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Movie Review:
Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers
By Matt Singer

12.23.02


The Lord of The Rings: The Two Towers is of an ambitious scope rarely seen in the movies. One canít help but notice how the trailers before the film leave black bars on either side of the screen. For over three hours, your field of vision is filled to capacity with images that shift from gorgeous vistas to astounding scenes of warfare. Often it feels as if there is more to see, if only our vision was a little better. The fact that this film is only a third of a complete story makes its hugeness even more staggering. The Two Towers is an experience, and if you plan on seeing it, do so in a theater with a screen with the proper size to do it justice.

The camera floats, like a feather on the wind, tracing the peak of a winding mountain. Soon we are drawn toward noises, lower and deeper, within the mountain itself and the story that left off in last yearís The Fellowship of the Ring. Ring-bearer Frodo Baggins (Elijah Wood) is traveling to Mordor, while Aragorn (Viggo Mortensen), Legolas (Orlando Bloom), and Gimli (John Rhys-Davies) are in search of two hobbits who have been seized by the forces of evil. With no reintroduction to the characters or story, we hit the ground running - literally, since the trio of adventures are hot in pursuit. Meanwhile, Saruman (Christopher Lee) gathers his forces for an all-out assault on human civilization. With evil running rampant throughout Middle Earth, humanity is forced to make a last stand at a remote outpost known as Helmís Deep.

Things move in predictable ways, but the magnitude of events gives things an appropriate end-of-the-world vibe. By the final incredible battle at Helmís Deep, I found myself edging out of my seat towards the screen, muttering words of encouragement at the heroes. I rarely give myself over this completely to a film; my experience at the first Lord of the Rings was nowhere near as intimate. Whatís more, if the film is mostly filled with the preparations and executions of wide-scale battles and simple concepts of good versus evil, its lessons of friendship and bravery are (and itís weird to even type this) heartwarming.

Itís difficult to really pinpoint the appeal of a three hour movie that has little in the way of story that has not already been established in Fellowship and which deposits its leads in mostly the same place they were at the start of the film. If you stop to think about it, you might even feel like youíve been hoodwinked here. So how do I explain how much I enjoyed this film? The film clicked with me, drew me in, and refused to relinquish its grip until the credits rolled. It does hurt that Iíll probably remember some of these images (The heroes charging down a bridge, that gorgeous opening shot) for years.


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It is also worth noting that I have never read any of Tolkienís books, a fact that surely would have affected my opinion in one way or the other. Articles about the film have noted that it is the furthest of the trilogy from the original novels, which no doubt upsets purists. On the other hand, a strong knowledge of the original material gives the film an advantage, because it can score bonus points just by showing you a character youíve been waiting your whole life to see on the screen. Both Tolkien fans I spoke to liked The Two Towers, but preferred the more ďauthenticĒ Fellowship. The person I saw the film with was a Tolkien neophyte like myself and preferred the second film.

Whether The Two Towers is better than The Fellowship of The Ring is something that each moviegoer will have to determine. I preferred the grandeur and intensity of Towers to the occasionally rambling nature of Fellowshipís journey. It was this film that captivated me from start to finish, that made three hours disappear in no time at all, and moved me by its feats of heroism. It is, truly, an epic.

 

 
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