THE LORD OF THE RINGS: THE TWO TOWERS
***** (out of 5)
December 18, 2002
Elijah Wood as FRODO BAGGINS
Ian McKellen as GANDALF THE WHITE
Viggo Mortensen as ARAGORN
Sean Astin as SAMWISE GAMGEE
John Rhys-Davies as GIMLI
Christopher Lee as SARUMAN THE WHITE
Orlando Bloom as LEGOLAS GREENLEAF
Directed by: Peter Jackson
BY KEVIN CARR
Before I start, I must confess that I have never read “The Lord of the Rings” trilogy (or “The Hobbit,” for that matter). So before any rabid Lord of the Rings fans pull out the torches and pitchforks to burn down my castle, I want to warn you that I don’t know squat about how “The Two Towers” compared to the book.
There. With that said, I can continue in good conscience.
In a word, “The Two Towers” is stunning. It is truly a masterpiece. Better than the first film, “The Two Towers” delivers a powerful story of fighting against insurmountable odds. Like the other legendary epic films of the 20th century, “The Lord of the Rings” is shaping up to be a trilogy to live on in movie history.
Where “The Fellowship of the Ring” was clearly Frodo’s movie, “The Two Towers” spends more time with Aragorn (a human), Gimli (a dwarf) and Legolas (an elf). The fellowship is now broken, with Gandalf presumed dead and three parts scattered across Middle Earth.
Frodo Baggins (Elijah Wood) and his fellow hobbit Samwise Gamgee (Sean Astin) are the keepers of the all-powerful ring created by the Dark Lord Sauron to control Middle Earth. Now broken off from the group, Frodo and Samwise continue towards Mount Doom, where they can finally dispose of the ring properly. However, along their way, they pick up a companion – a wiry, gangly creature named Gollum. Once in possession of the ring, Gollum now joins the two hobbits to (maybe) see the end to “my precious.”
Meanwhile, Aragorn (Viggo Mortensen), Gimli (John Rhys-Davies ) and Legolas (Orlando Bloom) are in pursuit of an army of uruk-hai (genetically transformed orcs, for the uninitiated) that have kidnapped the other two hobbits, Pippin (Billy Boyd) and Merry (Dominic Monaghan). Along the way, the three heroes meet up with Gandalf (Ian McKellen, now promoted to Gandalf the White), who has been resurrected to help finish his quest. The fractured fellowship heads to the city of Rohan and befriends the king. They stay with the Rohan to help defend this last vestige of humans from the 10,000-strong uruk-hai army.
Even though it is a three-hour film, “The Two Towers” doesn’t waste any time getting into the story. Where the “The Fellowship of the Ring” had a nifty little intro section in which Cate Blanchett explained all the hubbub about the rings and their powers, “The Two Towers” just dives right into the film. Not that this is a bad thing, but if you’re memory’s a bit fuzzy, you might want to rent “The Fellowship of the Ring” and watch it again before you go to this sequel.
Not only does director Peter Jackson waste no time getting into the film, he wastes no time at all. In fact, this three hour epic is one of those few films where you leave feeling they could have spent even more time with story explanation and exposition.
The film is so jam-packed with excitement, story and characters that some of the faces you’ve seen in the first film are mere flashbacks in this one. Actors like Liv Tyler (as the princess Arwen), Cate Blanchett (as the forest queen Galadriel) and Hugo Weaving (as the elf king Elrond Peredihl) have only bit parts here. But this doesn’t detract from the film.
In fact, there’s so much in “The Two Towers” that you’ll need to not just invest three hours in it – but six or even perhaps nine – to absorb everything it has to offer. The incredible battle sequences are breathtaking, producing armies in the thousands to fight against one another, filling the entire screen.
Additional special effects kudos are due for the creature Gollum, which is completely computer generated. The technology has grown so much over the years that it is able to emote almost at the level of a real actor. At times, it is so very easy to forget that Gollum is just a smattering of pixels because he blends so well into the background and feels so real. Bringing CGI into the 21st century, Gollum isn’t the annoying mess that was Jar Jar Binks.
Of course, there could have been more of the character of Saruman the White, simply for the fact that he is played by the unbeatable Christopher Lee. Strangely, the flashes back to Saruman’s stronghold in Orthanc, seem the most enjoyable with Lee’s presence overseeing the creation of the uruk-hai army.
Perhaps one of the best sequels ever made, “The Two Towers” stays true to the first film simply because it was filmed simultaneously (along with the third film). This way, the production design, characters and feel is completely seamless. The only film to come this close to the look and feel of the original is “Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets.”
With a more satisfying ending and a tremendous battle that makes “Braveheart” look like a group of kindergartners playing red rover, “The Two Towers” whets the appetite for the final film, “The Return of the King.” Thank god we only have to wait a year.