The Two Towers review - Peter Jackson succeds once again with his powerful second installment of the Lord of the Rings trilogy

Fans of last years The Fellowship of the Ring, the first in a trilogy adapted from J.R.R. Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings, have been eagerly anticipating Peter Jackson's follow-up, The Two Towers. However, with all the awards the first installment wrung up and all the millions of dollars it made around the world, it still wasn't certain if the so called `sequel' would live up to the same expectations and achievements as the first film did.

Well all bets off. The Two Towers is a worthy predeccessor and lives up to all the aspects that made The Fellowship of the Ring so enjoyable. With a top-notch cast succeeding with superior acting and directing that increases the epic scope of the last film, this is turning out to be the greastest movie trilogy that surpasses the Star Wars, Back to the Future, and even the Godfather films.

Unlike The Fellowship of the Ring, here we are jumped right into the action with a flashback to a critical scene from the first one. But soon we are reunited with our heroes. The Hobbits Frodo Baggins (Elijah Wood) and his companion Samwise Gamgee (Sean Astin) are precisely where we last saw them: stuck in the dizzying cliffs of the Emyn Muil. But they have been followed, followed by the creature Gollum (andy Serkis), who lusts for the Ring, for he used to beits former master. Though Gollum is a threat. Frodo pities him, because he understands the power the Ring had on Gollums mind and how that same struggle will eventually happen with Frodo. So it is decided that Gollum will lead Frodo to Mordor where the Ring must be destroyed and evil ended forever.

After the other two Hobbits Merry (Dominic Moynaghan) and Pippin (Billy Boyd) escaped their captives in the lush Fangorn Forest, they are met up with Treebeard, an Ent, who in the simplest form, is a walking, talking tree. The Hobbits hope to rouse Treebeard (voiced by John Rhys-Davies) and the other Ents to forge an attack on Isengard, after they learn the dreadfulness the evil Wizard Sarumon (Christopher Lee) has done to their beloved, peaceful forest, and to at least try to make a difference and carry on the task that was laid to them back in Rivendell. Unfortunately this is also the wekest part in the movie, because all the Hobbits do is sit around in the branches of Treebeard discussing what will happen until the last thirty minutes of the film.

Aragorn (Viggo Mortensen), Legolas (Orlando Bloom), and Gimli (John Rhys-Davies) have been searching countless hours forembers of their party. But after stumbling upon a camp of slaughtered Uruk-Hai, they are reunited with Gandalf (Ian McKellen) who has returned from the darkness and has become Gandalf the White, a more powerful and masterful Wizard than that of his previous incarnation, Gandalf the Grey. Gandalf warns his company that a storm is rising in the East, and it is making its way to Rohan, a land where Man calls home, but is forsaken, since Sarumon is corrupting the mind of its leader.

After coming to terms with the imminent danger that is making its way tp Rohan, King Theoden (Bernard Hill), after being excised of Sarumon by the powers of Gandalf, decides to lead the people to Helms Deep, their refuge during desperate times. Yet after learning that Sarumon has conjured up an army of ten-thousand to attack Helms Deep, the three-hundred soldiers of Rohan are overwhelmed and somehow have to find hope.

And all three of these storylines lead up to a spectacular finish that will go unmatched in terms of conclusions for years to come.

Despite the fact that The Two Towers has a nearly three hour running time it is remarkably well paced and is so dense with visuals on every frame, that multiple viewings are required to grasp each beutiful shot of Peter Jackson film. But whereas The Fellowship of the Ring had quiet character moments, they are relinqueshed here for its aggressive focus on story, and the tenseness of the whole film, that builds and builds to that as I said, amazing conclusion. Nonetheless, that isn't to say that the characters are boring and uninvolving. Each character becomes something more and the layers are increased in this film. But the most impressive of all is Gollum.

The flawless animation of the CG Gollum is a milestone in cinema and is instantly believable, especially in the closeups of his face where we see into the creatures soul and the inner torment it deals with. And that inner struggle is what sets apart Gollum from other animated creations. Gollum has two personalities, that of Gollum, the evil impersenation of the forme Hobbit who wishes to kill the Hobbits and take the Ring for its own, for the lust in Gollum is growing. But Gollum is also inflicted with Smeagol, the embodyment of the creatures former self, who only wishes to help the Hobbits and get away from Gollum who scares Smeagol. It is amazing the amount of sadness and anger Gollum reaches to the audience, and considering he is a CGI effect adds to that audacity! The actor portraying Gollum, Andy Serkis, loggeg on four years of work creating this. He not only did the voice-over but was on set with the actors and on set again with the animators evolving pixels into perfection. The partnership of Peter Jackson and Andy Serkis in bringing this to the screen is an overwhelming achievement, and is a landmark in cinema history. Gollum truly kicks Jar-Jar Binks' ass.

Peter Jackson has done the unimaginable, by crafting a timeless story to the big screen, and has triumphed beyond concievable will. This breath-taking, momentous second installment not only continues the journey where The Fellowship of the Ring left off, but deepens the human struggle and intensity that the films are all about. This continuing The Lord of the Rings trilogy isn't just fantasy and adventure. It is more than that. It's what great cinema is all about.

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