The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers (2002) [Review]

179 min December 12, 2002 | | |

Plot: With the fellowship broken, Merry (Managhan) and Pippin (Boyd), taken by orcs, make new allies in the Ents, while Legolas (Bloom), Gimli (Rhys-Davies) and Aragorn (Mortensen) make allies with the people of Rohan, in the hope of launching an assault on Isengard. Meanwhile, Frodo (Wood) and Sam (Astin) force Gollum (Serkis) to guide them to Mordor, trusting him with their lives.

Reviewed

After the overhype of the first film (The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring (2001)), which basically just stopped after three hours (without a conclusion), there was sure to be a big to-do over this film. And, sure enough, everyone has to see it.

If you like the first film, you just want to see how thrilling the next film is. If you didn’t like the first film (like me), you want to see if they can improve. Luckily, after seeing The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers, I can definitely say they’re working on it.

The characters continue from the first film, with Ian McKellen, Viggo Mortensen and Orlando Bloom all giving good performances again. John Rhys-Davies seems to be stuck in a script error this film. After showing the legendary courage of the dwarves in the first film, he’s stuck in The Two Towers as mainly just the butt of most of the film’s jokes. It’s unfortunate, and hopefully he will again be able to grab his own limelight in the third film.

Sean Astin seems to have improved dramatically since The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring (2001). I’m not sure if that is just the script (the first just had him following Elijah Wood around like a puppy dog) or if he has finally started to embrace his role further, but either way, it’s a nice improvement.

Elijah Wood, on the other hand, still looks miscast as Frodo, and pretty much just stares around in fright and looks about to cry. He’s supposed to be struggling with ring obsession, but grabbing your heart every once in a while just doesn’t show it. Sorry, Elijah. Maybe some acting lessons would be helpful. Either that, or stick around and see how Ian, Viggo, or Orlando act. Maybe they’ll be able to give you some useful tips.

There is also a standout in the new characters in the form of the King of Rodan, Bernard Hill. He seems to really enjoy his role, and deftly pulls you more into the story with his acting. Good job, Bernard!

Liv Tyler is still underused in The Two Towers, and I couldn’t be happier. She sucks, plain and simple, so the few scenes she’s in is about all I can stomach. Hopefully, she won’t be around for .

The plot is again a good one, as the first was. What did you expect, from the legendary stories of J.R.R. Tolkein? True, there are a few flaws, mainly that Gimli is reduced to being basically just the butt of the jokes, but the epic scope of the plot is awesome, and it’s a wonder how the film keeps it together, without confusing the viewer.

The effects are, as in most major movies these days, incredible…with a few exceptions.. The battle scenes in The Two Towers are monstrous, and must have been incredibly difficult to film, but they are simply amazing to watch. The camera zips around a little too quickly in some scenes, but it’s trying to give the viewer a feel for the size of the battle, so is quickly forgiven. The scope is indeed huge for these battles. Whereas the first film dealt mainly with small forces aligned against each other, the main battle in this film involves 10,000 warriors – and that’s only the enemy force!

The scenery also continues along the same vein as the first film, and is downright awe-inspiring. From the first breathtaking view of the snow-covered mountains, to the vast plains while the army is on the march, to an astonishing wave of water, the scenery of The Two Towers leaves you gasping for breath in almost every scene. Truly magnificent.

The new monsters/characters that arrive on the scene in this installment are also incredibly well done. From the human-like Gollum to the Ent, a race of living trees that are the oldest beings of Middle Earth, it’s amazing what computer technology can show us these days. They are all believable, and don’t stray from our preconceived notions of how they should act.

As I said, there are a few odd effects that shouldn’t have been in The Two Towers. A prime example of this involves Legolas and a horse. While the horse is rushing towards him (complete with rider), Legolas manages to grasp the left side of the horse, then swings around in front of the horse, does a little pirouette and lands astride the horse – from the right side. It’s stupid, and highly unbelievable.

If they wanted Legolas on the horse, he could have grabbed the right side while the horse went past and pulled himself up. But no, they had to get all fancy. It looks so fake it makes you laugh aloud.

Things like that. No reason why they’re there, the filmmakers just didn’t pay attention to those small details. With the immense effort that must have gone into making the rest of the effects, it’s a question of why did they skimp there? Not a major scene, but still a detraction in terms of special effects quality.

After seeing The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring (2001), I had hopes that the second would improve a little. The Two Towers, in reality, improved much more than I had hoped, but still has a few bugs to work out.

If they can just get Elijah Wood to act, give John Rhys-Davies a part (as in the first film) he can really get into, and go over the special effects with maybe a finer tooth comb, the third film could be perfect.

Although The Two Towers is a gigantic improvement over The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring (2001), it makes me wonder which way The Lord Of The Rings: The Return Of The King (2003) will go. Will it backtrack and slide back down to the level of the first film, or will it continue the uphill climb, and really be The Lord Of The Rings: The Return Of The King (2003)…of movies. Guess we’ll have to wait until next Christmas to know for sure.

In the meantime, if you haven’t, check out The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers. It’s worth seeing in the theaters.

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DVD Features

4-Disc Extended Edition
  • Widescreen
  • Animated Menus
  • Scene Access
  • 4 Feature-Length Audio Commentaries:
    • The Director and Writers
    • The Design Team
    • The Production/Post-Production Team
    • The Cast
  • Introduction by Director/Writer/Producer Peter Jackson
  • 12 Documentaries:
    • J.R.R. Tolkein: Origins Of Middle-Earth
    • From Book To Script: Finding The Story
    • Designing And Building Middle-Earth
    • WETA Workshop
    • The Taming Of Sméagol
    • Warriors Of The Third Age
    • Cameras In Middle-Earth
    • Big-atures
    • WETA Digital
    • Editorial: Refining The Story
    • Music For Middle-Earth
    • The Soundscapes Of Middle-Earth: "The Battle for Helm's Deep Is Over..."
  • Andy Serkis Animation Reference Sequence
  • The Flooding Of Isengard Animatic
  • Gollum's "Stand In" Featurette
  • Sound Demonstration: "Helm's Deep"
  • "Middle-Earth Atlas" - trace the journeys of: Frodo and Sam; Merry and Pippin; Legolas, Aragorn and Gimli; Gandalf
  • "New Zealand As Middle Earth" - real locations used for: Emyn Muil; The Dead Marshes; Rohan; Edoras; Ithilien; Fangorn Forest; Helm's Deep
  • 5 Galleries:
    • The People of Middle-Earth
    • The Realms of Middle-Earth
    • Production Photos
    • Abandoned Concepts - Slime Balrog
    • Abandoned Concepts - Endless Stair
  • 7 Miniatures Galleries:
    • Barad-dûr
    • The Black Gate
    • Fangorn Forest
    • Helm's Deep
    • Osgiliath
    • Ruined Isengard
    • Zirakzigil
 

About

An ex-Floridian, ex-Baltimorian now living in Arizona, Reid wants to get into a career that involves web-design, but for now enjoys working on critiQal in his spare time.


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