Published on December 23rd, 2003 | by Erich Becker0
Review: The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers
There is really no way to describe just how amazing the Lord of the Rings series has turned out in the past two years. Here comes a trilogy of movies, budgeted at $270 million dollars with a rather unknown director and the critical eye of millions upon millions of Tolken fans waiting for them to screw up another book. Much can be said for New Line Cinema for giving Peter Jackson the freedom and creative outlet to create these movies with the passion of a true Tolken fan, and while we had to sit and wallow through animated crap for a number of years, we finally get to see the world of Middle Earth with our own eyes, and it leaves them watering with delight.
The Lord of the Rings: Two Towers is the second in the three part trilogy that includes The Fellowship of the Ring and Return of the King. These three parts combined create the book, The Lord of the Rings, and contrary to popular belief, there is only one book, with three separate parts.
The Two Towers really is just the next part of the series as it opens with no recap, no retelling of the events that unfolded in the first movie, aside from Frodo’s (Elijah Wood) dream sequence of Gandalf’s (Ian McKellen) death, you have no way in knowing what happened in the first movie if you missed it.
The movie plays out similar to the critically acclaimed TV show “24” as multiple storylines are unfolding before your eyes, but it is never confusing or overwhelming. Picking up where The Fellowship of the Ring left off, we find Sam (Sean Astin) and Frodo setting out for Mount Doom in Mordor to destroy the Ring of Power which has been entrusted to Frodo. Similarly, we find Aragorn (Viggo Mortenson), Legolas (Orlando Bloom), and Gimli (John-Rhys-Davies) tracking down the band of Orcs who kidnapped Merry (Dominic Monaghan) and Pippin (Billy Boyd) in the first movie. The Orcs move into the Plains of Rohan where they are slaughtered and the Hobbits are feared dead, but actually have fled into the forest and met up with Tree-Beard.
Aragorn, Legolas, Gimli, and the newly reincarnated Gandalf the White make their way to see King Théoden (Bernard Hill) who has been corrupted by Saruman the White (Christopher Lee) via Grima Wormtongue (Brad Dourif). After freeing Théoden from the control of Saruman they make haste to Helm’s Deep, an impenetrable fortress, where the people of Rohan will be able to seek refuge from the impending attack by Saruman and his Orcish Horde. At Helm’s Deep one of the greatest battles of all time takes place, you will never see anything like it on the big screen, it kept me in awe for the entire sequence which is a good chuck of the movie.
The way that this movie succeeds is not totally based on the fan-boys and die hard fans that don’t shower or eat. People love to see a good movie that features a variety of characters and situations to keep things fresh. On the surface Two Towers is filled with physical conflicts and battles, but below the surface, and beautifully portrayed by the actors, is the internal conflict that each of them faces. Aragorn is plagued by his forbidden love of Arwen, and Elf, whom will live forever. Frodo Baggins, wonderfully portrayed by Elijah Wood, has the ring bearing down on him each and every step of the way to Mordor as it destroys his hope. Each character is notably handed conflict in either a physical or mental form that they must contend with, and with so much going on it never is confusing, and it is always interesting.
The highlight of the movie, besides the amazing battle of Helm’s Deep, was the character of Gollum and the amazing special effects that brought the character to life. Gollum, in my opinion, is one of the best characters portrayed in the movie because of the problems that he must progress through. Suffering from a split personality that gives him contradicting opinions on any situation, this CG character is what makes movies better in the long run, but makes actors fear the future when they will no longer be needed. Gollum was motion captured then later animated (look for an extensive feature on the forthcoming DVD release). The beauty of the animation is it is nearly seamless to the rest of the movie. There are only a few instances where you can tell that CG is being used, but through a bigger part of the movie, you forget that a computer is outputting the image on the screen, he looks, and movies so lifelike that it tricks your mind.
This movie has it all. The comic relief from Gimli to the nobility of Tree-Beard, you would be hard pressed to find a movie that gives you so much and ask so little (that being sitting on your numb butt for over three hours). The Two Towers is an amazing cinematic achievement that is everything we hoped for, and more. The Fellowship of the Ring was awesome, The Two Towers is spectacular, and I think we can assume that Return of the King will complete the trilogy to end all trilogies. Star What?…