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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: 9396%
Critics Consensus: Overloaded with pop culture references, but lacking in compelling characters and plot, Doogal is too simpleminded even for the kiddies.
Synopsis: Florence and her animal friends live in the Enchanted Village, which is under the care of Zebedee, a kindly wizard.... [More]

#39

Neverwas (2005)
14%

#39
Adjusted Score: 4875%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: Dr. Zach Riley (Aaron Eckhart) begins practicing at the Millwood Psychiatric Clinic -- a mental health retreat where his deceased... [More]
Directed By: Joshua Michael Stern

#38

Cats (2019)
19%

#38
Adjusted Score: 39896%
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: A tribe of cats must decide yearly which one will ascend to the Heaviside Layer and come back to a... [More]
Directed By: Tom Hooper

#37
#37
Adjusted Score: 35290%
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: A murder in Paris' Louvre Museum and cryptic clues in some of Leonardo da Vinci's most famous paintings lead to... [More]
Directed By: Ron Howard

#36
#36
Adjusted Score: 27096%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: Amy (Rachel Weisz), a maid in the house of wealthy Miss Swaffer (Kathy Bates), falls for a Russian stranger named... [More]
Directed By: Beeban Kidron

#35

The Shadow (1994)
34%

#35
Adjusted Score: 36751%
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: Set in 1930s New York, a reformed criminal becomes a superhero. With the aid of a beautiful female friend, a... [More]
Directed By: Russell Mulcahy

#34

Asylum (2005)
36%

#34
Adjusted Score: 38342%
Critics Consensus: This catastrophic adaptation of Patrick McGrath's novel gets sillier and more implausible as it goes along.
Synopsis: An administrator's bored wife (Natasha Richardson) begins a torrid affair with an institutionalized artist (Marton Csokas) who beat his wife... [More]
Directed By: David Mackenzie

#33

The Keep (1983)
40%

#33
Adjusted Score: 40502%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: A stranger (Scott Glenn) fights timeless evil in a Romanian castle occupied by a Nazi captain (Jürgen Prochnow).... [More]
Directed By: Michael Mann

#32

Last Action Hero (1993)
40%

#32
Adjusted Score: 43754%
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: Following the death of his father, young Danny Madigan (Austin O'Brien) takes comfort in watching action movies featuring the indestructible... [More]
Directed By: John McTiernan

#31
#31
Adjusted Score: 50847%
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: Lyra Belacqua (Dakota Blue Richards) lives in a parallel world in which human souls take the form of lifelong animal... [More]
Directed By: Chris Weitz

#30

Apt Pupil (1998)
53%

#30
Adjusted Score: 54348%
Critics Consensus: A somewhat disturbing movie that works as a suspenseful thriller, yet isn't completely satisfying.
Synopsis: A high-school student (Brad Renfro) forms an unhealthy relationship with a former Nazi death-camp officer (Ian McKellen).... [More]
Directed By: Bryan Singer

#29

Emile (2003)
57%

#29
Adjusted Score: 54114%
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 (Ian McKellen), a retired professor, returns to his Canadian hometown to receive an award after decades of living in... [More]
Directed By: Carl Bessai

#28
#28
Adjusted Score: 67640%
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 discovery of a cure for mutations leads to a turning point for Mutants (Hugh Jackman, Halle Berry, Famke Janssen,... [More]
Directed By: Brett Ratner

#27
Adjusted Score: 70750%
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: Having reclaimed Erebor and vast treasure from the dragon Smaug, Thorin Oakenshield (Richard Armitage) sacrifices friendship and honor in seeking... [More]
Directed By: Peter Jackson

#26

The Good Liar (2019)
63%

#26
Adjusted Score: 72981%
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 artist Roy Courtnay can hardly believe his luck when he meets well-to-do widow Betty McLeish online. As Betty... [More]
Directed By: Bill Condon

#25

Animal Crackers (2017)
64%

#25
Adjusted Score: 63668%
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: A family uses its magical box of animal crackers to help save a circus.... [More]

#24
Adjusted Score: 77917%
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: Bilbo Baggins (Martin Freeman) lives a simple life with his fellow hobbits in the shire, until the wizard Gandalf (Ian... [More]
Directed By: Peter Jackson

#23

Restoration (1995)
71%

#23
Adjusted Score: 70547%
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: In order to keep one of his mistresses, Celia (Polly Walker), at arm's length, King Charles II (Sam Neill) asks... [More]
Directed By: Michael Hoffman

#22

All Is True (2018)
72%

#22
Adjusted Score: 79327%
Critics Consensus: Impressively cast and beautifully filmed, All Is True takes an elegiac look at Shakespeare's final days.
Synopsis: The year is 1613, and Shakespeare is acknowledged as the greatest writer of the age. But disaster strikes when his... [More]
Directed By: Kenneth Branagh

#21
#21
Adjusted Score: 99765%
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: Belle (Emma Watson), a bright, beautiful and independent young woman, is taken prisoner by a beast (Dan Stevens) in its... [More]
Directed By: Bill Condon

#20

Bent (1997)
74%

#20
Adjusted Score: 70541%
Critics Consensus: Bent juggles heavy topics with style, though its heavy-handedness at times feels more like exploitation than exploration.
Synopsis: In 1930s Berlin, homosexual Max (Clive Owen) sleeps with German officer Wolf (Nikolaj Waldau), only to see him killed by... [More]
Directed By: Sean Mathias

#19

Flushed Away (2006)
73%

#19
Adjusted Score: 78749%
Critics Consensus: Clever and appealing for both children and adults, Flushed Away marks a successful entry into digital animated features for Aardman Animations.
Synopsis: After an ignoble landing in Ratropolis, a pampered rodent (Hugh Jackman) enlists the help of a sewer scavenger (Kate Winslet)... [More]
Directed By: David Bowers, Sam Fell

#18

Jack & Sarah (1995)
74%

#18
Adjusted Score: 73345%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: After his wife, Sarah (Imogen Stubbs), dies during childbirth, Jack (Richard E. Grant), an attorney, has his world thrown into... [More]
Directed By: Tim Sullivan

#17
Adjusted Score: 83640%
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: Having survived the first part of their unsettling journey, Bilbo Baggins (Martin Freeman) and his companions (Ian McKellen, Richard Armitage)... [More]
Directed By: Peter Jackson

#16
#16
Adjusted Score: 77275%
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: After becoming pregnant outside marriage, Josephine (Suzy Amis) is thrown out by her embarrassed upper-class family. With no money, she... [More]
Directed By: Maggie Greenwald

#15

Stardust (2007)
77%

#15
Adjusted Score: 84800%
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: To win the heart of his beloved (Sienna Miller), a young man named Tristan (Charlie Cox) ventures into the realm... [More]
Directed By: Matthew Vaughn

#14

X-Men (2000)
82%

#14
Adjusted Score: 87462%
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: They are children of the atom, homo superior, the next link in the chain of evolution. Each was born with... [More]
Directed By: Bryan Singer

#13
#13
Adjusted Score: 83835%
Critics Consensus: Cold Comfort Farm sends up high-minded classics with a wit and impressive restraint that rivals its inspirations.
Synopsis: In this adaptation of the satirical British novel, Flora Poste (Kate Beckinsale), a plucky London society girl orphaned at age... [More]
Directed By: John Schlesinger

#12

X2 (2003)
85%

#12
Adjusted Score: 93378%
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: Stryker (Brian Cox), a villianous former Army commander, holds the key to Wolverine's (Hugh Jackman) past and the future of... [More]
Directed By: Bryan Singer

#11
#11
Adjusted Score: 89043%
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: Privileged art dealers Flan (Donald Sutherland) and Ouisa (Stockard Channing) are hosting a dinner party when Paul (Will Smith), a... [More]
Directed By: Fred Schepisi

#10

Mr. Holmes (2015)
88%

#10
Adjusted Score: 94610%
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: Long-retired and near the end of his life, Sherlock Holmes (Ian McKellen) grapples with an unreliable memory and must rely... [More]
Directed By: Bill Condon

#9
Adjusted Score: 104866%
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: Convinced that mutants pose a threat to humanity, Dr. Bolivar Trask (Peter Dinklage) develops the Sentinels, enormous robotic weapons that... [More]
Directed By: Bryan Singer

#8

Scandal (1989)
91%

#8
Adjusted Score: 90482%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: Stephen Ward (John Hurt) regularly employs attractive young women as professional party guests to impress his influential friends in the... [More]
Directed By: Michael Caton-Jones

#7
Adjusted Score: 100780%
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: The future of civilization rests in the fate of the One Ring, which has been lost for centuries. Powerful forces... [More]
Directed By: Peter Jackson

#6
Adjusted Score: 103512%
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 culmination of nearly 10 years' work and conclusion to Peter Jackson's epic trilogy based on the timeless J.R.R. Tolkien... [More]
Directed By: Peter Jackson

#5
#5
Adjusted Score: 98139%
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: Once a powerful Hollywood director best known for "Frankenstein" and "The Bride of Frankenstein," James Whale (Ian McKellen) is long... [More]
Directed By: Bill Condon

#4
Adjusted Score: 104100%
Critics Consensus: The Two Towers balances spectacular action with emotional storytelling, leaving audiences both wholly satisfied and eager for the final chapter.
Synopsis: The sequel to the Golden Globe-nominated and AFI Award-winning "The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring," "The... [More]
Directed By: Peter Jackson

#3

Richard III (1995)
96%

#3
Adjusted Score: 98849%
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: A murderous lust for the British throne sees Richard III (Ian McKellen) descend into madness. Though the setting is transposed... [More]
Directed By: Richard Loncraine

#2
#2
Adjusted Score: 50598%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: In 1981, epidemiologist Don Francis (Matthew Modine) learns of an increased rate of death among gay men in urban areas.... [More]
Directed By: Roger Spottiswoode

#1

The Dresser (2015)
100%

#1
Adjusted Score: 95594%
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: In a touring Shakespearean theatre company, backstage hand Norman is devoted to the brilliant but tyrannical head of the company,... [More]
Directed By: Richard Eyre

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