Worth A Look: 9.54%
Pretty Bad: 2.24%
Total Crap: 2.38%
14 reviews, 587 user ratings
|Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers, The
by Scott Weinberg
Last year I called 'Fellowship' the Godfather of the fantasy genre. Not surprisingly, this one is the Godfather Part 2. Movies like this make me even more impatient with the rotten ones. Jackson's Lord of the Rings is what happens when passion, art, and commerce combine...in that order.See, I think it's wholly unfair to judge a movie when you're given just one-third of it to go by. (Ok, two-thirds nowadays, but you get the point.) I'd contend that Jackson's entire 9+ hour mammoth will represent the pinnacle of 'grand' modern moviemaking...so it only stands to reason that the individual parts simply rock. (Yes, I can nearly guarantee that I'll be back next year with a 5 star review for Return of the King; how could the film be less superlative than these two installments? Short answer: it couldn't.)
"Yeah, these flicks are just that damn good. Isn't it great?"
But inasmuch as The Two Towers is a 'sequel' or a "Chapter Two" simple logic dictates that it is its own movie, one that should be judged on its exclusive merits and not those of the series (or production) as a whole. Lest you think I'm just lumping these movies together and blindly labeling them the reinvention of the wheel, here's the straight scoop on The Two Towers:
It's awe-inspiring, amazingly entertaining, and a glowing testament to how wonderful the art of big-budget filmmaking can be. (This is coming from a guy who read the source material after the movies were announced, so if you're a Tolkien purist you may see the films in a decidedly different light.) One of the golden issues seems to be that The Two Towers doesn't "stand on its own". To that I say simply this: the finest pieces of entertainment require some sort of effort on the viewers' part. In this case, all the effort you're asked is that of sitting through The Fellowship of the Ring - hardly an unpleasant assignment, if you're asking me.
So yeah, you'll be lost if you didn't see the first film. One could say the same about The Godfather Part 2, and nobody seems to mind there.
What impressed me most about the 'adaptation' angle is how Jackson and Company were able to take a novel that tells its story in A-B-C fashion and congeal it into a cinematic narrative that allows each separate subplot its own ebb and flow. In short, this one's not as 'close' to the source material as the first film, but therein lies the power of the word 'adaptation'.
As much as Fellowship was a true ensemble piece, The Two Towers deftly weaves three separate narratives: Frodo (Eljah Wood) and Sam (Sean Astin) trek dangerously close to Mordor; Merry (Dominic Monaghan) and Pippin (Billy Boyd) manage to escape from their Uruk-hai captors only to find themselves not alone in the Fangorn Forest; while Aragorn (Viggo Mortensen), Legolas (Orlando Bloom), and Gimli (John Ryhs-Davies) are in hot pursuit of their kidnapped pals. To say that each tale leads somewhere fascinating would be a massive understatement. (Oh, and wasn't there a Wizard involved in all this somehow?)
Random musing: What does it say about the impact of Jackson's films that names like Aragorn and Frodo are now recalled as easily as Vader and Skywalker?
Much like the intital film introduced a stunning array of characters, The Two Towers offers a few new faces: Miranda Otto is sweet and effective as the demure (yet fiery) Eowyn; Bernard Hill is stately and regal as the afflicted King Theoden; Karl Urban is suitably heroic as Eomer the horseman; Brad Dourif is gleefully evil as the aptly named Grima Wormtongue; and then there's Gollum.
As someone generally unimpressed by 'all-CGI' movie characters, it took me a few moments with Gollum before I realized how stunningly this sort of technology could be utilized. It's no surprise that New Line is pushing Andy Serkis' name on the Supporting Actor ballot. That this character could be so flawlessly created and this genuinely heartfelt marks a milestone in the marriage between art and technology.
As irritating as it is to sound like a gushing press release, The Two Towers simply does have it all: rousing adventure and kinetic fights, touching romance and warm friendship, scary jolts and solid laughs, candy for the eye, roughage for the brain, and a feast for all the other senses. The acting is surprisngly strong across the board, Howard Shore's musical score is lush and invigorating, the art direction and costume design are stunningly beautiful...Hell, you could be a movie fan with zero tolerance for dragons and wizards, yet still simply sit back and enjoy the scope and spectacle and the pure, jaw-dropping craftsmanship of what's parading across the screen.
Bah. I could go on and on and on, but scan the movie sites and you'll find a dozen rave reviews for this one. Much as I hate to 'go along with the crowd' there's simply no denying that The Lord of the Rings is a filmmaking acheivement of staggering proportions, one that deserves every ounce of praise its received...and then some.Not too long ago, The Lord of the Rings was still considered an 'impossible' movie to make. Now it's the planet's favorite adventure. Pretty damn cool, eh?
link directly to this review at http://www.efilmcritic.com/review.php?movie=6450&reviewer=128
originally posted: 12/22/02 17:36:05