukai forges, and the Ents are having none of it. They charge in, destroying and killing the Urukai and Orcs, while Merry and Pippin launch pine cones and rocks at the enemy from the top of Treebeard. Soon, the dam is broken and the land is flooded, and if you watch carefully, you will see one of the Ents dunking his flaming head into the water to put himself out. It always amuses me. I love the scene and the animation here. For how they made it and its age, it has done very well. Plus, I love the Ents. I think they are great!

“It takes a long time to say anything in Old Entish. And we never say anything unless it is worth taking a long time to say.”

BEST #2 - Gandalf and Pippin

You fool of a Took!
Billy Boyd as the young Pippin

Gandalf is a brilliant character and wonderfully portrayed by Sir Ian McKellen. He is stern, afraid, wise, dramatic and funny all in equal measure.

Pippin, played by Billy Boyd, is the same in the childlike opposite. He is afraid but brave, dramatic and funny, joyful and on the verge of tears all the way through. He is my favourite hobbit in the trilogy.

Sir Ian, as Gandalf

The characterisations of both make their chemistry the best on screen. Pippin's relationship with Merry is clearly very important as they are practically brothers, but once Pippin's interactions with Gandalf are on a par with a close relationship of a boy and his father. Gandalf knows him well, knows when he is being honest and knows when to lay down the law. They grow together and in the final film, when they are preparing for battle in Gondor, Gandalf comforts the frightened hobbit just like a father would.

PIPPIN: I didn't think it would end this way.
GANDALF: End? No, the journey doesn't end here. Death is just another path, one that we all must take. The grey rain-curtain of this world rolls back, and all turns to silver glass, and then you see it.
PIPPIN: What? Gandalf? See what?
GANDALF: White shores, and beyond, a far green country under a swift sunrise.
PIPPIN: Well, that isn't so bad.
GANDALF: No. No, it isn't.

WORST #5-1 - Frodo

You knew where this was going, Baggins!

I'll just come out and say it. Frodo is the worst.

He is whiny, stupid, weak and useless. Even Tolkien admitted Frodo couldn't have completed the task without Sam's help. Tolkien's thoughts on the characters are quite interesting, and I thought this particular letter he wrote on the subject is interesting.

Back to Frodo in the films. He is the only hobbit without an accent to suit the Shire. Instead he sounds like Elijah Wood. Then, as the films go on, his speech literally gets slower and whinier. I know it is supposed to represent the weight of the task and the Ring on him, but it is sooooo annoying! It's a shame Sam never just took the Ring himself. I bet he would have been able to complete the task and should have left Frodo in the water of the Dead Marshes.

Sam's devotion to Frodo is admirable, and he is the true hero, not moaning old Frodo.

BEST #1 - Gollum


Definitely the best character, and the best actor (closely followed by Gandalf). Andy Serkis is incredible and his voice is iconic. His scenes are amazing, particularly when he is conversing between Gollum and Smeagol. Being the same character, yet bringing out two different persona's was one of the best scenes in the series.


Gollum is also the most pitiable character, having spent hundreds of years alone with the Ring, Gollum cannot be without it and Smeagol hates it. The conflict is fantastic to watch being portrayed on screen. I also think it is quite amazing that a character that is so well established at the beginning of the series, so has very little growth to make, can be so engaging and enjoyable. He goes nowhere in terms of his character, except for the moment Smeagol suppresses Gollum, but he still drives the story forward.

And then there is the CGI for him. The work is pioneering.

So, there we have it. My top 5 best and worst aspects of Lord of the Rings trilogy... I stand by Frodo being that bad!

Cheeky hobbit knew what he was putting us through!

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