Well here I go to produce my review of The Two Towers. It’s a similar situation, was it only a year ago that I found myself in the same place, film versions and book versions fighting it out in my head, trying to find that healthy balance that would honor the good professors work while at the same time bringing something new to the world of Middle-earth.
I did not write a review of the Fellowship of the Ring, well not anything comprehensive besides “Wow!” I was not sure that I could bring all my thoughts together for Fellowship, but I feel I can for the Two Towers. Why? I don’t really know, maybe because it felt like a shorter story, more condensed. Somewhat like “The Two Towers by J.R.R Tolkien: In a Nutshell.” Nevertheless, I did like this movie.
But before I get started on my review there are a few things that must be brought up. After viewing two of Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings films, I have realized that while each movie has its individual problems, there is a disturbing characteristic that they all share. In fact, three disturbing characteristics,
The first, something film critic Roger Ebert has been pointing out for some time now, is that this is more a movie about the actions of Aragorn and Legolas and big folk, in fact it could be called an action movie about the big folk of Middle-earth. It is not a movie based on the character driven plot that centers on the hobbit point of view.
The second is this annoying story arc they have going with Aragorn not wanting his heritage, this reluctance to except who he is and become the leader of his people. This almost diminutive and wishy-washy attitude Aragorn has is really getting on my nerves. I had hoped they were going to fix this by now, but apparently, they haven’t which is what I thought the point of Fellowship was about, aside from the quest to destroy the Ring. For one thing, his lack of Narsil re-forged by the end of Two Towers is just plain odd in my book and I?m left wondering where they’re taking the character. Also the whole Arwen, Aragorn and Elrond thing! I know this has been debated to death, and I could care less if Arwen’s in each movie, that’s fine with me, but if your going to have her in the movies at least keep to the character of Arwen. Aragorn loves Arwen. Arwen loves Aragorn. End of story, no if’s, and’s or but’s. Part of the reason Aragorn can do all things he does in the book is because he knows he has the love Arwen Evenstar and he knows that when its all over he will have her hand in marriage. This is something they’re both looking forward to!
Now, on the third thing, Elrond. As I said this ties into the whole Arwen-Aragorn thing. Simply put, Elrond hates men. This is wrong. Movie Elrond is cold. No way to deny it. That is wrong. The very thought of it is just outrageous! Rivendell has been a haven for the descendents of Isildur for how long, is this the same Elrond that took Aragorn in after his father died, is this the same Elrond that raised Aragorn as his son? No obviously not.
Well, now that that’s out of the way.
The beginning, with the fight between Gandalf and the Balrog was well done. And I found that it was a rather appropriate way to start the movie. I was worried how the movie would start, whether we would have synopsis, which by the way I thought would have been a big mistake. Or whether we would jump into the chase with Aragorn, Legolas and Gimli or perhaps start with Frodo and Sam’s journey. Instead, here is Gandalf fighting the Balrog, and I loved the scene where we follow Gandalf down into the abyss and how he grabs Glamdring and attacks Durin’s Bane. Then on we go to Frodo and Sam, now some might say that a lot of the lines here such as “Gandalf didn’t mean for a lot of things to happen Sam” and some of the no brainer stuff like “We’re lost, Mr. Frodo.” Do these lines seem out of place, I think they do. But are they totally unnecessary? It depends can you tell when dialogs been lifted from the book? Can you tell when its been added by PJ’s crew? If you can, you probably think so.
However moving on to Gollum and what can I say about Gollum other then he is perfect. This is no annoying Jar Jar Binks (thank heaven) and this is no annoyingly obvious CGI character that has jerky movements and a crayon like texture to it when it interacts with real life. (Hint, hint, George Lucas) The scenes where we see the double-sided Gollum come across is very nice, although perhaps a little too much humor injected to it. Aside from that small complaint, Gollum was a bulls-eye by Peter Jackson and Co.
Now moving on to the Dead Marshes, I enjoyed this scene but it could have been better. And I?m not sure why it wasn?t, the way I look at it, either PJ was forced to edit it down due to time restraints (curse you, New Line) or else it was a scene PJ just didn?t do a good job on. I’ll tell you what I like about it first. Number one is the faces under the water, very creepy and thankfully they weren’t a bunch of decomposing bodies. I liked the interaction between Sam and Frodo and Gollum but that leads to what I did not like, firstly Gollum said avoid the lights, what lights? The lights that you can only see when you stare down into the murky water? No, no, no. This scene should have been at night! We needed mist! And creepy lights in the distance, a light that would attract you it. Also when Frodo falls in, again this is rather odd, since in the movie Gollum warns them before hand, where as in the book he warns after Sam falls in. But in both versions it’s apparent that Frodo did fall at some point. And when Frodo does fall and he sees those ghost things, well it seems to me to have been a bad move by PJ, firstly the ghost resemble the Ring wraiths which we see a few minutes later when the Black Rider flies overhead and when Frodo has his flash black. I liked the Nazgul parts but I felt the ghosts in the water took away from the surprise of the Nazgul flash back. The last thing I?ll mention about that scene, and maybe some of you will agree with me, but did the ghost seem very similar to the idea of Barrow wrights, perhaps PJ was making up for there loss.
Next, let’s move on the Riders of Rohan, the scene where Aragorn and company meet up with Eomer. I liked this scene, but again I felt that this scene was edited for time as well. I predict that we will see more of it on the Two Towers extended edition. I liked the scenes with the Orcs arguing over Merry and Pippin, and the Riders killing the Orcs, very well done. While I did enjoy the comic relief supplied by Gimli being unable to keep up with Aragorn and Legolas I felt this was rather anti-dwarf; after all, dwarves are supposed to have incredible endurance. And on Merry and Pippin’s encounter with Treebeard. I felt it was a little rushed, and we really didn’t get to know Treebeard or what kind of beings the Ents were. I rather missed Treebeard’s song about the creatures of Middle-earth, and I felt he was far too solemn, I missed the rather ho humnish that we’ve come to love. However, I loved Merry talking about the Old Forest.
As for the encounter with Gandalf, all I can say is “Bravo!” The only thing, the one tiny little thing I have with it, is when Gandalf talks of his return to life in the scene with the stars and him traveling the universe or whatever to me it looked like aliens brought him back or something.
Now a quick note, on Theodred, while I am very glad they included him in the story, wasn’t Theodred older than Eomer and Eowyn? In the movie, he looked the same age, if not younger.
On the healing of Theoden, I liked this scene, I really did. I thought it was well executed and I don?t care that it looked like an exorcism, I thought it was cool.
The only thing about this the absentness of Eomer, and of course the part where Aragorn gives up Narsil to the guard. But the fact that Eomer is not there is the biggest problem. The fact that we see him briefly at the beginning and then briefly at the end is bad. This is a big loss by PJ to developed the character of Eomer and give the audience a chance to get to know him. Considering how important he has to be in Return of the King. I guess this means that PJ is going to have squeeze that into the third part as well, that’s a lot of stuff he has to cover so far in Return of the King.
Anyway moving on. The Warg battle was great, except for Gimli’s falling down joke thing. Funny but unnecessary. And then Aragorn’s fake death thing. Which was clearly done so he can dream about Arwen, and I don’t know if there was anyone in theater who actually believed Aragorn was dead, even if they haven’t read the books, did they see the trailer?
And that leads to the scene at Rivendell, again were treated to a cold Elrond, an aguishy Arwen and Elves leaving. Why were the elves leaving again? I know their time is fading but are they stupid or something? Do they really think that they can just sneak out the back door and let Middle-earth fall to Sauron and their home free? Do they really think Sauron will be happy with just Middle-earth? Do you know what is a common question put forth by newcomers to Tolkien? ?Why didn?t the Elves just leave? They could have fled and not even bothered with fighting Sauron? Why? Because Elves are not cowards! They do not abandon their allies! They do not run away! And they’re not stupid, they know that if Sauron wins he will attack Aman and they will be screwed.
But moving on, the battle of Helms Deep; the big battle. What can I say, it was pretty excellent. I frankly don’t care that Elves were there, I do care that Haldir dies. I thought the comic relief provided by Gimli was funny but unnecessary. Again, this part of the movie suffers without Eomer. I should point out that I found the chapter in the book to be rather hard to follow, I would always get rather lost, trying to figure out what was going on where and what was happening when. Thankfully, it was much simpler to watch.
Next we have the Ent battle, honestly, it was great. Thank god Saruman didn?t fall on a spiky wheel. And he better not in Return of the King!!! I was a little disappointed that it was Merry and Pippin who set the Ents to war and that they did not go into it on there own.
And on the topic of Eowyn, I did like her character a lot along with Wormtongue. It should be mentioned that I did notice Eowyn’s infatuation with Aragorn developing, I wonder if it should have been more prominent.
Finally lets go back to Frodo and Sam. For the most part, it was all-good. The Black Gate opening and closing was fantastic.
Something I should point out is that I think Frodo was too corrupted by the Ring too fast. If he’s that volatile now, I’d hate to see him while he?s crossing the Plateau of Gorgoroth.
Then there was the interaction with Faramir. And this is pretty much all wrong. Faramir is not a likeable character; he seems just as greedy and stupid as Boromir was. You can defend Faramir’s character if you want by saying that he was not trying to claim the Ring for himself but rather sending it to his father. Nevertheless, this is really just as damaging to his character as if he were to try to take the Ring for himself. After all we all know what happens to Faramir in Return of the King, we know how his father reacts when he tells him he let Frodo go knowing he had the One Ring and would never have thought of sending it Minas Tirith and what that sets up. Therefore, my point here is that Faramir is done poorly, and I have heard the explanation as to why they did this and frankly, I think it’s rather lame. The whole thing in Osgiliath was just odd. The Ring wraiths attack, and just fly around. Frodo seems to do an impression from Poltergeist and then Faramir, after watching Frodo nearly give the ring to one of the Nazgul decides to let him go. What?
I did like Sam’s speech about what happened to Boromir though. Although I’m not sure how people who haven’t read the books understand how Faramir could know his brother was dead.
And then it seems Peter Jackson does the most terrible thing possible: he ends his movie. Cruelly leaving us to wait another year for Return of the King.
Now how could I like this movie after all I’ve said about it? I don’t know. But I do, I like it a lot. And I’ll probably go see eight or nine more times. And in a way it’s probably best that PJ made his movie the way he did, because after all, it would be kind of boring if all we talked about in our message boards were:
“Boy, that was a good movie!”
“Not a thing wrong with it?”
“Hey. remember that part?”
“Yep, so another year to Return of the King, eh??”
So, I give it a 4 out of 5. That’s my review and that’s my rating.