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

twotowers

Starring: Elijah Wood, Viggo Mortensen, Sean Astin, Andy Serkis, John Rhys-Davies, Bernard Hill, Orlando Bloom, Ian McKellen, Brad Dourif, David Wenham, Billy Boyd, Dominic Monaghan, Miranda Otto, Christopher Lee, Liv Tyler, Hugo Weaving, Karl Urban, Cate Blanchett

Director: Peter Jackson

Summary: While Frodo and Sam edge closer to Mordor with the help of Gollum, the divided fellowship makes a stand against Sauron’s new ally

Other Nominations: Sound Editing*, Sound Mixing, Art Direction, Film Editing, Visual Effects*

*Note: I watched the theatrical cut (179 minutes) as opposed to the extended cut (235 minutes) because that’s the cut Academy voters would have seen*

This definitely feels like the middle chapter: after the first part, we know where we’re going and where we need to end up, but we still have to get there-it wouldn’t be much of a story if they simply walked into Mordor. That’s not to say the movie was bad, far from it. The problem is just that now that you’ve laid out your premise in the first movie and you know things don’t wrap up until the third, the second one needs to be primarily focused develop the characters and setting them up for the final installment, something that I think it only partially succeeded at. As good as the movie looks (slightly better than FotR), as epic as the story is and as much as I like the cast, it lacks compelling heroes with Gandalf the Grey gone (although Gollum is clearly an exception if you can call him a hero). It introduces some new characters but fails to develop the ones already there like a good middle chapter should-I found myself not really caring about Aragorn or Arwen or most of the Fellowship outside Gandalf and Frodo. The other thing about the movie is that for most of it, everybody’s split up which means having a bunch of different subplots that converge at the end. Most of them are good, but whenever Pippin/Merry/Treebeard show up, the movie crashed to a halt.

Besides the look, scale and the score being great again, the two things I enjoyed most were Andy Serkis’ fantastic performance as Gollum, where this (now pretty mediocre looking) CG effect is by far the most interesting character in the whole series, most of it thanks to his performance. The second is that the Battle of Helm’s Deep is a lot of fun and is a fitting big action set piece to conclude the film on. While The Two Towers is definitely the weaker entry compared to Fellowship of the Ring, I’m looking forward to how the series concludes with Return of the King.

Rating: B-

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