Epic in scope and stunningly detailed, J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings trilogy are undisputed classics of the literary fantasy genre, and they’re highly cherished in pop culture. As we all know, Peter Jackson’s lauded adaptation of #TheLordoftheRings trilogy went on to win many Oscars, yet his efforts with The Hobbit were met with a comparatively mixed response.
Yet even if you despise The Hobbit trilogy as much as orcs hate elves, you can’t deny that in the series’ seven hour run-time, there are some precious moments of movie magic. Glittering brightly like the jewels of Erebor, some scenes in this series really are a cut above the rest.
Finish your second breakfast, put your feet up on a settle, grab your pipe weed and read on to discover the fifteen best scenes from The Hobbit trilogy!
15. Gandalf Vs The Necromancer
Heavily borrowing from Tolkien’s other works, The Hobbit series expanded beyond its singular narrative and gave audiences a glimpse at what Gandalf the Gray (#IanMcKellen) was up to when he repeatedly left the dwarven company. In one of those parts, Gandalf investigates the mysterious Necromancer of Dol Goldur. The wizard’s suspicions about this villain are confirmed when he is attacked by a nebulous yet formidable force: Sauron himself!
What follows is an exciting and visually striking battle of sorcery, as Gandalf attempts to cast away the spells that threaten to infect his protective enchantments. Even though we know that ol’ Gandalf will survive this, it’s still pretty shocking to see him get overpowered so thoroughly; and how awesome is it when Sauron emerges as part of his all-seeing eye?
14. Meeting The Skin-Changer
Fans were displeased that Beorn’s (Mikael Persbrandt) screen time was cut down for the trilogy’s cinematic release, so they brightened up when they found some previously unseen moments from the character in The Desolation of Smaug’s Extended Edition.
Perceiving that Beorn’s dislike for dwarves (along with his generally gruff nature) might complicate matters, a nervous Gandalf devises a plan to incrementally introduce the skin-changer to the company. Yet thanks to their disorganization, it doesn’t quite go to plan. This scene may not drive the plot forward in any significant way, but the amusing bumbling of Gandalf and the dwarves brilliantly replicates the whimsical humor of Tolkien’s work.
13. The Arrival Of The Dwarves
As we witness #MartinFreeman’s Bilbo becoming increasingly frustrated with dwarfish untidiness, we’re introduced to thirteen new characters in the space of ten minutes. What’s notable about the arrival of the dwarves is just how swiftly and economically Peter Jackson manages to illustrate each character and their respective traits.
We may hate to admit it, but this sequence arguably gives each dwarf more distinction than Tolkien does for the entirety of his novel. And it helps that it’s rather funny as well; after all, who hasn’t pulled the expression Bilbo makes when the doorbell rings?
12. The White Council
Hidden away atop a picturesque peak in Rivendell, Gandalf relates his suspicions about Sauron to Galadriel (Cate Blanchett), Elrond (Hugo Weaving) and Saruman (Christopher Lee), and they debate about the validity of the growing warning signs.
Peter Jackson capably conveys the dread of Sauron here. The frisson of fear as the Morgul blade is unveiled is palpable, thanks to the titanically talented thespians on show. It’s brilliant simply to watch their interplay, which generates drama and intrigue in a scene that could have otherwise been sedate.
11. 'Far Over The Misty Mountains Cold'
Most of the songs that feature in The Lord of the Rings books were discarded when the trilogy was adapted for a more serious, modern audience, so it’s really great that this song, as well as ‘Blunt the Knives,’ made it into the film version of The Hobbit.
The dwarves' somber recounting of Smaug’s (#BenedictCumberbatch) attack adds texture and drama to their mission, and thanks to the eerie music and Peter Jackson’s slow camera movements, we gain an atmospheric insight into these character’s back stories.
10. “Sting! That’s A Good Name!”
The prevalence of "weightless" CGI in The Hobbit series often comes under fire, especially when the films are compared to the minimal, gritty usage of computerization in The Lord of the Rings series. However, this is an unfair generalization, since there are some action scenes in The Desolation of Smaug which do carry some heft. One of these is the sequence where Bilbo and the dwarves encounter the spiders of Mirkwood.
Channeling his proven fondness for disturbingly gross insects, Peter Jackson and co. render the spiders in amazing, repulsive detail. It’s a scene that’s sure to have arachnophobes freaking out and fans fist-pumping as they witness a badass Bilbo finally christen his fabled Elven blade midway through the battle.
9. Dragon Sickness
As the titular Battle of the Five Armies plays out beyond the Mountain gates, another conflict takes place within its golden halls. These pivotal moments detail Thorin’s (Richard Armitage) conscience wrestling with his dragon-sickness, and we are treated to a pretty intense scene as the dwarf king slowly realizes the changes that greed and arrogance have wrought upon him. Visually arresting with its gold and black cinematography, we’re allowed a dramatic insight into Oakenshield’s mindset as he’s aurally bombarded by the cries of his friends. Trippy and unnerving stuff indeed.
8. Bard’s Hero Moment
Who isn't thrilled by Smaug’s epic attack on Lake-Town? The wrath of a dragon is writ large, with buildings crumbling left, right and center, as the camera swoops and dives alongside him through the flames, demonstrating just how powerful and fearsome Smaug is.
Yet when Bard takes on the dragon himself, things kick into an even higher gear. Howard Shore’s tender choral score really helps to underline the sense of desperation and destiny as Bard (played with dignity and skill by #LukeEvans) takes down the mighty beast against of all the odds. However, in the immortal words of Gimli, "That still only counts as one!"
7. Thorin’s Apology
Believing that Bilbo is unsuited for the adventure at hand, Thorin shuns and belittles the hobbit at every turn. However, Thorin is forced to re-evaluate his attitude towards the Company’s burglar when the hobbit unexpectedly returns to the group, and later saves the Dwarf prince's life. Thorin admits he was at fault and warmly embraces Bilbo, marking a major turning point in the group's dynamic. From here on out, Bilbo is held in greater esteem, and his new authority allows him to take charge and lead the group to victory.
The conciliation between the two characters is a moment of genuine, lump-in-the-throat emotion thanks to Armitage’s impassioned delivery, and it ends the film on a high note.
6. Barrels Out Of Bond
With his friends trapped in Thranduil’s (Lee Pace) cells, Bilbo’s cunning comes to the fore, and he ensures their escape in some discarded barrels. But Bilbo hasn’t accounted for the swift response from the elves, or the fact that there’s an orc pack waiting to strike!
What follows is six minutes of truly madcap action as elves, dwarves and Sauron’s forces brazenly clash along the river way. Sure, Legolas’s (#OrlandoBloom) acrobatics — along with Bombur’s (Stephen Hunter) antics in the bouncing barrel — are daft and implausible, but you can’t deny the spirit and humor of this energetic chase sequence.
5. “Why The Halfling?”
Critics of The Hobbit trilogy may decry the series' pacing and length, but in moments like this, it’s clear that Peter Jackson has a good grasp on — and affection for — the source material, and that he can cut to the heart of it in an instant.
Building upon the scene in which Gandalf gifts Bilbo Sting, the wise wizard patiently explains to Galadriel why he selected the hobbit as the Company burglar. McKellen really is on fine form here as he delivers the now-famous, poignant words. As the iconic Shire theme tune rises in the background, we really do believe that compassion and companionship can save the day.
4. "I'm Looking For Someone To Share In An Adventure..."
When we learned that Ian Holm wouldn’t be de-aged to play the younger Bilbo Baggins for The Hobbit #movies, fans were saddened. Holm is widely considered to be excellent in the role, so some fans were concerned about him being replaced in The Hobbit — but they need not have fretted.
As the clock is rolled back, and Martin Freeman’s Bilbo is shown sitting in the same place that Holm’s iteration will lounge in some sixty years, it’s evident that "Tim from The Office"'s mannerisms and tone of voice are a perfect match for the part. Having to debut alongside Ian McKellen in one of the book’s most memorable scenes is no mean feat either. Yet with his great comic timing Martin Freeman proved himself more than worthy for the task in the first few minutes of An Unexpected Journey.
3. Thorin’s Death
The Hobbit may be a fun fantasy story, but it does have its fair share of sadness and heartbreak, and nowhere is this more evident than in the death of Thorin Oakenshield. After managing to defeat Azog the Defiler (Manu Bennett), Thorin slowly succumbs to his wounds atop Ravenhill as Bilbo struggles to save him.
The tears come thick and fast when the noble King under the Mountain begins struggling to speak, and Bilbo’s pleas for him hold on only makes things worse. It’s easily one of the most tragic and heart-rending scenes of Peter Jackson’s series, thanks to its tender dialogue, and these two amazing actors at the height of their abilities.
2. A Conversation With Smaug
Glimpsed and often discussed in dark tones, Smaug is a dreaded and enigmatic creature, meaning that the hype was strong before he was first unveiled in the second Hobbit film. Luckily, the wait was totally worth it. As Bilbo explores the stunningly designed kingdom of Erebor, Smaug slowly stirs from beneath the mound of coins, revealing himself in all his scaly, scarlet glory. Ripped straight out of the books, this scene features the kind of legendary imagery that really sticks with you long after you first witness it; and then Smaug begins to talk.
As Smaug, Benedict Cumberbatch truly conveys a sense of intelligence, charm and power through his alluring, guttural tones. Coupled with some brilliantly detailed motion capture CGI, the Dragon of Erebor is thus established as a fiercely intelligent and potent threat for Bilbo and his friends. His interrogation of the hobbit is a highlight of both The Desolation of Smaug, and the entire series.
1. Riddles in the Dark
Lost in the tunnels beneath Goblin-town, Bilbo has a fateful encounter with both a twisted creature and a seemingly innocuous piece of jewelry. Really, could any other scene in The Hobbit series top this?
Even though he sticks very closely to the source material, Jackson also shakes things up a bit for this scene. Originally, the novel sees the riddling unfold at a steady, tense rate, but in the film, it’s redressed as a nervier and unpredictable battle of wits. Heck, who wouldn't be put on edge by Gollum’s erratic mood swings? Jackson ensures that this formative sequence is both nightmarish and fresh, even if we know the outcome beforehand.
Additionally, the way that Sting’s light goes out when the goblin dies is another brilliant flourish. And seriously, how consistently fantastic is Andy Serkis?
Even though The Hobbit movies may not ascend to the same vaulted heights as Peter Jackson's previous efforts, this list proves that there's plenty to enjoy and love about this prequel series. And who knows? The future may bring us even more momentous scenes to enjoy in Middle Earth, especially if those rumored adaptations of Beren and Lúthien or The Silmarillion ever proceed.
Which is your favorite scene from The Hobbit Trilogy? Head to the comments and let us know!