|The Lord of the Rings - The Two Towers |
Full Screen Edition
Actors: Elijah Wood, Ian McKellen, Viggo Mortensen, Bruce Allpress, Sean Astin
Directors: Sean Astin, Peter Jackson
Genres: Action & Adventure, Science Fiction & Fantasy
Frodo Baggins and the Fellowship continue their quest to destroy the One Ring and stand against the evil of the dark lord Sauron. The Fellowship has divided and now find themselves taking different paths to defeating Sauro... more »
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It's worth fighting for
E. A Solinas | MD USA | 05/11/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Peter Jackson has done what could not be done. Deemed unfilmable for decades (with the terrible cartoons as an example of why), "The Lord of the Rings" took the audiences by storm when "Fellowship of the Ring" premiered in 2001. In 2002, anticipation was even higher, dread was lower -- and "Two Towers" is an outstanding continuation of the epic fantasy tale.The movie picks up where "Fellowship" left off: Merry and Pippin have been captured by Uruk-hai, and Aragorn, Legolas and Gimli are pursuing them. But they are sidetracked by an old friend: Gandalf, returned in a new form and with new powers, as Gandalf the White. He takes them to the kingdom of Rohan, whose king is bewitched by the evil Saruman. They barricade the people of Rohan in the fortress of Helm's Deep, for a final defiant stand against an army of Uruk-hai.Sam and Frodo have left, to venture into Mordor alone so that Frodo can destroy the Ring in Mordor's Mount Doom. When the two hobbits become lost in Emyn Muil, Frodo realizes that someone is following them: Gollum, the tormented, twisted former owner of the Ring. They capture Gollum, who swears to serve "the master of the Precious." But even Gollum's shaky allegiance isn't enough for them to succeed, because the Ring has started to bend Frodo to its will.While the first movie revolved around Frodo, the Ring and the Fellowship, here the focus widens. We get a better sense of the epic quality of the story and how it affects the whole world, not just our heroes. Gondor is crumbling, Rohan is beaten down by orcs, and even the forces of nature -- the tree-like ents -- are being attacked by Sauron and Saruman. It's nature versus the destructive machines, and the wild wrecking of Saruman's forges by these ancient tree shepherds is something to cheer for.Elijah Wood blossoms in this film as Frodo Baggins, the little hobbit who could. In the first movie Wood played Frodo as an innocent who loses his innocence; here he takes it a step further, showing the darkness and violence that are swallowing Frodo up. Because we saw what a bright, sweet person Frodo was before, it's all the more horrible to see him starting to slide down (even attacking his best friend -- the look on Frodo's face as he comes to his senses is stunning). Sean Astin perfectly embodies Sam Gamgee -- increasingly desperate, trying to keep Frodo from going under. He serves as a reminder of what Frodo is fighting for, and Astin has perhaps the most powerful lines of the film, near the end: "But in the end, it's only a passing thing, this shadow. Even darkness must pass. A new day will come. And when the sun shines it will shine out the clearer." These simply-worded lines will bring tears to your eyes.But if Frodo is just starting to be addicted, Gollum is a junkie. Even if Andy Serkis doesn't appear in one frame in the entire movie, his motions and voice are heard and seen behind an exquisitely detailed CGI puppet. This is no Jar Jar or Dobby -- Gollum is detailed down to the last hair and wrinkle, believable in his appearance (I actually forgot he was animated for most of the movie), and has a multifaceted personality that reflects his own inner struggle -- Smeagol and Gollum, good and evil. The scene where Gollum's two halves argue is too amazing for words.The other supporting actors shine almost as brightly. Viggo Mortensen turns his reluctant hero Aragorn into a leader and a warrior. Ian McKellen manages to make Gandalf more stately and majestic, yet keeps that little grandfatherly twinkle. John Rhys-Davies provides a bit of comedy as Gimli, mostly related to Gimli's stature, but never loses his dignity; Orlando Bloom is outstanding as ethereal elf archer Legolas once again. Liv Tyler captures Arwen's fear of mortality and loneliness. Billy Boyd's Pippin and Dominic Monaghan's Merry, the well-meaning goofballs of "Fellowship," are now forced to make their own decisions. And new cast members Miranda Otto and Bernard Hill also shine as the strong-willed Eowyn and tough old king Theoden, in roles that will bloom further in the third film.Peter Jackson (who makes a few cameos) once again outdoes himself with camerawork and direction. His cameras as like living things: they swoop, dive, pull back for outstanding combat shots and then zoom in for exquisite close-ups. The battle scenes are dark, bloody, explosive, and full of chaos; only near the finale does any hint of glory shine through. He adds little human touches (the family split up by the war) that give a glimpse of what the non-heroic, ordinary people are suffering. Of course "Two Towers" isn't as good as the book. Few movies are. But taken purely as a cinematic experience, and an adaptation, "Two Towers" is virtually without peer. Epic, majestic, action-packed and brimming with pathos, this is a treasure. And they say "Return of the King" will be the best of all..."
Don't read the book right before seeing it.
K. Bromley | Westville, NJ | 12/19/2002
(4 out of 5 stars)
"*Spoilers Ahead* - though being the second most read book of the 20th century, it shouldn't spoil much for many.I went into the second movie with very high expectations, and I think with good reason. Peter Jackson did an amazing job with the first film, and as far as effects, the second film does not disappoint, with a couple small exceptions. The aspects that I was not as pleased with were major story changes and pacing.In Fellowship, I was most irritated by Arwen's role increase, particularly as I am not a Liv Tyler fan. In Towers, there are a lot more serious changes that, I feel, dramatically alter Tolkien's work.My criticism:- The army of Elves does not march to Helm's Deep to help. The "Last Alliance of Men and Elves" was just that - the LAST. This is a MAJOR change. Tolkien's Elves were done interfering in the world of men.
- Eomer and his Riders do not come to help as late as they do - the forest moves in at dawn. That is the aid that Gandalf brings. The orcs disappear in the trees.
- The Ents make the decision at Entmoot to go to war. It's not the Hobbits' doing at all.
- Faramir is not tempted by the Ring. He does not make Frodo go to Osgiliath. He gives them provisions and helps them on their way. The point in the book is that he's the opposite of Boromir.
- I wish that another actor voiced Treebeard, as there is one cut that goes from Gimli to Treebeard and you can tell it's the same voice.
- The movie ends short of the mark. The last line in the book is "Frodo was alive, but taken by the enemy." The movie ends before Shelob's Lair.
- The whole Saruman possessing King Theoden was a little over the top. I sincerely doubt Tolkien meant anything about actual spiritual possession.
- Frodo's fall into the Dead Marshes was a little overblown as far as the effects. It seemed amateurish compared to other effects in the films.
- The other effects problem I referred to earlier are the shots of Merry and Pippin walking with Treebeard; you can really tell that a blue screen was used.
- Gimli was made into a joke. He didn't have a serious line in the film. And did they really need to bring Dwarf-tossing back into it?The good stuff:- Gollum was well done. I was happy with his animation and with the personality conflict that showed through.
- The Nazgul steeds were also well imagined, as it's not the clearest of descriptions in the text.
- Lots of good Legolas action - especially the mount onto the horse - you'll see what I mean.
- Music was excellent. Kudos to Howard Shore yet again.
- Great battle sequences at Helm's Deep.
- There are others, but I'm much more irritated right now then impressed, so I'm not remembering them all. Overall, it was good but unsettling. It starts fast, but slows, then quickens, then doesn't have a main pace. It doesn't have near the character development that the first film had - and, of course, shouldn't need it, as many have already been established. But it feels like something is missing - that connection you had with the characters in the first film just wasn't there. This is a very difficult book to adapt, and I don't begrudge them the job. I just expected it to be truer to Tolkien's vision. Of course, you really must see it regardless. It's beautiful and still the best anyone's ever done with the story. I greatly look forward to the Extended DVD and Peter Jackson's explanation of these story changes."
There's still some good in the world of cinema.
Godly Gadfly | Canada | 08/06/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
"The plot of Tolkien's Lord of the Rings novels has already proven itself over time - in this trilogy of movies by director Peter Jackson it just needed to be brought successfully to the screen. The second installment of the series, `The Two Towers', at least equals and perhaps even surpasses `The Fellowship of the Ring.' The two highlights in my view were firstly the incredible portrayal of Gollum, both his internal turmoil as well as his wretched creature-like body (with the brilliant help of CGI technology); and secondly the epic battle of Helm's Deep that concluded the movie with a cast of thousands. Unlike the first movie, overall the tone is darker and there is significantly more violence and action, but not with a focus on gory instead of glory. Thankfully it does not degenerate to the distasteful gore and gratuitous bloody violence that marks much contemporary action movies. Other memorable aspects were the majestic New Zealand scenery, and the portrayal of an overwhelming sense of evil in connection with the forces of Sauron and Saruman.
It is only to be expected that some changes need to be made to the plot in order to condense an epic story into just three hours. However I was disappointed that unlike the first movie, Jackson appears to have made some adjustments to Tolkien's original that were simply unnecessary and unjustifiable, particularly the antagonism of Faramir, the portrayal of the Ents, as well as the incorporation of some extra drama involving Aragorn at the end of a battle, and the infusion of too much romance not present in the original. You don't need to be a Tolkien purist to find these kind of unnecessary changes somewhat annoying.
But once one gets over the initial shock of the adjustments to Tolkien, this is still a brilliant movie. The setting of Middle Earth, along with its characters and epic war really comes alive. This may be fantasy, but the choices and struggles are very human and very real. Perhaps this is most obvious with Sam's wise words at the end: "There's some good in this world, and it's worth fighting for." This is as true for real life as it is for Tolkien's world. It's also true of the movie itself: in a world of cinematic garbage, Peter Jackson's Lord of the Rings show that there is still some good left in this world, and these are movies worth fighting for. -GODLY GADFLY"
DH | 02/28/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I loved every minute of this awesome masterpiece of cinematography. There, I've said it all up front and I make no apologies. Let's be honest, Jackson had the best of all stories to work with. The movie was never going to fail on story line, it was only doomed if Jackson couldn't pull off the monumental task of transposing the epic trilogy to the big screen while doing justice to the sumptuous splendour of Tolkein's book. The Two Towers revolves around the Battle of Helms Deep. A battle that ranks in my humble opinion as one of the most inspiring in cinematic history. Certainly it is 90% CGI, but that is mainstream cinema these days and it is accepted by this reviewer, who still appreciates old-fashioned moviemaking. The Battle of Helms Deep ranks with me as my all-time favourite movie battle, co-equal with the battle-scenes in the epic movie `The Battle of Waterloo' (...) and `Saving Private Ryan'. If the `Battle of Helms Deep' was spectacular then the creature Gollum was nothing short of brilliant. This is CGI gone mega-marvellous. Gollum left me gob-smacked. The creators at Weta Productions have set a benchmark here that leaves other notables fumbling for their keyboards and mice. Nothing George Lucas has ever done (and I am a great Star Wars fan) comes close to this wizardry. It's worth the price of admission just to see Gollum. Dare I repeat myself but I admire everything about the Two Towers. The great scenery, the story, the costumes, the creatures, the action. They form the ingredients for a feast that we savour for three swashbuckling hours. Let's dispense with the negatives. Sure the move is not absolutely true to the book. But there isn't a director on the planet that could have captured the whole story in just over three hours. Some things had to miss out, and I'm sure that was one of the tougher parts of the production, deciding what doesn't make the final cut. The ending was a big call, and readers of the book will know what I am talking about. I've no complaints, only elated anticipation for the third in the trilogy. And that's where I will end. Not only have we been given something truly special again. It's only the second instalment. I've got another eleven months to savour The Two Towers and my mouth is already watering for the third and final feature. Glorious, just glorious. Five stars just isn't good enough, take five galaxies Peter Jackson."