THE LORD OF THE RINGS: THE TWO TOWERS
Special Extended Edition
Review by Mark Wiechman
Wood, Ian McKellen, Viggo Mortensen, Liv Tyler, Sean Astin, Christopher Lee,
Director: Peter Jackson
Audio: Dolby Digital EX 5.1, DTS ES, Dolby Surround
Video: Anamorphic Widescreen 2.35:1
Studio: New Line Cinema
Features: See Review
Length: 223 Minutes
Release Date: November 18, 2003
Tolkienís Lord of
the Rings saga continues in
this second installment of Peter Jacksonís
movie version of the best-selling fantasy series.
In this episode, Frodo and Sam continue into the land of Mordor, where
they must attempt to destroy the Ring by flinging it into the volcanic Mount
Doom. Since they do not know the
way, they are led there by Gollum, the twisted wretch whose slavish devotion to
the Ring has made him a split-personality of gracious servitude who chides Sam
for cooking meat and who also plots to do whatever it takes to get the ring
back. Meanwhile, Aragorn,
Gimli, and Legolas search for Merry and Pippin.
We also find out whether Gandalf survived his fall into the abyss.
The movie concludes with an incredible battle at Helmís Deep.
Not for the sheepish (or anyone who has not seen the first movie).
The title refers to the unholy alliance of the wizard
Sarumanís Isengard tower of Orthanc where he breeds orcs and orchestrates the
destruction of Middle Earth with Sauronís tower of Barad-dur, where his great
Eye watches seeks the Ring, just as it seeks him.
I agree with many other reviewers who thought that this
movie was as good as The Fellowship of the
Ring and maybe even better in many aspects. In the extras for the first DVD set, Jackson explained how
complicated it was to take the original Tolkien trilogy and make it into movies,
partly because they were not certain if they were going to make one, two, or
three full-length movies. Naturally
this made the screenwriting process even more convoluted.
In the end, it was decided that three movies would indeed
be made, but that the movies would not necessarily match the movies in their
structure. I thought this was an
excellent idea since of the three original novels, The Two Towers was a dull collection of adjectives about trees and
family folklore compared with the originality of Fellowship and the thrilling action-filled climax, Return
of the King. I was afraid that Towers, if filmed to match the novel page for page, would bore
everyone and the project would not last. Instead,
Jackson and company have managed to spread the action and non-action around very
well and obviously the whole entertainment world is already anticipating the
theatrical release of Return of the King. I
also feel that this trilogy will stand for many, many years (if not forever) as
the definitive motion picture adaptation of The
Lord of the Rings. It has set a
whole new standard for movie magic, even eclipsing the new Star Wars trilogy.
In this chapter Tolkienís real world is clearly reflected
in his writing. The villagers being
chased out by orcs reminds me of the Nazis overrunning Europe and the Ents
complaining about how no one cares about the trees is a commentary on the
ecological apathy of most of the twentieth century.
And just as Sauronís evil sweeps over Middle Earth, evil forces of the
early 20th century were coming close to dominating Europe.
When I saw this movie in the theatre on New Yearís Eve
2002 (using the pass which came with the Fellowship
extended set), I remember that I hardly breathed the whole time, and barely
anyone else did, either. I did not
say a word to my friend nor do I remember if I ate anything.
I could hardly talk when it was over because it was such an incredible
high, like a rock concert.
And I cannot let my review go without praising the
incredible CGI and elocution behind the character of Gollum, the poster child
for greed corrupting an innocent soul and ten times the character that Lucasí
Jar-Jar ever was. How does it feel,
Mr. Lucas, to have someone else take your technology and make something so much
Clear, flawless, no splotchiness of any kind that I can see
even in the dark caves or in the forest.
No loss of integrity or problems with special effects, even better than
DTS or death, I say! Ironically
though, the use of all channels is not as adventurous as in Fellowship,
and the overall volume is a bit lower than expected, but the quality is
excellent, with the excellent soundtrack almost becoming a character unto itself
without ever crowding out the dialogue and sound effects.
Cheers to the composer, sound engineers, and DVD preparation teams.