The Two Towers – Critical Film Review

by Dec 18, 2002Reviews

I along with many other avid Tolkien (and plain movie) fans was at the midnight showing of this long anticipated movie.

I wish I hadn’t been.

The movie was by no means horrible, but I could have easily waited until the next day… week… DVD release. I’ll quote my friend on my general one line review of this movie: “It was a hack and slash job!” It really was, too. It was definitely “based” in the book, but I don’t believe this was much of a direct translation of Tolkien’s work at all. I think this deserves subheadings, don’t you? I agree.

The Characters

There were far too many discrepancies here and for little reason that I could see, except holding the original plot line back. This category is definitely topped by the hopelessly horrible rendition of Faramir in the movie. Not only was all of Faramir’s integrity and good nature erased, but he was even more susceptible to temptation than Boromir. Faramir is the better and stronger morally of the two! I saw no reason for Faramir to kidnap Frodo, Sam and Gollum and drag them to Osgiliath, except to keep the cliff hanger ending of the book out of the theater. Cirith Ungol and Shelob were only hinted at. Oh, and I’d really like to see two hobbits, no matter how sneaky they are, romp around right in front of the Morannon and a troop of Haradrim without being seen! I guess the Silent Watchers are a little lax these days what with War threatening all of Middle-earth…

Frodo would be my next gripe. Considering the strength of Frodo’s will to destroy the Ring in the book and his stalwart nature, I find it rather odd that he’s nearly given in to the Ring on every single occassion when a Ringwraith has shown up. I love how he stands a scant stone’s throw from a Nazgul and its fell beast with the Ring out before him and the beast misses and then leaves! Yeah.. Right..

Now why does Gimli have to be a constant source of comic relief. Is it because he’s the only male character that isn’t regularily attractive? Legolas gets to demonstrate his elven grace constantly, not to mention his prowess in battle. Gimli is the butt of every joke and very few if any were necessary. I think it’s obvious this movie isn’t catering to Tolkien fans. I see none of the bonding that occured in the books between Legolas and Gimli. They begin as nearly racial enemies but learn about each other until the become endearing friends. No mention of that whatsoever. The kill count at Helm’s Deep was just one more way to give the attractive elf a leg up on everyone else.

My next question is why, for the love of all that is holy, is Arwen in this movie? Everyone tells me that it’s to give the movie some “Girl appeal” with a strong female character. Okay, cool, I can agree with that, but what about Eowyn? I got the answer back that she was “butch.” She’s a strong female character that is having that side of her repressed and she fights against that by disguising herself and fighting in the War. How cool is that? Speaking of, I really enjoyed Eowyn so far. Her affections for Aragorn are obvious but not overly done, in my opinion. I’d take Eowyn any day over the stupidity of Liv Tyler as Arwen and her ungodly amount of screen time that could have been spent portraying actual plot.

Oh, I love Eomer in this movie. He was nothing but a convenient plot device that gave the main characters horses. For no reason. These are Rohirrim! I doubt they would give up something as precious to them as their horses so easily. Oh, I forgot to mention he shows up for a cavalry charge against the orcs. I was sure that the Rohirrim front line and Gandalf would be skewered but a little wizard glow made all the orcs drop their readied pikes.

The Creatures and Other Races

I have waited in anticipation to see the Ents since I first heard of this project to bring the Lord of the Rings to the big screen and I must say, I was rather disappointed. I think physically they were pretty decent. I rather liked them. But they didn’t really act all that Entish. They were far too hasty (and they only complained of the hobbit’s haste once!) I heard very little “ho-humming” and nothing of the Lore of Living Creatures. None of Tolkien’s poetry or music survived the transistion… And their sudden change from the decision of the Entmoot to all out war in just a few moment was pathetic. You’d think if they were all waiting at the treeline they would have already attacked. Of course the flooding of Isengard brings up a few of the geographical problems of that place.. mainly the lack of mountains (Or natural rock walls) around it.

Also why didn’t Gandalf and the others meet the hobbits there? Why wasn’t Saruman’s staff taken away? Why wasn’t the palantir put into the hands of the party? Why, why, why?

Also the whole warg attack scene was horrible. I guess Jackson was sad he missed his chance to have Wargs when he was supposed (before the Gates of Moria) and decided he’d randomly stick them in here. Yay! More unneccesary battle scenes! These weren’t even Wargs at all. I saw no lupine shape to them at all. They were just big hyenas and the overall effect of them was quite awful. But it did serve the purpose of creating a new plot twist where Aragorn is thrown off a cliff and dreams of Arwen. Then Aragorn can be the wounded hero and ride in to Helm’s Deep like a true man! Ugh.

Helm’s Deep was another quite horrible transition. I really didn’t think you could destroy so simple a thing as the battle so greatly. Making it into a stupid action flick with Legolas’ shield surfing bit was quite depressing. The wall was never really shattered to bits like that either. Could one also tell me where they kept those horses used for the last minute charged that trampled a good legion of orcs?

Gandalf’s scenes with the Balrog weren’t all that bad. The Balrog looked less far too solid for me, I liked his amorphous nature in the Fellowship of the Ring. Gandalf really managed to pummel the Balrog also. Considering this was supposed to be a titanic clash of near equals I found that a little disheartening. Makes you wonder why Gandalf keeled over dead after the battle.

Now I must saw Gollum looked incredible. I loved how they created him; he’s so twisted, thin and wretched looking. The actor who created his motions did an excellent job and I applaud him. His speech, was generally quite good also. The schizophrenic scenes just weren’t right. It had everyone in the theater laughing and that’s not what it should have done at all. What has happened to Gollum is horrible and to see how the Ring twisted his mind is pitiable and frightening. Now Gollum is cute, or so I’ve heard. Great characterization….

Now I’m going to ask why so many important things were left out of this movie. It should have been called Half a Tower. There’s only an incredibly pathetic retelling of the fall of Isengard and Minas Morgul isn’t even mentioned! I suppose if you misquote Tolkien and say the other tower is Barad-Dur you could call it the One Tower.

This movie was greatly disappointing. I feel even more inclined from staying away from this entire movie “phenomenom” now.


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