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All Ian McKellen Movies, Ranked By Tomatometer

Despite his prodigious presence in the world of acting, Ian McKellen didn’t start appearing on-screen in earnest until his mid-40s, during the 1980s. Things kicked off with 1983’s The Keep, Michael Mann’s hard-to-find WWII fantasy-thriller, with subsequent highlights including early Will Smith drama Six Degrees of Separation, a 1930s-set adaptation of Richard III, and an appearance as Death in Last Action Hero, putting that theater gravitas to good use in a decidedly bad flick.

His Oscar nomination for portraying director James Whale in 1998’s Gods and Monsters brought him to international prominence, setting the stage for one of the great career turns in movie history. In 2000, McKellen became one of comic books’ greatest villains, Magneto, in X-Men. He wouldn’t re-appear until the following year, as one of fantasy’s greatest heroes: Gandalf in 2001’s The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring. The two roles would keep McKellen sustained for the next decade and beyond, across three more X-Men movies and five more entries nestled within Middle-Earth.

Playing the legendary detective in Mr. Holmes and putting in his time as Cogsworth in Beauty and the Beast are more notable recent works, along with more theater adaptations like The Dresser (opposite Anthony Hopkins, both delivering some career-best performances), as well as, er, Cats. At least he knew the nightmare cinematic hairball that was being coughed up! And now, you shall not pass until we rank all Ian McKellen movies by Tomatometer!

#40

Doogal (2006)
8%

#40
Adjusted Score: 8.914%
Critics Consensus: Overloaded with pop culture references, but lacking in compelling characters and plot, Doogal is too simpleminded even for the kiddies.
Synopsis: Legend tells of three magic diamonds that, if in the wrong hands, can be united to create a force powerful... [More]

#39

Neverwas (2005)
14%

#39
Adjusted Score: 3.783%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: A man seeks to unlock the mysteries of his family's tragic past in this drama. Zach Riley (Aaron Eckhart) is... [More]
Directed By: Joshua Michael Stern

#38

Cats (2019)
19%

#38
Adjusted Score: 32.97%
Critics Consensus: Despite its fur-midable cast, this Cats adaptation is a clawful mistake that will leave most viewers begging to be put out of their mew-sery.
Synopsis: Universal Pictures and Working Title's Cats is a most-unexpected film adaptation of Andrew Lloyd Webber's beloved smash musical "Cats" and... [More]
Directed By: Tom Hooper

#37
#37
Adjusted Score: 34.1%
Critics Consensus: What makes Dan Brown's novel a best seller is evidently not present in this dull and bloated movie adaptation of The Da Vinci Code.
Synopsis: The murder of a curator at the Louvre reveals a sinister plot to uncover a secret that has been protected... [More]
Directed By: Ron Howard

#36
#36
Adjusted Score: 28.154%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: Loosely based on a short story by Joseph Conrad, this well-wrought tale of passion and tragedy centers on the culturally... [More]
Directed By: Beeban Kidron

#35

The Shadow (1994)
35%

#35
Adjusted Score: 37.74%
Critics Consensus: Bringing a classic pulp character to the big screen, The Shadow features impressive visual effects, but the story ultimately fails to strike a memorable chord.
Synopsis: A crime fighter created in the 1930s and popularized in movies, pulp novels, and a radio show starring a young... [More]
Directed By: Russell Mulcahy

#34

Asylum (2005)
36%

#34
Adjusted Score: 38.474%
Critics Consensus: This catastrophic adaptation of Patrick McGrath's novel gets sillier and more implausible as it goes along.
Synopsis: Directed by David Mackenzie, Asylum follows a 1950s family living in a home on the grounds of an asylum after... [More]
Directed By: David Mackenzie

#33

The Keep (1983)
40%

#33
Adjusted Score: 40.524%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: The Keep is an ambitious visual feast from director Michael Mann, whose previous effort was the moody, stylish Thief, and... [More]
Directed By: Michael Mann

#32

Last Action Hero (1993)
40%

#32
Adjusted Score: 43.502%
Critics Consensus: Last Action Hero has most of the right ingredients for a big-budget action spoof, but its scattershot tone and uneven structure only add up to a confused, chaotic mess.
Synopsis: Arnold Schwarzenegger appears as a pumped-up Shakespearian hero while an announcer bellows, "Something is rotten in Denmark -- and Hamlet... [More]
Directed By: John McTiernan

#31
#31
Adjusted Score: 48.599%
Critics Consensus: Without the bite or the controversy of the source material, The Golden Compass is reduced to impressive visuals overcompensating for lax storytelling.
Synopsis: A young girl embarks on a perilous journey to rescue her best friend and fight the forces of darkness in... [More]
Directed By: Chris Weitz

#30
Adjusted Score: 55.526%
Critics Consensus: A somewhat disturbing movie that works as a suspenseful thriller, yet isn't completely satisfying.
Synopsis: Sixteen-year-old high school student Todd Bowden has uncovered a deadly secret. Far from suspicion, Nazi war criminal Kurt Dussander has... [More]
Directed By: Bryan Singer

#29

Emile (2005)
57%

#29
Adjusted Score: 50.608%
Critics Consensus: Emile benefits from a typically outstanding Ian McKellen performance, but a frustratingly circuitous approach undercuts the effectiveness of a potentially affecting story.
Synopsis: Emile returns to Canada, the country of his birth, after a lengthy absence. This triggers a remarkable journey into the... [More]
Directed By: Carl Bessai

#28
#28
Adjusted Score: 65.374%
Critics Consensus: X-Men: The Last Stand provides plenty of mutant action for fans of the franchise, even if it does so at the expense of its predecessors' deeper character moments.
Synopsis: The explosive X-Men motion picture trilogy officially draws to a close with this release that finds Rush Hour director Brett... [More]
Directed By: Brett Ratner

#27
Adjusted Score: 69.652%
Critics Consensus: Though somewhat overwhelmed by its own spectacle, The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies ends Peter Jackson's second Middle-earth trilogy on a reasonably satisfying note.
Synopsis: From Academy Award (R)-winning filmmaker Peter Jackson comes "The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies," the third in a... [More]
Directed By: Peter Jackson

#26

The Good Liar (2019)
63%

#26
Adjusted Score: 69.577%
Critics Consensus: The Good Liar is less than the sum of its prestigious parts, but Ian McKellen and Helen Mirren keep the proceedings consistently watchable.
Synopsis: Career con man Roy (Ian McKellen) sets his sights on his latest mark: recently widowed Betty (Helen Mirren), worth millions.... [More]
Directed By: Bill Condon

#25

Animal Crackers (2017)
64%

#25
Adjusted Score: 64.002%
Critics Consensus: Animal Crackers is far from the most distinctive animated fare, but its wacky humor and zippy speed make it a decent diversion for younger viewers.
Synopsis: Owen Huntington's life is one continuous loop of work, eat, and sleep. A loop that keeps him from ever seeing... [More]

#24
Adjusted Score: 75.767%
Critics Consensus: Peter Jackson's return to Middle-earth is an earnest, visually resplendent trip, but the film's deliberate pace robs the material of some of its majesty.
Synopsis: The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey follows title character Bilbo Baggins, who is swept into an epic quest to reclaim the... [More]
Directed By: Peter Jackson

#23

Restoration (1996)
71%

#23
Adjusted Score: 72.282%
Critics Consensus: Restoration spins an engaging period yarn out of its bestselling source material, brought to life through the efforts of an eclectic ensemble cast led by Robert Downey Jr.
Synopsis: This lavish historical drama based on the acclaimed novel by Rose Tremain won Oscars for Costume Design and Art Direction.... [More]
Directed By: Michael Hoffman

#22

All Is True (2019)
71%

#22
Adjusted Score: 76.429%
Critics Consensus: Impressively cast and beautifully filmed, All Is True takes an elegiac look at Shakespeare's final days.
Synopsis: The year is 1613, Shakespeare is acknowledged as the greatest writer of the age. But disaster strikes when his renowned... [More]
Directed By: Kenneth Branagh

#21
#21
Adjusted Score: 87.303%
Critics Consensus: With an enchanting cast, beautifully crafted songs, and a painterly eye for detail, Beauty and the Beast offers a faithful yet fresh retelling that honors its beloved source material.
Synopsis: Disney's "Beauty and the Beast" is a live-action re-telling of the studio's animated classic which refashions the classic characters from... [More]
Directed By: Bill Condon

#20

Bent (1997)
73%

#20
Adjusted Score: 73.572%
Critics Consensus: Bent juggles heavy topics with style, though its heavy-handedness at times feels more like exploitation than exploration.
Synopsis: Sean Mathias directed this screen adaptation of Martin Sherman's award-winning play about the persecution of homosexuals by Nazis during World... [More]
Directed By: Sean Mathias

#19

Flushed Away (2006)
73%

#19
Adjusted Score: 77.39%
Critics Consensus: Clever and appealing for both children and adults, Flushed Away marks a successful entry into digital animated features for Aardman Animations.
Synopsis: A previously pampered society mouse must fight his way back to the comforts of Kensington after he is sent spiraling... [More]
Directed By: David Bowers, Sam Fell

#18

Jack & Sarah (1996)
74%

#18
Adjusted Score: 74.275%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: In this quirky British comedy, nervous yuppie widower Jack finds himself saddled with the responsibility of raising his infant daughter.... [More]
Directed By: Tim Sullivan

#17
Adjusted Score: 83.792%
Critics Consensus: While still slightly hamstrung by "middle chapter" narrative problems and its formidable length, The Desolation of Smaug represents a more confident, exciting second chapter for the Hobbit series.
Synopsis: The second in a trilogy of films adapting the enduringly popular masterpiece The Hobbit, by J.R.R. Tolkien, The Hobbit: The... [More]
Directed By: Peter Jackson

#16
#16
Adjusted Score: 79.502%
Critics Consensus: It sometimes moseys when it should have galloped, but The Ballad of Little Jo entertainingly upends genre formula while simultaneously highlighting its strengths.
Synopsis: The Ballad of Little Jo is based on a true story -- several true stories, in fact. Suzy Amis plays... [More]
Directed By: Maggie Greenwald

#15

Stardust (2007)
76%

#15
Adjusted Score: 82.445%
Critics Consensus: A faithful interpretation that captures the spirit of whimsy, action, and off-kilter humor of Neil Gaiman, Stardust juggles multiple genres and tones to create a fantastical experience.
Synopsis: The sleepy English village of Wall is so named for the cobblestone wall that has, for eons, kept the villagers... [More]
Directed By: Matthew Vaughn

#14

X-Men (2000)
82%

#14
Adjusted Score: 88.275%
Critics Consensus: Faithful to the comics and filled with action, X-Men brings a crowded slate of classic Marvel characters to the screen with a talented ensemble cast and surprisingly sharp narrative focus.
Synopsis: One of the most popular superhero teams in comic book history finally comes to the screen in this big-budget adaptation... [More]
Directed By: Bryan Singer

#13
#13
Adjusted Score: 84.685%
Critics Consensus: Cold Comfort Farm sends up high-minded classics with a wit and impressive restraint that rivals its inspirations.
Synopsis: In 1930s England, Flora, a sophisticated young woman suddenly left penniless, seeks refuge with her eccentric relatives at the extremely... [More]
Directed By: John Schlesinger

#12

X2: X-Men United (2003)
85%

#12
Adjusted Score: 92.32%
Critics Consensus: Tightly scripted, solidly acted, and impressively ambitious, X2: X-Men United is bigger and better than its predecessor -- and a benchmark for comic sequels in general.
Synopsis: When a failed assassination attempt occurs on the President's (Cotter Smith) life by the teleporting mutant Nightcrawler (Alan Cumming), it's... [More]
Directed By: Bryan Singer

#11
#11
Adjusted Score: 89.881%
Critics Consensus: Though it betrays its theatrical roots, Six Degrees of Separation largely succeeds thanks to astute direction and fine performances -- particularly from an against-type Will Smith.
Synopsis: Two socialites find their view of the world changed when a young man takes advantage of their preconceptions in this... [More]
Directed By: Fred Schepisi

#10

Mr. Holmes (2015)
88%

#10
Adjusted Score: 94.929%
Critics Consensus: Mr. Holmes focuses on the man behind the mysteries, and while it may lack Baker Street thrills, it more than compensates with tenderly wrought, well-acted drama.
Synopsis: MR HOLMES is a new twist on the world's most famous detective. 1947, an aging Sherlock Holmes returns from a... [More]
Directed By: Bill Condon

#9
Adjusted Score: 103.466%
Critics Consensus: X-Men: Days of Future Past combines the best elements of the series to produce a satisfyingly fast-paced outing that ranks among the franchise's finest installments.
Synopsis: The ultimate X-Men ensemble fights a war for the survival of the species across two time periods in X-MEN: DAYS... [More]
Directed By: Bryan Singer

#8

Scandal (1989)
91%

#8
Adjusted Score: 92.98%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: In 1963, the conservative British government was shaken to its foundations by the Profumo Scandal. The central character in this... [More]
Directed By: Michael Caton-Jones

#7
Adjusted Score: 99.061%
Critics Consensus: Full of eye-popping special effects, and featuring a pitch-perfect cast, The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring brings J.R.R. Tolkien's classic to vivid life.
Synopsis: Assisted by a Fellowship of heroes, Frodo Baggins plunges into a perilous trek to take the mystical One Ring to... [More]
Directed By: Peter Jackson

#6
Adjusted Score: 101.263%
Critics Consensus: Visually breathtaking and emotionally powerful, The Lord of the Rings - The Return of the King is a moving and satisfying conclusion to a great trilogy.
Synopsis: The final battle for Middle-earth begins. Frodo and Sam, led by Gollum, continue their dangerous mission toward the fires of... [More]
Directed By: Peter Jackson

#5
#5
Adjusted Score: 99.296%
Critics Consensus: Gods and Monsters is a spellbinding, confusing piece of semi-fiction, featuring fine performances; McKellen leads the way, but Redgrave and Fraser don't lag far behind.
Synopsis: Hollywood history comes to life in this tale of the last days of Frankenstein director James Whale, played by Sir... [More]
Directed By: Bill Condon

#4
Adjusted Score: 102.534%
Critics Consensus: The Two Towers balances spectacular action with emotional storytelling, leaving audiences both wholly satisfied and eager for the final chapter.
Synopsis: Frodo and Samwise press on toward Mordor. Gollum insists on being the guide. Can anyone so corrupted by the ring... [More]
Directed By: Peter Jackson

#3

Richard III (1995)
96%

#3
Adjusted Score: 98.782%
Critics Consensus: This re-imagining of Shakespeare's Crookback King relocates the story in 1930 and features an indelible star turn for Ian McKellen as the monstrous and magnetic King Richard.
Synopsis: This innovative, fast-paced, cinematic adaptation of Shakespeare's classic work transposes the setting to an imaginary Nazi-like 1930s England. Ian McKellan... [More]
Directed By: Richard Loncraine

#2
#2
Adjusted Score: 99.038%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: This made-for-cable film, based on Randy Shilts' best-selling book, focuses on the burgeoning AIDS crisis. In 1981, researchers begin discerning... [More]
Directed By: Roger Spottiswoode

#1

The Dresser (2015)
100%

#1
Adjusted Score: 59.046%
Critics Consensus: The Dresser brilliantly showcases two of the most gifted actors of their generation within a thoughtful, well-executed production offering intelligent commentary on the human condition.
Synopsis: During World War II, a troupe of touring actors stage a production of Shakespeare's King Lear. With the lead actor... [More]
Directed By: Richard Eyre

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