I've tried quite a few times to sit down and read one of Tolkien's novels, and every time I have failed. This is largely because it was in the pre-movie days, when I had simply no idea what this strange halfling actually was, thinking that I had stumbled into a stranger version of Watership Down. Since watching the films I keep meaning to go back, but there is something missing that makes me actually follow through with it.
One of my targets for this holiday was to watch all three films back-to-back, because truthfully I think that is the only way in which it is acceptable to watch them. Which in a sense is part of the problem, the films can only really be admired as part of the overall story (unless of course you are a huge fan that knows the story inside-out and back-to-front).
For me I really enjoy the second film, but it requires me to re-watch the first in order for it to make complete sense, to remind myself who everyone is (although I do treat Pip and Merry as the equivalent of Ant and Dec - who cares which one is which...) and what each one is doing or has done. Which means that whenever I want to watch Lord of the Rings I have to set myself a good ten hour window in which to watch them, or at the very least three consecutive evenings.
Part of what I like about the second movie is that it is the one where it has the most potential to stand on its own (bar the scene with Gandalf and the Balrog), with the best battle of the trilogy coming at the end of the movie. With the first it is just setting things up for the rest of the story, while the third has the rather cumbersome task of tying up lots of lose ends in a very extracted final 30mins (and yes I know it is longer in the book).
I think my problem is that I am just not a big enough fan of Fantasy, or Tolkien to admire these films as much as many people do. I don't think they are bad movies, but they aren't the sort of movie that I would just throw on of an evening; you really do have to take the time, pay attention throughout and probably watch all three in order to get the most out of them.
All in all, definitely all three deserve to be in this list, but for me they are perhaps slightly higher than the deserve to be, and are definitely in the wrong order!!