A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
Strong theme of the meekest, smallest folk -- personified by Frodo Baggins, the Hobbit -- becoming greatest heroes in a perilous quest. Gandalf advises Frodo against killing wantonly. Evil forces of Mordor and Saruman are associated with industrialization (more so in the followup The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers), whereas the Hobbit and mystic Elf races have more reverence for nature. Major themes include teamwork, perseverance, and courage.
Positive Role Models
The very innocence of Frodo, Samwise, and the other peace-loving hobbits becomes their strength, as greed and the temptation contained in the One Ring tear apart the alliance, preying on the allegedly stronger characters. Hobbits are still shown as mischief-making and fun-loving (and weed-smoking). Lust for power is said to be a particular flaw in the race called "Man," though the long-lost King Aragorn is one noble warrior who does not succumb. Strong female characters are not too prominent in the Tolkien novel but get represented here (even if they are Elves, not humans).
Violence & Scariness
Death and attempted murder by arrows and swords, including the agonizing killing of one character in a pincushion of arrows. People fall from great heights. Wizards batter each other bloody with invisible forces. A toothy, squid-like creature tries to eat the heroes. Supernatural creatures set on fire, impaled, decapitated and dismembered. Lots of gnarled skeletons and bodies showing signs of violent death.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Topless female nude statuary is a barely noticed background feature of the architecture of Rivendell, the village of Elves.
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Products & Purchases
Hard to ignore the original Tolkien books, not to mention a plethora of video games, movie tie-in action figures, role-playing games, plus the movie sequels and other existing adaptations.
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Gandalf and Hobbits smoke "pipeweed," a clearly enjoyable experience that makes playful smoke rings and figures. Drinking of vintage wine-like beverages, talk of beer.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring is a classic fantasy that's full of violence and danger, including death. Horrific medieval-esque creatures kill, mostly with arrows and swords. More often, though, they get impaled, decapitated, dismemebered themselves. Middle-Earth characters drink beverages that are akin to wine and beer and smoke something called "pipeweed." There's some don't-try-this-at-home playing around with fireworks. To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
Is It Any Good?
Somewhere, there are future Hollywood directors who will tell magazine feature writers that they first decided to make movies as they watched this film; it's that good. The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring is a once-in-a-generation, not since Star Wars, transcendent reminder of why we tell stories, why we have imagination, and why we must go on quests to test our spirits and heal the world. And it's a story that invites us into a fully realized world with many different civilizations, all so thoroughly imagined that we don't only believe that they each have complete languages, but that they have dictionaries, histories, mythologies, schools, music, and poetry. Peter Jackson, who directed and co-wrote the script, has created a movie that seems astonishingly inventive and new and at the same time somehow seems as though it always existed inside us. Every detail, from the tiniest plant to the hugest battle, is exactly, satisfyingly right. The bad guys, all thundering hooves and billowing capes, seem to have come from the core of every nightmare since the world began. All three movies in the series were shot at once, so his singular vision can carry us through to the end.
A couple of caveats -- like Harry Potter, Frodo is a character who is more interesting on the page, where we can share his thoughts, than in a movie, where he is primarily called upon to look amazed, scared, or sad. And like Harry Potter, there were benefits to producing a series of films at the same time (continuity, commitment to getting all of the details right), but some drawbacks, too. So, we get glimpses of people who will be important later but now are somewhere between placeholders and distractions.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.