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Why The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers is a better sequel than Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows - Part 2
Nominated for six Academy Awards, including Best Picture, and winning two, is a good start to all of the reasons why The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers is a better sequel than Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows - Part 2. Deathly Hallows - Part 2 was nominated for three and didn't win, and that was for Art Direction, Makeup and Visual Effects (and Two Towers won for Visual Effects). But this isn't just about the awards, this is about more than that.
In the middle of any great story, you need characters and situations that raise the bar to another level. The Battle of Helms Deep and the introduction of Gollum/Smeagol as the guide that not only wants the One Ring for himself, but is also leading Hobbits Frodo and Sam on paths that will keep the Ring out of the hands of Sauron, are two of the many ways that the film delivers. This is high fantasy done right, with a world in danger of utter ruin, and people fighting for their very survival. And the craziest part is that, if the battles in this part are so dark, we know that the next part is going to raise the stakes further still.
Deathly Hallows - Part 2, does none of those things. Sure, it's dark... incredibly so, but where were the other schools that took part in the Tri-wizard Tournament from the Goblet of Fire? The Elves showed up at Helm's Deep when they were needed, in Two Towers. I would have expected there to be others involved in the battle at Hogwarts to at least be mentioned. Did they think that Voldemort would stop there? The Elves knew that Rohan wasn't the last place that Sauron and Saruman would attack, and so helped out, as did the Ents in the end.
The Two Towers delivers, bringing the characters closer to their destination, while also being a self-contained story leading up to a battle, and a message of hope, "that there's some good in this world, and it's worth fighting for." Deathly Hallows - Part 2 drowns in the darkness that brought it, and even the ending doesn't help to lighten things. Two Towers, brings the reign, setting us up for the return of the king. (Puns intended.)
SEQUEL SMACKDOWN: The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers VS. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 2 (VOTE NOW)
Why The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King is a better sequel than Harry Potter and Prisoner of Azkaban
Winner of every Academy Award it was nominated for. That's 11, including Best Picture, but who's counting? Me, that's who. Prisoner of Azkaban, was nominated for 2 Academy Awards and won none. But let's not quarrel over awards, let's look at the substance of the films.
The Return of the King is quite possibly the greatest achievement in all of cinematic history. We have been a part of the lives of many characters on their journey, and this is where it all culminates in a stunning fashion that doesn't let you down. We travel with Frodo and Sam toward Mount Doom, as the power of the One Ring weighs on Frodo both mentally and physically. We go with Aragorn on his path to the thrown as rightful heir and King of Gondor. We finally embark on the last march to the Black Gate, where our heroes are all told that they've failed, that all is lost, and it's over. And when Aragorn turns around and says "For Frodo," we are witness to an army fighting a battle they believe they've already lost, but are unwilling to give up so easily. We witness an Elf and a Dwarf, enemies in the past, expecting to go down fighting side by side as friends. And ultimately, we witness the triumph of good. It was worth fighting for, and we get to celebrate with them, and say our goodbyes to all of the characters we've been with on this journey.
This leads us to a couple of pretty big questions. Per Harry Potter, why couldn't the time-turner be used to fix the entire situation with Voldemort? That question is a hard one to answer, but comes down to the rules established in time travel. If you're going to do it, then you already have. But there's the paradox. That line of thinking means that using the time-turner to alter Voldemort's course of action could be successful in changing the way things end up, because then the current timeline would be changed to the one in which he doesn't become evil. Think hard enough about that, and you too will go cross-eyed.
A similar question, though, is this: Why couldn't the Eagles carry Frodo all the way to Mount Doom from the start? The answer is as simple as Boromir's own path. They, too, would have fallen, and taken the Ring straight to Sauron. They could not withstand the effect that the Ring would have on them, even by proxy, just as Boromir could not. (Enough said.)
Prisoner of Azkaban... let's just say it owes everything to the existence of The Lord of the Rings. It was, at the very least, a better sequel than Goblet of Fire, but was it better than Return of the King? The Return of the King is a very appropriate title, as it is the definitive fantasy adventure, and the reason that fantasy exists as a genre in the first place.
SEQUEL SMACKDOWN: The Lord of the Rings: Return of the King VS. Harry Potter and the Prison of Azkaban (VOTE NOW)