MASSIVE SPOILERS Blow-by-Blow TTT Review - A Purist has more than a few problems with the film.
FWH_Enforcer sends in the most detailed review of The Two Towers we have yet seen but doesn't pull any punches in describing what he sees as its flaws.
On December 5th, I was privileged to see a pre-screening of The Two Towers in Portland, Oregon. I was advised that this might not be the final version before its release on Dec. 18th, though it will no doubt be little changed if it is at all. I want to say up front that this is going to be a mixed review where I will try my absolute best to be fair and objective, seeing this from Peter Jackson's perspective as well as from that of the typical movie goer who's knowledge of the original story is limited or vague. However, as a Tolkien "purist" I was deeply disappointed and disillusioned to say the least at some changes.
The film starts out as other reviews have stated with wide shots of Caradhras, which remind you of how breathtaking New Zealand is. The camera pans away and you can hear strings playing prominently and hear faintly "you cannot pass". The better part of the dialogue from the Bridge of Kazad-Dum is given while the camera passes through the mountain to reveal Gandalf facing off against the Balrog. Some of these shots (not all) are new angles. Finally, Frodo screams "Noooooo" and Gandalf drops into the abyss. The camera quickly follows behind and shows Gandalf grabbing Glamdring has they fall. The Balrog falling looks a lot like the comet from Deep Impact with a long smoke trail. He then starts hacking away at the Balrog, who I almost felt sorry for, between the sword strokes and full-to-the-hilt stabs as well as hitting jutting rocks and the cavern walls many, many times. He got messed up bad and screams out in pain!!! Great scene, but borders on unbelievable. Nevertheless, they eventually drop through a large whole in the ceiling and fall into an underground lake where his fire is more or less quenched. At that point Frodo wakes up abruptly, startled. We then see the title of the film on the screen "The Two Towers".
You will recognize a lot of the next shots from trailers. It is within the first 10 minutes that you get to see Gollum climbing down after Frodo and Sam. When Gollum pounces, it will freak you out! This is not the Gollum that everyone is expecting. Not at all! He is different. I don't know exactly how to describe him, but perhaps more lifelike is the term. You can actually see once you get used to him that he once was a hobbit. He is not so twisted and deformed as to be devoid of all hobbit characteristics. In my opinion, he is better than most of the mixed reviews about him have said. But again, he is different than you will expect. His attack on Sam and Frodo is vicious and not brief. They fight him off for a few minutes and it's actually quite frightening. Especially if you know anything about Gollums' past. It will unnerve you. Incidentally, there was no frying pan scene. Gollum darn near gets the ring (less than an inch away) and is only stopped after Sam is being choked quite effectively when Frodo puts Sting up to Gollums neck. Gollum is a wretched, wicked, evil creature, but they did him in such a way as you really should feel some amount of pity for him. A very excellent job on Gollum! I did not notice any problems with the CGI effects at any point like some others have claimed. But once again, he is not what you will likely expect. He is different, but effective.
We then go right to Merry and Pippin being carried by the Orcs. Merry trips and Pippin is being piggybacked by an Orc. Pippin bites through his cloak to release his elvish leaf broach and it falls to the ground and is trampled. The movie is at a very fast pace. That was encouraging. It stays fast paced for nearly the entire movie.
We then go right to Isengard, with Saruman using the Palantir. Then there is a GREAT shot of Barad-Dur, though you can kind of tell it's a model. Still, it's the most thorough view from top to bottom yet seen and fairly impressive. The eye of Sauron actually appears to be looking the wrong way towards the east and it takes on the appearance of having electric shocks going around it like you might see in Frankenstein's laboratory. Slightly cheesy. We hear Saruman speak about "the two towers."
We then see the orcs cutting down more trees in the forest and more Orcs being created and inspected at Isengard. Saruman gives a pep talk to the Wildmen, possibly Dunlending men who kind of look like they belong on a pirate ship or as castaways. Their dental plans certainly had a lot to be desired! Saruman instructs them to "Burn every village" and talks about the rohirrim being mere peasants, etc...
It's then to a touching scene with a Rohan village being attacked by 100's, possibly 1,000's of wildmen and orcs. A decent background shot of a great number marching towards the village. This is not a shot we have seen before. People die. We then see Theodred brought to Edoras, but he is not dead yet, only seriously wounded. Theoden is told, but seems to not care. The image of him as an old, feeble man is disturbing to say the least! I am not kidding! He looks worse than anyone could imagine!!! They went above and beyond when it came to making him look old, inept, frail, sickly and more or less waiting for death, which is obviously overdue. In my notes I have written: EOWYN IS HOT !!! She IS! (my wife made me write that she is hotter)
Eomer is there in front of Theoden, when Grima comes out. Brad Dourif does a pretty decent job. Not superb, but definitely above par. Grima tries to
make Eomer look bad for going to war recklessly. Eomer then steals Gandalf's lines "How long since Saruman bought you? What was the promised price? Etc...". It works. But what doesn't work is that Eomer is then instantly grabbed by the other guards and banished by Wormtongue from Rohan. At no point is he arrested or imprisoned. The guards seemed too willing to do this.
Then it switches back to the Three Hunters. They are very intent. More intent than even the end of "Fellowship" would lead you to believe. It gets a bit cheesy to be honest, but not too bad. All I can say about Gimli is that he has it hard, real hard! Some of it is funny. They definitely have some interesting timing on some of their jokes. I can say that unlike the book, the Three Hunters are actually gaining on the Orcs instead of losing ground.
We switch back to Merry and Pippin and the Orcs are finally resting at night under the eaves of Fangorn. The book states about 200 orcs. There are less than 75 here. You can hear noises coming from the forest. Merry talks about old stories from the Shire and references the Old Forest. They actually talk about legends of talking, walking trees. There is a fairly brief argument about what to do with the captives. Most want to eat them because they are complaining of moldy bread for the past 3 days. One asks if they can eat just their legs, since they can do without them. A big, ugly, old looking Uruk tells them no way. A fight ensues and the big old Uruk kills one of the small orcs causing the problems. He then says something to the effect of "ok boys, meat is back on the menu." It was fairly gruesome. They eat the dead orc. A far cry from the feel of Fellowship.
The next scene is where the riders of Rohan meet the Three Hunters. There are less than one hundred of the riders. Eomer names the horse Hasufeld and gives them two horses. He says that they killed the band of orcs and left no survivors and point to a mound of burning orcs in the distance. Aragorn checks it out and they find one of the hobbit belts burned in the fire (coincidentally). But alas, Aragorn does not give up hope. He sees the butt prints from Merry and Pippin and follows these "tracks", telling the story of their captivity, similar to the scene in "The Princess Bride" where the duel is recounted, except Peter Jackson makes you think that if the hobbits farted, Aragorn would somehow be able to tell from looking at the ground. (I suppose if it was a real wet one he could)
Back to the Orcs. I think a larger fight starts at that point and in the chaos, the orc that we can probably call Grishnak then takes the hobbits aside and scares the crap out of them. I noticed that most of these orcs had a very thick Cockney accent. Just when the orc is about to do something to them, the Riders of Rohan charge right into the middle of their camp from all directions. Very unexpected! The scene attempts to generate suspense by showing a horse getting ready to crush Pippin, but we all know better than that. I am pretty sure that I have mixed up the order a little bit, but you get the idea.
At any rate they escape. The scene where they do, seemed a bit unbelievable that they would be able to get through all the horses without being harmed or noted at the very least. The Rohirrim did a wicked cool job of killing the orcs. We get to see Treebeard fairly soon. Grishnak apparently escapes ( I thought he had been killed, but perhaps there is a mistake in the film or I missed something) and chases them. This is the scene where Pippin climbs up Treebeard and he opens his eyes. Treebeard kills Grishnak just before Grishnak kills Merry. Then Treebeard accuses the hobbits of being orcs. Oh, and by the way. I would have to say that Treebeard is about as good as anyone could possibly hope to get him. Better than trailers. He definitely looks odd with very long legs and a short torso, but Treebeard was probably followed closer to the book than anything else, except Gollum. His voice is pretty darn good. You can tell it's John Rhys-Davies doing it, but it's not the same as Gimli by a long shot. The real cheesy part comes when Treebeard says that he is taking them to see the white wizard, who will determine if they are orcs or not. You then see Gandalf from behind looking as close to Saruman as they could make him with Merry and Pippin a little shocked. They cut away quickly.
Back to Gollum. After making him vow to guide them, they come to the dead marshes. They look pretty cool. The "candles" or fires are a bit too big for what I was imagining, but all in all it looks good. You get to see a great shot of the entire marshes and the mountains of ash with Mt. Doom in the background and the hobbits about the size of ants. It puts it all in perspective. They do a pretty extensive job on the faces in the pools. More than I could have hoped for actually. They don't look as noble or as beautiful as the book says. More alien actually, and they appear VERY close to the surface. Gollum says all the lines right from the book "all dead, all rotten, etc..." Frodo then goes to the edge of a pool and gazes on an obviously elvish warrior with the standard armor from the Last Alliance. As he looks at it, the eyes open white and he falls into a trance and falls in the pool. As he is down there, there's a VERY cool scene with of a number of decaying, rotting ghosts (no other word fits) who look really cool, fairly scary, trying to grab him. There are at least 4 or 5 different ones moving very slowly like in water. He tries to get away but can't. The scene lasts long enough to get a good look. Then suddenly Gollum pulls him out. The biggest problem I have with this scene is that some appeared to be Elvish (I think) and as we all know, Elvish spirits go to Mandos and don't tend to haunt anything. The spirits of men might, but they generally go beyond the circles of the world to places unknown unless a curse of some sort holds them to the earth. This is an invention of Peter Jackson, which is not necessary, but it's still pretty cool. This is probably the last thing that Peter Jackson changed that I didn't mind too much. We later see Frodo lying down resting, stroking the ring like it was a little pet hamster or something. Very good visual of how the ring is becoming "precious" to him. Smeagol is constantly talking or singing in rhymes. (could he have been the first rapper?)
Then a nazgul flies over and Frodo clutches his old wound. The nazgul stead looks pretty decent. I can't complain, but I always envisioned more of a Pterodactyl and this head was more like a snake with a lot of teeth. The wingspan is NOT the size of a 747 as someone on the "Creatures of Middle-earth" clip mentioned. This also goes for one of them saying that an Oliphaunt was ten stories tall (that's about 100 - 150 feet and absolutely ridiculous). I think Smeagol says that the Black Gate is close.
We are back to the Three Hunters in Fangorn. I think Legolas senses the "white wizard" and Aragorn takes Gimli's line "don't let him speak or he will put a spell on us." This is the scene where they draw their weapons. Then out Gandalf comes and when they raise there weapons it looks like he shoots something at Legolas and Gimli or at the least the arrow goes off in some other direction. Aragorns sword has some cheesy orange glow to it and he drops it. A VERY bright white light disguises him as he talks about the hobbits. They pulled some kind of trick that is pretty cool that makes Gandalf sound both like Ian McKlellan and Christopher Lee. He then tells them of his fight with the Balrog.
They flashback to a shot of the two fighting atop Durin's tower (a shot I would very much like to see again to get another look at the tower). There Gandalf finally slays the Balrog (who still has some fire on his back) who then falls off the side onto a ledge far down into the snow and he looks more or less like the coyote on a road runner cartoon when he tries to fly with bat wings and gets burned up and falls off a cliff. Gandalf then looks battered and dies. (though he looks fairly decent for the fight he just had). He then takes a psychedelic trip, or so it seems (star trek fans will love this) and says that he was sent back until his mission was completed. This is where he says the line "I return to you now, at the turn of the tide." He then whistles for Shadowfax, who is definitely white but no bigger or better than any other horse. As they ride to Edoras together (their horses appear from where?) you can see several villages burning in the background.
It then switches back to Frodo and Sam at the Black Gate. This is pretty cool. Definitely a very secure gate. A large contingent of Easterlings (samurai looking guys, so I am assuming they are Easterlings, even though they appear to be marching from around the west side of Mordor?) marches past the nearest tower (which is VERY close. Far closer than I would have gotten myself. Definitely no more than 100 yards.) and into the gate. A really cool horn is blown and two giant trolls with blinders on are forced to turn a wheel which swings the ENTIRE WALL out. The gate consists of two VERY large sections of the wall which just swing out. Probably 50 yards wide EACH! They obviously take a while to open and only open enough to let them in. You can see how a very large force could issue forth from it en mass if they were opened completely. However, here is where Peter Jackson starts to get stupid. Yes, I said STUPID! He left out lots of good and important material, but decided to add crap like this next thing left and right. Gollum just finishes telling them about another way to get into Mordor when Sam climbs a bit too far out on a large stone (Gollum is standing behind them just covering his eyes with his hands) and Sam and the entire boulder go right over the edge and slide down the entire cliff face right in front of the last columns of easterlings. Two Easterling soldiers step right out of line and go over to inspect. Sam finds himself mostly buried in gravel and should be dead. But Frodo runs down ( IN FULL VIEW OF THE GATE ! ) and then jumps on top of Sam and pulls the Elvish cloak over both of them. The Easterlings take them for a boulder and just walk away after looking perplexed for a moment. The idea that those walls have been manned for years unknown by many, many of the best orc soldiers, but they fail to see the only threat that has likely come by in as much a time when it runs down the hill openly is ridiculous! If all this was done to simply show the camouflage ability of Elvish cloaks, it was a sore waste of time and a slap in the face to Tolkien.
We then go back to Wormtongue when it is told that Theodred has finally died. Eowyn is grieving by his bedside. Wormtongue attempts to comfort her and unlike the initial reports, she actually doesn't seem to spurn it at first. Then there is a really weird exchange in which Grima is holding her cheek I think and is staying stuff too her softly. She seems to be listening and to be honest, I practically expected them to kiss or at least him to kiss her. I don't remember at which point she curses him and walks out, but at some point his steals Gandalf's lines from the book where he talks about what she might say or think in the darkness. He goes fairly in-depth with it, but before too long, she curses him and walks out. This is where she walks out onto the front porch, so to speak, and looks out over Rohan. One of the flags bearing the standard of Rohan tear away from the pole and it blows to just outside the gate and Aragorn looks at it has he passes by to enter the city. (I was kind of surprised he did not pick it up and return it). Certainly meant to symbolize the fallen state of the kingship of Theoden. The four now ride up to the stairs of meduseld and are met by Hama and some others who forbid them to enter with weapons, but they do not resist at all, unlike the book. He tries to get Gandalf to leave his staff, but Gandalf pulls the old, "you wouldn't take an old man's walking stick, would you"? Hama gives in right away.
The inside of Meduseld, as earlier pictures have shown, was done strictly according to the book and more could not be asked. It was good. We find Theoden looking as pitiful as ever, with Wormtongue next to him. Theoden even throws an insult at Gandalf and then turns to Wormtongue almost as if to give him some "skin" for getting in a good dig. Then it turns into the exorcist. Gandalf immediately begins speaking as he walks towards Theoden and Grima complains about permitting the staff. Several Rohan soldiers attack to stop him in old kung fu movie fashion by going one at a time from both sides. They are sloppily pushed down or fought off by Aragorn, Gimli and Legolas as Gandalf continues to walk towards Theoden. Theoden then starts talking with the voice of Saruman and Gandalf actually attempts to cast out Saruman as if he was a demon inhabiting his body. Saruman says that if Gandalf casts him out, Theoden will die, but he does it anyway and at the last possible moment, Gandalf gives a big push of his staff and you see a shot of Saruman go flying back in his tower of Orthanc. Then right before your eyes Theoden begins to change and it was a *** good job by whoever did this scene. Very impressive!!! Theoden then throws Grima down the stairs outside and actually goes to kill him, but is stopped, I think by Gandalf. Grima then rides off to Isengard. My notes here read: Poor character development and I think for all that has currently been done, the character development has not been sufficient. I hate to say it, but Ralph Bakshi hit far closer to the mark on almost all fronts than Jackson when it comes to Rohan, but Theoden especially. (don't stone me for that please)
We go back to Frodo and Sam to see Frodo starting to take Gollum's side over Sam in a big way. It is obvious that Frodo has a far greater understanding of what Gollum must have went through to become the wretched creature that he is. Frodo is experiencing the hold that the ring has on him and might even feel that he would have ended up not too far off from what Gollum is, had he kept the ring for as long. This is really great dialogue and interaction. Gollum is pretty funny, but it's hard to understand some of what he is saying and doing and viewers who don't know the books might feel this is stupid and they won't "get it."
Frodo, Sam and Gollum then come upon a large group of Southrons marching to Mordor. There are at least two Oliphaunts with them. The Oliphaunts looked fantastic. VERY, very large. It was said that "their kind can not now be found in the world." That is the god's honest truth. Not 100 feet tall, but perhaps 50 or 60 feet tall. They are HUGE!!! And have many men riding on top. Possibly 15 - 30. Very formidable indeed. Suddenly (like you couldn't guess) they are attacked by lots and lots of hidden archers. One of the Oliphaunts gets hit with a few shots and charges towards Frodo and Sam who do not, strangely enough, even try to get out of the way. It's also very easy to see how they would probably do the most damage by trampling people. They were very believable.
We go back to all of Edoras packing up and heading to Helm's Deep, which Grima argues to Saruman is actually more like falling into a trap than going to some place strong which can be better defended (I believe it was Grima). Gimli talks about dwarf women to Eowyn and it's right out of the books regarding dwarvish women, reproduction, etc... A very interesting addition. Gimli even says that it is hard to tell the males from the females and Aragorn jokingly whispers to Eowyn "it's the beards." A funny moment. They suddenly spot and kill an orc scout riding a warg and prepare for battle, though it seems there is hardly more than ten or fifteen Rohan soldiers to fight. This is where Theoden says "you must lead the people to Helms Deep." She wants to stay and fight, but is sent away just the same. The men then mount up. INCLUDING GIMLI all by himself and makes some comment about riding that did not sound like complaining, but I couldn't make it out. Hama and one other key Rohan soldier are in the front when the Wargs charge. Hama is killed by the first Warg, but by and large, the Rohan soldiers on horseback kick the warg riders butts better than you would think. The wargs were done pretty well and there shouldn't really be any complaints.
Aragorn kills some and then hops on the back of one, stabs the rider and throws him off, but gets his hand caught in something and is dragged by the warg to the edge of a cliff where both fall off and are assumed to have been killed. When the fight is over they look for Aragorn, but only find the mortally wounded orc he stabbed on the warg. The orc laughs that their friend has taken a fall off the cliff and then dies after being shaken gently under threat of death (DUMB!) They look down and just see a river. This was totally stupid and completely unnecessary. I have no idea why they did this.. At any rate, both Gimli and Legolas are not thrilled, but Theoden kind of shrugs it off as, oh well... what do you want ME to do about it? People die, who's to say he wouldn't have dropped dead of a heart attack tomorrow? Que Sera, Sera... At any rate, they actually just move on to Helm's Deep. When they get there Eowyn looks for Aragorn but can not find him and they say that he "fell". I don't know if that was a punn or what, but they did not elaborate. Her look of pain had a lot to be desired, mainly because of the lack of character building between them.
Aragorn washes up on the shores and is unconscious. Arwen sort of prays for him and that mixed with his horse finding him somehow down river and kissing him (I think he might mistake the horse for Arwen kissing him, not certain) wakes him up and he barely manages to get on the horse and hold on. I believe there is a quick shot of Merry and Pippin with Treebeard watching the armies of Isengard marching out to Helms Deep. (Very impressive shot). BTW, interspersed every once in a while were scenes of Merry and Pippin in Treebeard's arms. That shows how important they were. Eventually there was an Entmoot with at least eight whole ents... whoopie!!! NOT! After a day or so they finally come to an agreement that Merry and Pippin are not orcs. BORING!!!
Then we cut to Elrond in flashbacks. At some point he is talking to Arwen and these scenes are taken straight from the appendixes. He speaks of how hard it would be for her to endure losing her family and friends and staying behind for him, who would quickly die and leave her in grief. He asks if she has love for him, etc... There are some great scene's of the future which may be our only tribute to his death, that show Aragorn old, yet looking good still with a salt and pepper beard, laying dead on a stone slab holding Anduril with Arwen mourning. The scene is not truly accurate, but still pretty cool to see. Then suddenly Galadriel chimes in with talk about Sauron and the end of the elves in middle earth and basically just is a real downer. Just doom and gloom. They seem to have totally cut that seen with Elrond talking with Galadriel about trusting to the victory of Sauron, etc... Then we see a really good lengthy shot of Osgiliath.
My next note is simply that Mirando Otto (Eowyn) has too much make-up on. She really did. Then Aragorn asks Theoden (a real pain in the ass, dragging his own ass, character in Jackson's version) if he will send out messengers to seek help and allies. Theoden rants about the lack of allies. Aragorn recommends asking Gondor for help, but Theoden responds angrily towards Gondor and accuses them of not coming to their aid when the westfold was taken. They state that the number of men fighting for Theoden is 300.
There are some good scenes of the people of Rohan getting ready for war. They are a bit stirring, showing old men and young boys preparing to fight against hopeless odds. A quick shot of the glittering caves. Then it gets even cheesier. Haldir shows up with 200 archers. They march in like they are drilling on a parade ground. You practically expect to hear them shout "SIR. YES, SIR." They stop, pivot in unison and put down their bows together. Then Haldir addresses Theoden and in a very cheap line, redresses Theoden's recent claim (though the elves never heard it) that he had no allies. Haldir brings up the fact that once upon a time the Elves had an Alliance with men (the LAST alliance). He says that they are now going to renew that alliance with a handshake and a stupid grin on his face. And poor whiny little Theoden now has some friends.
They then cut to a few scenes of children and women huddling together in the caves. If you are paying attention, you will notice here, and again later, that Peter Jackson's daughter has once again made it into the film. Wanna take any bets that she will suddenly appear in Minas Tirith as well, at Aragorns coronation??? That is of course assuming that Aragorn does not reject the title of king and instead take the position of President or executive director, championing the cause of Democracy, like Lucas did in Clones.
Finally the attack comes and believe it or not, Theoden actually mocks Saruman's forces by saying "IS THAT ALL YOU GOT ?" or something to that effect. DUMB! The attack is pretty cool and there are some great scenes, which I will leave unsaid. But sooner than you would think, they go for the culvert to plant some explosives. You know this from an earlier brief scene where Saruman is showing Grima his gunpowder. Suddenly, the crowds of orcs separate ever so slighting making a path towards the culvert and around a corner of orcs comes a berzerker orc holding a large torch/sparkler in the shape of the olympic torch. He is moving in slow motion and Aragorn commands everyone to kill him. He runs forward in such a way as to make it look like he is "Handyman" from "In Living Color" carrying the torch for the special olympics around the final stretch. Well, he makes it and blows the wall sky high killing lots on both sides.
Back to Treebeard. He informs the hobbits that the ents have decided to not enter the war, but rather to weather it like they have weathered everything else throughout the years. Can you believe this? What a betrayal by Peter Jackson!
The attack on Helm's Deep quickens and to make a long story a little bit shorter... The elves don't all die, nor needlessly sacrifice their lives like some rumored, but Haldir does get wounded once, and then stabbed in the back/neck as he is trying to make it back to the keep. They show a long shot of his face as he is dying for what reason I do not know. But he dies and it's a little sad, but if they had done it better it could have jerked some tears. They breach everything and are ramming the gate. After getting mostly through, Theoden commands everyone to defend the gate from a tower, but suddenly ends up at the head of the line of defenders and is wounded in the shoulder by a spear and then backs off.
We switch back to Merry and Pippin. Treebeard has just told them that this whole matter is too big for them and they should go back to the shire. He starts taking them to the north so they can get there easier, but Pippin gets the bright idea of having Treebeard drop them off closer to Saruman because he would never expect them to do that??????? At any rate, once they get to the edge of Fangorn, you can see Isengard because the orcs have clear cut about 40 or 50 acres of land. Big deal!!! Oregon should be so lucky! So anyway, Treebeard goes into his, "some of these were my friends, etc..." speech and suddenly lets out this great big howl and changes his mind and hundreds of ents come right out of the woodwork so to speak. The next time we see the ents, the first shot is one of them throwing a huge boulder ripped from the wall at the inner compound of Isengard. About 100 or more ents storm the circle and it's wholesale orc slaughter. Pretty good scene, definitely more than anyone could have expected. They quickly burst a dam nearby and flood everything. Only one ent is seen catching on fire from some fire arrows. Saruman does some poor acting from the tower in bewilderment, but nothing more. They stop showing it before the water has even reached the other side of the circle. All in all however, it's a great battle scene which will impress you and make you giddy.
Back to Helm's Deep. Theoden now wants to give up completely. He is completely worthless as a leader and brainless and gutless as well. He never wants to fight anyone and has resisted all attempts to encourage to fight for his people. Finally, once they have been beaten back to an inner room and nearly everyone is dead, he decides to ride out for one last hurrah.
Gimli blows Helms horn which is one big ass horn. It wraps completely around a tower. I thought that was it, and that it was cool. That is until I saw the rest of the horn. It apparently runs down the entire length of the citadel from top to bottom and opens out with great big holes. I don't care how tough a dwarf is, he could not wind that horn like they showed. The horns bellowed and blew dust out of them and trembled like they were booster rockets on the space shuttle, but only for a split second do they show this. It was too much. The model used for this belonged more to a puppet version of The Little Mermaid than to this movie. Anyway, he charges out of the gate and dozens upon dozens of orcs are just swept aside and fall off the ramp while any standing to fight are automatically killed just because... Theoden rides out with a relatively small contingent. However, Gandalf shows up with Eomer (not Erkenbrand like some have thought) and 2,000 horsemen and they charge down a hill with an incline of about 40 or 45 degrees at a full gallop. The CGI of the armies charging to meet each other were really good, but overall it was unbelievable. Especially the idea that a wall of 1,000 pikes about 15 feet long propped to stop the cavalry charge would fail to stop even one horse. The movie basically ends there for our heroes on that side of Middle-Earth. Somewhat disappointing to me, though still an epic battle to be sure.
The final insult comes with Frodo and Faramir. Faramir has proved to be even more sinister than Boromir was. I will label this change in the script "The Departure of Faramir" in honor of the character who was killed by Peter Jackson to make room for this upstart. Faramir shows himself to be a fairly cold shadow of Boromir, who is more than happy to trade Frodo and the Ring to his father for a little attention. He even says something about getting his father's approval because of this. They then steal the line from Denethor when Faramir says via a message to his father "tell him `Faramir sends a mighty gift.'" He does that in Osgiliath, where they have brought the hobbits and Gollum against their will. While there they come under attack and then a Ringwraith flies overhead and all hide. Faramir carelessly leaves Frodo, Sam and Gollum in an area and says to hide, leaving them to do whatever they want. So the next thing that happens is totally Faramir's fault. Frodo feels called by the Ringwraith so he climbs on top of a wall and the Ringwraith flies right to him and just when he is about to put on the right and we assume offer it to him or something, Sam tackles him and stops him and the Nazgul beast gets shot with one arrow and flies away. Frodo then jumps on Sam with Sting and threatens him. Finally Sam breaks down and yells at Faramir that the reason Boromir died is because he tried to take the ring, yada, yada, yada. Then suddenly Faramir has a change of heart and just lets them go.
Skip to them walking towards Minas Morgul with Gollum again (not much was skipped, believe me). And here is the big cliff-hanger that Peter Jackson was bragging about.......................... are you ready?................................. don't read any further if you don't want to know.........................
Gollum has a change of heart because Frodo tricked him into being caught by Faramir. So while ahead of them in the woods, Gollum whispers to himself... I won't kill them, I will let her do it. Yes, she can do it and then we will get the ring... Waiting for more... you are going to keep waiting for about another year, because that is all there is, folks. It just ends abruptly.
Here is the summary for me. The CGI was great. No complaints there at all. Gollum was very interesting to say the least. However, all the best attributes of all the main characters other than Gollum have been watered down to make them all weaker and more "common" than Tolkien wrote them to be. This is precisely the reason why Christopher Tolkien didn't want to have anything to do with this film. Peter Jackson has taken far too much liberty with needless or senseless changes. Tolkien sold 100 million copies because Tolkien wrote a great story. Peter Jackson could not improve on that. If it ain't broke, don't fix it. Well, Peter didn't take that advice and I just hope that The Return of the King is not like this one and that this one doesn't hurt the other one too much. If it weren't for the fact that there weren't any real contenders this year, I would say that this movie didn't have a snowball's chance in hell of getting best picture at the Oscars. Even so, I doubt it will do better than Fellowship did and rightly so. Even the score wasn't anything special. On a scale of 1 - 10 for a movie fan only, I would give it a 9 or 10. But for a true purist, it gets a 3. It's still worth seeing though it breaks my heart to see such an opportunity abused. I am sure that as I see it a second and third time, I will soften up a lot, as I did with Fellowship, but Fellowship told a much more fluid story. It going to be difficult coming to terms with this one.