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"THE LORD OF THE RINGS: THE RETURN OF THE KING"
(2003) (Elijah Wood, Ian McKellen) (PG-13)

Alcohol/
Drugs
Blood/Gore Disrespectful/
Bad Attitude
Frightening/
Tense Scenes
Guns/
Weapons
Mild Moderate Extreme *Heavy Extreme
Imitative
Behavior
Jump
Scenes
Music
(Scary/Tense)
Music
(Inappropriate)
Profanity
Mild None Extreme None None
Sex/
Nudity
Smoking Tense Family
Scenes
Topics To
Talk About
Violence
Minor Mild Moderate Moderate Extreme


QUICK TAKE:
Action/Fantasy: Various beings of Middle Earth battle forces of evil as they continue on their quest to transport a powerful and dangerous ring to its place of origin so that it can be destroyed.
PLOT:
In this final installment of the Lord of the Rings trilogy, the former hobbit Smeagol turned psychotic Gollum (voice of ANDY SERKIS) is still leading hobbits Frodo Baggins (ELIJAH WOOD) and Sam (SEAN ASTIN) toward Mount Doom. It is there where Frodo, the bearer of the powerful and evil ring, hopes to destroy it. Unbeknownst to him, Gollum, a former ring bearer, has plans of his own.

Meanwhile, after fellow hobbit Pippin (BILLY BOYD) activates a device that convinces the Dark Lord that he's the ring bearer, wizard Gandalf (IAN McKELLEN) realizes he must take him to safety. Accordingly, they travel to Gondor where they meet Lord Denethor (JOHN NOBLE), the father of Faramir (DAVID WENHAM) and his late brother Boromir, and unsuccessful caretaker of the throne.

Things don't look good for him or his people as hordes of Orcs, under the control of the Dark Lord, are approaching and sure to defeat them. Accordingly, King Theoden (BERNARD HILL) has agreed to send help to Gondor. With Aragorn (VIGGO MORTENSEN), elf Legolas (ORLANDO BLOOM) and dwarf Gimli (JOHN RHYS-DAVIES) off to find ghostly reinforcements, the King, his nephew Eomer (KARL URBAN) and their army set off on their long journey.

Theoden's niece, Eowyn (MIRANDA OTTO), however, isn't pleased that she's been ordered to stay behind. Accordingly, she dons a disguise, grabs Pippin's best friend Merry (DOMINIC MONAGHAN) and joins the forces. Meanwhile, Aragorn's elf lover, Arwen (LIV TYLER), decides to live as a mortal rather than be immortal with her father, Elrond (HUGO WEAVING), a point that doesn't sit well with him.

With the various forces set to battle the Orcs and a powerful being known as the Witch-king, Frodo and Sam try to avoid Gollum's devious plans so that they can destroy the ring once and for all.

WILL KIDS WANT TO SEE IT?
If they're fans of the first two films or anyone in the large cast, it's a good bet they will.
WHY THE MPAA RATED IT: PG-13
For intense epic battle sequences and frightening images.
CAST AS ROLE MODELS:
  • ELIJAH WOOD plays a young hobbit who hopes to return the ring to its point of origin so that it can be destroyed. He must contend with various external and internal forces, however, that complicate his mission.
  • SEAN ASTIN plays his best friend who accompanies him on his quest and continues to be suspicious of Gollum.
  • GOLLUM is an emaciated little creature suffering from a split personality. He offers to lead the two hobbits to Mount Doom, but really wants the ring back in his possession once again.
  • BILLY BOYD and DOMINIC MONAGHAN play other hobbits who find themselves in various perilous situations.
  • IAN McKELLEN plays an old and wise wizard who guides and assists various members of the Fellowship on their quest.
  • VIGGO MORTENSEN plays a human ranger, the heir to the throne who risks life and limb in trying to defeat the Dark Lord's forces.
  • ORLANDO BLOOM plays an elf bowman who's part of the Fellowship of the ring and kills various beings that attack their party.
  • JOHN RHYS-DAVIES plays a gruff dwarf who accompanies Aragorn and Legolas, and fights and kills various attacking forces.
  • BERNARD HILL plays a king now released from Saruman's spell who accompanies his army into battle to save Gondor and the Fellowship.
  • MIRANDA OTTO plays the King's niece, who's upset that she's been ordered not to participate in the battle, but dons a disguise and joins in anyway.
  • KARL URBAN plays her brother who sets out to battle and defeat the evil forces.
  • JOHN NOBLE plays the Lord of Gondor who loses touch with reality when he believes that his sole remaining son has also been killed in battle.
  • DAVID WENHAM plays Denethor's son who goes into battle in an attempt to try to defend their kingdom.
  • LIV TYLER plays an elf who has decided that her now mortal future belongs with Aragorn.
  • HUGO WEAVING plays her father who isn't happy with her decision.
  • CAST, CREW, & TECHNICAL INFO

    HOW OTHERS RATED THIS MOVIE


    Curious if this title is entertaining, any good, and/or has any artistic merit?
    Then read OUR TAKE of this film.


    (Note: The "Our Take" review of this title examines the film's artistic merits and does not take into account any of the possibly objectionable material listed below).


    OUR WORD TO PARENTS:
    The following is a brief look at the content found in this action/adventure fantasy that's been rated PG-13. All sorts of fantasy-style violence occurs throughout the film, where various beings fight, injure or kill others via arrows, swords and the like. Despite the high body count, much of the lethal and injurious mayhem is blood free. Even so, there are some rather bloody individual moments, including a bitten-off finger and a scene where recently severed heads are catapulted into a castle.

    That violence, various encounters with monsters, monstrous beings and evil creatures intent on harming the heroes, as well as other scenes/material may be unsettling, suspenseful or downright frightening to some viewers, particularly younger kids if they're allowed to see it. Of course, that depends on their age, level of maturity and tolerance for such material that does get rather intense at times. Some kids may also want to imitate all of the fighting and/or action.

    Various characters and/or forces have bad attitudes, while some also drink and/or smoke. A computer-generated character wears a loincloth and some tense family material (family deaths) is present. Should you still be concerned about the film's appropriateness for yourself or anyone else in your home, you may want to look more closely at our detailed listings for more specific information regarding the film's content.


    ALCOHOL OR DRUG USE
  • Various characters drink to a toast and we then see more drinking with a dinner.
  • Pippin and Merry drink and dance on a table in front of others.
  • Frodo and his hobbit friends have ale.
  • BLOOD/GORE
  • We see a close-up of Gollum's sharpened and rotten looking teeth biting into the flesh of a live fish and tearing out a big chunk.
  • We see fighting (including people being hit by arrows) with some brief bloody results, including one character having some blood from his mouth and another his head.
  • We see blood coming from Denethor's mouth as he eats something that's presumably raw.
  • Ghostly and decomposed looking beings confront and then surround Aragorn, Legolas and Gimli in a cave.
  • The Orcs catapult many severed heads (of their recently defeated enemy) into a castle. We see them flying through the air and landing, but only get momentary glimpses of a few close-up (with some bloody/gory results).
  • A sword has some blood on it after being used to kill a creature.
  • Gollum leads Frodo to a dark and foreboding tunnel where we see various decomposed bodies, animals and body parts.
  • We see a little bit of blood on some of the wounded or dead, but nothing terrible.
  • Eowyn rides beneath various huge elephants, slicing one's legs (with brief bloody results).
  • A huge flying creature nabs a main character and his horse with its talons, mortally wounding both. Eowyn then decapitates the huge flying creature with her sword and we briefly see the creature's long and headless neck (with only a little bit of blood on the end of it).
  • A dying character has blood in his mouth.
  • We see many dead bodies on a battlefield.
  • Merry has a little blood from his nose and mouth following a battle.
  • We see some scars on Frodo's bare chest.
  • Both Frodo and Sam have various bloody scrapes on their faces.
  • Another battle breaks out with more slicing, stabbing and hitting of others (mostly blood-free).
  • Sam throws a rock that hits Gollum on the head, resulting in a little blood.
  • Gollum hits Sam on the head and then jumps on a now invisible Frodo and the two struggle. Gollum then bites off Frodo's finger that wears the ring, with rather bloody results (we see the severed finger and well as the bloody hand from which some blood occasionally squirts).
  • DISRESPECTFUL/BAD ATTITUDE
  • The various evil beings all have extreme cases of bad attitudes for wanting complete power and/or doing harm to others to get it.
  • Gollum is leading Frodo and Sam toward imminent doom and wants the ring back for himself. He also says and does various things to turn Frodo on Sam by making the former suspicious of the latter.
  • Denethor becomes deranged and makes various bad decisions.
  • FRIGHTENING SCENES
  • Scenes listed under "Violence" and/or "Blood/Gore" may also be unsettling, suspenseful or frightening to some viewers, particularly younger kids (but that all depends on their age, level of maturity and tolerance for such material), especially when such scenes are accompanied by suspenseful/ominous music.
  • Likewise, the appearance of Gollum, the Orcs and various other creatures might be unsettling or scary to some younger viewers.
  • We know that Gollum is leading Frodo and Sam towards some sort of dangerous place but don't know what it is or when they'll get there.
  • Gollum leads Frodo and Sam up an incredibly long and steep rock staircase along a sheer cliff. Part of the way up, Frodo nearly falls down the steps. Later, Sam falls down some of the steps and bangs his face on some rocks, but is okay.
  • Aragorn enters a cave from which monstrous sounds emanate.
  • Ghostly and decomposed looking beings confront and then surround Aragorn, Legolas and Gimli in a cave. Legolas tries to shoot one with an arrow, but it passes through his transparent body.
  • The Orcs catapult many severed heads (of their recently defeated enemy) into a castle. We see them flying through the air and landing, but only get momentary glimpses of a few close-up (with some bloody/gory results).
  • Gollum leads Frodo to a dark and foreboding tunnel where we see various decomposed bodies, animals and body parts. Gollum eventually disappears, leaving Frodo apprehensive, especially when monster sounds are heard from somewhere within. Frodo then gets progressively caught in large, sticky webbing and we then see a car-sized spider coming after him. He briefly keeps it at bay with a vial of light and hacking his sword at it, but the spider keeps coming at him. Frodo momentarily escapes, but then becomes completely entangled in more webbing from which he tries to cut himself as the spider approaches.
  • Frodo doesn't realize that the above huge spider is behind and then above him. We then see a large barbed appendage come down and then jab at Frodo. While we don't see the impact, we see the resultant look of shock and pain in Frodo's face. He collapses and the spider then proceeds to wrap him up in its webbing.
  • The spider then comes at Sam who tries to fend it off with his sword and by kicking at its mouth that gets ever closer to him. He then ends up beneath the spider and just avoids being hit by its large barbed appendage that strikes down toward him. He eventually stabs the spider in the abdomen with his sword, causing it to retreat. Sam then tears open the web-based cocoon and believes that Frodo is dead (he's pale and lifeless, but we later learn he's okay).
  • Frodo stands above a fiery precipice from which he must throw the ring to ensure its destruction, but it starts to influence his thinking.
  • Two characters struggle over the ring, with both falling over a precipice. One falls into the lava below and is killed, while another hangs from the precipice and must be rescued by another character.
  • Frodo and Sam try to race out of a cave as the platform they're on collapses into the lava. They then barely avoid the lava flow and end up on a boulder as the lava flows around and close to them.
  • GUNS/WEAPONS
  • Swords/Spears/Arrows/Clubs/Catapults/Ball and chain: Carried and/or used to fight, wound and kill others and/or cause property damage. See "Violence" for details.
  • IMITATIVE BEHAVIOR
  • Phrases: "You miserable little maggot," "You are a lying rat," "Shut up," "You maggots," "Pirate scum" and "You fool."
  • All of the swordplay, fighting and other stunts might be enticing for some kids to imitate.
  • JUMP SCENES
  • None.
  • MUSIC (SCARY/TENSE)
  • An extreme amount of suspenseful, ominous and dramatic music plays in the film.
  • MUSIC (INAPPROPRIATE)
  • None.
  • PROFANITY
  • None.
  • SEX/NUDITY
  • Gollum wears a small, loincloth-like bottom that shows part of the side of his bare butt.
  • Aragorn and Arwen briefly but passionately kiss.
  • SMOKING
  • Merry and Pippin smoke pipes.
  • A comment is made that Pippin smokes too much.
  • Gandalf holds a pipe.
  • Gimli smokes a pipe.
  • At least one miscellaneous hobbit has a pipe in a "pub."
  • TENSE FAMILY SCENES
  • Denethor knows his son is dead and we see a brief flashback from the last film that shows Boromir being hit with several arrows.
  • A horse drags in Faramir's body with arrows sticking out of it and Denethor sees this.
  • Apparently having lost his mind and incorrectly believing his son to be dead, Denethor has him placed on a funeral pyre. He then pours a flammable liquid on it and himself, but Gandalf arrives and knocks Denethor from the pyre.
  • A character must deal with her father's death.
  • TOPICS TO TALK ABOUT
  • The adaptation of the novel into movie form.
  • The battle of good vs. evil.
  • Perseverance in accomplishing a goal no matter the complications and setbacks.
  • VIOLENCE
  • An early, humanized version of Smeagol wants a ring found by his friend. The two then struggle, with some tackling, biting, each with their hands at the other's throat, and Smeagol eventually strangling his friend on the ground (killing him) for it. We later see a brief flashback of the last part of that scene.
  • We see a close-up of Gollum's sharpened and rotten looking teeth biting into the flesh of a live fish and tearing out a big chunk.
  • Upset with Gollum, Sam hits and pins him to the ground where he starts to strangle him.
  • Pippin secretly removes a crystal ball type object from Gandalf's possession (while he sleeps). It then becomes charged with some sort of electrical type energy that shocks Pippin and nearly kills him.
  • Denethor knows his son is dead and we see a brief flashback from the last film that shows Boromir being hit with several arrows.
  • During a battle, we see a lot of fighting, wounding and presumably killing via characters slicing, hitting and/or stabbing others (but without blood or gore). We then see more fighting (including people being hit by arrows), this time with some brief bloody results, including one character having some blood from his mouth and another from his head.
  • Huge, dinosaur-like flying creatures swoop down and grab various characters, presumably killing them. We then see more of them grabbing more characters and the horses they're on.
  • A spear is stabbed down into a person's chest. While we see it go in, there's no blood.
  • Sam knocks Gollum to the ground where he repeatedly punches him until Frodo pushes him away.
  • We see scores of arrows shot into the air toward the enemy. While we don't see the impact of any of them, many injuries and/or deaths are implied.
  • Ghostly and decomposed looking beings confront and then surround Aragorn, Legolas and Gimli in a cave. Legolas tries to shoot one with an arrow, but it passes through his transparent body.
  • The Orcs catapult many severed heads (of their recently defeated enemy) into a castle. We see them flying through the air and landing, but only get momentary glimpses of a few close-up (with some bloody/gory results).
  • The Orcs fire large rocks via catapult into a castle, causing a great deal of structural damage (with some of the falling stones landing on people, but without blood or gore). In turn, huge rocks are fired back in their direction, crushing many of them.
  • Gandalf hits Denethor in the face, gut and then over the head with his staff.
  • More dinosaur like flying creatures grab and wound or kill people (including by dropping some from quite a height -- we then see the bodies fall far away and bounce off the stone castle).
  • Many arrows are fired into creatures and hand to hand combat breaks out between two opposing forces. Gandalf strikes many of the attacking hordes, while Pippin runs one through with a sword to save Gandalf.
  • Gollum grabs Frodo and throws him. Frodo then grabs Gollum and punches him and more fighting ensues.
  • Large flaming rocks are fired via catapult at a castle (causing more structural damage and presumed injuries and deaths), while a huge battering ram is used to smash a large gate.
  • A huge monster hits and kills various people, knocking their bodies aside with his huge club. In turn, it's shot many times with arrows, while a great deal of hand to hand combat goes on around it.
  • Frodo doesn't realize that the above huge spider is behind and then above him. We then see a large barbed appendage come down and then jab at Frodo. While we don't see the impact, we see the resultant look of shock and pain in Frodo's face. He collapses and the spider then proceeds to wrap him up in its webbing.
  • The spider then comes at Sam who tries to fend it off with his sword and by kicking at its mouth that gets ever closer to him. He then ends up beneath the spider and just avoids being hit by its large barbed appendage that strikes down toward him. He eventually stabs the spider in the abdomen with his sword, causing it to retreat. Sam then tears open the web-based cocoon and believes that Frodo is dead (he's pale and lifeless, but we later learn he's okay).
  • Apparently having lost his mind and incorrectly believing his son to be dead, Denethor has him placed on a funeral pyre. He then pours a flammable liquid on it and himself, but Gandalf arrives and knocks Denethor from the pyre. Denethor sets the pyre on fire and grabs Pippin. In turn, Gandalf's horse rears up and knocks Denethor back onto the pyre where he catches on fire. We then see him running off, completely engulfed in flames.
  • More castle damage occurs during the battle and we see a little bit of blood on some of the wounded or dead, but nothing terrible.
  • Arrows are fired and land in many people and/or the horses they're on. The rapidly approaching army then rides straight into the enemy, running over and otherwise clashing with many.
  • Enormous elephants (many stories tall and steered by creatures on their backs) crash into an opposing army, squashing many of them and knocking others aside with their huge trunks and tusks (there are many close calls with others). Many arrows are fired into them and one "driver" is speared, causing his elephant to crash into another and both fall to the ground (presumably injuring or killing those onboard and below them).
  • Eowyn rides beneath various huge elephants, slicing one's legs (with brief bloody results), causing it to fall (with similar results). Many more arrows are fired into the elephants, while Legolas mounts one, shoots many of the creatures on it with arrows and then shoots the elephant in the back of the head with an arrow, killing it (he jumps off and is okay as it crumbles to the ground).
  • A huge flying creature nabs a main character and his horse with its talons, mortally wounding both. Eowyn then decapitates the huge flying creature with her sword and we briefly see the creature's long and headless neck (with only a little bit of blood on the end of it).
  • The Witch-King tries to attack Eowyn with a huge ball and chain. She avoids most of the swings, but one eventually smashes her shield and slightly injures her. As it then picks her up off the ground by her throat, Merry stabs the creature with a sword (receiving an energized shocked) and Eowyn stabs a sword through the creature's open but black faceplate, killing it (we see it writhing for a few moments).
  • Ghostly beings swarm and attack the enemy, presumably killing many if not all of them (seen from a long distance).
  • Two Orc guards fight, with one knocking the other into a large hole and then kicking him down through it (he then tumbles down some stairs). He then falls among a group of other such guards and tries to fend them off with a sword. We then see him or another guard falling a long distance and smashing into some rocks far below (no blood/gore).
  • Sam attacks and kills four Orc guards with his sword (running one through with it, but without any blood).
  • Another battle breaks out with more slicing, stabbing and hitting of others (mostly blood-free).
  • Gollum jumps on Frodo and Sam. Sam then throws a rock that hits Gollum on the head, resulting in a little blood. Gollum then repeatedly slams Sam's head into some rocks and bites his neck, but Sam manages to get him with his sword.
  • Giant eagles attack the giant, dinosaur-like flying creatures.
  • Gollum hits Sam on the head and then jumps on a now invisible Frodo and the two struggle. Gollum then bites off Frodo's finger that wears the ring, with rather bloody results (we see the severed finger and well as the bloody hand from which some blood occasionally squirts).
  • Two characters struggle over the ring, with both falling over a precipice. One falls into the lava below and is killed.
  • A huge structure collapses, as does the ground not far away, causing more property damage and swallowing up huge armies (presumably killing them).



  • Reviewed December 1, 2003 / Posted December 17, 2003

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