The Lord of the Rings

The Two Towers

I remember this movie being much slower then the first one.  Having not seen this film but one time, I think I had made assumptions in my mind and I was ready to give this movie the poorest review of the three movies in this trilogy.  After watching it though, I would say it is a stronger overall movie then the first one, and I am again back to the point of saying the first movie should have ended with Gandalf dying and the second one should have picked up during the battle with the orcs and Boromir’s death.

Plot Synopsis (There Be Spoilers):

The second movie in the Lord of the Rings trilogy starts, literally where the first one lets off.  You get a brief synopsis of what has been going on and then you are immediately into the action.  To set the scene, Frodo and Sam are off to Mount Doom to chuck the ring into the volcano there, Aragon, Gimli and Legolas are tracking ti the two lost hobbits.  Along the way, the Aragon’s group goes through the land of the Rohan, they chase the orcs across a fair piece of Middle-Earth and they find the place where the two hobbits disappear.  At this same point they meet up with a new Gandalf, Gandlaf the White who has taken on the reigns of Saruman as the leader of his order.  Aragon’s group then goes to help the Rohan get their people to Helms Deep.  At the same time, Frodo and Sam are in their journey to Mount Doom.  They meet up with the unfortunate creature known as Gollum and start a very tenative relationship with him. Gollum helps the hobbits along the way and even joins back with them after they leave Boromir’s realm.  At the end of the movie, Frodo and Sam are closer to their goal and the companions have won the battle of helms deep but they are still a long way from the end of their journey.

The Good

Christopher Lee – Saruman – Christopher Lee chews the scenery in every single scene that he is in.  There is something to be said for getting an older actor, with years of experience, out of the darkness of semi-retirement and letting him strut his stuff.  His speech about the war that he intends to wage on the human world is pitch perfect and moves you like only propaganda can.

Together, my lord Sauron, we shall rule this Middle-earth. The old world will burn in the fires of industry. Forests will fall. A new order will rise. We will drive the machine of war with the sword and the spear and the iron fist of the orc.

Treebeard – Go read the post about Treants and you will start to see the infatuation that I have with this mystical creature.  Treebeard is the oldest living being in Middle-Earth and the designers and animators should get special recognition for creating this beastie.

Hroom, hm, come, my friends. The Ents are going to war. It is likely that we go to our doom. The last march of the Ents.

The Battle of Isengard – The ent attack on Isengard might actually be my favorite part of this movie.  The destruction of the orc war factory is total and wonderful and waaaay over-the-top.

The Battle of Helms Deep – At this point in the series, this is the largest battle that we have seen.  The sheer number of pieces that they put together, mixing optical and digital effects back and forth… it is an astounding scene both from the pacing of the battle, the arrival of Gandlaf and the Rohan, the whole thing is perfect.

Legolas and Gimli – They are the humor that makes the movie work.  Especially in this movie, the humor that they have with each other, the repartee between these two characters moves the darker scenes along.  The lightening of the mood, during the Warg attack and during the Battle of Helms Deep, keeps you from getting discouraged along with the characters in the movie.

Gimli: Whatever luck you live by… let’s hope it lasts the night.
Legolas: You’re friends are with you, Aragorn.
Gimli: Let’s hope they last the night…

Andy Serkis – Gollum – Here is the highlight of this movie for me.  Andy Serkis becomes the character   The use of motion capture when creating Gollum and the care that they take to make sure that he interacts with the environment, that the environment reacts to him and the other characters have interaction with Gollum is spot on.  Serkis brings this character to life, voicing him, breathing life into him and making him move the way that we have all always thought that Gollum should move.

Stupid, fat hobbit.

The Bad

The Warg Animation – The Wargs, as the storm down the mountainside, look bad.  The animators got lazy and blurred the lines so that they didn’t have to work too hard and it shows.  I was not impressed.  Later as they are fighting, the animation is much better.  I think they tried to create the illusion of movment a little to much, trying to make them look FAST, when they should have allowed ours eyes to handle that process.

Elijah Wood – Frodo Baggins – I know he is the star… but he is not great in this movie.  He was good in Fellowship of the Ring but his performance is kinda lackluster in this the second installment of the trilogy.  I don’t blame Wood however, I blame Pete Jackson.  Jackson asked for too much out of this actor and left him nowhere to go.  Don’t believe me, go watch Bad Taste – nuff said.

Frodo: What are we holding onto, Sam?
Sam: That there’s some good in this world, Mr. Frodo… and it’s worth fighting for.

The Ugly

Nothing in this movie would get classified as The Ugly, it doesn’t happen often, Rennies, so take note of it.

Liked it.  Liked it better then the first one.  Pacing was good and though I was again watching the extended cuts, it didn’t seem overly long winded like the first one.