In anticipation of The Hobbit, I will be reviewing each installment of the marvelous Lord of The Rings trilogy, continuing with:

This one’s a Must-see!

A great entry in a great saga.

Peter Jackson‘s unreasonably well-made, well-cast, well-scored and ever-so fantastical Lord of The Rings trilogy continues with The Two Towers, and it proves that the team is clearly still at it’s finest down there in New Zealand. So far, it is the best of the series, but this one’s only warming up for The Return of The King, which is even better. I’m quite certain that if J.R.R. Tolkien was alive today, he’d not be disappointed with how Jackson treated his work, his characters, his world and its mythology. He’d also be pretty old, I’m thinking.

First of all, the film takes us back to the hair-raisingly dramatic moment in The Fellowship of The Ring, in which the wizard Gandalf (Ian McKellen) is separated from his fellowship during a battle with a fiery beast in the mines of Moria. This flashback shows us that he did at least put up quite the fight, and who knows? Maybe we shall meet him again? Either way, this sequence is part of a dream, had by a hobbit named Frodo (Elijah Wood), who, together with his old friend Sam (Sean Astin) is wandering towards Mordor, a Hellish land in which the  evil, powerful ring he carries can be destroyed. At first they’re on their own, until a sneaky but ambiguous creature emerges, and offers them guidance into Mordor – a horrid creature named Gollum (Andy Serkis). He’s by far the best thing to come out of this franchise.

Elsewhere, two other hobbits named Merry (Dominic Monaghan) and Pippin (Billy Boyd) escape the army of Uruk-hai who, in the last movie, captured them to deliver them to a band of orcs who answer to the evil wizard Saruman (Christopher Lee). They instead end up in the Fangorn forest, where they meet someone who also has an axe to grind with the sordid wizard. Meanwhile, ranger Aragorn (Viggo Mortensen), Elf Legolas (Orlando Bloom) and dwarf Gimli (John-Rhys Davies) are initially trying to find Merry and Pippin but their attention is later drawn towards the kingdom of Rohan, where King Théoden (Bernard Hill) is not the man he once was and he is ignoring an impending attack from the dark forces. But the three friends meet someone who can help them restore Théoden to the king he ought to be; someone they thought would never come – Gandalf.

I don’t think that’s a spoiler. I mean, look at the poster! And trailer.

The “two towers” of the title refers to Saruman’s Orthanc and his dark master Sauron’s tower of Barad-dûr, from which his giant eye watches over Mordor and the rest of Middle Earth, waiting to strike it down. If the title was no indication, shit goes down in this film!

Sam, Frodo and Gollum, trying to find a way to simply walk into Mordor.

Brilliant horror actors Brad Dourif and Christopher Lee share the screen in ‘The Two Towers’.

Other characters blessed with flawlessly selected actors are Théoden’s niece Éowyn (Miranda Otto), who crushes on Aragorn; her brother Éomer (Karl Urban); Saruman’s ghastly servant Gríma Wormtongue (the brilliant Brad Dourif); Aragorn’s Elven sweetheart Arwen (Liv Tyler); her father Elrond (Hugo Weaving), who fears that she will give up immortality for the man she loves; Elf queen Galadriel (Cate Blanchett); a very old ent (tree-man) named Treebeard (Davies again), who has lost many of his trees to Saruman’s twisted experiments; and Captain Faramir (David Wenham), the less beloved brother of the late Boromir (Sean Bean), who achieved a greater hero status than his younger sibling. In the Extended Cut, their father – Denethor, Steward of Gondor – is played by the great John Noble.

This is where things get a bit complicated and the fellowship has split up all over Middle Earth. The film keeps cutting between Frodo and Sam’s storyline, Aragorn and company’s storyline and the storyline involving Merry and Pippin’s adventures in the Fangorn forest. I personally don’t mind this so much, as I believe it makes the plot more interesting since it allows a more vast variety in settings and things to be kept guessing about. When watching an intense battle scene in Helm’s Deep, for instance, one might still be giddy and in suspense regarding what will happen to Frodo in the other plotline. Then when it switches, you start eagerly wondering what’ll happen in one of the other plotlines. The multiple plotlines makes the film more exciting for me personally.

The scenes in Fangorn remind me of old storybook illustrations.

But I think the greatest achievement in The Two Towers, as with the whole trilogy in general, is how it’s crafted. On top of being a faithful and accurate adaptation of Tolkien’s tale, it contains some of the greatest effects in cinema history, which have yet to be matched. People who work in the visual effects business will probably say that the real star of this film is Gollum, a CGI creature who even to this day is one of the most gorgeous things ever created on a computer (the psychological conflict between him and his former self, Smeagol, is one of my favourite elements of the series). Just as impressive are the practical effects, costumes and sets, and the crew has not been holding out on either of these. There is sheer, pure love behind every set, every model,  and every piece of clothing, all of it designed to enthrall us and take us on a journey into what feels like the real Middle Earth. The music by Howard Shore does not hurt.

Is there anything in these films worth complaining about? That is hard to imagine. Even those who claim to despise the trilogy are hopefully aware deep down that it’s still an inarguable milestone in the history of filmmaking and that the amount of work put into them has yet to be surpassed. Not that I know anyone who can honestly admit to a disliking of The Lord of The Rings, but if there are people like that anywhere, I shall stand by my theory that they’re just mad because people don’t like Twilight as much.

5/5 whatever

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