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
From when I was very young, my most cherished memories of movies are of those that completely took me over, and took me to places I'd never seen before. The second installment of Peter Jackson's film of "Lord of the Rings" is one of those movies.I'm not completely sold on the view that the second movie is better than the first, which view is emerging from some of the reviews, but it is certainly every bit as good as the first, and if you don't remember how good that was, I urge you to run and watch the DVD again, particularly the longer edition that was recently released of it. This is great filmmaking, which I believe will be remembered years from now.
"THIS IS WHAT WE GO TO MOVIES FOR!"
That is also what I'd say to the (inevitable!) group of folks who will criticise this film by saying that the first movie is better, on the basis that this one doesn't stand alone. It wasn't meant to. It's meant to be a part of a large piece.
For those wondering, I got to see it early through an exploit Harry Knowles would be proud of. An employee of a theater that had a press screening earlier this week invited a select group of friends to come see it while the theater was closed, and his manager away. So we showed up at five in the morning to watch it, earlier this week. And since I didn't sign any agreement not to print a review until a specific date, I can give some advance word to you all.
Not that this movie needs it--is there anyone here who is not going to see it as soon as they can? What I can tell is that it is worthy of your attention, and worth the wait, and my biggest criticism is that we have to wait another whole year before we get "Return of the King."
Jackson has done more with "The Two Towers" at re-arranging events from the book than he did in the first movie--it doesn't end at Shelob's lair--but he remains true to his source, despite his fiddling. He also manages to jump around between the three threads of the story so well he makes it look it easy, like Fred Astaire dancing.
The film starts off exactly where the first movie ended, without a recap. Indeed, Jackson manages to fake you out with what looks like it's going to be a recap, but turns out not to be. It struck me at how many ways Jackson has found to tell a story that's this well known, and surprise us with it.
The fellowship has split into three groups. Merry and Pippin have been taken by the Uruk-hai, and eventually meet Treebeard and the Ents. Aragorn, Gimli, and Legolas find a reborn Gandalf, and come to the aid of Rohan in the war that is starting. And Frodo and Sam travel towards Mordor, picking up Gollum along the way. And it all ends with the most spectacularly epic battle I've ever seen in a movie, the last-stand defense of Helm's Deep.
The big revelation to me was Viggo Mortensen as Aragorn, who really is the movie star they claimed he was in the documentaries on the DVD. In the first film he looked right as Aragorn, but the film is Frodocentric (Peter Jackson's term), and Aragorn was off to one side. In "The Two Towers," the big story is Aragorn coming into his own, and Mortensen rises superbly to the part.
The entire cast continues to do great work (which one rather expects, given that Jackson was able to cherry-pick the perfect cast for his film), so standing out in this company is to be very good, indeed. Aside from Mortensen, Ian McKellen continues to shine as Gandalf. Has there every been an actor so able to be both puckishly funny and yet solemn at the same time?
Much has also been made about the CGI effects of Gollum, and they are tremendous, but I was more impressed by Treebeard. A walking tree, I'd never had a real idea of what the character looked like (or one I believed, at any rate), until this film.
Interestingly, the biggest disagreement the group I saw the film with had was about the Ents. While several of us liked the Ents and wanted to see more of them, there was a distinct group of folks who hated them, and thought they were the worst thing in the movie. "Well, every epic's gonna have its Jar-Jar," was one comment. I strongly disagree with the comment, and suspect the Ents will gain a lot from the expanded cut.
As opposed to Gollum, where you get as much of the character as you need. A lot of the praise has been going to the CGI of Gollum, which is very good, but it's also the staging and writing and Andy Serkis's acting of the part which are selling the illusion. The schizophrenic arguments between Smeagol and Gollum manage to make him funny and pathetic and threatening and moving, all at the same time.Peter Jackson's masterpiece continues, at the same high quality level he managed for the first part. We are lucky to be having them.
link directly to this review at http://www.efilmcritic.com/review.php?movie=6450&reviewer=301
originally posted: 12/14/02 06:43:33