December 17, 2012 by thedavidryan
The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers – Review
“All our hopes now lie with two little hobbits, somewhere in the wilderness.”
Another day, another “Finally got round to watching….” and this time it is the excellent The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers. For those that have never seen part two of Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings trilogy, The Two Towers continues from where the Fellowship of the Ring left off, as Frodo and Sam are edging ever nearer to Mordor with the help of their untrustworthy guide Gollum, while the rest of the separated fellowship makes a stand against Sauron’s new supporter, Saruman, in a mesmerising battle that will go down as one of the finest ever caught on film.
I must admit at the end of the Fellowship of the Ring I was a little underwhelmed by the whole thing. As I pointed out in my review, I thought the story plodded along at times and was used as a mechanism to set up subsequent events that would appear in later films. However, thankfully The Two Towers delivers the anticipated pay offs from the Fellowship of the Ring and marches along with significantly more assurance and smoothness than the desperately jammed Fellowship.
The ensemble cast once again add meat to the bones of this fantasy tale. Elijah Wood delivers a much more compelling performance this time round, as Frodo deals with the rings ever constricting hold as it tries to manipulate the good natured Hobbit. Sir Ian McKellan is once again superb as Gandalf and his surprising return as the reincarnated Gandalf the White is as welcome as it is shocking.
Unfortunately the great Christopher Lee doesn’t feature as dynamic as one would like, as the majority of his time is spent building up his gigantic army of Orc’s for the awe inspiring battle at Helm’s Deep.
Viggo Mortensen delivers a breakout performance in this movie as his destiny towards the throne becomes ever clearer. Mortensen‘s Aragorn really takes over in this film as a key player to the entire trilogy. Sure, Frodo is tasked with destroying the evil ring, however as the series ticks along it is becoming increasingly evident that Aragorn is just as important to the tale as the little Hobbit from The Shire.
Andy Serkis’s astonishing efforts in creating Gollum deserves the biggest plaudits to The Two Towers acting credits. His mannerisms, voice and real time performance makes Gollum instantly unforgettable and most importantly, very believable. Gollum is a mentally tormented individual whose personality has been ripped apart by his obsession with the ring and Serkis delivers a dazzling performance of a character aching for the very thing that is tearing him apart. The scene in which a torn Gollum is speaking to himself, fighting for his good side to overpower his evil ways is particularly brilliant.
The film’s crowning glory will forever be the unforgettable battle at Helm’s Deep. The combat is one of the best of its kind in film history, a symphony of violent bloodlust and hopes being dashed before being triumphantly restored due to a surprising return. To say this battle is epic is an understatement; Peter Jackson has truly redefined the word epic after the war at Helms Deep. The hostility is brutal, imaginative and Orlando Bloom’s skateboarding down a set of stairs whilst firing off arrows from his bow was a particular highlight. The unrelenting carnage is a joy to watch as Orc’s and human’s alike fall to one another in spectacular fashion.
The visuals to capture this colossal conflict in The Two Towers are breath taking and completely absorb the viewer in this battle to end all battles. The grey drizzly backdrop makes for a bleak and bloody war that looks as gorgeous as it does depressing. After watching the special features I discovered that this mammoth battle took an incredible four months to shoot. Amazing considering that kind of enormous schedule is longer than the production of most entire movies. It is no surprise that the cast and crew were awarded with “I survived Helms Deep” t-shirts once the production wrapped.
The sheer size of the fight is staggering as thousands of extras are outstandingly captured marching towards the gates to take part in a glorious barrage of violence. The battle at Helms Deep is a true work of visionary and logistical art and is quite simply one of the most impressive large-scale battle sequences ever committed to film.
Thankfully I have fewer gripes about The Two Towers as I thoroughly enjoyed it. However, the story of Merry and Pippin, whilst a nice change of pace, was ultimately tedious. I’m fully aware they were needed for comic relief and to stumble across the Tree Sheppard; however I found their story a little lacklustre and had me on more than one occasion clawing to get back to other more exciting stories.
Another issue I have is the dull love story between Aragorn and the Elven princess Arwen. The tale is a strange one as there is not a great deal known about how these two became romantically entangled and to what extent. This love story could do with a lot more screen time to really flesh out the arc because currently it appears as a flat subplot that is beginning to slow Aragon’s character down. Nothing against either two in the role, however I feel their relationship is just a dreary tale that offers nothing to either character.
The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers – Conclusion
In conclusion The Two Towers is a triumphant fantasy action movie with breath taking visual effects and a battle scene that will go down in history. It is an engaging, emotionally supercharged epic journey by which big-budget adventures will forever be judged. The cast remains excellent, the story is continually compelling and like in the Fellowship of the Ring, The Two Towers closes on an intriguing cliff-hanger in this amazing feat of imagination. Although there is a great deal to marvel at here, the best may still be yet to come.
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