The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers

Movie review by
Nell Minow, Common Sense Media
The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers Movie Poster Image
Popular with kidsParents recommend
Outstanding adventure, but very violent battle scenes.
  • PG-13
  • 2002
  • 179 minutes

Parents say

age 12+
Based on 31 reviews

Kids say

age 11+
Based on 125 reviews

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The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

Theme throughout of sacrifice made in an immense struggle against evil; a tormented king must send his people to likely death in battle, including kids; Frodo must continue carrying the ring despite the pain it inflicts on him. Talk of mercy and compassion for the grotesque Gollum, understanding the creature despite his treachery. An immortal Elf princess considers choosing love over living forever. Evil forces of the dark wizards equated with industrialization, forest clear-cutting and mechanized development.

Positive Role Models & Representations

The valor of kings, princes, and warriors are exalted, even little children who go to battle. Negotiating a peace, it's suggested, is for traitors and cowards, though this is an utterly evil, all-or-nothing enemy. The ring-obsessed, degraded creature Gollum is described as not beyond redemption (no other bad guys are given this courtesy). Characters demonstrate teamwork, perseverance, and courage.


Thousands of battle casualties in death by arrows, spears, and swords and one gigantic explosion. Threats of cannibalism. Orcs are dismembered and decapitated and, in once case, apparently devoured by other Orcs (with some gore). Gollum tears up freshly killed rabbits to eat. Hand-to-hand combat and tussling with Gollum. People fall from great heights.


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

Pipe smoking.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that violence in The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers includes countless battle casualties in death by arrows, spears, swords, monster-stomping, fatal plunges, and explosions. For all the monster gore, pet-loving kids may be most disturbed when a hungry creature tears up fresh-killed rabbits to eat. There is nightmarish imagery of ghoulish things, dead and alive, that may be too much for some. Once-heroic character smokes. The story starts right where the previous Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring left off. Viewers not familiar with the first film (or J.R.R. Tolkien's novels) will be very confused.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written byuranus1945 June 9, 2009


Again, an outstanding film, like the first, but contains too much violence for a PG-13 rating. Scenes that contain this type of violence include: a man ripped... Continue reading
Adult Written byRarityfan June 18, 2019

One of the best movies of 2002

One of the movies you really had to see in the cinema.
Teen, 15 years old Written byShowman movie13 April 14, 2019

The best-thrilling-violent.

Battle images are far more intense than the first movie. Deadly monsters. But better than all the rest of the lord of the ring movies.
Teen, 17 years old Written byPrincessCharmed797 April 23, 2013

Teens Only

Yes it's violent. But I think it's a great movie. It is battle violence that can be on the realistic side, but it is a fantasy movie. I think it'... Continue reading

What's the story?

THE LORD OF THE RINGS: THE TWO TOWERS follows the members of the remaining fellowship and cuts back and forth between their adventures. Frodo (Elijah Wood) and Sam (Sean Astin) find a twisted creature called Gollum who embodies the story's struggle between good and evil. Once utterly corrupted by his attempts to steal the ring, the remaining good within him begins to awaken under Frodo's kindness, but that may not be reliable enough for him to become the faithful guide they need. Meanwhile, Frodo's Hobbit friends Merry (Dominic Monaghan) and Pippin (Billy Boyd) are caught up with Treebeard and the Ents (tree creatures of enormous size). Also meanwhile, the human warrior Aragorn (Viggo Mortensen) and dwarf Gimli (John Rhys-Davies) try to get help from King Theoden (Bernard Hill), who has been enchanted into befuddlement so that they can fight the vicious Uruk-hai throng of White Wizard villain Saruman (Christopher Lee).

Is it any good?

The second film in the Lord of the Rings series will satisfy Tolkien devotees and those who are new to the stories looking for an epic with a heroic quest and a lot of action (and a little romance). The first movie had a lot of thundering hoofs and meaningful looks and introduction of characters and portents of doom. The Two Towers flings us from cliffhanger to (literal) cliffhanger, with mighty legions hurtling into battle. Every moment on screen is filled with masterfully handled detail.

The vast New Zealand landscapes are a perfect realization of Tolkien's Middle Earth. The vast armies of hulking monsters stretch back for miles, and Gollum, computer animated but based on the movements of actor Andy Serkis (who also provided the voice), is as real as any of the humans. The human actors hold their own, giving gravity and heart to the effects and panoramas. The only drag on the proceedings is Aragon's love triangle, which feels like something between a distraction and a placeholder.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the many representations of the war between good and evil in The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers. King Theoden comes back. Gollum may be coming back. Where else do you see the dualities expressed?

  • At several points, characters have to decide when to fight and when to give up or retreat. What do they consider in making that decision? What should they consider?

  • Why is it important to Gollum that Frodo calls him by his old name?

  • Why do Sam and Frodo wonder if they will ever be included in songs or tales?

  • How do the characters in The Lord of the Rings: Two Towers demonstrate teamwork, perseverance, and courage? Why are those important character strengths?

Movie details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love action and fantasy

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