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14 Movies like Lord of the Rings: Forged in Battle

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tom_cropperAs well as being a great story, ‘Lord Of The Rings’ is also an uplifting tale of an underdog’s success against the odds. Even so, most people thought it could never be filmed until ‘Peter Jackson’ girded his loins in the late nineties and began the one trilogy to rule them all.~ Tom Cropper

An Unexpected Journey

“I made a promise, Mr Frodo. A promise. “Don’t you leave him Samwise Gamgee.” And I don’t mean to. I don’t mean to.”

If you weren’t enchanted by ‘Lord of the Rings’ as a child, then you had something missing in your life. JRR Tolkien’s epic story transports you to the world of Middle-Earth, where Frodo and his other hobbit friends set out to do battle against Orcs, Goblins and the Dark Lord Sauron himself. Movies are supposed to transport us to a different world and films such as Lord of the Rings do that in spades. But there are only three films in this collection, so if you’ve got to the end, you’ll be in need of some other ‘Lord of the Rings’ fixes. Another great movie series is, of course, ‘Harry Potter’. However, since most of you will already know the ‘Harry Potter’ films inside out, I didn’t really want to go too much in depth here. All I can tell you is: if you haven’t seen them yet, go watch them now! And if you have, you can find some great similar titles right here.


Movies Similar to ‘Lord of the Rings’…

Such was the epic scale of Peter Jackson’s masterpiece that there really aren’t any other films to match it. The best you can do is find the next best thing, so here are some movies like ‘Lord of the Rings’, films which will also transport you to a different world.

‘Star Wars’ (George Lucas, 1977)

“Once upon a time in a Galaxy far, far away…”

During the production of his epic sci-fi blockbuster, George Lucas checked in to the studio to monitor its progress. Shortly afterwards, he checked in to the local hospital complaining of chest pains. Things were not going well. To friends, he confided that his latest project looked set to be a disaster.

Turns out, he needn’t have worried. The biggest movie franchise of all time made him a billionaire. You don’t really need to hear the story, but this tale of a young farm boy, his laser sword, and a very cool space ship captivated the imagination of audiences ever since and continues to do so.

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The formulas behind ‘Star Wars’ and ‘LOTR’ are almost identical – a small person from nowhere takes on and defeats an all-powerful evil enemy.

‘Willow’ (Ron Howard, 1988)

“Ignore the bird, follow the river.”

If you think this rings some bells, you’re not wrong. This 1988 classic was a shameless attempt to steal a bit of Tolkien magic.

Willow, played by Warwick Davis, is a hobbit-like creature dragged unwillingly into a quest to save a human baby. Cue an epic journey, ghouls, goblins and the usual battle at the end.

It’s a bit shameless, but you can’t help but like it. Warwick Davis is excellent and he must still be fuming at how someone could make six whole films about hobbits without giving him a call.

Look out also for Val Kilmer turning in a great performance as the roguish hero who helps Warwick on his quest.

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A small dwarf or hobbit-like creature has to go on a quest? Where have we heard this before?


‘The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe’ (Andrew Adamson, 2005)

“Four kids and a talking lion…”

As a child, you were either a fan of ‘Lord of the Rings’ or ‘Narnia’. CS Lewis’ tale of a bunch of children who discover a magical land through a wardrobe is one which appeals to something primeval in the imagination of most children.

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‘The Chronicles of Narnia’ never quite achieved the success of Tolkien’s adaptation. They represent an alternative epic for a slightly younger generation.

‘Never Ending Story’ (Wolfgang Petersen, 1984)

“The nothing is destroying our world…”

A magical land is under threat from a seemingly unstoppable force called ‘The Nothing’. In desperation, they turn to a hero to embark on a quest to save the land. Can he stop ‘The Nothing’ and save the life of his Queen? Time will tell.

This is a fun and cheerful kid’s film. However, with a magical land and a thirst of adventure, this is one film which owes everything to ‘Lord of the Rings’.

‘Alexander’ (Oliver Stone, 2004)

“Fortune favours the bold…”

Colin Farrell plays one of the greatest conquerors of the ancient world. You can expect great set pieces, major battles, and a whole lot of action, but there’s plenty you will not expect. The Irish accents are strange, for a start, and others were also miffed by the film’s obsession with the eccentricities of his sexuality.

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‘Lord of the Rings’ is set in a mythical far away land. Although based on true events, that’s precisely what the ancient world feels like to us in the modern age. If you enjoyed the battles of ‘LOTR’, the ones in ‘Alexander’ are right up there with the best.

‘Dark Crystal’ (Jim Henson & Frank Oz, 1982)

“A wonder-filled fantasy adventure…”

Finally, let’s have some Jim Henson magic. Fans of muppets will love this tale as a bunch of elf-like creatures on a distant planet embark on an epic quest to retrieve a magical dark crystal, that they hope can restore order to his world.

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There have been plenty of Tolkien-esque adventures over the years. These, with Henson’s puppets, is one of the most memorable among a loyal group of dedicated fans.

‘Kingdom of Heaven’ (Ridley Scott, 2005)

“Defending a city and a people.”

If there’s one thing that ‘Lord of the Rings’ does better than anyone else, it’s battles; really big, beautiful battles. If you want more of the same, then you need look no further than Ridley Scott’s ‘Kingdom of Heaven’.

Set against the backdrop of the second Crusades, Orlando Bloom plays a young blacksmith who unexpectedly inherits an estate in the holy land. Cue an adventure which sees him taken from his small village to defend Jerusalem against Saladin and his armies.

Check out this article for more epic historical drama movies like ‘Kingdom of Heaven’.

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Not a hobbit in sight, but some outstanding set piece battles. For fans of Legolas there’s a bit of Orlando Bloom in the bargain.


If You Like ‘Lord of the Rings’, You Will Like…

In truth, there are endless movies similar to ‘Lord of the Rings’ – more than we can possibly list here. However, as a quick bonus, here are some other films like ‘Lord of the Rings’.

‘Stardust’ (Mathew Vaughn, 2007)

“A star has fallen, a chase begins.”

Like ‘Lord of the Rings’, this creates a fantasy world all of its own and it’s every bit as believable. However, this gives it a comic twist. Charlie Cox stars as the shop boy who embarks on a quest to find a star in the magical world that lies beyond the wall that surrounds his village.

On his way, he’ll encounter witches, princes and much more. Plus, there’s Robert De Niro as a cross-dressing pirate. What more could you want?

Make sure to also have a look at these other great films similar to ‘Stardust’.

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A great film, gorgeously shot, funny and exciting all in the bargain.

‘Shrek’ (Andrew Adamson, 2001)

“The Greatest Fairytale never told…”

Mike Myers plays Shrek, a big bad ogre who finds himself the target of a king who wants to get rid of all the mythical creatures in the land. Along with his faithful companion – a talking donkey voiced by Eddie Murphy – he sets off to save a Princess from a fire-breathing dragon. However, neither she nor the dragon turn out to be what they seemed.

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This is more a spoof of fairy-tales than a direct reference to Tolkien. However, this pacey, fun cartoon will appeal to all ages.

‘Legend’ (Ridley Scott, 1985)

“Tonight the sun sets forever.”

This has everything a good adventure movie should have: a dashing hero trying to save a beautiful princess, fantastical creatures, and a really, really good bad guy.

On the down side, there are some holes in the plot and because our hero is played by Tom Cruise, you may find yourself routing for the demonic villain – played deliciously by Tim Curry.

Even so, it looks fantastic and has plenty of thrills to keep you hooked.

Not much going on under the surface, but it looks good. You can say the same about most of the cast.

‘Epic Movie’ (Jason Friedberg, 2007)

“We know it’s big, we measured it…”

In the fine(ish) tradition of the scary movie, comes this spoof of the craze for big epics. There are some cheap laughs to be had although you shouldn’t expect anything too highbrow.

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Since ‘Lord of the Rings’ is responsible for starting the craze for epic blockbusters, it’s only fair to check out the spoofs. If you enjoyed the adventures of Frodo and co., there is plenty here you’ll recognise.

‘The Princess Bride’ (Rob Reiner, 1987)

“Battling rodents of unusual size…”

When Hollywood writer William Goldman decided to make up a story for his daughter, he asked her what she’d like it to be about. She said ‘make it about a princess and a bride.’ So that’s what he did; a little while later, Rob Reiner came along to make the movie.

This is a gem of a film – funny, witty and never failing to surprise. This takes the old fairy story formula and gives it a real twist.

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The plot doesn’t make much sense, but you’ll be laughing too much to notice.


Honourable Mentions

‘The Hobbit’ (Peter Jackson, 2012)

“One day I’ll remember. Remember everything that happened: the good, the bad, those who survived… and those that did not.”

Okay, let’s get this out of the way. If you liked Peter Jackson’s original trilogy, then you’ll feel almost obligated to check this one out.

Although initially saying he would never go near a project as large as ‘Lord of the Rings’ again, it was almost inevitable that he’d return to Middle-Earth to film Tolkien’s first story, ‘The Hobbit’.

This time, we focus on Bilbo and his journey with the Dwarves to steal treasure from the dragon, Smaug. Meanwhile, we also see the mounting menace of Sauron rising in the dark forests of Mirkwood.

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This return to Middle Earth will be difficult to resist.

‘Lord of the Rings’ (Ralph Bakshi, 1978)

“One ring to rule them all; one ring to find them. One ring to keep them all, and in the darkness bind them.”

Okay, fair enough, the title of this one sounds strikingly familiar, but this 1978 attempt is well worth a look.

Ralph Bakshi makes a bold attempt to bring Tolkien’s classic to the big screen with one of the most beautifully animated films of all time.

Mixing live action with animation, this makes all other animations of the time look a little flat. The film is perfectly paced, with the only drawback being that it can’t make it to the end.

Money troubles saw them cut the film off at the end of the ‘Two Towers’, which means we’re left hanging, with a final act that never happens.

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A great retelling of Tolkien’s classic and a worthy companion for any fan.


Are You Ready for an Adventure?

So, if a Wizard came knocking at your door with some jewellery he wanted disposed of, how far would you go?

There are lots of other great fantastical adventures out there, so we’d like to hear about your favourites.

Let us know in the comments section below.

**For a video playlist of the recommendations, please click here.

These days Tom Cropper is normally found writing about money and ethical issues and finance for people like Go Compare and the Guardian. However, he started his career many years ago writing about film for a small and sadly defunct indie paper called the Soho Independent. Since then he’s written for various movie websites and, when he’s not trying to explain the nuances of insurance to people spends his time trying to dig out obscure movies from far flung parts of the world.
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