When it comes to crafting a healthy fantasy world, J.R.R Tolkien did so well that almost every new product in the genre feels like a homage to his work.
The saga of Middle-Earth is one of the most densely packed literary experiences you will ever read, and this comes from the fact that Tolkien's original motive for the project was to generate an entirely new mythology. Thus the amount of detail and lore that is poured into this world comes as no surprise.
Despite the books being perceived as impossible to adapt, there have been many notable ventures that bring Middle-Earth to life. Many people know of the Peter Jackson led series, but there exist others that are the predecessors of this most significant adaptation. Almost every single one has merit to it, and bring about a lot to be discussed in regards to the source material.
Ranking them from worst to best will bring out some surprising results, but at the same time allows for each adaptation to have a spotlight shone on them, and thus examine their pros and cons.
9. The Return of the King (1980)
It is a common misconception that this film acts as a sequel to the Ralph Bakshi Lord of the Rings adaptation that was left unfinished. This Rankin and Bass production is, in fact, a simple sequel to their original adaptation of The Hobbit, but sadly it lacks any of the success and charm that title had.
The film had the unenviable position of needing to condense the entire Lord of the Rings trilogy down to a single title running at only 98 minutes, and as could be expected, it butchered the source material. The narrative was lacking in the development needed to establish the villains and heroes, which resulted in it feeling devoid of personality.
Additionally, while the cartoonish and childish animated style worked supremely well for The Hobbit, this story is an entirely different entity. Therefore the silly animations and use of song made the title far too immature as compared to the incredibly dark and severe narrative being told.
All of the elements are there, but they simply don't come together well enough.