1. The Hobbit, Rankin/Bass, 1977
written enough on my affection for this version and why I love it. It's still the best. It does take away parts from the story. Any adaptation from book to movie has to drop some things. But it keeps the heart and flavor of Tolkien's children's book, and keeps it on a children's book level. Most importantly, it inspired me to want to know more about this fictitious world and the Hobbits therein. And when I finally read the book, I wasn't disappointed in the cartoon. Instead, I was impressed at how the cartoon captured the feel of the book. That, among many other reasons, is why I feel it deserves top honors.
2. The Two Towers, Peter Jackson, 2002
3. The Fellowship of the Ring, Peter Jackson, 2001
4. The Lord of the Rings, Ralph Bakshi, 1978
5. The Return of the King, Rankin/Bass, 1980.
As I've said before, there actually are some segments that play out better than Jackson's, who has a knack for wasting key scenes on needless swordplay and physical action. And you had the same voice talent behind the R/B production as their original Hobbit. It's been said that there were two groups who worked on this special, one dedicated to keeping Tolkien's vision alive, and one dedicated to producing a kid's cartoon for prime time television. Watch it once with that idea in mind, and it will make all the difference.
6. The Return of the King, Peter Jackson, 2003
7-9. The Hobbit Franchise, Peter Jackson, 2012-2014
proof of Tolkien's waning influence in our PC age, but it could be just the opposite, that the waning affection for Tolkien is, in addition to the PC witch hunts, the result of people seeing these films and coming away assured that nothing upon which these dumps were based could amount to a good read. My boys saw the second two, and kept me abreast of their diminished quality, though there was some debate over whether the final movie, having almost nothing to do with the original story by this time, still managed to be better over all. It's hard to say. I just know that going into the 00s and Jackson's films, The Lord of the Rings and its accompanying children's book were legendary as some of the greatest works of fiction of the 20th century. Even as a non-fantasy fan, I remember hearing about their reputation. Now, partly due to the PC thought police, and I can't help but think partly due to Jackson, we have a Tolkien still lauded by some, but increasingly dismissed by a growing number of post-moderns. And for that, if for no other reason, a movie series can't help but be placed at the bottom of any list.
I just have to include this one. I have no clue where it came from, but it reminds me that Tolkien has been much loved and very influential for decades, and more than just fantasy fans in America have embraced his stories. I hope his works and reputation can survive the dark days of modern PC McCarthyism. If so, I have no doubt the future will produce many more takes on Tolkien's works, his world, and his wonderful vision.