Peter Jackson’s The Two Towers has just about every quality I have come to expect from a modern blockbuster. Pace, action, noise, special effects, close calls, impossible odds, melodrama, love, corny dialogue and even explosions. All mixed up in a deafening and almost mind numbing mixture. Faster, louder, harder, more menacing, more bitter, more extreme in every way seems to be the fashion for many movies today, and the two towers follows it by the letter. Sometimes with parodic results.
For The Two Towers is so grand in its effort to play out the drama of the struggle between good, and evil, darkness and light, life and death and love and hate, that sometimes the characters taking part in these, our heroes, are drowned and become victims of the circumstances. In a movie that has `never give up, there is always hope’ as its message this is somewhat unfortunate. Theoden’s doubts and Aragorns encouragement all falls flat against the grinding wheels of the tale, as there is ever only one option available.
But it is clear that Peter Jackson is more interested in the greater scene and the tenor of the story than the story itself which shows many inconsistensies. Again he makes use of sweeping landscape shots, trumpeting music, shaky camera, and special effects to further enhance the drama and grandeur of the tale. Again this sometimes gives the movie a very artificial feeling and comes in the way of real drama and character. But the two towers is in all ways a modern blockbuster movie, intended to be greater than reality, and it has to be judged as such.
There is no question that The Two Towers is a good solid movie which offers exitement, drama and love, and is a worthy way to spend three hours. It suffers a little from having no beginning and no real ending, but once you’re in to it, it is captivating and humurous although not always coherent. The telling of three or four simultaneous story lines helps confusing the story, but also to keep the pace and exitement up. The acting, where it is allowed is generally good though some of the characters felt rather flat. Particularly Gandalf is a dissapointment after FotR, and his part is rather small. Saruman is another dissapointment but that too comes more from his treatment in the sript than from any acting flaws.
The special effects are generally excellent. Gollum is fantastic and has to be seen. Best combination of computer graphics and character I have ever seen. The ents look fine, though they remind me somewhat of Jack Skellington (of Tim Burton’s The Nightmare Before Christmas) when walking about. But they look tree-ish enough, and fill their purpose well. Trolls, Oliphaunts, Fell beasts and the liches of the marches all look great and feels real enough. The size of Sarumans Uruk-hai army is awe inspiring.
The best parts of the movie are the scenes with Frodo, Sam and Gollum. This is very much Gollums doing, but Sean Astin and even Elijah Wood does a good job here as well. This is also the only storyline where there is a real feeling that the characters themselves can make a difference, and are not pounded into some inevitable course of action by events and circumstances. The ent storyline is rather brief and contrived, but in the end that doesn’t really matter.
All in all however it is a very decent movie, which stays reasonably true to the original story of the books. The additions to the story did not feel as out of place this time as they did with FotR, although I do have to wonder why Galadriel popped up in the middle of nowhere and started narrating. Perhaps somr sort of continuation of her prologue? But there are very few moments like that which doesn’t seem to fit, and the final judgment has to be that Peter Jackson did a thorough job. A good movie at the expense of a coherent story.