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The Fellowship of the Ring The Two Towers The Return of the King
The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers
click to buy this poster from The Lord of the Rings:  The Two Towers 11 out of 1011 out of 1011 out of 1011 out of 1011 out of 10+
Rated: PG-13
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Current Voter Rating: 9.922 (806 votes)
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I saw this movie last night, and it has haunted my thoughts for the entire day. Especially the music, I have been playing the main themes in my head over and over and couldn't rest until I incorporated it into this webpage. Howard Shore beefs up the score for The Two Towers by adding a couple of new themes which were once again written by Enya. The theme you hear now is common to both films, and what is so great about many of these themes is that they seem to fit the same chord progressions so that they can blend together seamlessly. In fact, it seems that they can even be superimposed onto one another which is simply enthralling to me, being an amateur musician and music lover.

But there is much more to take in with this second film from The Lord of the Rings trilogy. The film opens with soaring shots over the snow-capped Misty Mountains of Middle Earth. The vision of this and other scenic shots in the film are wondrous to behold. There are countless times in this film when we the audience get to take flight like an eagle and encircle a main character (or characters) standing atop a hill or running across a field; these scenes are shot in such a wide and sweeping motion, allowing us to see all that surrounds them, that one cannot help but feel moved and appreciate their own gift of sight. At any rate, we are given a marvelous glimpse of the many lands within Middle Earth.

I was more prepared this time (as compared with when I saw The Fellowship of the Ring) for I had already read the book. It was my New Year's Resolution to finish the entire trilogy this year, and currently I am two-thirds of the way through the final book, The Return of the King. So going in, I KNEW that this movie would be MUCH better than its predecessor. And that is an understatement. For the first movie had to lay the groundwork of establishing characters and the lands that they live in. On the contrary, The Two Towers is all about action.

In fact, there is so much action that takes place in the second book, that the movie couldn't even fit it all in. There was a very exiting ending to J.R.R. Tolkien's book version (featuring Shelob) that we'll have to wait for the next movie in order to see. And there is a final confrontation between Gandalf and Saruman that also has been dramatically postponed. The movie differs from the book also by embellishing a few scenes or character roles for dramatic or romantic effect. For instance, the Elven lady Arwen (Liv Tyler), who is in love with Strider/Aragorn (Viggo Mortensen) is never mentioned in the book but is featured in the movie via flashbacks. Also, there is a scene in which Aragorn is lost and then rescued by his faithful horse which was completely new for the movie version. My favorite add to the movie, however, was in the scene in which Gandalf expels the power of Saruman from the shadow cast over King Theoden; it was not unlike that of exorcising a demon. I was fine with these changes, for it did help to intensify the emotions of what was taking place without really altering the main events that Tolkien penned for us.

Legolas Greanleef in The Lord of the Rings:  The Two Towers

Another thing that the movie does well in relation to the book is in explaining things. Usually in the case of a film which is based upon a book, the movie always fails to give the detailed backgrounds and explanations as to what is going on. This film, not unlike The Fellowship of the Ring, does an excellent job at providing such information. The most obvious example of this is in the title: The Two Towers. Reading the book, you hear of many towers including not only those of Sauron and Saruman but of Minas Morgul and Minas Tirith and others as well. The movie explains and focuses on Saruman's Orthanc tower and Sauron's tower at Barad-dur and dubs them The Two Towers. Yet one more difference in the book and the movie are in the sequence of how events are presented. In Tolkien's books, he commits the first half entirely to the company of Aragorn, Gimli, Legolas, Merry, and Pippin. Then, in the second half he comes back to Frodo and Sam. Director Peter Jackson chose to show us events as they happen and we constantly shift back and forth between storylines.

This second book and movie is much darker than the original, for we do not see the hobbits in their peaceful and carefree ways, but rather we are taken to Rohan where we see the men, women, and children under attack by an army of orcs. And of the four hobbits that we do see, they have matured much and carry with them a somber weight of seriousness and responsibility. And there is also much more evil afoot in the form of orcs, evil men, wargs, and the return of the Nazgul (the Ringwraiths from the first movie). Only this time the Nazgul ride on black winged beasts through the sky, as their shrieks pierce the air and your heart. A darkness is filling the land, especially near Mordor, and this darkness threatens all who struggle for peace and freedom. There is also fierce fighting and gruesome battle scenes which make this movie much more intense (and also much more inappropriate for kids - I'm definitely not taking my daughter to see this movie...she can wait a few years).

Frodo and Sam in The Lord of the Rings:  The Two Towers

Returning are most of the characters from the first movie, including Aragorn, the Dwarf Gimli (John Rhys-Davies), and Legolas the Elf (Orlando Bloom) who is probably my personal favorite. Seeing Legolas at work with bow and sword was just too cool! His acrobatics and stunts throughout the film were very fun to watch. Separated from these three are two of the hobbits, Merry and Pippin (Dominic Monaghan and Billy Boyd) who were captured by the Uruk-hai. And then there are, of course, Frodo and Sam (Elijah Wood and Sean Astin) who are making the bitter and lonely journey into the heart of Mordor in possession of The Ring. Wood is great as Frodo showing his faithfulness to the mission as well as the torment and effect that the Ring is having on him.

There are two characters, in particular, who make quite dramatic returns. First and foremost, we learn what happens to Gandalf (Ian McKellen) as he fell into the pit of Moria along with the fearsome and mighty Balrog. He eventually defeated the monstrous creature, only to find himself utterly spent (this part opens the movie with a real bang - it was so awesome). Eventually he returns to his friends, transformed, from Gandalf the Grey to Gandalf the White (see below). Another character returns who really steals the show this time around as he himself tries to steal the Ring. He is Gollum, or Sméagol as we later learn is his true name. Gollum has been completely corrupted and transformed by the power of the Ring, and he has been reduced to nothing but a pitiful creature of skin and bones. His character is completely and flawlessly computer generated, yet he seems more real than some of the others. Andy Serkis provides the perfect hissing and wheezing voice for Gollum, and it is Gollum and his inner struggle with his two selves that both captivate and entertain.

Gandalf the White in The Lord of the Rings:  The Two Towers

We are also introduced to several new characters as well. In the land of Rohan, where men ride on horseback across their great plains, we are introduced to Éomer and Éowyn (Karl Urban and Miranda Otto). Éowyn falls in love with Lord Aragorn, whose heart is given to Lady Arwen. Is there anything more depressing than unrequited love? In Rohan, we also meet King Théoden (Bernard Hill) and his slimy right-hand man, Wormtongue (see below). Wormtongue is played by Brad Dourif who really does an excellent job with this minor, yet dark and brooding, character.

Another great set of new characters live in the old Forest of Fangorn. They are the Ents and they are led by one such Ent called Treebeard. They are giant tree-like beings that can walk through the forest and yet stand still for an eternity. They are the shepherds of the forest and are older than all other living things in Middle Earth. They do not care for the problems outside their forest nor for the wars of men. But when two young hobbits enter their forest walls these immensely tall creatures find that they have much to learn from the smallest of beings. The special effects work done to create the Fangorn Ents produced a special treat for me, for after having read the book I was quite curious to see what one of these Ents might look like. Needless to say, I was impressed.

Wormtongue and King Theoden in The Lord of the Rings:  The Two Towers

There are two great battles which take place in this film's climactic ending. And leading up to them there is so much that happens. All of the scenes build on one another like the beating of a drum - louder and louder until these final two battles rip into our senses with sword, arrow, and spear. The onslaught onto Helm's Deep by Saruman's forces and its desperate defense by Men and Elves is simply epic. Seeing the thousands of orcs swing their giant ladders upon the great walls which had never before been breached filled me with great unrest and foreboding. And then seeing the Ents assail the very stronghold of Saruman was absolutely thrilling and awe-inspiring.

At its core, this movie is really about three things, and the foremost is that of hope. Character after character is confronted with harsh reality yet they defiantly will themselves to hope. The beautiful Arwen, whose Elves are fleeing Middle Earth, refuses to believe that Aragorn will die and not return to her. She tells her father that she cannot give up her hope. And it is hope that all but sustains Frodo and Sam as they make their way deeper into Mordor.

Another great theme woven into the fabric of this film is that of faithfulness. Aragorn, Gimli, and Legolas push themselves to their very limits in order to save Merry and Pippin. Aragorn later bonds himself with the people of Rohan and vows to defend them or to die trying. Likewise, Gimli and Legolas follow his lead. Gandalf, for his part, is true to his word of returning to Rohan with Eomer at his side. And Merry and Pippin do not let the Ents forsake their friends. But the greatest example of faithfulness is found in Samwise Gamgee who trusts his beloved master, even as the Ring is beginning to overpower young Frodo.

Finally, this movie highlights the power of redemption. There are many who stray or make the wrong decisions, but all are given a chance to redeem themselves by doing good. This is never more evident than it is with Frodo placing his mercy upon Gollum and giving him a second chance. Jackson's movie version adds to this theme even more than the book by further enhancing this notion of redemption in the Ents and in Faramir, both of whom in the book seemed to make the proper decision right away, but in the film had their own personal struggle to fight before turning around and doing the right thing.

Aragorn and Eowyn in The Lord of the Rings:  The Two Towers

I must apologize for getting so philosophical, but I am just trying to point out that this movie (and the books as well!) offers much more than just entertainment or even a simple escape from our daily lives. Then again, that's exactly what it is; for who among us doesn't delight in being whisked away upon a galloping horse across the fields of Rohan, or towering among the trees and Ents in Fangorn, or witnessing the magic of the Elves and the power of wizards?

thumbs up!I am still in shock at how great this movie is. Once I recover, I'll probably head right back to see it all over again.

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So far, the average rating for The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers is: 9.922 (806 votes)

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