The Two Towers – A review by a Tolkien Movie Fan

by Dec 19, 2002Reviews

The Two Towers was amazing. Believe the hype and the critics’ reviews.

Why so? First, kindly indulge me in a rant. I have read what many of my fellow visitors have said about this film, and I am troubled. Not troubled because I disagree with them, which I do, but troubled because I don’t understand why they are so offended by these films.

Both of these movies are masterpieces. (This one even more so than the last) As movies.

These movies are not the books, which of course, are also masterpieces. As books.

Why do “hardcore” Tolkien fans have such a difficult time accepting these movies? Apparently the accolades of the first film; almost $1 billion US in ticket sales, one of the top 3 selling DVD’s of all time, 4 Oscars, 13 Oscar nominations, and numerous other awards and praise just aren’t enough for book fans to understand what is so painfully obvious to those of us that are Tolkien fans but are also movie fans.

Look, I am one of you: I have read the books and I love them as much as the next guy. I first read them when I was 11 years old and, 22 years later, I am still searching for their equal. However, I do not now, nor did I ever, expect the movies to replace the books. I have always wanted both.

A book is crafted for the fertile soil of ones’ mind, and contains content applicable to all available senses. A movie plays on only two senses – sight and sound. A movie must use these limited resources to get across what a book does more completely. In other words, a movie can NEVER be as good nor as complete as a book.Why not let the minutia and differences stand? Why not watch the movies as another vision of the books? If you do, I promise you, check your copies of the books, and everything that you have always loved is still in there.

Now, to get to my review of the film.

The Two Towers is an absolutely stunning, powerful, marvelous film, and is more (and less) than I expected. Beautiful, both huge in scale, but also small in careful details. It contains not only stirring special effects images, but real, genuine, deeply portrayed human emotion. Courage, valor, loss, and companionship are all elements that set this movie apart from so many other films in both this and other action genres.

Both the overall casting and the special effects were completed to the high standards set by the first film. Not flawless, but close enough to make you forget the few mistakes that you do see. Bernard Hill as Theoden was especially fantastic, and in my humble opinion, deserving of an Oscar nomination, as was Miranda Otto. While Hills’ performance was both powerfully stirring and multi-faceted, where Ottos’ Eowyn really shone was in making the most of her limited screen time. She was both vibrant and surprisingly complex for a supporting character. Film direction and cinematography were both stellar, and the score by Howard Shore surpassed his work on the last film in content, coherence, and complexity.

My primary complaint for this film was very similar to my complaint with the FOTR theatrical release, it was a bit choppy at times and felt both rushed and cramped. (Based upon experience, when I see the 35 -40 minute longer extended version of this film on DVD, I expect this complaint to be largely resolved as is was with the extended version of Film # 1.)

The story was adapted brilliantly to this format, and the battle at Helm’s Deep has no rival that I am aware of in the history of motion pictures. It is probably even a better screen adaptation than the first film, although ultimately I consider this not as a separate film but rather another piece of the same one. Gollum, too, set new benchmarks for filmmaking, and I don’t just mean that the character looked amazingly real, which it did. The writing of this character was the work of a lovesick bunch of geniuses.

This film is also the equal of the first in both overall scope and quality. And while there were actually more changes to the story here than in Fellowship, the overall spirit of the story comes through better than the first – there is no “Nuclear Galadriel” in this film for fans to take umbrance with. What is really important to the story comes across to us in the audience loud and clear.

I want to personally thank Peter Jackson and all involved for allowing me as a movie-goer to view films crafted with this level of quality, dedication, and devotion – I am a better film fan for the experience.

Oh yeah, and I still like the books, too…

Rating ****


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