Fantasy isn't the easiest genre to get right. The idea of fantasy is great, and when it's on the pages of a book or living in your imagination, these beautiful worlds can have a deep impact on the audience, but that sense of awe doesn't always transfer onto the big screen with success.
Duncan Jones's Warcraft: The Beginning is currently in theatres, and was actually the main source of inspiration for this post, because I walked away generally happy with the movie. It's great to sit and watch with some popcorn, but it didn't manage to fully grasp me in the same way Lord of the Rings did and still does.
What's Next After Lord Of The Rings?
It has been 15 years since Peter Jackson's The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring hit theatres, and in my opinion we haven't had a great fantasy series since the trilogy finished back in 2003. Of course, there is The Hobbit trilogy but even that didn't reach the heights of Jackson's first adventures to Middle Earth.
Looking at the genre as a whole, the only piece of work to come even close to The Lord Of The Rings is HBO's hit series Game of Thrones. Looking at LOTR and Game of Thrones they are two very different things, but in a way they are very similar, and it is because of their similarities that they succeed in the fantasy genre.
I believe that for fantasy to succeed on the big screen, it must find the right balance of realism and the fantastical elements. For example, Lord Of The Rings had a very gritty realism but was still heavy on fantasy. Game of Thrones is very much coated in realism but again slips fantasy elements into the show.
Who you compare Lord Of The Rings to The Hobbit you can see that The Hobbit used a very different style of filmmaking, and didn't capture the realism of The Lord Of The Rings trilogy.
Will There Be Another Great Fantasy Franchise?
I feel like we will one day get another great fantasy movie, but in order for it to reach the same heights as The Lord Of The Rings it will need to find the right balance between what the audience see as fantasy and some realistic elements.
There is a lot of potential for a great new fantasy franchise. Filmmakers are only just beginning to scratch the surface of fantasy in literature, many different worlds exist and many are just waiting to be explored. Take for example The Name Of The Wind by Patrick Rothfuss — or maybe it's time to get some of Terry Pratchett's Discworld onto the big screen.