You need to watch the most awe-inspiring film trilogy on HBO Max ASAP
It’s time for us all to take a trip back to Middle-earth.
Bringing a believable yet awe-inspiring fantasy world to life isn’t an easy thing to do.
The task usually calls for intricate sets and large quantities of special effects, which means fantasy films often require huge budgets that most Hollywood studios are hesitant to give out. But even if a film gets the money it needs, it also has to give audiences enough information to understand the history of the world they’re being welcomed into without sacrificing too much narrative momentum along the way.
Whenever a fantasy film manages to do all of that correctly, it’s an achievement worth celebrating. And no films have handled the juggling act better than Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings trilogy. Based on J.R.R. Tolkien’s seminal novel, Jackson’s Lord of the Rings remains the best that the fantasy film genre has to offer.
The entire trilogy is streaming on HBO Max. Here’s why you should make some time for the epic.
What’s your favorite sci-fi movie? Fill out this form for a chance to get paid to write an article for Inverse.
Beginning with 2001’s The Fellowship of the Ring, the Lord of the Rings trilogy follows the adventures of Frodo Baggins (Elijah Wood), Samwise Gamgee (Sean Astin), and their allies as they fight to finally rid their world of the Dark Lord Sauron’s corruptive influence. Like all great fantasy adventures, the trilogy is full of memorable characters, stunning visuals, and some of the most thrilling battle sequences ever put to film.
From the Battle of Helm’s Deep to the Fellowship’s last stand at the gates of Mordor, the trilogy is brimming with action that remains just as breathtaking and emotionally engaging now as they were when the films were released. That’s largely due to how Peter Jackson and his collaborators brilliantly use a mix of both practical and visual effects to bring the trilogy’s biggest moments to life, which ensures they aren’t ever overwhelmed by shoddy CGI (something Jackson, unfortunately, failed to do again a decade later in his Hobbit film trilogy).
Jackson also notably put his home country to use. Filmed entirely in New Zealand, the Lord of the Rings trilogy features some of the most stunning vistas ever featured in live-action blockbuster films. Much like he did with the trilogy’s various action sequences, Jackson uses digital backgrounds sparingly, mixing New Zealand’s diverse landscapes with fantastic details that, when combined, make the director’s vision of Middle-earth feel real and expansive.
Not only is the trilogy led by one of the most capable directors and visual stylists of the 21st century, but the films feature a handful of performances that only seem to grow more impressive and nuanced the longer viewers spend with them. That’s especially true of Sean Astin’s gripping, emotionally complex turn as Samwise Gamgee, which should have earned the actor more acclaim than he actually received when the Lord of the Rings trilogy was released.
The Lord of the Rings isn’t special just because it features breathtaking visuals or thrilling action sequences, but because it succeeds in telling a story that feels simultaneously massive and small. By maintaining both the epic scale and human emotions of Tolkien’s novel, Jackson managed to reach the kind of heights that very few blockbusters ever have.
There’s not much else to say about the Lord of the Rings that hasn’t been said already. The series’ place in cinema history was cemented by Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King’s Best Picture win at the 2004 Oscars, and the films themselves remain just as beloved as they’ve always been.
So whether you’ve seen them before or will finally be sitting down with them for the very first time, now’s as good a time as any to stream the Lord of the Rings. HBO Max even has the extended editions of all three films available, just in case the prospect of pressing play didn’t already seem alluring enough.
The Lord of the Rings trilogy is streaming now on HBO Max.