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The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers

Reviewed by Alex Strickland

After five long, hard, and some might say grueling (if they liked the word "grueling") weeks, I have finally seen the latest film in Peter Jackson’s cinematic adaptation of "The Lord Of The Rings." As some of you may know, I was involved in an accident* that, as Captain Irony would have it, occurred a day before this much awaited movie opened. For me, I think that was one of the most unbelievable parts about it. That the event itself happened at all is shocking, but that it happened a day before I was going to see the movie I had waited a year for (or more, if you consider how long I had waited for the trilogy to begin with) staggers the mind.

I waited a long time, spending most of it in hospital beds, for the day I would finally be able to see "The Two Towers". I have recovered quickly, and I am lucky, but I know that part of the reason, the main reason, I’ve worked so hard has been to see this film. Was it worth the wait?

Yes.

I think we can officially say the casbah has been rocked, comrades.
The film grabs you from the very beginning and says, "Hullo, old sport! Would you mind directing your attention to the screen, where you will sit in awe and amazement as a sense of profound wonder envelopes you for the next three hours? Tut, tut, cheerio!" Gandalf’s fall with the Balrog was, pardon the expression, fucking spectacular. That, my friends, is how you start a goddamn movie!

Everything about this film is spectacular, and further cements the fact that these films will live through the ages alongside the best of Kurosawa and Welles and Kubrick. Like the books that inspired them, I believe they will withstand the test of time and be passed down through the generations. Oh, and did I mention that this film kicks ass?

The entire cast shines, and while the originals live up to their performances in The Fellowship Of The Ring, the newcomers are just as impressive. Bernard Hill and Miranda Otto excel as Théoden and Éowyn, respectively, and the rest of the additions (Urban as Éomér, Wenham as Faramir, Dourif as Wormtongue, et. al.) do their job admirably. But the darker side of human (or hobbit) nature is the most amazing of all. . .Gollum. Andy Serkis’ Gollum is not "a really cool looking CGI model" or anything so mundane - he is a true character. Serkis and Weta have brought to life one of the most memorable performances in recent memory, and it all looks entirely believable. You accept Gollum as a creature, a living, breathing thing up on the screen. His inner turmoil between Smeagol and Gollum is heart-wrenching, and you feel true pity and sorrow for him.

The creature Gollum is not the only thing that leaves you in awe, though. We share Sam’s wonder and astonishment at the Oliphaunts, and the fear of the Nazgul’s winged steeds, and Merry and Pippin’s surprise at the Ents. I wasn’t sure how Jackson and Company would pull off the concept of a walking, talking tree, but they did it spectacularly. Treebeard, and the rest of the Ents, are magnificent.

The climactic Battle Of Helm’s Deep inspires anxiety, fear, amazement, and a whole host of other emotions as the forces of Rohan battle 10,000 Uruk-Hai warriors. The chanting of the orcs before the walls of Helm’s Deep? The blasting fire of Isengard? The raising of the ladders, with the fearsome Uruk-Hai ready to do battle? Remarkable stuff. The sweeping shots of armies, the scale, the sheer immensity of it all. . .it’s amazing. Simply amazing.

But it’s not all centered around the amazing visuals, and the wonder of seeing all of this. The character’s still manage to be the important part, and we care for them through it all. It wouldn’t work if we didn’t. The bond between Aragorn, Legolas, and Gimli - the Three Hunters - is strengthened, and I especially love the growing friendship between the elf and dwarf. Their contest during the battle - I’m especially pleased this made it in. The journey of Frodo and Sam is hard to watch at times, with the continuing transformation of Frodo by the Ring, and the lengths to which Sam will go for his friend. Merry and Pippin are not given as much to do, but I enjoyed seeing their developing characters, and their interaction with Treebeard.

The film is filled with moments of beauty that, quite honestly, struggled vigorously with my tear ducts, willing them to be unleashed like the Ents upon an unprepared Isengard. The return of Gandalf in Fangorn forest, the ride of the exiled Rohans down upon Saruman’s remaining Uruk-Hai, Sam and Frodo discussing how their tale may one day be told throughout the ages. . .this is truly a wonderful film.

I eagerly await "The Return Of The King," for it is in Jackson We Trust. I just hope I don’t get hit by another goddamn car next time.

*footnote - For more information, use this handy equation: Me + Ford Taurus x 40 mph + Inept Driver With Callous Disregard For Human Life = Me Slightly Incapacitated.

 

Related Links:
Alex's review of The Fellowship of the Ring
TheOneRing.net

 

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Director
Peter Jackson

Screenplay
Philippa Boyens
Fran Walsh
Peter Jackson

Released
December 18, 2002

Cast
Elijah Wood
Sean Astin
Ian McKellen
Viggo Mortensen
Orlando Bloom
John Rhys-Davies
Dominic Monaghan
Billy Boyd
Christopher Lee
Liv Tyler
Andy Serkis
Miranda Otto
Karl Urban
David Wenham
Brad Dourif

Full Credits at IMDb

Available on DVD and Blu-Ray (theatrical editions only at this time)