Lord of the Rings: Trilogy Review (2001-2003)

Few trilogies can hold a candle to Lord of the Rings and even fewer hold up as well over time.  Whether you’re a die hard fan of the books and the world J.R.R. Tolkien created or just a casual movie goer (such as myself), there is plenty for everyone to enjoy in this trilogy. Let’s discuss each movie in depth…

The Fellowship of the Ring

It’s plain to see that these movies were extensively planned out and executed to perfection. I say this because the first movie is not in any rush to advance the plot, but instead focuses on introducing characters and backstory. It may start off slow and with narration, but the next two movies benefit tremendously from all of the early exposition. This is why the first movie in a trilogy, or origin story if you will, tend to be better than their successors. Because, like the characters, the audience is learning the rules of the universe and the movie can take it’s time setting up those rules. For instance “the one ring to rule them all”.  We learn right away about this powerful evil ring, but only gradually throughout the movie do we see the extent of it’s powers. Invisibility seems to be a side effect from putting on the ring, but what is more interesting is how the ring affects EVERYONE that comes into contact with it. It brings out the worst in people, and in many instances even controls them. This of course takes it’s toll on Frodo the ring bearer, but it helps the audience empathize with his plight and gives us an underdog to root for.

The Two Towers

The second and possibly best of all three movies, The Two Towers gives us a sense of just how vast Middle Earth is. While The Fellowship of the Ring does end rather abruptly, The Two Towers starts right where it left off and the movie shifts to a darker and more desperate tone. With the Fellowship broken up, our heroes must overcome even greater challenges than they previously imagined. Not only is their survival at stake, but all good things could perish if they fail. The Two Towers also gives us one of the boldest warfare scenes in all of cinema, Battle of Helm’s Deep. Not only packed with action, but practical effects that are visually stunning.

Frodo’s slow moving story line does halt the pace several times in this movie, but his journey is integral to the plot. It’s important for us to grasp the magnitude of his journey, not only physically, but mentally as well. It is in Two Towers that we begin to see the evil ring’s increasing hold over Frodo as he draws closer to his destination: Mordor.

Return of the King

The Return of the King is the final installment of Lord of the Rings, giving us several battles and a satisfying resolution for the story and our beloved characters. Aragorn accepts his fate as Isildur’s heir and summons an army of the dead to save Gondor from Sauron’s forces. Each hobbit gets their moment to shine, especially Samwise Gamgee, who’s honesty and loyalty truly saves the day. The best moment in Return of the King is when Aragorn, King of Gondor, kneels to the hobbits at the end, along with his entire kingdoms. It’s a goose bump inducing moment that takes three skillfully crafted films to achieve! Part of me wishes the movie ends on that high note, but it’s nice to see the hobbits return home and resume their peaceful life in the Shire.

I give the Lord of the Rings trilogy a solid A! Each movie is masterfully constructed and beautifully executed. Whether you’re a fan of the fantasy genre or not, Lord of the Rings delivers an epic story with enough drama and action to appease even the most critical of critics. Happy Watching!




  • Characters
  • Production Value
  • Score
  • Length
  • Pacing

Where to Watch

  • Amazon Prime to Rent/Buy
  • Vudu to Rent/Buy
  • YouTube to Rent/Buy

“One does not simply walk into Mordor”

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