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The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers (2002)

  Directed by: Peter Jackson
Written by: Phillipa Boyens, Peter Jackson, J.R.R. Tolkien, Fran Walsh
Starring: Sean Astin, Cate Blanchett, Orlando Bloom, Billy Boyd, Brad Dourif, Bernard Hill, Christopher Lee, Ian McKellen, Dominic Monaghan, Viggo Mortensen, Miranda Otto, John Rhys-Davies, Andy Serkis, Liv Tyler, Karl Urban, David Wenham, Elijah Wood
Links: The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers on the IMDb, Official site, Buy the Soundtrack, Buy the Book, Buy on Video, Buy on DVD
Genre: Drama

This movie gets: 8.67 (3 ratings)
nofreelist.com Ranking: Ranked equal 28th of 187 movies (2 ratings minimum; see full chart)

The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers (2002) is also mentioned in mino's review of The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring (2001), pearly's review of The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring (2001), em_fiction's review of The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (2003), andy-j's review of The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (2003), mino's review of The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (2003), pearly's review of The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (2003) and pearly's review of Three Dollars (2005).

"Bring on the third" - a review by pearly

I once again had difficulty paying for my lunch after shelling out a bucket-load of money last month for the mega-box set of The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers; the second in the Peter Jackson trilogy. Going hungry for a few weeks was well worth it, and I need only cast my eye on the gaunt little Gollum clutching his fish to remind me why the purchase was in my best interests.

As a result, I have now seen both the theatrical release and the extended versions of this movie. I'll say right up that when I first saw it at the cinema, I was, well, disappointed is too strong of a word, as is unimpressed, but my feelings certainly leaned slightly towards both those words (if only slightly). I loved the Gollum bits (who didn't?), but I felt that the rest of the plot was too samey, it just took the characters from one fight to the next, and didn't build enough on the relationships between the characters or any of the funny little sections from the book.

Having said that, I still thought it was a fantastic film - it still gave me butterflies in my tummy as I watched it (anticipating things that were coming was always fun). But I was really looking forward to seeing what the editors would do with the extended version, and I'm pleased to say that they came up with the goods.

As far as I'm concerned, when the extended version was put together, all of the heart of the movie was added back in - all those bits that make existence extra nice. Some of the sections that were really skimmed over in the theatrical release were more meaty, and with the meatiness comes more humour, more character development and background, and for me, more interesting scenes.

Some examples of the inclusions in the extended version are the scenes with Treebeard and the other Ents, including cute scenes where Merry (Dominic Monaghan) and Pippin (Billy Boyd) drink the Ent draught and it makes them taller. And then there's Aragorn (Viggo Mortensen), who befriends Brego, a horse who later saves him. This explains why Brego comes to Aragorn's rescue, and, while he is calming the horse, Eowyn (Miranda Otto) is looking on, so you get a bit more insight into the reasons she finds him intriguing and attractive. As well as this, the relationship between Boromir (Sean Bean) and his father and brother Faramir (David Wenham) is shown in greater detail, and this addition explains a lot of both the brother's actions (especially softening the overall characterisation of Faramir).

With these additions, the film has once again impressed, as did The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring (2001). The visual trickery in making the hobbits little and the wizards tall, as well as everything that goes along with that still amazed me, and upon second viewing, I had the time to sit and try to figure out how it all fit together, but couldn't. It fits so well that it seems real to your eyes, even though you know you're only being fooled into believing it.

For fans of the books, there are little juicy morsels that would just whoosh gently over the heads of the non-readers, but that are designed to put a little knowing smile on the face of the fan. Some of my favourites were Aragorn's discussion with Eowyn about his age, and the homage to Tom Bombadil (in the form of Treebeard in the Fangorn forest, rather than at its original location) that I had been after in the first film.

And I haven't even talked much about Gollum yet. Andy Serkis is truly amazing as the poor little guy consumed by his precious. The scenes where the inner Smeagol is arguing with Gollum are inspired, and they gave the character a whole other dimension that I hadn't really gotten from the book. With the addition of Gollum, the scenes involving Frodo (Elijah Wood) and Samwise (Sean Astin) are made all the more interesting, as we see them struggle to determine whether or not to trust him.

There are some great moments in The Two Towers, which had me grinning ear-to-ear, like the moment when King Theoden (Bernard Hill) comes out from the curse of the wizard Saruman (Christopher Lee). There are also some cringe-worthy moments that make me want to run out onto the balcony yelling "whyyyy?", like the woeful shield-surfing episode with Legolas (Orlando Bloom) - what on earth is that all about?

As a whole, though, putting aside the differences between the book and the movie (there are reasons for this, as I'm sure most intelligent people can figure out, and there are only a few occasions where these changes were not necessary for whatever reason), and the occasional bits that weren't to my liking, and what you've got is one great film. Extended version all the way, as far as I'm concerned - the theatrical release had too many bits that should have been new scenes in the extended version, and too few of the gems that were new scenes in the extended version - you'll come up gasping for air, food, and a toilet break after the 3 and a half hours, and you'll have enjoyed almost every minute.

Nice work again Mr Jackson, and I look forward to seeing how you will go with fitting the remainder of the story into the last in the trilogy: The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (2003).

pearly gives this movie 9 out of 10.
Review created on Thu 18 Dec 2003

"Wow" - a review by mino

Making a series of films of J.R.R. Tolkien's epic The Lord Of The Rings, possibly one of the most beloved stories ever told, was almost certainly always going to be a no-win situation for director Peter Jackson: he was always going to have to tread a very fine line. He had to take an epic novel, full of the most intricate and painstaking detail, and turn it into an ideally sub-thirty-hour set of movies; movies which would be accessible enough to the mainstream movie-going public that the first film would not bore them to tears and cause them to abandon the second and third en masse. What's more, he had to do it without pissing off the legions of rabid fanboys who would be ready to tear his throat out without so much as a second thought if he screwed it up.

(Well, let's be realistic. I mean, the really rabid Tolkien fans are hardly likely to tear anyone's throat out. They could… well, they could send lots of nasty emails or something. Or make little voodoo figurines of Jackson and tie them down and run them over with their model railroads, or put little mocking comments in the source code of their Perl programs. But you get the idea.)

That said, I'll freely admit that I'm a big fan of The Lord Of The Rings. Tolkien created a masterwork of imagination and, while I'll admit that it can be a little dry (and not exactly to everyone's taste), you'd be hard-pressed to find a more captivating tale anywhere. I'm one of those who was more than a little dubious when I first heard of Jackson's project; I am more than willing to admit when it's time to eat my hat, though, and after having seen The Two Towers, the second in Jackson's trilogy, it's most definitely a big helping of trilby stew followed by homburg pie for me, my friends.

Jackson did indeed set himself a mighty challenge; it flabbergasts me to see the apparent ease with which he rose to meet it.

Complaints about the first movie, The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring (2001), mainly centred around the fact that it took some liberties with the story (these complaints from the fanboy camp, obviously), and (this from the un-Tolkienated masses) that it was somewhat difficult to understand and rather slow, due to the necessity of skimming over huge chunks of Tolkien's work to avoid creating a movie that would need to be spooled onto projector reels about eight hundred feet in diameter. Both of these complaints were understandable, in their way; while the first has not been addressed in this second instalment — far from it, in fact — I think those befuddled patrons who have stuck around for the second will have been well rewarded.

Jackson has indeed taken rather more liberties with the plot second time around, much to the rather loudly-espoused distaste of some. To those folk I say: shove it. There is, to put not too fine a point on it, no possible way to achieve both of Jackson's goals. Sure, Jackson could have made an exactly-faithful version of the books, but that surely would have left the non-fans scratching their heads in puzzlement — the awe-inspiring detail would be even more daunting than the hastily-skimmed plot points, as far as I'm concerned — and the crowds would surely fade markedly between the first film and those following it. Given the constraints, I think that Jackson has done a truly masterful job, and I suspect that the majority of fans who think otherwise are just being contrary.

So anyway, where were we? Oh yes, the movie itself. Should probably talk about that, eh? Otherwise we'll be here all day.

I'll admit that it's hard for me, as a fan, to be objective about the movie, so I won't try. Quite simply, it's pants-wettingly good. Liberties with the plot or no, Jackson has created a movie that sucks you in right from the start, shakes you around a bit, and dumps you in a pile on the floor three hours later with barely time to take a breath in between.

The Two Towers is possibly the least cinema-friendly book of the original trilogy, taken up as much of it is with detailed exposition of a bunch of new characters, their histories, their lives, and their motivations; the fact that a couple of fairly significant scenes have been pushed out of this second movie into either the first or the third — presumably to make their endings and beginnings, respectively, more thrill-filled — was never going to help. This leaves the second movie as two and a half hours of tension-building for both the chaotic battle of Helm's Deep which makes the climax of the film, and also for the third film as a whole. These things all stack up against Jackson, but he has several things in his favour.

One of these things (and it's rare that you'll hear me say this) is the incredible array of special effects at Jackson's disposal.

I've never been a big one for special effects, finding they all too often distract from, rather than enhance, a movie; in this case, nothing could be further from the truth. Two examples, in particular, are worthy of mention. One is the fully-CGI character of Gollum (Andy Serkis), glimpsed briefly in the first movie, but a major part of the second. Gollum lurches, crawls, and lopes across the screen so believably that I can almost guarantee that you'll forget that it's a guy in a motion-capture suit and many thousands of dollars worth of computer hardware.

The other effects worth mentioning, of course, are the largely-computer-generated battle sequences. I've never been a fan of the 'cast of thousands' battle scene; those in The Two Towers, however, are so incredibly breathtaking that you can't help but sit there, open-mouthed and gripping your armrest. Nearly as good, at least for mine, is the 'teaser' battle between the Riders of Rohan and Saruman's force of Warg-riders. The moment — no, the very frame — when the lines of horses and Wargs collide: well, I don't think I've ever been more excited in a movie theatre. Well, except for that one time when — um, never mind.

The acting is solid, if not perfect. Viggo Mortensen is most certainly the standout, once again slipping into the role of Aragorn as if it were custom-written just for him. Bernard Hill as King Theoden is probably the other truly notable performer, managing to impress even in such a fine cast. Possibly the weak link in the cast is, much though it saddens me to say it, Elijah Wood as Frodo, hero of the saga. He may come into his own in the third and final movie, where his part is much more important, but at the moment, something about him just doesn't sit right with me. That said, he's still very good, but just not in the league of, say, Mortensen. Some of the other performances are a little overly Shakespearean for my tasts — I would like something a little more understated, personally — but that's kind of to be expected in a fantasy epic, so I can't complain..

Some of Jackson's decisions do seem a little odd. Take the crucial scene showing Gollum being torn between his desire to do the right thing and to have the ring of power for himself, for example: much to my initial horror, Jackson actually played this for laughs. I was at first aghast; five seconds later, I can't see how he could have done it any better. Truly masterful. There are probably another two or three scenes like this, scenes that are handled rather differently than you'd expect, but to great effect.

I'm rambling, I know; but we're talking about a truly ramble-worthy film, so bear with me for just one more paragraph.

The Two Towers may, indeed, play a little more fast and loose with Tolkien's masterwork than did Fellowship of the Ring. But the great acting, tremendous special effects, taut pacing (even in a three-hour movie), and clever (if slightly too corny) script combine to make a truly wonderful movie. If you can't make yourself enjoy this film, you've got problems that I certainly can't help you with. Great fun.

mino gives this movie 10 out of 10.
Review created on Thu 9 Jan 2003

Movie review statistics

Ratings given without reviews:

Number of reviews: 2
Number of ratings: 3
Average rating: 8.67
Lowest rating: 7 (by em_fiction)
Highest rating: 10 (by mino)
 
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Reader comments

  1. Can ANYONE tell me just what the heck Aragorn was saying to Brego??

    Please email me if you can tell me what he was saying

    Thanks
    Rohan

    Rating given: 10

    A comment from Rohan on Thu 14 Dec 2006 20:46 #

Those who have commented give this movie: 10.00 (1 rating)

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