Box art for Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King

Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King

action & adventure, sci-fi & fantasy

In the conclusion of J.R.R. Tolkien's epic masterpiece, The Lord of the Rings, as armies mass for a final battle that will decide the fate of the world -- and powerful, ancient forces of Light and Dark compete to determine the outcome.

Rotten Tomatoes® scores

  • Critic Score
  • Audience Score

common sense

ON for kids age 12
2 out of 5
Drinking, drugs, & smoking
2 out of 5
0 out of 5
Positive messages
4 out of 5
Positive role models
3 out of 5
1 out of 5
4 out of 5

Outstanding, but much violence and scariness.

what parents need to know

Parents need to know that violence in The Lord of the Rings: Return of the King includes countless battle casualties with death by arrows, spears, swords, monster-stomping, fatal plunges, and explosions. Horses as well as elephant-like beasts are killed violently (sure, sure, they're CGI). There is quite a lot of glorification of bladed weaponry, as well as nightmarish imagery of ghoulish creatures, including a zombie-like ghost army and a hideous giant spider. Heroic characters smoke, drink, and get drunk. The story starts right where the previous Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers left off. Viewers not familiar with the first film (or J.R.R. Tolkien's novels) will be very confused. Not only is this Oscar winner a long movie, the DVD "Special edition" is even longer.

what families can talk about

  • Families can talk about why they think Frodo was charged with carrying the ring.
  • You can also talk about the modern-day parallels to these stories, since Tolkien wrote the books as parables. How are Tolkien's parables different from those of C.S. Lewis, Tolkien's longtime friend and colleague?
  • How do you think the movie adaptations compare with Tolkien's books?

movie reviews from Rotten Tomatoes®

Top Critic Reviews

Fresh: Standing out amid an excellent cast is Elijah Wood, stymied by tweeness in the earlier films but here convincingly developing the character of Frodo as the embodiment of valor and self-sacrifice.

- Andrea Gronvall, Chicago Reader, Tuesday, February 6, 2007

Fresh: The final chapter completes The Lord of the Rings series in thrilling style -- and restores faith in the idea that popular entertainment can soar to majestic heights.

- Andrew O'Hehir,, Wednesday, December 17, 2003

Fresh: As I watched this film, an eager victim of its boundless will to astound, I found my loyal memories of the book beginning to fade.

- Anthony Lane, New Yorker, Tuesday, January 6, 2004

Audience Reviews

4 stars

the best out of the lord of the rings series. A-

- bbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbb1, Monday, October 18, 2010

5 stars

Third and final part in Peter Jackson epic trilogy based on J.R.R Tolkien's literary masterpiece. Jackson went out with a bang with this film, as the battle of Helm's Deep is over, the battle for Middle Earth is about to begin. This is the film that is larger than life. You cannot look away from this film, you are engaged in every scene, every moment. The acting is bigger, the battles even more exciting and thrilling. The actors again deliver terrific performances here. A brilliant film from start to finish, The Return Of The King is quite possibly the best concluding chapter in any trilogy . Peter Jackson tells this story with love and appreciation for the book, and it really shows on screen. The set pieces are more elaborate as the battle for Middle Earth occurs in Gondor in the city of kings, Minas Tirith. The city itself is impressive and the attention to detail is jaw dropping. The Return Of The King The battle is very impressive and is one of the most epic medieval themed battles ever filmed. The battle for Middle Earth is even more impressive than such epic battles such as the ones in Braveheart. All in all, The Return Of The King is one of the greatest film epics ever filmed, with stellar acting, action and storytelling, this will be a film that will be forever cherished by cinema buffs for it's sheer power at telling an incredible story on screen, one that you cannot easily forget.

- TheDudeLebowski65, Thursday, August 12, 2010

5 stars

Greatest fantasy film ever made! Even if it isn't full-on perfect, I still regard it as a 4.9 out of 5. I'm a real sucker for the Lord of the Rings and fantasy in general, but this one is very special to me. Kudos to Peter Jackson for making such a triumphant and awe-inspiring adaptation to screen. It really deserves its twelve Oscars. Love every second of it, from start to finish. One of the few full pointers I've ever given a movie, which is saying a lot.

- CloudStrife84, Tuesday, February 14, 2012