Lord of the Rings The Two Towers
Starring:
Elijah Wood, Sean Astin, Ian McKellen, Viggo Mortensen, Orlando Bloom, John Rhys-Davies, Christopher Lee
Directed By :
Peter Jackson
Grade
A+

The Two Towers picks up the story right after the events of The Fellowship of the Ring where Frodo (Wood) and Samwise (Astin) continue their trip towards the dark Mordor to try and destroy the ring that Frodo has been entrusted with. At the same time, Aragorn (Mortensen), Legolas (Bloom) and Gimli (Rhys-Davies) chase after a group of Saruman's Uruk-Hai troops who have two of their allies prisoner. From there, each path takes twists and unexpected turns which head the story into it's final chapter (due out in 2003).

It has to be said that Peter Jackson has a beautiful eye for scenery and framing shots to really capture a dramatic and even breathtaking flair. The way the movie is filmed is only dwarfed by the amazing scenery, wonderful set design and execution and some of the finest costuming you'll ever see. On top of that is a wide array of computer generated visual effects that only manages to embellish the world ever further. The effects for the treelike Ents are impressive all their own. I would also be remiss not to note the impressive battle sequence at Helm's Deep, which gives movies like Braveheart a run for their money in sheer intensity and savagery. You'll most likely be drained of energy by the time the film reaches its end.

The one thing that The Two Towers manages to bring this time around is an unbelievable amount of heart. The camaraderie is finely crafted and viewers gain an insight as to how the characters manage to grow together. The balance of characters is none more evident than between Frodo and Samwise. Frodo's struggle with the enchanted ring which begins to wear at his mind and body is balanced with Samwise's role as a moral compass and a conscious that continues to keep Frodo on the straight path. I also couldn't help but appreciate the few moments of humor that were injected into the story, which worked well to break up the serious and dark tone that most of the film held.

Probably the most impressive aspect is the digitally rendered character Gollum, who is as realistic and deep as any of the actors in the film. In fact, in a film full of fine performances, Gollum stands out. Unlike previous digital actors, Gollum is a deep, rich character, beset with his own conflicts. Within him is a struggle to kill Frodo and take the ring and the desire to have someone to call friend. He's animated finely and move with such a convincing manner that at times, viewers may be fooled that he is real.

The only two things that viewers might hold against the film are inherent in what it is - a sequel based on a very popular book trilogy. Because of that, those who haven't read the books or seen the first movie might have trouble getting up to speed. And, fans of the books may nitpick certain aspects that may not hold verbatim of the written story. But, let's be honest - any author could only hope to have such a wonderful visualization of their text as Jackson has done with The Two Towers.

The Two Towers manages to one-up the first film in such a manner that few sequels can ever compare. There is so much character and action packed into the three hours of film that only the most jaded of people will not feel like they received more than their money's worth.

- - Vane

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