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The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (2003)

PG-13  |   |  Adventure, Fantasy  |  17 December 2003 (USA)
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Ratings: 8.9/10 from 1,121,434 users   Metascore: 94/100
Reviews: 3,146 user | 329 critic | 41 from Metacritic.com

Gandalf and Aragorn lead the World of Men against Sauron's army to draw his gaze from Frodo and Sam as they approach Mount Doom with the One Ring.



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Top Rated Movies #9 | Won 11 Oscars. Another 150 wins & 101 nominations. See more awards »



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Noel Appleby ...
Elanor Gamgee (as Alexandra Astin)
Sadwyn Brophy ...
Richard Edge ...
Jason Fitch ...


While Frodo & Sam continue to approach Mount Doom to destroy the One Ring, unaware of the path Gollum is leading them, the former Fellowship aid Rohan & Gondor in a great battle in the Pelennor Fields, Minas Tirith and the Black Gates as Sauron wages his last war against Middle-Earth. Written by Anonymous

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Plot Keywords:

orc | epic | ring | battle | king | See All (255) »


There can be no triumph without loss. No victory without suffering. No freedom without sacrifice. See more »


Adventure | Fantasy

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated PG-13 for intense epic battle sequences and frightening images | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:





Release Date:

17 December 2003 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

The Return of the King  »

Box Office


$94,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend:

£15,021,761 (UK) (19 December 2003)


$377,019,252 (USA) (28 May 2004)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


| (Blu Ray Extended Edition) | (DVD Widescreen Edition) | (DVD Special Extended Edition)

Sound Mix:

| |


Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


Where Frodo is stabbed by Shelob's stinger, Elijah Wood was actually stabbed with a prop one. On the Extended DVD Commentary, he and Sean Astin comment that it was not only very, very painful, but had actually done damage to the point that Wood had to stay in the hospital for a couple of days. Astin (on the Commentary track) jokes that they used appendicitis as the excuse, but wonder if that event is what (ironically) caused Wood's actual episode of appendicitis later on (2003). See more »


Mostly Legolas's eyes are blue (as are all elves') but in several shots his eyes are brown. See more »


[first lines]
Deagol: Smeagol, I've got one! I've got a fish, Smeag. Smeagol!
Smeagol: Pull it in. Go on. Go on. Go on. Pull it in.
See more »

Crazy Credits

Just like the two previous "Lord of the Rings" movies, there are no opening credits after the title has been shown. See more »


Featured in Count It Down: Sequels Better Than the Originals (2013) See more »


The Green Dragon
Music by David Donaldson, David Long, Steve Roche (as Stephen Roche), and Janet Roddick
Lyrics by Philippa Boyens
Performed by Billy Boyd and Dominic Monaghan
Courtesy of Mana Music
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more (Spoiler Alert!) »

User Reviews

The end of the Journey
18 December 2003 | by (United Kingdom) – See all my reviews

The journey comes to an end. For me the final installment ensures that the Lord of the Rings replaces Star Wars as my favourite fantasy movie franchise. In time the film will look dated, but the story and characterisation far surpass that of Star Wars. The Empire Strikes Back is the only one of the Star Wars films that is in the same league as LOR.

As with Two Towers, the Return of the King doesn't recap the story so far, so don't even think of seeing this film if you're unfamiliar with the story. It starts with a flashback to Smeagol and means Andy Serkis gets to appear on the finished print. Frodo, Sam and Smeagol then continue on their quest, whilst the remaining members of the fellowship are briefly reunited at Isengard before taking different paths to Minas Tirith.

The action is unrelenting and most people will not notice the running time is over 3 hours. As with the previous films the combination of sets, models and cgi brings middle earth to life.

I suspect quite a few of the performers will be in with a chance of Oscar recognition. Miranda Otto is the stand out performer and is outstanding as Eowyn and surely deserves the Best Supporting Actress honour. I'm sure that Viggo Mortensen, Ian McKellen, Elijah Wood, Sean Astin, and Orlando Bloom will all have their supporters for acting honours and rightly so, as they all put in fine performances. I'm not sure whether Andy Serkis is elligable, but I suspect the success of Smeagol/Gollum owes as much to him as the animators. Bernhard Hill should also be in with a shout for recognition for his performance as King Theoden. My guess is that it'll miss out on the acting awards with the exception of Miranda Otto. It's absolutely certain to take Best Director, Best Picture and a string of technical awards though. My guess is that it will be nominated for about 12 categories and take 8 gongs.

Return of the King isn't flawless however. Saruman was cut entirely from the theatrical release of the film. We therefore missed out on the final face off between Gandalf and Saruman at Isengard. This was certainly filmed and will no doubt be on the extended edition. When the Hobbits return to the Shire it looks remarkably like when they left. No sign that Saruman has arrived back before them and taken over. In the book Merry, Pippin, Sam and Frodo help rally the rest of the Hobbits to retake the Shire, but at some cost to both the hobbits and the environment. Merry, Pippin and Sam become heros to the rest of the hobbits who are largely unaware of Frodo's adventure and exploits. I'm not sure if any of this was shot, but it would be a welcome addition to the extended addition. Personally I would have followed Tolkien and got rid of 7 minutes of Arwen footage and kept Saruman in. Bearing in mind Christopher Lee's passion for the trilogy it is also sad to see him removed from the final episode. I'm quite sure Peter Jackson must have had a few sleepless nights over that decision.

If Saruman's exclusion was the biggest blunder of the film, Gimli's consignment to comic interlude was also a bit disappointing. I'm not against a bit of light hearted relief every so often, especially in such a long film, but it seemed that every time Gimli appeared on screen it was for light entertainment. The "That still only counts as one" line to Legolas was very funny though.

Despite these gripes Peter Jackson can certainly be very proud of the Lord of the Rings. Very few people thought it possible to do justice to the book. He has crafted a film that many people will enjoy for many years.

121 of 228 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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