The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers

Year: 2002
Directed By: Peter Jackson
Written By: J.R.R. Tolkien (novel), Fran Walsh, Phillipa Boyens, Stephen Sinclair, and Peter Jackson (screenplay)

RYAN’S REVIEW

It’s been a while since I have taken the time to sit down and watch all of these movies.  In truth it is difficult to find the time to watch them even when life wasn’t so busy but these days it’s nearly impossible. When I was in college I would watch them often or have them playing in the background while I worked on school.  Today is different, with all the responsibilities that come with adulthood and kids it’s just so difficult to find the time. If anybody has noticed the drop off in published reviews of late you need only to consider the movies we have reached in the collection. These movies add up to more than 12 hours collectively and we have had to settle for watching the series in pieces.  It’s a long process but it’s been nothing short of exciting.  I’m happy to know that these movies can still excite me.  Absence makes the heart grow fonder and I am learning again just how much I enjoy all of these films.

When reviewing the first film of this series I regarded this one as the slowest of the bunch and the retarding point of the collective story.  I feel differently now.  After making it through this film in its entirety I found that not only was I engaged all throughout, but I didn’t think any part of it was slow.  I think I let myself forget a lot about these films beyond the incredible battle scenes.  When they came out on video and I watched them often I really just focused on the battles that I found so entertaining.  Somewhere in my memory the richness of the story was lost and I was really happy to reconnect with it.

I think the biggest talking point for this film has to be the role Andy Serkis played.  The creature Gollum made a couple of appearances in the first film but wasn’t really a big time character until this film.  Andy Serkis, the motion capture suit man, was nothing short of amazing.  If I remember correctly Peter Jackson unsuccessfully lobbied to get Serkis a Academy nomination for the part.  I am with him though because Serkis deserved it.  The scenes in which we see conversations between Gollum and Smeagol can be chilling.  That has a lot to do with how well the character was written in the base source, but Serkis brought the character to life. The effects that put him on screen were incredible but equally as incredible were the voices Serkis used for the two personalities of the character. I remember seeing one of the scenes from the film as it was being shot and couldn’t get over Serkis.  It was the scene when Faramir threatens to have him killed if Frodo doesn’t admit the truth.  Seeing Serkis in the motion capture suit moving as Gollum and speaking in that voice left an impression on me.  Serkis has a rare talent that he doesn’t have the opportunity to utilize enough, but when he does he does it perfectly.

The battle at Helm’s Deep in the climax of the film is hands down one of the greatest battle scenes I have seen in any movie.  The climax to the story in the third film was better and more exceptional but this one still edges it out in my opinion.  Maybe it’s the dark or the rain but the situation seemed so much more dire. I like the foes better too.  While all the weapons of Mordor were dispatched in the final showdown this one had the baddest of all those enemies and a great number of them.  When the Uruk-hai start climbing over the walls I feared for the men in the battle.  It’s like a never ending horde of NFL lineman size monsters that will chop you in half or possibly even take a bite out of you. What hope could any of these men have against such an aggressive and intimidating foe? After countless views even until today I still find myself glued to the screen during this battle and won’t look away even though I know exactly what is going to happen next.

There are a few random thoughts that come to me every time I watch this movie.  First being the leader of the Elf force that comes to the aid of Rhohan at Helm’s Deep.  This guy was in the first and second film and despite watching these movies many times I still had to check the listing on IMDB to even know what his name was.  Have I missed something every time I watch these movies? Do they ever say this guys name in any of the films? Also, could anybody in Rhohan really be surprised that a guy named “Wormtongue” was an agent of Saruman? How exactly does a guy that looks like that with a name so poorly created get into a position to manipulate a king? Maybe there is more back story to him in the books but it has always needled at me when watching the films.  For Tolkien to be so creative with these books and come up with so many unique names I really just feel like he gave up when it came to naming this guy.

I’m going to stop here because I went on forever in our review of the last film. As of now I have only had time to watch the first hour of the final film and again find myself sucked in and surprised by how much I am enjoying it again.  In time I hope to have the reviews of all these films published and be back on track with the journey through our movie collection. Finding time to watch our movies isn’t always easy these days but we try to at least get through one a week.  These films have taken us a few weeks to get through and we aren’t even done yet!

AMBER’S REVIEW

For me, this was the most boring of the three movies. It was the retarding parts of the trilogy and I just felt like not too much happened. And when it did happen it seemed to move in slow motion.

frodo_poster

Same gold. Same deer-in-headlights Frodo. There is a feature in photoshop called “glow.” We designers hate glow. Glow, Starburst, Comic Sans….they all make us what to throw something across the room when we see it and this poster usues more glow and fading than I can even deal with. I like this poster about as much as I like this installment. Thank goodness they kept the typography the same. That is about the only thing that I like about this poster.

NEXT MOVIE: The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (2003)

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4 comments

  1. Hi!

    I was browsing through your reviews and noticed your objection to the name Wormtongue, I don’t know if anyone else has addressed this, but here is my humble input.

    Wormtongue’s real name was Grìma, as in Grìma Worntongue. Although it is not explicitly stated in the novels, I always assumed that Wormtongue was the mocking name used by those in Rohan who saw him and recognized him for what he was. The King of Rohan called him Grìma until Gandalf broke the spell that bound him and used the name his enemies called him by–Wormtongue.

    So now you can lay your upset to rest–Tolkien knew what he was doing, but Jackson assumed you were an idiot and didn’t trust you to work out what was happening when Grìma went to Wormtongue 🙂

    If you enjoyed the movies you would love the book. The movies were OK but they were unable to convey the nuances that gave the novels their heart and soul. And the films cut The Scouring of the Shire, which invalidates them utterly as any kind of representation of what Tolkien was saying.

    Read the books. You won’t regret it!

    Regards,

    Matt

    1. That is a terrific comment, thank you. I still havent picked up the books but I certainly will now. I loved the movies but if there is more to the story I need to check it out.
      I’m a bit burnt out on Game of Thrones anyway waiting for the next book.
      Time for a new epic, again thanks for the input.

  2. Sure thing, friend! You will be amazed by what the movies left out of LOTR! I won’t spoil anything for you; I will just say you will be amazed at what rich and touching characters the printed word will reveal Frodo and the others to be. I am quite curious how you will find the books compare to the films.

    I haven’t seen Game of Thrones. But I read it way back when the first novel came out (98? 98?) and was blown away! But since then Marin has really disappointed me for a number of reasons and after Dance With Dragons (or Lunch With Lizards, as I call it) I have given up on that series.

    If sci fi interests you at all I can say that Dan Simmons ‘Hyperion’ is a fantastic read as well.

    Ok, sorry to ramble on–go meet the REAL Frodo and Co. and be amazed 🙂 A word of warning; the first quarter of Fellowship can be a little hard to get through, in my opinion. But in Bree the payoff begins and won’t let up until the Scouring of the Shire.

    Regards!

    Matt

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