The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers
If "The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring" peeked behind the curtain of fantasy, its sequel reaffirmed that fantasy was something not to trifle with...an unexpected power.
"The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers" picks up, almost seamlessly, right where the first one stopped. There are jumps in time, backtracking, and memories that remind the viewer of how the first movie concluded. Then, we are dropped in on Sam and Frodo as they are desperately trying to get to Mount Doom so they can throw the ring into the fires and be rid of evil forever.
The land of Middle Earth is under siege, a massacre seems inevitable with Saruman and Sauron's forces growing by thousands every day.
Men are the target of the evil lord's wrath and greed. He wishes to control all of Middle Earth, and that means wiping out the last allegiances of elves, dwarves, and men. We are told of a land known as Rohan, ruled by a kind whose mind is manipulated. He sits idly by as his kingdom is slowly overthrown by orcs and the newest breeds of man-killers.
Unlike the first film, which followed the single group around—"The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers" sees the nine split up into many groups and we have each of them vying for our attention.
Frodo and Sam are trying to get the ring to Mordor, Merry and Pippin are trying to escape, and the trio of orc hunters are trying to track them down.
The first movie was about loss of innocence, realizing that the world is much bigger than you are and having to find your own way. This movie is about hope versus despair. By all accounts, the road to Mordor seems filled with death. Obstacles jump out of the rocks, the sand, and the air. Every step taken forward sees another taken backward.
Yet "The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers" is also about temptation and resilience. Once again, I am reminded of how amazing a villain the ring is. It rarely talks, only 'speaking' in whispers, it cannot move independently of its host, and for all intents and purposes is useless. But the viewer is forced to believe that the trinket has a soul, an evil soul. We believe in the ring—that is an astonishing achievement.
I also took notice of Elijah Wood again, because I think he performs a drastically underrated role one more time. He carries the trilogy, if it weren't for him it would crash and burn.
The movie, as with the first one, has a sensational cast and a smashing budget.
These films are iconic, not only for the stories they tell, but for the influence they had on pop culture. Everyone has seen these films, it's almost impossible to find someone who hasn't. The lines are repeated often, the films are classic, yet the biggest thing to come from this film is Andy Serkis' undeniable talent.
Featured only briefly in the first installment, Serkis brings vim and vigor to Gollum, the creature from the mountains who, at one time, held the ring. The technology used to bring the creature to the screen was state of the art and still looks pretty good; yet beneath all the lights and sets there is a performance there.
Serkis would later work with Jackson again on "King Kong" and reprise the monkey status with "Rise of the Planet of the Apes"; but it all started here. His voice acting talents were finally recognized and his physicality surprised many. This man had to play a creature bound to the ring, dependent on all its movements...a creature with two minds. There is no MPD here, Serkis makes you believe in both sides of the creature. It's quite impressive to see.
"The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers" also sees the battle of Helms Deep, one of the most famous fantasy battles made, reintroducing the idea of war violence for the sake of entertainment. "Braveheart" did it, but Jackson perfected it.
Through the darkness, there is light. "The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers" improved upon the first movie, cemented Jackson's instant success, and upped the bar once more for any film that would follow it.
Score: 4 out of 4 stars
Posted by Micah Jones