A Middle-earth Marathon – How to Watch the Lord of The

Rings Movies in Order

It’s quite possibly the most extravagant, exciting and captivating fantasy series of all time, and it’s enchanted millions since J.R.R Tolkien first put pen to paper in 1937. Peter Jackson brought the stories of Middle Earth to life on the big screen with two incredible trilogies, the Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit. Bringing together a host of incredible actors, the sweeping beauty of New Zealand standing in for the Shire, and a story that involves dragons, elves, dwarves and a battle against evil, you have everything you need for the ultimate fantasy adventure.

While the Lord of the Rings movies release dates predate The Hobbit trilogy, it’s best to watch the latter first to understand the background story of the Baggins family of Bag End, Gandalf the Grey, and the terrifying power of the One Ring. If you want to watch the Lord of the Rings movies in order, start with The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey. Then, let this remarkable series of films take you to new and ever-more wonderous places!

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, 2012

Bilbo Baggins has a wonderfully settled life in the Shire. A pillar of the community, he’s happy smoking his pipe and settling into middle age. That, is until a band of 13 dwarves and a wizard called Gandalf the Grey burst in, help themselves to his food, and then whisk him away on the adventure of a lifetime.

On the way, Bilbo travels through treacherous lands filled with deadly goblins and orcs, and in the tunnel underneath the mountains, he meets a character that will haunt him and his family for generations to come – the lonely, bitter and mad Gollum, played brilliantly by Andy Serkis, one of the best of the Lord of the Rings movies actors.

The first of the trilogy is a true gem. Also starring Martin Freeman as Bilbo, Ian McKellen as Gandalf, and Richard Armitage as Thorin.

The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug, 2013

The second Hobbit movie is a tour-de-force of animation and special effects, as Smaug, one of the last remaining great dragons of Middle-earth, tries to stop Bilbo from retrieving the Arkenstone from the dragon's horde of treasure.

Voiced by Benedict Cumberbatch, Smaug is a terrifying yet complex creature, ancient beyond measure and with the wisdom of centuries intertwined with bitter rage and hatred. Sub-stories start to build the foundation for the later Lord of the Rings films, so if you want to grasp the story from the outset, it's best to watch the Lord of the Rings movies in order, including this exciting and visually stunning film.

As well as repeat performances by Martin Freeman and Sir Ian McKellen, the film also stars Orlando Bloom as Legolas.

The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies, 2014

The final part of The Hobbit trilogy is a magnificent film featuring the final cinematic performances of Ian Holm and Christopher Lee. Surrounded by friends but also fraught with enemies, Bilbo finds himself in the middle of a horrifying war between good and evil.

Sauron's forces begin to grow in strength, and the dark forces stalk the land. Many of the storylines that thread through the Lord of the Rings movies begin their journey here. It leads to the Fellowship of the Ring and makes this film an important one to watch if you want to see the Lord of the Rings movies in order.

Starring Martin Freeman as Bilbo, as well as Kate Blanchett as Galadriel, Ian McKellen as Gandalf, and Peter Hambleton as Glóin.

The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring, 2001

The trilogy starts with Frodo Baggins discovering a ring that had been lost for centuries. Gandalf, now more powerful than ever, recognises the ring as the One Ring of Lord Sauron. To protect the Shire and the lands of men, the ring must be destroyed by casting it into the fires of Mount Doom. This isn’t a journey Frodo can undertake on his own though, and he’s joined by Gandalf, Legolas the Elf, Gimli the Dwarf, Aragorn and Boromir. Three of Frodo’s closest Hobbit friends Merry, Pippin, and Samwise, are also with him on his journey, with Samwise never leaving his friend's side.

This incredible film reinvented the fantasy genre and is still regarded as one of the greatest fantasy adventure films of all time.

Starring Elijah Wood as Frodo, Sean Astin as Samwise, Sala Baker as Sauron, Billy Boyd as Pippin, Viggo Mortensen as Aragorn and Ian Holm as Bilbo.

The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers, 2002

Frodo Baggins, played by Elijah Wood, continues his epic journey to rid the world once and for all of the One Ring. However, the ring’s power is beginning to test his resolve, and his every step is shadowed by the twisted and bitter Gollum. Meanwhile, the besieged kingdom of Rohan faces annihilation at the hands of Saruman's armies, and an epic fight for survival is the inevitable outcome as good and evil face one another on the battlefield.

The Battle of Helm's Deep rages, while for Frodo, his own internal conflicts drain his confidence that he can complete his task. A powerful examination of friendship, loneliness and the burden of responsibility runs through the film, making this one of the best Lord of the Rings movies of all

Also starring Bernard Hill as King Théoden, John Bach as Madril, and Bruce Allpress as Aldor.

The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King, 2003

And so we reach the end of the most epic fantasy journey ever undertaken, as Frodo finally scales Mount Doom and casts the ring into the fires, stopping it from exerting its evil influence. But up to the last moment, there's always doubt as to whether he will finally cast the ring into the flames.

Away from the volcano's mouth and Frodo’s internal conflict, Aragorn leads a huge army of men, elves, dwarves and even the occasional walking tree or two against the horrific armies of Sauron in an epic battle at Mina Tirith. The scale and sheer power of the battle scenes will make you feel as if you're in the thick of the fighting, so this last of the Lord of the Rings movies may not be suitable for younger children.

Starring Elijah Wood as Frodo, Ian McKellen as Gandalf, Viggo Mortensen as Aragorn, Orlando Bloom as Legolas, and Andy Serkis as Gollum.

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