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The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers

Peter Jackson's award-winning 2002 film adaptation of the second volume of Tolkien's epic fantasy novel.

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Feast or Famine?

  • Dec 20, 2002
Pros: Visually stunning, Some characters wonderfully portrayed

Cons: Uneven pacing, relies on familiarity and then discards the familiar.

The Bottom Line: A beautiful film that doesn't quite come together in places. Good, sometimes breathtaking, but basically not as good as it could have been.

All year long I whetted my appetite, eagerly anticipating The Two Towers with a hunger usually reserved for dreams of Thanksgiving dinner. With mental fork and knife, I took my seat ready and willing to devour the lavish feast I had envisioned for 360 some odd days. Impatiently muttering, "This film isn't 3 and a half hours long, it's only two. The advertising and previews take up the other hour and a half!" I tried not to squirm.

Finally, the film began with a stunning battle scene between our beloved Gandalf and the dreaded Balrog. Yes! I began to drink in the film through all my senses, my soul dancing with glee and impertinently asking for more...yet it wasn't long before I began finding burnt edges, lumps, and overly spiced portions in my long anticipated feast. Sadly, when all was said and done, I found myself leaving the theatre not really sated and ever-so-slightly nauseated at the thought of what Might be offered up to us next year.

Good Seasonings:

When translating from book to film, I go in realizing that it Can Not be the same work. There are certain aspects to the written form that simply don't translate into the visual medium of film. Not a bad thing, just different. Especially when dealing with such an extensive and well loved work as Tolkien's tales of Middle Earth!

In Two Towers they have managed to bring a great deal of Middle Earth to life before our eager eyes. The battle scenes are phenomenal. The casting was, again, surprisingly appropriate. The despicable Wormtongue was just as loathsome and repellent as I had always imagined. Eomer was just as proud and quick to take action as I would expect. Eowyn shifted effortlessly from delicate to fierce, from grieving to rejoicing, from loathing to pride. Even all the scenes involving the conflict between Arwen, Elrond and Aragorn (although technically not really played up as much in the Trilogy) were quite well done. I can appreciate that a less informed viewer than myself could quite easily overlook all the obstacles that really did impede the love of Aragorn and Arwen.

The loving attention to detail in buildings, costuming, landscapes, music, weapons and armor were beyond reproach. The cinematograpy is beautiful and the CGI work in this film is a peerless example of what to strive for in that field. Gollum, perhaps the most anticipated fully computer generated character to date, was possibly the crowning jewel for this film. His internal struggles were illustrated both poignantly and humorously. One could just glimpse the tattered remains of his once sane and normal existence, and the heart cannot help but to mourn a bit for his twisted little scrap of a soul. His movements and over-all appearance, while uniquely Gollum, are the closest I have yet seen to an acurate CGI portrayal of relistic bipedal motions and gestures.

The Ents are perhaps only slightly less anticipated than poor Gollum. I must say they were quite beautifully depicted, even if I wasn't entirely satisfied with their roles.

Bad Taste:

I think it may be impossible for me to really judge the LOTR films impartially. I am, however, willing and able to overlook quite a bit in the name of artistic license and practicality. However, I also knew that the pacing of Two Towers as a book is quite difficult and had to be handled expertly if it were to succeed as a film. I'll admit that my familiarity with the original story may have colored my perception of this aspect in the film, but I found myself impatient with extraneous scenes being drawn out a bit too long, important details left out, or scenes included that never should have appeared. These portions also seemed inextricably bound with certain flaws in the portrayal of some characters.

For example, there were quite a few scenes that lingered upon King Theoden's grief over the death of his only son, his general feelings of doubt and despair. Yes, Theoden felt these things but, in the book, he did not allow them to influence his decisions quite so much as they did in the film. He spurns all of Aragorn's advice in an almost petulant, offhand manner rather than truly taking anything offered into serious consideration. In fact, he seemed so guided by his despair that Theoden was beginning to feel like a different character altogether who doesn't even appear in this film, the tragic ruler of Gondor, Lord Denethor.

By the time Two Towers introduces one of my favorite characters, Faramir, I had already forgiven so many little inaccuracies that I was beginning to fear that I wouldn't recognize Faramir at all! "Tricksy movie makers! Ack, ssss, we hates them!" Ok, so I wouldn't go quite that far, but I nearly leapt out of my seat when Faramir tried to take Frodo and Samwise back to Gondor. One of the most important things about this character was his ability to see what his brother, Boromir, and father, Denethor, are unable to see....the danger of trying to use the Ring. It was such a blatant breach of character that I was thunderstruck.

I gazed in horrified amazement as Faramir, Frodo, and Sam picked their way through the ruins of Osigiliath. A frustrated Samwise turns to Frodo asking, "What are we doing here?" I'm sure those seated closest to us could here my remark, "Yeah, that's what I'd like to know!" Sam bravely pushes on with the line, "We shouldn't be here!" I couldn't help myself. I barked with laughter and exclaimed, "You ain't kidding!" I honestly expected Frodo to say, "It's like we're caught in some strange play." and for both of them to turn and look into the camera. Was this meant as a joke? I felt like I'd just choked on a bone I really hadn't expected to find in this portion of my metaphorical meal.

"What about the Ents?", I hear some of you asking "You said you weren't satisfied with the Ents?" Well, no... I wasn't, now that you ask. Visually, the were remarkable, but they seemed to be served up to us more like an elaborate dessert than the potatoes I expected to compliment the meat of this film. My biggest gripe with how the Ents were portrayed is how they seem to contradict themselves so greatly in the short amount of time the spend on screen Not fighting a major battle.

"It takes a long time to say anything in Old Entish. We Ents never say anything unless it's worth taking a long time to say. Let's not be Hasty!" Treebeard admonishes Merry and Pippin. Then, when the hobbits "cleverly" educate Treebeard on all the destruction wrought by Saruman... Treebeard howls out a single long word in Entish and all the Ents magically appear out of Fangorn to tear down Orthanc. Seemed impossibly hasty to me!

Pushing Away From the Table:

While I found myself generally dissatisfied with the end results of Two Towers, I also will eagerly admit that there was quite alot that I did truly enjoy. The attention paid to tiny details was touching to one who so loves Tolkien's works, and that helps when trying to overlook the larger details that they could have handled better. It is a visually stunning film and I'm glad that I saw it on the big screen.

I think I expected them to do a better job than they did simply because they did such a fabulous job with the first film. I feel a bit like they set me up! I only hope that this isn't a sign of greater disappointment in the last installment of this trilogy, The Return of the King. I had no real doubt after seeing Lord of the Rings, but find myself gnawed by tiny little 'What-ifs' now, too horrible to drag into the light of day. I struggled long and hard to come up with a fair rating for this film. In the end I decided on three out of five stars. One for all the bits I couldn't forgive, and one for all the disappoint and doubt that came from their mistakes. While I in no way feel this film is 'average', I did want my rating to reflect my disappointments with this work. Without the mental and emotional anguish, I'd probably more honestly rate this as 4 stars. For all my complaints, it was a lovely film for many reasons. As usual, I would recommend that you see the film for yourself before making up your mind, but I suggest you eat well before sitting down to this one.


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More The Lord of the Rings: The Two... reviews
review by . December 24, 2010
This is another perfect film in what's most likely the greatest fantasy franchise ever (Harry Potter doesn't count). There's absolutely nothing wrong with it, the only thing that even remotely irked me was that I found it a bit too long. The acting, the story, the characters, the visuals, the Battle of Helm's Deep, the villains, the dialogue, and the continuation of the story is what makes this film perfect. Yup, that pretty much covers it...everything is just perfect.   …
review by . October 10, 2006
Every great adventure story worth telling has a solid hero - someone who puts others before themselves and uses their talents to do their best at keeping the forces of evil at bay even if it means the loss of life and limb. At its core, this movie has eight such heroes and each one lives up to the call. Peter Jackson was faced with a great challenge but he managed to pull this off real well.    This film was better paced than the first in the trilogy. There were still some breaks …
review by . June 03, 2004
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The extended versions of these movies are even better than the originals. They're so good, in fact, that I wish they would skip the standard edition and just go right to the extended one. Great movie, and the best mastered DVD I've seen yet.
review by . February 04, 2004
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I have seen all three films and consider them to make up the greatest trilogy ever and this film is my favorite of the three! I have seen it several times. The band that got together on the journey to Mordor in the first film is split into 3 groups. The Troll, Elf Archer and the man (who is destined to be king of men?) make up one band while Frodo and Sam make up the second band, and the other two Hobbits make up the third group. We basically have stories going on simultaneously and the director …
review by . January 03, 2004
THE LORD OF THE RINGS: THE FELLOWSHIP OF THE RING seemed unsurpassable. But it happened! And that's because now we have THE LORD OF THE RINGS: THE TWO TOWERS, a moviemaking masterpiece second only to three films: THE SHAWSHANK REDEMPTION, THE GODFATHER, and THE LORD OF THE RINGS: THE RETURN OF THE KING. The film deals with the Fellowship after their seperation. Frodo (Elijah Wood) and Sam (Sean Astin) continue their quest to Mt. Doom; at the same time, Aragorn (Viggo Mortensen), Legolas (Orlando …
review by . November 21, 2003
posted in Movie Hype
I liked the theatrical version of "The Two Towers." That being said, the Extended Edition is definitely a stronger, more consistent film. It tightens up so many of the loose ends, and gave more reason for some of the changes made from the books. From Eowyn's heartfelt singing at Theodred's funeral procession to Merry and Pippin's extended roles to Faramir's siginificantly more defined character, the new scenes add to the story and to the character development dramatically. The plot flows better …
review by . November 19, 2003
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Once again, Peter Jackson has outdone himself with the Special Extended DVD Edition of THE LORD OF THE RINGS: THE TWO TOWERS. Besides the original nearly three hour film, this edition includes just over 43 minutes of footage that was not shown in the original cinematic release. I realize why some of the scenes were not included in the movie, but some of the other ones I just don't understand: they add such depth to the movie and make it better than it was. Since the series has been such a success, …
review by . September 01, 2003
posted in Movie Hype
Simply put, "The Two Towers" lives up to the standards the filmmakers set for themselves in the first film. It is remarkably faithful to the books, and it is an excellent film in any estimation.The style established in the first film is maintained rigorously in the second. Colors, sounds, dialogue, effects, acting... all excellent, all used well. I cannot think of a single element with which I was disappointed, but there were a few things which stood out as particularly impressive.The achievement …
review by . January 02, 2003
posted in Movie Hype
Pros: Lives up to the hype, and even surpasses it     Cons: Liv Tyler's scenes drag on     The Bottom Line: I said I'd review this when it came out, didn't I? I guess most of you wouldn't know.     As I sat and watched the opening scene in The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers, I couldn’t help but think: Gandalf is one baaad mutha-... Here he is, just having taken an unwilling (but graceful!) swan dive into the abyss, and he’s still …
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Quinn Blackburn ()
Ranked #48
Hello, my name is Quinn. :o) I also answer to Mom, YaYa, and occasionally Entwife. I enjoy Beauty wherever I find it... Nature, Music, Art in all its forms... I believe these to be true and sacred things … more
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The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers is a 2002 fantasy-adventure film directed by Peter Jackson based on the second volume of J. R. R. Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings. It is the second film in The Lord of the Rings film trilogy that was preceded by The Fellowship of the Ring (2001) and concluded with The Return of the King (2003).

Continuing the plot of The Fellowship of the Ring, it intercuts three storylines, as Frodo and Sam continue their quest to destroy the One Ring in Mordor and meet Gollum, its former owner. Aragorn, Legolas, and Gimli come across the war torn nation of Rohan as well as the resurrected Gandalf, before fighting at the Battle of Helm's Deep, whilst Merry and Pippin escape capture and meet Treebeard, the Ent and plan an attack on Isengard.

The movie was critically acclaimed, although the adaptation was more controversial than the first film. It was an enormous box-office success, earning over $900 million worldwide, outgrossing its predecessor, and is currently the 11th highest-grossing film of all time (inflation-adjusted, it is the 60th most successful film in North America). The film won two Academy Awards. The Special Extended DVD Edition was released on November 19, 2003 and is now discontinued.
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Director: Peter Jackson
Genre: Action, Adventure, Classics, Drama, Fantasy
Release Date: December 18, 2002
MPAA Rating: PG-13
Screen Writer: Peter Jackson, Frances Walsh
DVD Release Date: August 26, 2003
Runtime: 2hrs 59min
Studio: New Line Cinema, Wingnut Films
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"Feast or Famine?"
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