The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers Review

by Homer Yen (homer_yen AT yahoo DOT com)
December 20th, 2002

"The Two Towers" The Grand Quest Continues by Homer Yen
(c) 2002

Prior to a penultimate battle that could very well be the beginning of the end for the denizens of Middle Earth, a weary king asks, "What can men do against such reckless hate?" He is referring to the destruction that is about to be unleashed by the evil wizard Saruman (Christopher Lee), who has created a potent army with the single-minded goal of destroying the world. One can only imagine the kind of epic clash that is about to take place. But, think about that for a moment and then multiply it by ten. Only then can you understand the level of ambitiousness, enormity, and scope of "The Two Towers."

"The Two Towers" is a grand and impressive project that deserves much applause for its technical brilliance. That alone should be enough to motivate the general moviegoing audience to take time out to watch the second film in the "Lord of the Rings" trilogy. It is a fully realized Middle Earth world replete with undiscovered lands, imaginative beings, brave warriors and races of all kinds from ethereal elves to the evil Uruk-Hai. Director Peter Jackson's commitment to its realization is unconditional.

Additionally, there are two unique elements of this film in the I-haven't-seen-that-before category. The first is a character named Gollum, generated using CGI effects with such incredible realism and human-like expressions that you'd wonder if CGI might replace real live actors one day in the future. After much skepticism, our favorite Hobbit, Frodo (Elijah Wook) accepts Gollum as his guide through Middle Earth's most treacherous terrain. Yet, it is clear that Gollum is attracted to the ring that Frodo has been entrusted to destroy (the ring is instrumental to the success of Saruman's wicked plans) and would like the ring for himself.
Another incredible effect features a race called the Ents, living trees that populate an enchanted forest. While they have the demeanor of your happily retired grandfather and make decisions with the urgency of a Lame Duck president, you do not want to provoke them. And while talking trees may sound like something out of Mr. Roger's Neighborhood, they do add a sense of majesty and magic to this wonderful world.

This film is broken into several storylines because, as the first film ended, the Fellowship of the Ring (all those entrusted to destroy the ring) became separated. Frodo, accompanied by his Hobbit friend Sam (Sean Astin), bravely continues their journey to destroy the evil ring. His two other Hobbit companions are captured, and in their struggle to escape, they seek out a new alliance to help their cause. Meanwhile, Aragon (Viggo Mortensen) establishes himself as sort of an action-hero figure, aiding the citizens of a town in their struggle to survive an encounter with Saruman's forces.

Because this installment plays more like an action film (and a very good one, mind you), and because we are familiar with the characters, what we don't get enough of is character development. There are stirring moments but there are also lulls. Eventually, it begins to feel as if much of the movie is just about the various characters moving around from location to location to location, engaging in battle after battle after battle. At some points, it felt less like an epic and more like a National Geographic segment. Even so, you've made it this far, and how can you not want to see how it ends?

Grade: B

S: 1 out of 3
L: 0 out of 3
V: 2 out of 3

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