Lord of the Rings The Lord of the Rings
The Two Towers
R E V I E W   B Y   R I C H   C L I N E
the two towers one of shadows' all-time best films Exactly a year after The Fellowship of the Ring (and a year before The Return of the King), Kiwi director Peter Jackson releases his take on the more difficult middle book in Tolkien's saga. And it's another stunner of a film. The story splits, along with the Fellowship, into three distinct adventures, but Jackson hops back and forth effortlessly, bridging the gaps and building the suspense and tension until a jaw-dropping explosion of action, violence and cathartic emotion at the Battle for Helm's Deep, where an entire kingdom has gone to hide from the genocidal wizard Saruman's (Lee) massive army of Uruk-Hai.

The film's themes are startlingly unsettling. As Frodo and Sam (Wood and Astin) head off toward the fires of Mordor, they are joined by the obsessive creature Gollum (Serkis); we can see Frodo's helplessness at resisting the ring's pull on him ... greed and obsession take their toll. The intriguing man-elf-dwarf trio of Aragorn, Legolas and Gimli (Mortensen, Bloom and Rhys-Davis) try desperately to defend the stubborn people of Rohan from the marauding hordes. And Pippin and Merry (Boyd and Monaghan) escape from the Uruk-Hai but run into the powerful yet isolationist Ent Treebeard (Rhys-Davies again). Meanwhile, Gandalf the White (McKellen) appears, very different from the Fellowship's Gandalf the Grey, but with that same twinkle in his eye.

The epic, sweeping scope is astonishing. Jackson plunges straight into his tricky multi-pronged narrative without any scene-setting, and he barely pauses to let us catch our breath. There's a welcome collection of cutaways in the middle (involving elfs Tyler, Blanchett and Weaving) to establish the bigger picture and continue plotlines between the three films, but otherwise the film charges relentlessly and restlessly forward. Along the way we get the most amazing CGI character ever put on screen (Gollum), sweeping drama and romance, startling action sequences, and more spectacular New Zealand scenery than we can quite take in. This is magical, expert, passionate filmmaking that needs to be seen on the big screen. But it is also the middle of a trilogy, so don't let the fact that it doesn't have a beginning or an ending put you off--this is a dazzling film about an epic journey that has real power all its own.

cert 12 themes, violence 11.Dec.02

dir Peter Jackson
scr Fran Walsh, Philippa Boyens, Stephen Sinclair, Peter Jackson
with Elijah Wood, Ian McKellen, Viggo Mortensen, Sean Astin, Billy Boyd, Dominic Monaghan, John Rhys-Davies, Orlando Bloom, Andy Serkis, Bernard Hill, Brad Dourif, Liv Tyler, Christopher Lee, Miranda Otto, David Wenham, Karl Urban, Hugo Weaving, Cate Blanchett
release US/UK 18.Dec.02
02/NZ NewLine 2h59

Kings of men. Hill and Mortensen (above), Wood (below)

gandalf aragorn galadriel

22nd Shadows Awards 22nd SHADOWS AWARDS

R E A D E R   R E V I E W S
send your review to Shadows... the two towers "First of all, The Two Towers does not stand very well on its own if you're not familiar with the characters from The Fellowship of the Ring. That being said, it does not disappoint. Briskly paced and packed full of much more action than Fellowship, Two Towers is just about as good as anyone (Tolkien fan or no) could ask for. The story does suffer, in my opinion, from the intercutting of the three main story lines. I understand the need to do this in order to keep the dramatic pace of the movie overall, but I felt as if it sacrificed the momemtum of the individual storylines and I didn't get the sense of intimacy that I got from Fellowship. I prefer the way the book did it, one story at a time. However, this is a small quibble about a necessary compromise. Gollum is amazing, not perfect, but probably as close to perfect as is possible at the moment and the acting/dialog is quite good. The battle of Helm's Deep is as amazing as everyone has been expecting (again the intercutting of storylines hurts here just a bit). The largest disappointment, and in reality it wasn't too bad, was the Ents. Treebeard was just OK and the other Ents were a bit too comical in appearance for my liking. But their assault on Isengard is truly very cool. Bottom line, if you liked Fellowship, you'll like Two Towers, even if perhaps for different reasons. These movies truly the new generation of true epics. I can only hope that Return of the King can marry the best parts of these two movies (Part 1's intimacy and emotion, Part 2's action and grandure). Is it December 2003 yet? I can't wait!" --The Tick, New Jersey 17.Dec.02

Serkis as Gollum "The eagerly awaited sequel to last year's hit. I had read the books years ago, but don't remember much, except the names Frodo and 'precious'. This sequel is no disappointment. Go see it on the big screen - if you liked the first and are a Lord of the Rings fan, you won't be disappointed with this movie. The special effects are awesome, and the action is non-stop. I only regret that I never saw the first one on the big screen. I highly recommend this movie!" --Laurie T, Minneapolis 5.Jan.03

"**** Excellent second installment of the adventure series. Darker with more action and brilliant fx. Can't wait for the 3rd episode. And will Jackson make The Hobbit too for some easy $$$$?" --Gawain McLachlan, Filmnet, Melbourne 14.Mar.03

© 2002 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall