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THE LORD OF THE RINGS: The Two Towers - 2002
USA Release Dec. 18, 2002
New Line Cinema
Rated: USA: PG-13

All I really ask from a movie is to surprise me. That's what it takes for me to achieve suspension of disbelief and really get in to the story. The older I get and the more movies I watch, the harder it is for any movie to do that for me anymore. So you’d think a movie based on a book I practically memorized as a young nerdling wouldn’t stand much of a chance. You’d think so, wouldn’t you?

THE LORD OF THE RINGS: The Two Towers is the second film in the Lord of the Rings trilogy (the first was THE LORD OF THE RINGS: The Fellowship Of The Ring and the next will be THE RETURN OF THE KING). As before the director is Peter Jackson (DEAD ALIVE, THE FRIGHTENERS) and Mr. Jackson wrote the screenplay along with Fran Walsh (THE FRIGHTENERS, DEAD ALIVE), Philippa Boyens, and Stephen Sinclair (DEAD ALIVE)*, of course based on the novels of J.R.R. Tolkein.

Poster 01For the uninitiated, this trilogy takes place in the long, long ago, when immortal elves lived in the forests and dwarves built underground cities. Evil creatures called orcs hunted in the dark places and hungered for man flesh, and all manner of sentient beings and magical creatures could be found if one took the time to look.

A race of small humanoids called hobbits live in a peaceful land known as the Shire, and one such hobbit has found himself, through an odd set of circumstances, on a mission to save the world. This hobbit, Frodo Baggins (Elijah Wood: THE FACULTY), is carrying the One Ring, a magical item of great power and great evil that was created thousands of years ago by a demon named Sauron. Sauron's physical form was destroyed in an ancient war but his spirit remains and he needs his ring back to regain his lost power.

The movie begins with a nightmare. Frodo dreams of the horrible (and very cool) battle between his good friend, the wizard Gandalf the Grey (Ian McKellan: APT PUPIL, X-MEN), and a fiery Balrog, a monster from deep inside the Earth. They were fighting on a bridge over a deep chasm and just when it seemed Gandalf was winning, the Balrog dragged him down and he was gone.

Frodo awakes to another nightmare, for he and his friend and manservant Sam (Sean Astin) are traveling alone into the foul land of Mordor. In the distance they can see the red glow of Mt. Doom, the volcano where the One Ring was made and the only place it can be unmade. A foul smell tells them that they are not alone. A twisted creature named Gollum is stalking them. Gollum was once a hobbit, but he carried the One Ring for many years and it turned him into an ugly hobgoblin. He is still a slave to the Ring and searches for it endlessly.

Christopher Lee poster

Meanwhile, in another part of Middle-Earth, the ranger Aragorn (Viggo Mortensen: THE PROPHECY) and his companions Legolas the elf (Orlando Bloom: PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN) and Gimli the dwarf (John Rhys-Davies: RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK) are in search of two of their friends. At the end of the last movie the hobbits Pippin (Billy Boyd: URBAN GHOST STORY) and Meriadoc (Dominic Monaghan) had been captured by the Uruk-hai, an orcish race made by the once good but now evil wizard Saruman the White (Christopher Lee: HORROR HOTEL, THE WICKER MAN, SLEEPY HOLLOW, lots of Dracula movies).

The search leads the three into the kingdom of Rohan, a troubled land under attack by orcs and other evil creatures, but with a king under a spell and unable to act to save his people. King Theodan (Bernard Hill: THE GHOST AND THE DARKNESS) is constantly being whispered to by his advisor Grima Wormtongue (Brad Dourif: CHILD'S PLAY, DEATH MACHINE, ALIEN RESURRECTION).

And in yet another part of the world, we see the Uruk-hai carrying their hobbit prisoners back to Saruman. They have been ordered to return the hobbits alive but the monsters are getting hungry and the little hobbits look tasty indeed.

These three storylines intertwine and keep us involved in a three-hour movie. There were a few exposition heavy slow parts, especially in Aragorn's flashbacks about his elvish lover Arwen (Liv Tyler: THE STRANGERS), which he has whenever he feels tempted by the human woman (and Princess of Rohan), Eowyn (Miranda Otto: WHAT LIES BENEATH, THE 13TH FLOOR), but opinions will vary.

This is an excellent, amazing film and is better and more involving than the first movie. There are many great characters but to me the stand out was the dangerous but tragic Gollum (voiced by Andy Serkis: DEATHWATCH, PANDEMONIUM, KING KONG). This entirely computer generated character was the best special effect I've ever seen and the interactions with the real actors were seamless. Better (gasp!) than Star Wars.

The part that really surprised me was the huge battle between the besieged forces of Rohan and the armies of Saruman. All through these movies the palpable reality of this fantasy world is Peter Jackson's greatest achievement but the battle scenes were stunning. I was so in to what I was seeing that I felt like reaching for my sword.

I also was happy to see the living tree creatures called Ents and the transition of the characters Pippin and Meriadoc from comedy relief to serious players in the great game. I give THE LORD OF THE RINGS: The Two Towers 4 Shriek Girls

Shriek GirlsShriek GirlsShriek GirlsShriek Girls
This review copyright 2002 E.C.McMullen Jr.

The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers (2002) on IMDb
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