Here’s what G. K. Chesterton had to say about Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings trilogy:
Wherever his film is bad it is bad from some extravagance of imagery, some violence of comparison, some kind of debauch of cleverness. His nonsense never arises from weakness, but from a confusion of powers. If the phrase explain itself, he is far more a great film-maker than he is a good one. […] Mr. Jackson was in a great and serious difficulty. He really meant something. He aimed at a vivid and curious image, and He missed it. He had that catastrophic and public failure which is, as much as a medal or a testimonial, the badge of the brave.
Actually, Chesterton was writing about the poetry of Elizabeth Barrett Browning, but the point stands. Jackson’s failures, and they are many, are the failures of over-ambition. For that reason, they are easy to forgive. All three films have moments where I want to scream at the TV in frustration. But they also all have moments of great beauty and real profundity. And that’s why, warts and all, they have so much more greatness than, say, The Bourne Identity, which I watched yesterday. That film is perfectly executed, but it’s not about anything. But Jackson caught a glimpse of Tolkien’s vision and reached for it. That he failed in part really seems neither here nor there.