Prayer Focus
Movie Review

The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King

MPAA Rating: PG-13 for intense epic battle sequences and frightening images

Reviewed by: Jeremy Landes
CONTRIBUTOR

Average
Moviemaking Quality:

Primary Audience:
Teen and Adult
Genre:
Action, Adventure, Fantasy, Drama
Length:
3 hr. 20 min.

Starring: Elijah Wood, Sean Astin, Ian McKellen, Viggo Mortensen, John Rhys-Davies | Directed by: Peter Jackson | Produced by: Fran Walsh, Barrie M. Osborne, Peter Jackson, Tim Sanders | Screenwriters: Philippa Boyens, Barrie M. Osborne, Fran Walsh, Peter Jackson, Phillippa Boyens, Stephen Sinclair—Source Writer: J.R.R. Tolkien | Distributor: New Line Cinema

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Relevant Issues
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Our reviewer has interviewed three key actors in this. See our article: Three Stars of “The Return of the King” and Their Different Responses to Tolkien’s Books. You might be tempted to believe that some of Tolkien’s strong moral and Christian values would rub off strongly on the actors after 7 years of production. But you would be wrong in most cases.

See our REVIEWS of the previous two films in this trilogy:

Read and listen to our “Two Towers” Cast and Crew Interviews

Click here if you are new to “The Lord of the Rings” or forgot what the first two films were about.

You are coming to the end of a long journey, begun perhaps when you first heard that “Lord of the Rings” was being made into three films. You enjoyed the first two films and are on tiptoes to see the final episode, or maybe you’re frustrated that parts one and two didn’t contain proper endings and just want to have done with the plot.

Your wait is being rewarded in spectacular fashion; “Return of the King” is the best film of Peter Jackson’s epic trilogy. “Return of the King” is also the longest of the three, the most emotionally enriching, and the most violent, as Aragorn, Legolas, Gimli, and their small armies of men battle not just 10,000 orcs (as in “Two Towers’” Helm’s Deep), but, rather, 600,000 orcs, evil men, trolls, and flying Nazgul. More impaling, more beheading, more clubbing, stomping, and bleeding than the first two films combined, times three. And then some. You have never seen war portrayed on a more grand scale; director Peter Jackson has made his mark in the ranks of epic cinema, and it is very high. Prepare your heart to laugh, cry, and shout. “Return of the King” brings you to the climax of the characters’ struggles and leaves you dizzy with wonder, grief, and joy.

 
Learn more about one who willingly gave up his life to rescue a world of people from destruction - GO

Suffice it to say that the heroes of “Return of the King” come to the end of their quest and the end of themselves, risking everything, even their own lives and sanity, in order to save one another.

At one point in the film, as in the book, the heroes seek the aid of dead, malevolent spirits, in order to help them fight a war.

Parents who choose to take their teenagers to (or allow their teenagers viewing privileges for) “Return of the King”: be forewarned that the war scenes are horrific, and many people are shown dying violently. Evil characters are destroyed, but this is not a splatterfest. Characters do bleed and suffer, but I did not feel that the filmmakers were rubbing our faces in it. They were trying to depict Tolkien’s worldview as much as possible, and they did that very well. We need to see heroes with the kinds of qualities manifested here, and seeing them destroy evil creatures in their pursuit of righteousness did not seem very offensive to me.

Perhaps the most disturbing scene shows a deranged father willing to sacrifice his own son’s life for selfish reasons, and then seeking to kill his son and himself. There is also a sequence with a large, horrific monster that may send many adults and their kids out the exit for a breath of fresh air. In a word, “Return of the King” is intense. [To learn more about the effects of seeing violence, click here.]

However, you should also know that the film promotes character traits like self-sacrifice, unwavering friendship, and mercy. In fact, these noble qualities, as well as providence, prevail throughout all three “Lord the the Rings” films. If you are at all unsure whether your kids will be able to handle “Return of the King”, see the film yourself first, then decide. You will enjoy seeing it a second time anyway. Enjoy “Return of the King”—the best film of the “Lord the the Rings” trilogy, this year, and, perhaps, this decade. [If you would like to learn more about the king who promised to return quickly and will also bring justice and peace to the world, click here.]

If you are new to “Lord of the Rings” or forgot what the first two films were about, read this version of our review:

Peter Jackson’s “Return of the King” is the third and final film of his “Lord of the Rings” trilogy, which began two years ago with The Fellowship of the Ring and The Two Towers. It is based on a series of best-selling books by British author J.R.R. Tolkien. Unlike the Star Wars trilogy, “Lord of the Rings” is a continuous story, meant to be viewed back to back. Thus, if you have not seen “Fellowship” or “Towers”, “Return of the King” may make little sense to you. If you are new to the series (or skipped one of the first movies), this review provides a brief re-cap of the events leading up to “Return of the King”, in order to enhance your enjoyment. However, you will likely appreciate the films more if you first block out six hours and rent the previous films (better yet, take seven hours to view the extended-cut DVDs of these films).

The story’s main characters, Frodo and Sam, are hobbits (small, quiet folk with large, hairy feet) who embark on a quest into enemy territory (Mordor) to destroy the most powerful weapon in all of Middle Earth—a magic ring that enables its user to conquer and destroy whole races, including mankind, elves, and dwarves. The hobbits must cast the ring into a volcano where the evil lord, Sauron, originally made it. He constantly peers out at Middle Earth with a fiery, unblinking eye, searching for his One Ring that was lost and bringing war against the world. Following the hobbits and helping them enter Mordor is a creature named Gollum, who once possessed the ring himself and desperately wants it back.

Meanwhile, the hobbits’ friends Gandalf (a wizard), Legolas (an elf), Gimli (a dwarf), Aragorn (a man), and two other hobbits, Merry and Pippin, are busy defending the kingdom of men, Gondor, against Sauron and his hordes of ugly orcs, trolls, evil men, and Nazgul (hooded creatures who fly upon black beasts). These friends are hopelessly outmatched, and their only real hope is to give Frodo and Sam the time needed to fulfill their epic quest.

“Return of the King” is a long, complex, and brilliantly created film, containing the best stories and special effects in the trilogy by far. Director Peter Jackson has set a high standard for filmmakers worldwide—using incredible special effects, perfectly cast actors, and his country, New Zealand, to bring Tolkien’s “unfilmable” trilogy to life. Prepare your heart to laugh, cry, and shout. “Return of the King” brings you to the climax of the characters’ struggles and leaves you dizzy with wonder, grief, and joy. No filmmaking team in history has ever successfully created war scenes on such a massive, detail-perfect scale. No less important, the director and editors help us fall in love with the characters that are fighting, using large close-ups and an awesome soundtrack to pump the audience’s heartstrings.

“Return of the King” is also the most violent film of the trilogy. Most of the violence consists of evil orcs being crushed, impaled, beheaded, and various other means of slaughter, but there is also the emotional violence of seeing characters betray, abandon, threaten, and even kill one another. Perhaps the most disturbing scene shows a deranged father willing to sacrifice his own son’s life for selfish reasons, then seeking to kill him and himself, succeeding on one count. There is also a scary sequence with a large monster that may send many adults and their kids out the exit for a breath of fresh air. In a word, “Return of the King” is intense. [To learn more about the effects of seeing violence, click here.]

At one point in the film, as in the book, the heroes seek the aid of dead, malevolent spirits, in order to help them fight a war.

Parents who choose to take their teenagers to (or allow their teenagers viewing privileges for) “Return of the King” should be forewarned that the war scenes are horrific, and many people are shown dying violently. You should also know that the film promotes character traits like self-sacrifice, unwavering friendship, and mercy. In fact, these noble qualities, along with providence, prevail throughout all three “Lord of the Rings” films. [To learn more about one whose sacrifice and love is echoed in many of “Return of the King”’s characters, click here.]

If you are at all unsure whether your kids will be able to handle “Return of the King”, see the film yourself first, then decide. You will likely enjoy seeing it a second time anyway. To see the best film of the “Lord of the Rings” trilogy, of this year, and, perhaps, of this decade, be certain you catch “The Return of the King” while it’s playing in theaters.


Year of Release—2003

NOTE: The DVD Extended Version (released December 2004) contains an additional 50 minutes. We have not reviewed those 50 minutes. The above review is about the theatrical release version.

Viewer Comments
Comments below:
Positive
Positive—…a masterpiece of cinema that sets a new standard for epic and fantasy films. …The true power of the “Lord of the Rings” trilogy, however, doesn’t stem simply from its excellent direction, its inspired acting, brilliant plot and screenplay, nor from its nearly flawless effects; it stems from the powerful message that shines through nearly ten hours of film. Friendship, courage, resistance against evil and greed, hope, honor, goodness, love: that is what makes this trilogy, and The Return of the King so relevant and so immensely popular today.

In a modern world dominated by cynicism and moral uncertainty, The Lord of the Rings dared to pit good versus evil, love versus hate, right versus wrong. Had these films simply told a quick fantasy story with a “good” message, it would have seemed hokey and hollow. Yet by bringing the viewer along the long, bitter, lonely road to Mordor with the Fellowship, Peter Jackson proved that, in the words of Sean Astin (Sam), there is some good left in the world, and it’s worth fighting for, just as J.R.R. Tolkien had done some half-century before him. …a beautiful work of art that leaves the viewer with a sense of closure and ultimate fulfillment.
My Ratings: [Better than Average/5]
—Doug Coleman, age 21
Positive—This movie is a masterpiece! Not only does it show cinemagraphic genius, but it is absolutely full of the morals that are so much lacking in America today. Although Tolkien claimed that his books were not an allegory, his Catholic beliefs “Ring” true in this work. An amazing spectacle, and a inspiring tale.
My Ratings: [Excellent/5]
—Rebecca MacIntyre, age 25
Positive—The Return of the King provides closure in ways we could have never anticipated, yet also imparts a sense of sorrow since we know at long last Frodo, Sam, Aragorn, and Gandalf will no longer loom in our horizon, promising yet another installment. Naturally aspects of the book have been altered, shortened, or left out entirely. Tolkien fans will be disappointed to note there is no final confrontation with Saruman… in this version. The Extended Release next summer promises mighty additions. This is truly an “actor’s picture,” in a respect far beyond the earlier films. Yes, there is battle on an epic scale. Yes, there is still CGI effects in almost every frame. But these all fall to the background in the light of grand performances. The cinematography in this film is also exquisite. Shots of battle, the beauty of a dying Rivendell, the final confrontation in Mount Doom. This is literally Peter Jackson’s greatest achievement. But leave kids at home: this movie has to be one of the most violent PG-13 films ever created. I felt the initial battle sequence was much too graphic and drawn out. RotK is epic excellence on a grand scale. This overshadows both prequels and brings the tale of Frodo Baggins and the Fellowship to a satisfying and heart-wrenching end.
My Ratings: [Good/5]
Charity Bishop, age 20
 
DVD Features in North America

  • 5.1 Dolby Digital EX Surround Sound
  • 2.0 Stereo Surround Sound
  • English Subtitles
  • Spanish Subtitles
  • InterActual Player Software
In-Depth Programs
  • The Quest Fulfilled: A Director’s Vision
  • A Filmmaker’s Journey: Making “The Return of the King”
  • National Geographic Special—“The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King”
Featurettes
  • Aragorn’s Destiny
  • Minas Tirith: Capital of Gondor
  • The Battle of Pelennor Fields
  • Samwise the Brave
  • Éowyn: White Lady of Rohan
  • Digital Horse Doubles
Original Theatrical Trailers and TV Spots
  • Theatrical Trailers #1 and #2
  • “The Lord of the Rings” Trilogy Supertrailer
  • Heart/Frodo
  • Every Path
  • Test
  • Aragorn
  • Time
  • Every Step
  • Sword
  • Decided
  • Time Review
  • Decided Review
  • Step
  • Golden Globes
  • Globe Noms
  • New Epic Globe
  • A Special Look at Electronic Arts’ “The Lord of the Rings Series” of video games
Positive—Well, Jackson has done it again. Another excellent addition, and the concluding episode to the LOTR trilogy. Staying true to the book, he carefully weaves together the story to its event-filled climax. The film does have its moments where things slow down but for the most part this is a fast-paced movie. It grabs hold in the opening scene and doesn’t let up until “THE END” literally fills the screen.

My hats of to you Mr. Jackson for being sensitive to the book whilst all the while crafting an intense fantasy that will be a legend in its own right. Be warned however… this is a dark movie, the darkest of the three LOTR movies, and it is not a movie for children. The violence moves into overdrive, the monsters are that bit scarier, and some of the themes, such as the dead army, could be confusing to children. I read the books when I was about 10 but the difference is I saw the book played out in my head, through my own understanding… this however, is played out before your very eyes, leaving nothing to the imagination. Overall, very a very pleasing and satisfactory ending to a long journey.
My Ratings: [Average/5]
—Christian St John, age 32
Positive—…I’d like to point out that the undead in the movie are symbolic of us sinners. The unsaved are spiritually dead. In the movie they were offered redemption from the king, just as sinners are offered redemption from Christ the King. The message was that of redemption not that of witchcraft.
—David
Positive—…amazing. Very cinematic, and well told. It unfolds quickly and just when you think you’ve come to the end it jerks you back and takes you on another ride. …puts to rest any ideas about this trilogy being a Christian allegory. It’s not the “king” that brings peace to Middle Earth, but a simple hobbit…
My Ratings: [Good/5]
— Caleb Gunnels, age 19
Positive—This film is incredible. It is by far the best of the trilogy. It does a good job of sticking with the book. There are one or two parts that may be frightening to younger viewers, but that’s why it’s rated PG-13. All of the movies really were superb in portraying the themes that Tolkien was putting forth in the books. Peace is our highest aspiration, but there comes a time when we must stand up and battle the forces of evil if we are to have peace. Even when all seems lost and evil seems darker than ever, good will always triumph in the end. All of this combined with a little comedy and breathtaking scenery makes Return of the King a definite contender for Best Picture of the Year.
My Ratings: [Good/5]
—Adam Jones, age 22
Positive—I have yet to read all of Tolkiens books; I have finished The Hobbit and I am working on Fellowship of the Ring. So I cannot yet compare the movies to the books, but Return of the king is in my opinion the best of the three. It is very a very touching, tragic, and inspiring film. It is a clear triumph of good over evil. The story of the ring ends in Mount Doom where Frodo is to throw the ring into the flames which the ring was originally forged, the scene shows how difficult it is to turn from and reject evil, especially if the evil would allow you to wield great power (for a very short time)… And with the help of his friend, Sam, telling him to hold on and not let go, everything would turn out right in the end if you reject evil.

When first hearing about J.R.R. Tolkien and his books, I never would have imagined there would be a Christian vein running right through the story. I always assumed that the story was based in evil creatures, magic and the like. But the movies have definitely changed my opinion. There are many evil creatures in this movie, but they are all put down and destroyed by good in an inspiring way. To me, the film clearly shows that it is much better to do what’s right, honest, and good, because the results are much longer lasting and beneficial to us all. It would be hard to see all 3 movies, and walk away at the end without feeling good about… being good.
My Ratings: [Average/5]
—Anonymous (a Christian), age 23
Positive—Awesome!! This movie was an excellent conclusion to the “Lord of the Rings” trilogy. I was somewhat scared before watching this movie because of allusions to plot changes from the books by Tolkien, but I think this movie will delight lovers of the books. This movie is made with the highest quality and its scenes and places are so believable. The battle scenes in this film are more graphic than the first two movies but the scale and importance of the battles have also grown. This movie had people in the theater laughing at times and crying at others. I think Peter Jackson has done a wonderful job with these three films, and I highly recommend them to movie lovers and Tolkien fans.
My Ratings: [Better than Average/5]
—Joy, age 24
Positive—…truly unbelievable. The directing, scenery, story telling, and acting flowed together so completely and flawlessly. Peter Jackson and all those involved have truly outdone themselves in bringing these books to life. For families with younger children, I would caution bringing them to see it. The war scene is very realistic, however not in a glorifying manner. Death by brutal means is depicted, and there is a scene of the Huru-kai sending what’s left of prisoners over the castle walls by catapult. This was, in my opinion, the most extreme, however expected from the enemy, so I don’t believe it will detract or take away from the movie. Loyalty, perseverance, honor, duty, and self sacrifice were the greatest themes, and you truly walk away feeling them. For a few hours after the movie I seemed to still have a lump in my throat, and yet the sweetest essence of having experienced something wholesome and good. This is a rare quality in entertainment these days. Enjoy the movie.
My Ratings: [Good/5]
—Darrell Caine Calhoun, age 30
Positive—Peter Jackson finishes the film trilogy with this epic masterpiece that will certainly draw me back to the theater several times. Sure, it’s not point-for-point, but ROTK closely follows the book. Some purists might complain, but I think it would be nearly impossible to do any better given a timeframe of about 3 hours. This film contains more violence, blood, and gore than the other 2, but none of it seems overdone as if for shock value. Battles of roughly the same scale and brutality occur in the Old Testament; it’s awful but no less a reality. If you or someone you plan to accompany to this movie is sensitive to animals being injured/killed, this one will definitely cause problems, primarily whenever horses and other animals are involved in a clash. Many men are killed, some in fairly disturbing fashion (including some dismemberings, although most are seen only briefly).

Otherwise, this movie is extremely clean. No cursing (very rare these days… about the worst that’s said is calling someone a “maggot”) and no sex/nudity (unless you consider a computer-generated male creature in a loin cloth to be nudity). Some characters smoke “pipe weed” (I’ve read the books, seen the movies, and never found anything indicating that it’s related to marijuana) and drink ale, but no excessiveness is apparent. I would certainly recommend against taking small children. If you have a preteen who can handle the violence/tenseness, and you don’t mind them being exposed to creatures of legal age (if they have such a thing in Middle Earth) partaking of alcohol and tobacco, you should certainly consider letting them go. Do keep in mind that this movie is quite long but, in my opinion, well worth the time.
My Ratings: [Better than Average/5]
—Gordon Griffin, age 23
Positive—In a culture that tells us there is no ultimate good and evil, the release of “Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King” gives Christians an excellent “teachable moment” to share our Christian world view in general and the gospel of Jesus Christ in particular. This film has captured the hearts and imaginations of millions of people around the world. I have read quotes from people who long for a world like Middle Earth where people overcome evil with goodness and act with mercy and selflessness. The good news is, we live in a world like that and the themes and deeds of RotK are being played out all around us every day.

There are many entry points in RotK for us to use with seekers so that we can share the gospel with them. One example is the power of sin. The ring represents sin and how our sins can eventually come to possess us and destroy us. After carrying his burden for so long, even the good and innocent Frodo could not resist its temptations at the film’s climactic moment.

The thrilling scene of the lighting of the Beacons of Gondor moved me to envision a world unaware of the danger around us and how we need to heed the warning to prepare for battle and destroy the evil around us.

A chilling part of the movie is the scene that shows Denethor, Steward of Gondor, forgetting his place and where his allegiance should lie. When Aragorn returned Denethor had grown so accustomed to power that he refused to acknowledge Aragorn’s kingship. Ever since I first read RotK this has been a powerful lesson to me. It shows what it means to be a steward when the King is away and how we should remain faithful to Him even when He has been gone so long it seems He will not return.

Space here does not allow me to write of the mercy Frodo shows to Gollum allowing him to live (and ultimately save Middle Earth) even when proven guilty of betrayal. The bravery, sacrificial love, friendship, joy and contentment the hobbits display in the simple pleasures of life, and of course the towering love and faithfulness of Sam are powerful representations of Christian character traits that need to be shown.

Many thanks to Peter Jackson for not straying from Tolkien’s wonderful epic of good’s triumph over evil.
My Ratings: [Excellent!/5]
—Mike Vickers, age 49
Positive—This film is (much more so than the first two installments) the most direct transfer of Tolkien’s world view. Yes, there is a lot of violence (which parents of some younger or sensitive viewers will need to be aware of)—but it is never isolated from the terrible impact of war. To me, from a Christian perspective, Lord of the Rings teaches us above all that—in this world at least—doing the good and right thing always means a price has to be paid. This is no gun-ho celebration of war and violence—it is the impact on the characters that comes out most of all. Tolkien is not about simple black and white, right and wrong, but about how we as individuals react to the influences around us. This film has an overall positive moral—but in the end it is a good yarn told with breathtaking brilliance.

I have no qualms about taking my two children (8 and 11) to see this film.
My Ratings: [Good/5]
—Jonathan West, age 39
Positive—The quality of this film surpasses any other I have ever seen in my entire life! As you all know, there is hardly any objectional material in these films, apart from the almost naked body of Gollum. This, I would tend to say should be overlooked as Gollum is a computerized character and has not been designed to appeal to the senses. LOTR 1 was a very emotional, sentimental movie, whereas LOTR 2 became more grand and powerful. This third installment of the trilogy combines both these aspects, showing the fear of soldiers in the midst of a raging battle. There are even several moments of humour which create a wonderful effect. Even though the film is not entirely “to the book,” I would recommend it as the movie of the century to go see. For those of you who are concerned about the aspect of exposing yourself or your children to the “magical” aspect of the movie, I will say this: The movie is not intended to indoctrinate you into the sinfulness of magic, it is a fantasy and can be viewed as such. It is a wonderful film and I am sure will go down in history as one of the most well made, produced and directed films ever made. Well done Peter Jackson and cast, crew etc!
My Ratings: [Good/5]
—David, age 18
Positive—Peter Jackson has done what only Peter jackson could have done. From Brain Dead to LOTR there is hope for all of us wannabe filmmakers. This is one of the truly great epics and have to commend the crew and Jackson for putting the last book into one film, cause there is a lot of pieces to put together. I did, however, think the cinema release was a bit fragmented, simply because of the amount of character plots and story plots to cover, I can’t wait to see the extended version on the DVD, because I’m sure the extra hour of this film (on top of the three and half) will clean up this very minute problem that the cinema release had. Go Peter!! BEST DIRECTOR and I would argue the Best ever!!!
My Ratings: [Better than Average/4½]
—Scott-t Kelso, age 26
Positive—…excellent all around and shows a genuine good-vs.-evil battle, with good winning in the end. It also conveys a message about the importance and value of committed friendships which are of great importance to me. The acting is top-rate, and I believe that there are several people who deserve Academy Award designation. Also very good are the visual and sound effects and the music score, all of which really help to enhance the portrayal of the story. It was good to see the backstory of how Smeagol… became so possessed by the power of the One Ring… This is an example of violating the First and Tenth Commandments …The acting by Elijah Wood and Sean Astin is nearly perfect. The rendering of Gollum is quite good and was computer-generated in such a believable fashion. …The climax is somewhat similar to that in the book; the scene in Mount Doom was so intense and significant that you would want to give 110 percent attention to it…
My Ratings: [Good/5]
—Bill S., age 37
Positive—…intense. The worldview is Judeo-Christian for the most part. The ideas and ideals behind this movie are those we need in this increasingly materialistic world, to ponder and be encouraged by. …While this movie has much violence, with two major battles being fought, it is clearly good versus evil, and we are pulling for the good guys, unlike many films now days where the bad guys are the “heroes”. …If your child has been exposed to intense violence (I do not think this film is gory or dwells on bloodshed) and is not afraid of giant bugs, then possibly younger children than 13 could go. If you loved the books, you will not be disappointed in this film…
My Ratings: [Better than Average/5]
—Victoria, age 48
Positive—…it is spectacular. As a Christian, I have to keep it in perspective that it is a fantasy. The theme “the end justifies the means” like sorcery and lying are okay if it leads to the defeat of evil. These are not values from a Christian world view. The characters of Middle Earth have no God… they have only themselves and their alliances… good or evil… to overcome adversity and set backs. But as a story… Peter Jackson has done a masterful job of catching the spirit of the “Lord of the Ring” series. It is not meant to be a faithful rendering of the books… this would be impossible. But much of its elements, feel and drama are all there. I really enjoyed the vastness and scope of this film.
My Ratings: [Better than Average/5]
—Jerry Teets, age 45
Positive—The Return of the King is an astounding film. Not only does it exhaust you, it builds you up and spurs you on to live for God. Tolkien never intended his work to be an allegory for his religion, but there are many reflections in his work which are faithfully portrayed in this film. Many of the characters display the character of Jesus, so much so that you can argue who the “Jesus Character” is. The long and short of it is that none are. The great thing about this movie is that it will encourage Christians to rid themselves of their own “ring,” the sin that holds them back from living for God.

Non-Christians will be inspired to do good for the sake of refusing to do evil. And a consequence of this is many discussions about the movie and the Bible. Many notions are explored within Lord of the Rings that Christians can use to discuss with people who have not yet come to a faith in Christ. I will give two examples: predestination and choice, and good and evil. Never at any point does the movie (or Tolkien) show the two at odds. They are both so natural together that it never comes up! Frodo is “meant” to be a ring-bearer. Gollum is meant to survive for his role in the destruction of the ring. Yet they are all responsible for their own choices and the consequences thereof.

The topic of good and evil is also very important in the movie, and central to Christianity. There are no fence-sitters in Lord of the Rings. Every one makes a choice. One is either opposed to God, or willing to follow God. One is either a servant of Sauron, or one who responds to the call of Gandalf.

There is currently no other “secular” film that is so true to the Bible that I have seen or heard of, or that contains so many opportunities to tell people about God. Not only that, but the huge encouragement that one gets from seeing the noble characters of the book is almost on par to seeing the Old Testament characters and learning from their faith and/or mistakes. I also thoroughly recommend reading the Silmarillion for Tolkien’s exploration into the nature of the relationships between creation and the Creator.
My Ratings: [Excellent!/5]
—Charles Austin-Woods, age 25
Neutral
Neutral—I absolutely loved all the Lord of the Rings movies as far as the plotline goes, and this one (ROTK) beautifully ties up all the loose ends on a fantastic and emotional journey. However, I have to comment that because I was told that it had Christian themes, no cussing and no sexuality, I put up with a lot that I would not have watched if that were not the case. I know that with the way the book is written there need to be battle scenes to make a believable rendition of the movie. I know that comparatively it wasn’t as bad as most of what Hollywood puts out… but Hollywood isn’t the standard. It was inspiring in that the fight between good and evil could be seen as parallel to fighting the good fight and running the race with endurance instead of just warming a pew. At the same time I feel like we are so desensitized to violence and blurred lines between good and evil (such as coming to the cursed dead for help as the good guys) that something like this should be viewed as neutral, at best, instead of receiving the praise of Christians everywhere. And for what? Even good things become bad things when they keep you from the best things. If you can find absolutely nothing to do for 3+ hours for the cause of Christ then I would recommend this movie with caution to adults only. Satan is a master of distraction. How many people could you share the gospel with in three hours?
My Ratings: [Average/5]
—Amy, age 25
Negative

none

Comments from young people
Positive—First I would like to say I LOVED the movie and books and that I consider this the best movie I have ever seen. I also find that the morals in the movie are very good, and I liked that. However, the movie is very dark and depressing at some points (it is necessary considering eminent world destruction by Sauron) and it is violent which I do not feel is over the top as long as you realise it is a war movie and not meant for younger children (under 13 and only 13 year-olds that are mature and with parents).

One of my favorites parts are the eagles at the end! I also own the movie and watched it MANY times (my parents accuse me of being obsessed) and enjoy it more with each viewing. The ghosts, of course, may bother some people and the theme of magic and such, but I think that as long as you keep it in the movies and not in the real world. Overall, I think it is a great movie on hope and mercy that has a great message, but it can be violent at times (such as the head throwing catapults) and slightly disturbing such as Denathors suicide and attempted murder. Still a great end to a great series.
My Ratings: [Better than Average/5]
—Jeffrey Applebee, age 14
Positive—This movie was great! I think its the best movie of the year. The fight scenes were very intense, so I recommend you DON’T take younger kids to see it. I do recommend it for ages at least 12+. I’m 11, but I had read the books and seen the first two movies. For me, it wasn’t too very intense. But it was a great movie, and that’s my opinion!
My Ratings: [Good/5]
—Emily, age 11
Positive—Wow! …it definitely was the BEST by far! …I read JRR Tolkien’s books, and this trilogy is the only group of movies which was so close to the actual story, that I actually felt like I was reading sometimes! It was very good, and to all you BIG LOTR fans, it’s over… but, we still have the books!
My Ratings: [Good/5]
—Noah Cowart, age 17
Positive—What a film! It was excellent, and definitely the best out of the three! There was no offensive language, or sex/nudity in this film, just epic battle sequences. Being a fan of the previous films, I was on my toes to see this film and I can’t wait to see it again! I do recommend that children 10+ should have parental guidance while viewing this movie, or else read the book first. In my opinion, this movie was more intensely violent and frightening than the other two movies combined, but it does have a Christian theme in it (for I can’t wait for the real King to return!)
My Ratings: [Excellent!/5]
—Justin Hernandez, age 11
Positive—Absolutely Amazing!! If anyone had told me two years ago that I would be so jazzed to see the final chapter of the Lord of the Rings, I would have said they were crazy. Once this film takes hold of you, it never let’s you go. “Return of the King” is filled with character traits and moral choices from beginning to end. Sam is a clear example of a true friend. Frodo could be a picture that “the spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.” Gollum is a truly believable villain in this film. There is no room for sympathy for Gollum this time. My hat is off to Peter Jackson and his crew! They have kept this film (as well as the others)clean from foul language and above all, blatant sexuality. So many films that look promising fail when it comes to these two issues. Aragorn and Arwen are a great example to young people about the love that 1 Corinthians 13 talks about: “Love believes all things, hopes all things, bears all things; love never fails.” Many times in this film I felt like cheering, crying, and laughing. Parents should take note that this film contains the most fighting when compared to the last two. I would recommend that parents go with their children when viewing this epic masterpiece, so that the parents are involved in what their kids are interested in. The whole trilogy is a great discussion piece for parents and their children (However, these films are not for young children). Don’t hold back, but do see the first two films before paying money to watch this last chapter in the trilogy. The price is worth it when it comes to the last 30-20 minutes of the film. If this film that focus on friendship, loyalty, hope, love, self-sacrifice, and courage dosen’t win Best Picture, I don’t know what will!
My Ratings: [Excellent!/5]
—Carolyn C., age 17
Positive—…What a great ending to the best trilogy ever filmed. …truly a spectacular cinematic experience. However… As a fan of the books, I noticed a few places in the film which differ slightly from the story in the books. Of course, there were changes in the first two films as well, but I didn’t mind them so much. The changes were made basically because certain elements from the story wouldn’t work as well on screen as they do in the books. …However, the changes made to ROTK hurt the film more then they helped it, in my opinion.

They made an over-emphasis on spectacle, rather than story telling. The greatest casualty was with the character of Denethor, the steward of Gondor. In the books, he is a much deeper, more interesting character. The film makes him seem more simple, and transparent, and failed to thoroughly explain the cause of his madness (though it might be touched upon in the extended edition). Plus, his final demise is made into an overblown spectacle, which nearly nullifies his whole purpose in the story. more »
My Ratings: [Very Offensive/4]
—Cade Loven, age 17
Positive—This is a great final film for “Lord of the Rings” lovers. Peter Jackson and his wonderful team did an excellent job finishing this trilogy. However, there are some scenes that are very disturbing and not suitable for children. For example, in the opening scene, it shows Smeagol warping into Gollum. This is very disturbing. Also, there are the battle scenes as in The Two Towers. Overall, this movie is excellent! I thoroughly enjoyed it.
My Ratings: [Average/5]
—Heather, age 17
Positive—I have awaited the release of this movie for quite some time now and I was not disappointed at all. This movie was absolutely perfect in my eyes. The only concern of mine is if one has kids, they could be scared by battle scenes. Besides that this movie is great and I would recommend it to anyone, even those who do not like “Sci Fi,” as I am one of them myself.
My Ratings: [Good/5]
—Katie R., age 17
Positive—Wow. …It was great to spend another night in middle Earth, like I haven’t in a year. One of the greatest things about it was the whole atmosphere, seeing the people wearing costumes, hearing everybody cheer during certain parts of the movie, it was a great thing. New Line has really out done themselves on this one, between all the effects, and some truly moving moments. I won’t give them away, I’ll just say that there were some awesome scenes, and some truly artistic scenes that astounded me, beyond just great fight scenes and moving emotional scenes. The only parts I didn’t like were some deviations from the books, but even those were few and far between. There was only one significant plot hole, but that can be easily brushed aside. The other thing about this movie is it’s very dark, right from the beginning. Now, this is definitely not a surprise, or a bad thing, it’s natural, I mean, Frodo and Sam are trying to walk into Mordor, and Sauron is unleashing everything he’s got at Minas Tirith, it’s naturally going to be dark.

It is far from occultic, but it is very intense, and it is very violent. It has the PG-13 rating for a reason. But, I also think that it’s worthwhile in other respects, as it is a good transformation of the book to the movie, and as such it does offer good Christian allegories. Good does always win, no matter how bad it looks. But, all of the characters have funny lines, not just Gimli, or Pippin, which is a nice change, not singling one character out to basically be comic relief. Anyway, as I said to my dad when he picked me up from the theater, I highly recommend it.
My Ratings: [Better than Average/5]
—B.J. Krug, age 16
Positive—For those who waited eagerly for the final film in the Lord of the Rings trilogy, it is definitely worth the wait. Peter Jackson did a spectacular job of accurately portraying the book to the screen and you will not be disappointed. It is a very, very violent movie and contains intense and graphic images that I wouldn’t recommend for kids under 13, but as far as offensive or decidedly ungodly material, I did not feel that there was any. It is a very enjoyable, suspenseful, breathtaking, adrenalin raising, picture that will have you laughing, crying, cheering and contemplating, and when it’s over, you won’t regret it .
My Ratings: [Average/5]
—Leia, age 15
PositiveElijah Wood said, that Return of the King was better then the Fellowship of the Ring, and the Two Towers combined. That was so large an understatement. From a Christian perspective, I walked out of the theater changed. The film gave me renewed courage to fulfill my struggle with God. A lot has been going on in my life, and two little hobbits, though never really existing out side of the film and book, picked me up and sent me forward. I don’t, however, recommend this film for those much under 13 or so. Severed human heads, and very dead, decomposing ghosts, are seen. Watch it! Excellent movie! One that, if watched with a prepared and listening heart, just might affect you as I was affected, bravo Peter Jackson!
My Ratings: [Better than Average/5]
—Chris, age 17
Positive—This is the best movie ever produced that is secular. There is no foul language, no nudity, just battle scenes. It does not offend any type of religions. It is the best movie of the three lord of the rings, and I can’t wait to see it again!
My Ratings: [Good/5]
—Michael Johnson, age 13
Positive—I really really loved this movie. I’m a diehard Lord of the Rings fan so I had to go to the midnight showing. I’ve read the book, and I wasn’t really disappointed with the movie concerning that. I’m very happy that there was no sensual content at all, just like the first two movies. No swearing, but there is a lot of fighting, more than in the first two. What might be scary or not good for a younger kid would be to see when Frodo’s finger is bitten off, it’s pretty bloody, and when Gondor is fighting Orcs, the Orcs catapult severed heads over the wall, which isn’t bloody but could upset little kids’ stomachs. Overall, I think its totally acceptable to anyone who can handle non-bloody violence, possibly 7 and up could go see it, depending how mature they are. This is by far my favorite Lord of the Rings Movie, and I’m going to go see it again for sure!
My Ratings: [Better than Average/5]
—Christina, age 14
Positive—I think this is the best of the three. I love the Lord Of The Rings because I think its one of the best trilogies ever. I even went to see it at 12:00 am and it was totally worth it. I would say probably 8 and up could see it if, their mature enough for the battle scenes, Frodos finger being bit off and other PG-13 things.
My Ratings: [Good/5]
—Gabriel, age 11
Neutral—I hate to have some negative comments about this movie since I am a fan of the books and the two previous movies. One of the most obvious problems I’ve found is that the movie is way too long, with way too many war scenes. The second problem is that since I’ve read the books, it was easy for me to pinpoint what should have been done and what shouldn’t have been done. This left me very annoyed, because there were so many opportunities to make the movie more suspenseful and less, well, boring. On a more positive note, the cast did an excellent job, and I am glad to have the opportunity to have seen a great book come to life in a movie. People who haven’t read the books would enjoy this movie more (my friend, who hasn’t read the books, loved it). As for the people that have read the books, this movie may annoy/bore you.
My Ratings: [Good/3]
—Laura C., age 17
Positive—…we were blown away by the acting and the special effects. But this movie is not for little kids that get scared by loud noise’s and freaky creatures. This movie is filled with ringwraiths, trolls, orcs (really ugly orcs), and really big elephants. …There’s one part in the movie where the orcs have just killed about a thousand men… and they fire catapults… filled with human heads…
My Ratings: [Better than Average/5]
—John K., age 15
Positive—Three hours is a long time to sit in a movie theatre. However, at the end of Return of the King my first thought was, “I want to see that again!” The quality of this film is virtually flawless. What problems it has are so small that all but the most critical viewers won’t even notice. And how does it do morally? Fantastic! The Ring is such a good metaphor for sin; the characters all know that it’s evil, but so many of them are tempted by it nonetheless… and in the end even someone who had been one of the most innocent characters finally cannot resist it after long exposure to it. I highly recommend this movie to all people of pre-teen age and up. Because of the violence, you might not want to take someone too much younger than that.
My Ratings: [Better than Average/5]
—Christine, age 16
Positive—I love this movie! I think it is the best out of all of them. It will not make you throw up or need to get some fresh air because it is not that bad. There is a lot of violence though. I would say ages 9 and up can see it. I did cry at the end because it was kind of happy and kind of sad. I had tears going down my cheeks. You will love it though. Don’t listen to the other people who say this will make you sick. Go see it now!
My Ratings: [Excellent!/5]
—Carolyn, age 10
Positive—…my favourite movie… This movie is pure and you could say it involves biblical references. King coming back at end of time (Aragorn) and Antichrist and Satan being defeated (Sauron). …well-worth the money and I would recommend seeing it more than once.
My Ratings: [Excellent!/5]
—Sam Monty, age 13
Positive—“The Lord of the Rings” trilogy is by far the best movie ever made. The storyline is captivating, encouraging, and fun. Peter Jackson did a gook job of copying the script from the books. I have read the Hobbit, Fellowship of the Ring, and Two Towers. …To the people that are reading this if you have kids that are young, but love fantasy, good guys overpowering bad guys you will want to see this movie trilogy that is the greatest fantasy epic of our time.
—Brittany Marie Jensen, age 12
Positive—I think that “The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King” is probably the best movie in the trilogy. It’s special effects make it worthwhile. This movie is extremely violent and is what I call “a war movie “. The entire movie is basically about a war being fought. In one part the enemy launches tons of heads from decapitated bodies into a city, (just an example of the violence). It also has creepy creatures through out that may or may not be frightening. However, the frightening images and heavy violence is not unexpected, after all it is the Lord of the Rings. There is also wizard stuff in this movie, so if you’re against wizards then this movie isn’t for you. There are no major sex scenes, just a light kiss near the end. Also, no swearing, clean in that area.

To summarize it up we have, Violence: Heavy to Extreme, Profanity: None, Sex scenes: Just a light kiss, nothing else. Overall, if you’re a fan of the Lord of the Rings and don’t mind violence, than this would be a movie to watch. Also, I would recommend this for mature 13 year olds and older.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Good / Moviemaking quality: 5
—Amarissa R., age 13 (USA)