Frodo and Sam reach the final stage of their perilous journey to destroy the One Ring in the fires of Mount Doom while the other members of the Fellowship try to protect the city of Gondor from the evil hordes of Sauron. Will they be successful? Will Frodo stay strong enough to destroy the Ring or will he succumb to its evil temptation?

The Lord Of The Rings: The Return Of The King (2003) – Director: Peter Jackson

Movie poster for Return Of The King

Rating: 12

Running Length: 201 mins

Starring: Elijah Wood, Sean Astin, Viggo Mortensen

Genre: Action/Adventure, Fantasy


Due to important plot points, we would recommend that you watch the following movies before ‘The Lord Of The Rings: Return Of The King’


‘The Return Of The King’ is the third, final and, in our humble opinion, best of Jackson’s Lord Of The Rings movies. The trilogy reaches a magnificent climax with exciting battles, true courage and a desperate struggle for survival. The balanced pace of useful detail and thrilling action sequences, which we have become accustomed to throughout the series, is still expertly delivered. The direction is superb, keeping the audience on tenterhooks – not knowing who will survive or even if the happy ending we’ve been wanting from the beginning will come to fruition.

After the three separate threads approach of ‘The Two Towers’, ‘The Return Of The King’ regains some focus by instead having two storylines to cut between. Frodo, Sam and Gollum continue to try to destroy the One Ring in the fires of Mount Doom, deep in Sauron’s desolate lair of Mordor. The desperation of their situation intensifies and the tension of their perilous quest is genuinely nail-biting stuff. On the flip side, Aragorn, Gandalf and Co have the defence of the great human city of Gondor to contend with as Sauron commits the full brunt of his armies to Gondor’s destruction. The action sequences are gorgeously choreographed and the sheer weight of Tolkien’s world is brought to full force when different groups of attackers from across Middle Earth join into the battle. The true success of ‘The Return Of The King’ is that it delivers immersive history, depth, and world threatening future, whilst never forgetting that some time must be spent concentrating on the emotional element in order to grant real credence to each character’s will to fight on.



Like ‘The Fellowship Of The Ring’ and ‘The Two Towers’, there are many large-scale battles and each one in ‘Return Of The King’ involves swords, spikes and plenty of bows and arrows. One can therefore naturally expect to see plenty of hacking and slashing as part of the fighting although nothing is particularly sustained or lingered upon.

A particular scene to note is when Sauron’s hordes first reach Gondor. In order to taunt their human foes, an order is given to “release the prisoners.” What then happens is that the severed heads of previously killed human soldiers are catapulted over the battlements.  This is a quick moment but, by its nature, rather graphic. The massive battle for Gondor itself features orcs and men being killed in their hundreds. During this battle, many fighters (of both sides) are crushed by the humongous ‘oliphants’. These are elephant-like creatures (although around triple the size) ridden by the enemy. They are seen to stamp on men and horses and although there is no blood, it is clear that what is happening is terrible. This is likely to upset some children as it happens several times and is rather graphic.

Turning to Sam and Frodo’s plot line – as hinted towards at the end of ‘The Two Towers’, we are introduced to ‘her’. ‘She’ is Shelob, a giant intelligent spider who relentlessly pursues Frodo when he is led to her nest by the treacherous Gollum. Her lair is a dark, dank maze filled with her webs and the rotting corpses of orcs and birds. These scenes are darkly light, scarily scored and show Frodo in much distress. Therefore we advise caution for younger children in the scenes including Shelob; indeed we advice caution for anyone who would be afraid of a giant and intelligent stalking spider! We would also mention the introductory scene involving, ‘the army of the dead’. This is referenced by the characters before they arrive and so you will get prior warning. The army of the dead are cursed spirits who are forbidden to pass on due to breaking a promise to support the last King. They are ghostly rotting figures and may scare younger children. However, the scene is fairly short and isn’t as sustained as the Shelob parts – which come straight afterwards – so whether or not a child is likely to be scared will be more down to disliking ghosts as opposed to the direction of the movie itself focusing on these creatures.

For those watching the extended edition of the movie, there is a scene near the end of the movie where the heroes meet with ‘The Mouth of Sauron’. The Mouth looks like something out of a nightmare. A helmet covers its eyes so all you can see are sharp, rotting teeth and vicious, bloody gashes around its mouth, which is in itself around twice the size of normal. All of its movements are very jerky and aggressive and he takes great pleasure in giving them some terrible news.

Although you may be prepared for director Jackson’s ability to pull at your heart-strings from watching the previous movies, he does so again with extra effort in ‘The Return Of The King’. There are many powerfully emotional scenes in this movie and they depict main characters being killed or believed to be dead. Long slow shots highlight loved ones grieving. Much of the end of the movie depicts poignant moments of characters having to say goodbye to each other and throughout the movie there are several, deeply moving times between Frodo and Sam.



‘The Return Of The King’ is a thrilling tale of courage, showing that the bonds of friendship and loyalty can overcome even the most insurmountable of odds. This movie portrays many attributes that parents may wish to instil in their children like honour, bravery and goodness as well as exposing greed, jealousy and betrayal as evils that should not be tolerated. Due to the amount of violence, we would advise that this movie is more for children aged 10 and over.

Peter Jackson has expertly targeted a wide audience with The Lord Of The Rings trilogy. Everyone will find something to enjoy, whether it’s the fun and innocent hobbits, the banter between Legolas and Gimli, Aragorn’s nobility or just the excitement of all the action which is thrown at you with reckless abandon!


  • Violence: 5/5 (as with ‘The Two Towers’, the violence is not as bad as other films with higher certificate ratings but we feel that this is the most that would be acceptable to an under 12 viewer)
  • Emotional Distress: 4/5 (many emotional and moving scenes, any children who are affected by the depiction of grief may find these scenes distressing. The score and direction are designed to invoke the maximum response from the audience)
  • Fear Factor: 5/5 (there are many spooky moments when Frodo, Sam and Gollum are in Mordor. The Army Of The Dead may also be frightening for younger children)
  • Sexual Content: 0/5
  • Bad Language: 0/5
  • Dialogue: 4/5 (Like with ‘The Two Towers’ the dialogue of the orcs and Gollum is graphic and could be distressing)
  • Other notes: Deals with themes of honour, loyalty, friendship, courage and the willingness to sacrifice oneself for the greater good.

Words by Laura Record

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