Lord of the Rings-The Two Towers

Stars:   Elijah Wood, Viggo Mortensen, Ian McKellen, Sean Astin, John Rhys-Davies Liv Tyler, Christopher Lee
Director:    Peter Jackson
Writers:   Philippa Boyens, Peter Jackson, Steven Sinclair, Frances Walsh, based on the book by J. R. R. Tolkien

The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers is the second film in director Peter Jackson’s epic adaptation of the J.R.R. Tolkien fantasy trilogy. It picks up where The Fellowship of the Ring ended.

The fellowship, forged to protect a powerful and dangerous ring until it can be safely disposed of, is now divided. Hobbits Frodo (Elijah Wood) and Sam (Sean Astin), the ring bearer and his trusted body guard, continue their way with great difficulty toward Mount Doom to destroy the ring. Their warrior companions, the human Aragorn (Viggo Mortensen), the dwarf Gimli (John Rhys-Davies), and elf Legolas (Orlando Bloom) are distracted by a band of Uruk-hai warriors who have captured the fellowship’s two other hobbits, Merry (Dominic Monaghan) and Pippin (Billy Boyd).

Meanwhile, Lord Sauron, in collaboration with his strongest ally, the corrupt wizard Saruman (Christopher Lee), continues to build his forces in the land of Mordor for the coming war with the various races of Middle-earth.

While searching for the hobbits, Aragorn and his troop renew an alliance with the grand wizard Gandalf (Ian McKellen), who had been thought dead after the first film. This leads them to the human kingdom of Rohan where King Theoden (Bernard Hill) has fallen under an evil spell by Saruman and the people are soon to suffer an onslaught by Lord Sauron’s evil forces.

This time around, we are treated to new and wonderful magic: a marvelous computer generated creature named Gollum (whose voice, body movements and facial characteristics come courtesy of actor Andy Serkis) and an ancient forest of walking, talking trees led by one named Treebeard. Gollum is a hobbit who had first possessed the magic ring and whose craving for its power resulted in his transformation into an ugly and deformed creature. He makes a pact with Frodo to act as his guide to Mordor but his trustworthiness is in doubt.

Lotta says: The story moves between Frodo’s journey, Aragorn’s exploits and Merry and Pippin’s experiences in the dark forest. It proves tedious at times, unlike the first installment, but it all leads up to a magnificent battle at Theoden’s castle where Aragorn, Legolas and Gimli lead the bravest fight against the largest army of darkness ever seen on screen. It’s a tour de force of manpower and special effects. I was annoyed that some of the dialogue was difficult to understand, particularly Gollum’s in the early scenes, but also that of the human principals as well. I haven’t heard of other complaints so maybe it was just the theater where I viewed the film. As with the first, The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers isn’t just a film, it’s a remarkable experience. Director Peter Jackson and his crew have undertaken a monstrous task and have not failed us. I eagerly await the final in the series … next year.

Reviewed 12/19/02