The Phantom Towers - Not a Purist, but come on... - 1 ring out of 4
The second book of the trilogy really deepens many of the relationships of the main characters (Gimli and Legolas in particular) and introduces new characters, some of which are my favorites (Treebeard). Unfortunately, the movie decides to forget those relationships and characters and concentrate on three things: A love story, A computer generated character, and spectacle.
At my midnight viewing I could not help but think, "What in the world is going on? Did anyone read the second book?" By the time Aragon fell off the cliff and "died" I had plain given up watching the Two Towers and concentrated on counting how many people were asleep in the theatre (a total of 10).
But I guess that was necessary so that we could watch the flashback scenes with Arwen, culminating in a "break up" scene that had me laughing out loud. The only thing missing was Aragon leaning against a row of lockers and Arwen in his letter jacket. But, alas, this was necessary if the masses were going to accept the chemistry between Aragon and Eowyn.
Then insert Gollum. A wonderfully computer generated character with all of the humor and charm of an emaciated Jar Jar Binks. Gollum's character is tragic but I don't think Tolkien's intent was to have us feeling sorry for this cute little creature that almost seems noble at times. Between his silliness and Gimli's one-liners/clumsiness (I swear if he feel off one more horse...) it thought maybe I was watching a middle earth version of The Phantom Menace. It was as if Jackson was saying, "Yeah, Tolkien has a good story, but look what I can to with a computer."
The landscapes are breathe-taking but I believe the story has so much more to offer. The battle at Helm's Deep was at points so absurd I felt that Theoden deserved all that he got. By the way, Theoden is not the coward that is painted in this movie and the way Eomer got the shaft is almost criminal. What kind of army is so ill prepared for battle? No boiling oil, no beams to push away ladders, and what was going on with the WWII water mines and the guy running with the torch? Three words: Dumb, dumb, dumb.
The Ents were portrayed as senile old men that didn't care about the world around them. This really upset me because I thought these were some of the neatest characters in the book. Faramir was not the noble in the book but rather a power hungry monger much like his brother. He kidnaps Frodo and then holds him prisoner? HE asks for the ring?
But here is what bothers me the most. The Two Towers has a great natural ending, an ending that would surely keep patrons on the edge of their seats waiting for the third movie. Why did we not make it to Shelob's Lair? What better way to end the movie than with the "death" of Frodo? Sam could have taken the ring and left Frodo behind. Those of us who have read the books would know of course that Frodo was not dead but those who have not would be as broken as we all were when Han Solo was frozen in carbonite and taken away by Boba Fett.
But alas, I digress. My brother is also a fan of the books and he loved the movie so maybe I'm crazy; however, I think he would have like the movie if it had been Gandalf farting on a snare drum.