The Lord of the Rings: The Twin Towers (2002 New Zealand/USA)

So the journey continued with ‘The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers.’ This review will assume you have seen the first film, ‘The Fellowship of the Ring.’ Which is fine because Peter Jackson, at the helm of this massive production, assumes you have seen it as well. Intelligently, Jackson does not begin with a redundant and unnecessary prologue. He dives right into what the filmmakers considered the hardest segment of the trilogy to make. 

When we left the fellowship, they were in shambles. Gandalf had fallen; Merry and Pippen were kidnapped by the evil forces; Aragorn, Legolas, and Gimli seek their smaller comrades without the help of Boromir, who has also died; this leaves Frodo and Sam on their way to Mount Doom, the one ring still in their grasp. As for The Two Towers, it is more successful than ‘Fellowship’ because we aren’t drowned in info dumps. The first film introduced us to too many characters of Middle Earth. ‘The Two Towers’ isn’t quite as concerned with exposition, though new characters do come on board. Merry and Pippin meet Treebeard, a large, talking “tree herder” who is concerned about the plight of his forest’s future since the destructive orcs and their masters, Sauron and Saruman, burn everything in their path.

Legolas, Aragorn, and Gimli enter the kingdom of Rohan and cross paths with King Theoden and his people. Theoden has been under Saruman’s spell as part of he and Sauron’s master plan to take over the separate kingdoms of Middle Earth. Eowyn, the king’s niece, develops a special liking for Aragorn. However, as we understand from the first film, there is still a deep love between Aragorn and the elf Arwen. Along with the rest of the elfs of Middle Earth, Arwen is persuaded to leave for another world entirely. But she does have reservations about leaving her true love–the mortal Aragorn, for distant lands, never to see him again.

Frodo and Sam are introduced to the mysterious Gollum, who attempts to attack the hobbits in their sleep to regain the ring. Instead, Gollum and Frodo kindle a special relationship since they both harbor a certain addiction to the ring’s power. Frodo’s Elijah Wood is the most effective actor in ‘Two Towers’ as he is gradually taken more and more over by the ring and it’s awesome strength. Gollum becomes Frodo and Sam’s guide to Mordor. Gollum’s intentions, though, are never clear to the hobbits – neither are they to Gollum.

These three strands of story form a massive, thoroughly effective, epic tale of nature vs. machine, creature vs. creature and, through Frodo, man vs. himself. The encompassing story leads to a heroic battle sequence fought on two fronts, while all the time we wonder how long Frodo can hold on to his sanity as the ring slowly takes power over him. The pacing, which was an issue with ‘Fellowship,’ is not problematic at all the second time around. The three stories are told in a manner that flows right through the three hour+ tale. One problem that persists is that ‘Two Towers’ is largely unaffected by the humanity other than Frodo’s saga.

There is love between Aragorn and Arwen. Eowyn also shows up as a romantic character. Her father, Theoden, is a courageous man but flawed psychologically. There exists connections between these many characters and more but they all feel half baked and cast aside to make more room for fighting. Still, ‘The Two Towers’ is enormously successful as a narrative and even more ambitious than ‘Fellowship’ visually. The score, by Howard Shore, is among the very best ever composed. The evil orcs and uruk-hai never look fake and evoke terror in the characters and in the audience. I still yearn for a more personal story, but in other realms of film-making, Peter Jackson and those under his command really outdone themselves.  🙂

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Comments

  1. Excellent review as always. Looking forward to your take on The Return of the King in the future!

    Liked by 1 person

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