When Peter Jackson adapted The Lord Of The Rings into a blockbusting, Oscar-winning movie trilogy, he achieved the impossible. Although JRR Tolkien’s magnum opus had long since established itself as the definitive, most influential tale in fantasy literature, its size, complexity and vast mythology led many to assume it was unfilmable.
Jackson and his co-writers, Fran Walsh and Philippa Boyens, had other ideas, however, and their epic adaptations (released from 2001-2003) were made with such reverence and affection for the source material that they rapidly became every bit as beloved as the novels.
The success of the movie franchise quickly led to a swathe of officially licensed games, with notable highlights including: The Lord of the Rings: Middle-earth Defense and Middle-earth: Shadow of War. Even today, nearly twenty years after the release of Peter Jackson’s The Fellowship of the Ring, players can continue to experience the legendary director’s vision of Middle-earth thanks to the recent launch of The Lord Of The Rings: Rise To War for mobile.
To celebrate the upcoming anniversary of The Fellowship of the Ring, we’ve explored why Middle-earth remains fantasy’s ultimate destination for gamers…
It’s a story of hope
The Lord Of The Rings novels were partially inspired by Tolkien’s experiences as a soldier in the trenches of World War I. From those bloody horrors, he crafted an inspiring story of hope, a tale of good triumphing against evil despite the most overwhelming odds.
The Dark Lord Sauron – the Enemy who forged the One Ring to Rule Them All and threatens to plunge the whole of Middle-earth into darkness – is such a dangerous threat that Elves, Dwarves and Men must put aside their differences to defeat him. By bringing them together with Hobbits from the faraway Shire, he showed how even the smallest, most unlikely heroes can make a difference.
It features the most epic battles
Peter Jackson always saw the cinematic potential in Tolkien’s battle scenes. While the major skirmishes at Helm’s Deep and the Pelennor Fields are key events in the original The Two Towers and The Return Of The King novels, it’s in the movies that they really come to powerful, visceral life – with Tolkien’s heroes coming to blows with Orcs, Oliphaunts and Fellbeast-riding Ringwraiths in spectacular style.
It’s real cast-of-thousands stuff, as Jackson takes advantage of state-of-the-art CG – technology that would have been unavailable to filmmakers just a few years earlier – to bring the conflicts to convincing, realistic life. Even two decades on, this is fantasy action of unrivalled scale.
The characters are unforgettable
Many epic fantasy tales get so sidetracked with the “epic” and “fantasy” parts of the equation that they forget that humanity is important too. This is not true of The Lord Of The Rings.
Not every character in the saga is human, of course – the Fellowship Of The Ring itself is made up of Hobbits, a Dwarf, an Elf and a Wizard, as well as two mortal men – but many are memorable because they bring something unique to the party – as well as their own complex backstories.
The locations are breath-taking
When it comes to The Lord Of The Rings, New Zealand is much more than a shooting location. When Jackson and New Line Cinema chose to shoot in the director’s homeland, the country became synonymous with the trilogy, to the point the government appointed a minister to look after matters relating to Middle-earth.
It’s hard to imagine a more perfect substitute for Tolkien’s world, such is the richness of the country’s unique, untouched landscape. Inspired by real-life locations across the two islands, Jackson was able to bring iconic locations such as the Misty Mountains, the volcanic wastes of Mordor and the plains of Rohan to spectacular life. Thanks to New Zealand, Middle-earth is a fantasy world unlike any other.
Games that continue to transport you to Middle-earth
The Lord Of The Rings movies leave you in little doubt over which side you should be rooting for – but what if you’d rather work with Sauron and his forces of evil than Frodo, Gandalf and co? The Lord of The Rings: Rise To War allows you to choose your side as you take control of epic battles across Middle-earth – as you encounter Wizards, Orcs, Dwarves, Elves, Hobbits and more, deciding who to form allegiances with is part of the game.
Participating in battles across Tolkien’s famous map, you can recruit iconic commanders from the movies to help you conquer new territory – and take part in side missions. With Jackson’s The Fellowship Of The Ring about to turn 20, this is a welcome reminder of why Middle-earth remains fantasy’s most enticing destination.