It’s hard to think that the Two Towers could be very different than Fellowship of the Ring — Oh, how could I have been so wrong!
Film Two of Peter Jackson’s adaptation of Lord of the Rings is quite simply amazing. Being a massive fan of the books for many years now and an even bigger fan of last year’s film, my expectations of TTT were that it was going to be all of the same formula, just telling a the next part of the story. Call me naive, but I really thought that could’ve worked just as well as FOTR – but now after viewing the film, it’s different style and format really did work and I can’t see how PJ and crew could have made it any better – which is of course what they were aiming for!
Tolkien’s Two Towers for me was the least enjoyable part of the trilogy. For me, the chopping and changing constantly between chapters slowed the pace dramatically, but I guess with a screen adaptation this effect could have worked better than the books – it does.
The various different fragments all contain different factors, that when all placed into a ‘whole’ produces a really marvolous film. For me, my favourite ‘fragment’ was the Rohan piece with Aragorn, Legolas and Gimli, but the other parts added in meant that it was hard to get sick of the different stories.
Everything about Rohan was different and new. From the dry, hilly landscapes, to the cultures of the men – from the buildings to Howard Shore’s amazing new theme on the soundtrack. Everything was new and interesting and brought a breath of fresh life to the story.
Even from the beginning of seeing the three companions on the trail of the Urak-Hai, i was obvious that the new comic performer in this film was Gimli. I’m still undecided whether this is a goo idea or not. I realise that all stories need comic relief, but I’m not a fan of obvious ‘try hard’ comedy such as was seen on occasions in FOTR (Pippin’s anoying line at the forming of the fellowship and the rest). It doesn’t ruin the films for me, rather than just stripping it of a perfect 100% score of perfectnss in my mind. Subtle comedy is whats needed – especially as the films are meant to be getting gradually darker. Maybe I’m horribly wrong, that people need laughs too, but for me, I love these films at the core of their seriousness.
The new characters introduced in Rohan are superb and congratulations to the actors who really brought them alive! Special mention goes to Bernard Hill for his memorable and huning performance of King Theoden under Saruman’s spell and Brad Dourif or his trecherous and sneaky Wormtounge – truly hatable and enthralling! Eomer and Eowyn also brillint additions bringing fresh talent to the series.
The two computer generated additions to the ‘cast’, Gollum and Treebeard worked amazingly well and not as well respectively.
Gollum, which was included in the Sam/Frodo story is the best use of CG I have EVER seen on screen! Thanks to Andy Serkis’ amazing voice over and actions he really came alive. At Gollum’s key monoloue scene I cvertainly found him completely beleivable, drawing me into the plot as well as any of his human co-stars. I’m so glad we have more of him to come in Return of the King!
Treebeard however I feel wasn’t as successfull. Maybe it’s because he can only be matched against the perfectly realised Gollum, but I felt that not as much time were taken on the ent scenes, and as such they lack in realism and the ability to completely capture your imagination. Don’t get me wrong, I realise that bringing such an unbelievable aspect of Tolkien’s books such as talking trees to film was probably an amazing hard task, but lack of detail means that no matter how amazing the rest of the film is, it is still brought down by a slightly poorer side. When I say ‘detail’ in the ent scenes, it’s little points such as the fact that when striding through the wood with the hobbits, no matter how thick the undergrowth or compacted the trees are, the characters never scrape past them at all. Why is this? It automatically makes it obvious that blue screen technology was used. Call me picky, but things like this make it look fake, which in turn makes it unbelievable – believability being something vital to these films.
Saying that, the end sequence with the ents attacking Isenguard could not have been done better. The ent and water effects and Saruman’s pure and obvious terror was for me the high point in the film – so the ents weren’t completely useless!
And how could I forget to mention Helm’s Deep? WOW! They were right about this sequence when they say it’s amazing – because it is. Truly breathtaking. Everything in this part of the story translated to the screen with acuracy and style. The added ideas such as the elves’ arrival were interesting and filed in for the fact that their race did not feature in this section at all. The effects used in this piece must have taken an icredible amount of effort – I wish just as much was used on the ents!
My favourite section of Helm’s Deep was almost hypnotic in scale and beauty. Gandalf, Eomer and his riders’ lastn charge against Saruman’s evil army was stunning. PJ’s filmwork here stands out as being my favourite in both films to date. His sweeping shots of the last charge travelling down the mountain pass towards the massive surling army is undescribable in words – watch it and see what I mean!
More of Sauron’s evil, possibly giving us an accurate idea about where PJ is taking ROTK can be seen in the brief viewing of the black gates, the armies of men under Sauron’s power and of course, the flying nazgul – all done with style and increasing a sense in the audience of the fact that our heroes are gradually getting themselves into higher peril and risk at each turn in their journeys. Even the added Osgiliath scene added depth to the idea of the relationship of Frodo and Sam and even Faramir’s company.
I know that many are unhappy with Faramir in this film, but I particulary liked the changes made. Even though the section of the film isn’t the greatest compared with say, Helm’s Deep, it is still worthy and certainly meant that Frodo could show more of how he’s changing.
My favourite chapters in the Tolkien’s Two Towers was without a doubt Gandalf’s confronting of Saruman and Wormtongue’s stupidity as he throws the palantir away. To my dismay this was not included in the film and I sincerly hope will be included in the next – giving weight to the fact that Gandalf is now the head of the wizard council. Selob’s lair is also to be included in the next film, but with all the action and a needed ending to the end of this trilogy needed to be included in as near fullness as possible in the next film, I feel that at least Shelob should have been included in this film – what’s that an extra 15 – 30 minutes? A longer running time, but for a film of this scale, should such scenes be sacrificed to be rushed in an alreay packed third film?
This film is amazing in almost every single way, but the vital question (is it better than FOTR?) cannot be answered. Both films are too different to match against one another. They both add enormous weight to the series and franchise and different aspects of each film please me to the same degree, they are perfectly contrasted and will compliment each other well if viewed together back to back. I now hope that ROTK will again be different in style and nd the series perfectly. A last chapter to complete the trilogy. I think it will and I am buzzing with excitement. I wait to see what PJ has up his sleeve for the extended version of TTT and ROTK…