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Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers (2002)

PG-13 179 minutes

Directed by Peter Jackson
Written by J.R.R. Tolkein, Peter Jackson, Phillipa Boyens

Starring
 · Ian McKellen
 · Elijah Wood
 · Viggo Mortensen


Review by Thom Stricklin

It seems a tradition is building of great films catching me by surprised. It first happened with Spider-Man, as you may have read in my first review. It's happened again with Two Towers.

After seeing Fellowship of the Ring, there were two major thoughts running through my mind. First was "Wow! What an amazing film!" The second thought, however, was "...but I have no great desire to sit through a sequel." Don't get me wrong; I thought the first film was mesmerizing, and truly one of the best-made films of all time. But it was three hours long, and at times a very slow three hours. I didn't want to think of six more hours. The latter thought was revisited this year when the first Two Towers review was released.

But, as with Spider-Man, as the film's release got nearer and nearer, my concerns began to subside. By the release of the last trailer, I was hooked. That may, in part, be thanks to New Line's fitting placement of Lux Aeterna into the trailer's score. (I love that song... Many might recognize it from )Requiem for a Dream.) But I could have plugged my ears and I still would've been impressed. We were getting bits and pieces of what looked like some of the most epic scenes ever committed to film.

So, there I was, running home from work to pick up Phil and catch the 7:00 showing of Two Towers last night. Three hours later, I walked out...

 

Smarts

 
 87%

Just as with Fellowship, The Two Towers was masterfully implemented, from head to toe. I suppose what strikes me first about it is its appearance. The film looked a bit less surreal than its predecessor, but just as epic if not more. Jackson went to amazing lengths to find the perfect locations to shoot the film, and augmented them with even better looking digital scenery.

Perhaps the greatest achievement of this film is the effects crew's implementation of Gollum. This character, if not executed correctly, could easily have become the next Jar Jar Binks. For a CGI character to share so much screen time with live actors, it's simply a great risk, especially when it's such an eccentric creature as Gollum. However, the effect crew succeeded masterfully, and instead of another "meesa Jar Jar" character, we are presented with a digitally rendered being who is every bit as engrossing as Aragon, Frodo, and the rest of the cast. His facial expressions are so exact, there are times it seemed he could've been a real creature the filmmakers had somehow caught and trained.

However, if the creature creation is the film's strong point, it might also be it's weak point. It may be understandable due to the great number seen on screen, but the Uruk-hai--the new & improved Orcs--seemed a little old-fashioned as far as monstrous henchmen are concerned. Some scenes I swore I was watching Evil Ash from Army of Darkness. The tree creatures known as the Ents were rendered rather clumsily... It's obviously a difficult task to give a tree legs and get it to walk in any plausible manner, and they were successful in doing so, but I would have expected the creatures to be a bit less silly and more graceful in their animation.

Concerning Fellowship of the Ring, I once said that the film's greatest shortcomings might've been the weaknesses of the story itself. That may be true with The Two Towers as well. It was certainly more entertaining the whole time through than the first film, but on the other hand, it was a bit more predictable. I'll save spoilers, but when you watch Two Towers, you'll know what I mean. You'll have a feeling as to what to expect throughout most of the film.

All of these are very small complaints, however. This film is, as I said, breathtaking. Beautiful through and through, and seamlessly done. I need not mention the acting or direction or the score, because there is nothing but praise to offer it all.

 

Popcorn

 
 94%

I wonder if there's ever been a three-hour-long film before Two Towers that has kept me continually interested. I imagine there has been at least a moment or two in each such film that I've found myself disinterested in or bored of. Not the case in this film. From the first minute to the one-hundred-seventy-eigth, I was on the edge of my seat. This is thanks to a number of things: action, humor, the hints of romance between Aragon and his past and present interests... Perhaps what is most engrossing, however, is the humanity Jackson and the actors brought to the characters--even those characters who aren't human.

This movie is most enjoyable if one can appreciate the desperation of the moment. Throughout the film, it seems the sky is falling on Middle Earth, and the characters' behaiviors reflect that. Those touches of romance with Aragon are not your typical rosy knight's tales; there is a strain to the romance, a nagging question asking whether or not it is safe to love. And the Helm's Deep battle is not simply action... The characters know it will be a massacre. Yes, this film is cloaked in desperation. That the characters exist like so and yet cling onto hope without fail is what makes me enjoy this film to its fullest.

 

Final

The Two Towers is an event film. It should be seen on the big screen, but not just because of that fact. The film is simply too beautiful for one to wait and enjoy it on a small, limiting televesion screen. See it while it's in theatres, then buy it when it comes to DVD. This is one of those few films that any fan of films is almost guaranteed to enjoy and to want as part of their collection.


969 Words Published: 19 December 2002

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