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What I just saw: The Two Towers

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  • Amy Harlib
    Dear Group, Allow me to share this review before it gets posted where I usually contribute online. Holiday Cheer! Amy The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers
    Message 1 of 5 , Dec 26, 2002
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      Dear Group,
      Allow me to share this review before it gets posted where I usually contribute online.
      Holiday Cheer!
      Amy


      The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers (New Line Cinema, 2002). Directed by Peter Jackson. Written by Fran Walsh, Philippa Boyens, Stephen Sinclair and Mr. Jackson, based on the book by J.R.R. Tolkien. Music by Howard Shore. Running time: 179 minutes. Rated: PG-13.
      http://www.lordoftherings.net/

      The eagerly anticipated second part of director Peter Jackson's unprecedently monumental movie version of Tolkien's classic heroic fantasy trilogy, The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers, arrives exactly one year after its predecessor and fully lives up to expectations as it should since the entire trilogy was filmed in one go expressly to keep the quality consistent. Faster paced, darker, more action-packed without neglecting character development; loaded with dazzling visuals blending live performers and CGI with astonishing state-of-the-art finesse - The Two Towers holds audiences spellbound for its 3 hour length while time flies by.

      The Two Towers assumes familiarity with the subject matter and without preamble begins promptly where the first film ended with the Fellowship sundered and three parallel plotlines needed to follow the protagonists. Astounding from the get go, the opening scene exemplifies this, setting the stage for thrills to come in its depiction of Gandalf's (Ian McKellen) free-fall battle with the demonic Balrog, a struggle which the wizard survives to play a major part a bit later on in the story.

      From there, we cut to best buddies Frodo (Elijah Wood) and Sam (Sean Astin), the two Hobbits struggling to find their way to Mordor, the realm of that seeker of world domination, the Dark Lord Sauron. The intrepid, small-statured heroes must undertake this journey in order to destroy the Ring of Power in Frodo's possession in the only possible place to achieve this end, at the place it was forged, in the fires of Mt. Doom. The former owner of the coveted circlet comes to Frodo and Sam's aid, an unlikely guide called Gollum who catches up with them, willing to lead the way. The most perfect CGI creation to date, inspired by the on-set performance of his vocal source, Andy Serkis, the emaciated, twisted, schizoid, sniveling and sneaky Gollum (AKA Smeagol, a former Hobbit corrupted by the Ring), arouses Frodo's pity while Sam mistrusts the creature, fearing that he will find a way to trick them and re-possess his "precious". Henceforth, Frodo must endure an arduous trek before it destroys him.

      Meanwhile, the other two Hobbits from the original quartet, Merry (Dominic Monaghan) and Pippin (Billy Boyd), remain captives of the goblin-like Orcs who intend to deliver them to Isengard, stronghold of Sauron's main minion, the renegade sorcerer Saruman (Christopher Lee). Merry and Pippin finally, fortuitously manage to escape into the ancient, forbidding Fangorn Forest. There they encounter and manage to ingratiate themselves with a sentient, mobile, tree-like being called, an Ent, whose kind serves to guard the woodlands. This particular specimen, Treebeard (voice of John Rhys-Davies), a leader among his compatriots, agrees to protect the pair of Hobbits. The combination of Merry and Pippin's exhortations and their twigging (pardon my pun) onto Saruman's ghastly, wholesale deforestation to fuel his war machine, rouses the normally aloof, ponderous and slow-moving Ents who, now concerned about events in Middle Earth, get energized to play a seminal role in events to come.

      Finally, we find elf Legolas (Orlando Bloom), the dwarf Gimli (John Rhys-Davies in the flesh) and the human Aragorn (Viggo Mortensen) hot on the trail of the Orcs who have taken their friends prisoner. Seeking help in their rescue mission, these three journey to the land of Rohan famed for its beautifully bred horses and skilled riders. There, much to their delight, the trio find a very much alive Gandalf, now known as Gandalf the White, victorious over the seemingly insurmountable now destroyed Balrog demon. Gandalf, informing the threesome that the Hobbits are unharmed and faring well, redirects them to deal with Rohan's ruler, King Theoden (Bernard Hill) whose mind has been ensorcelled by Saruman operating through his henchman Grima Wormtongue (Brad Dourif) who has insinuated himself into the position of chief advisor. Legolas, Gimli and Aragorn become Theoden's close allies after Gandalf "exorcises" the King and expels Wormtongue who flees back to his master.

      All too soon, Saruman's huge armies threaten Rohan, forcing Theoden, accompanied by the trio; his nephew Eomer (Karl Urban), the chief Rider of Rohan; and his proud, spirited, young niece Eowyn (Miranda Otto) - to lead his people to seek refuge at The Fortress of Helm's Deep. There they must make a final stand in which a few hundred must confront a force totaling ten thousand comprised of Orcs and battalions of mercenaries. The climactic battle here becomes pivotal in the war with Sauron. Leading up to this rousing finale, additional significant plot strands involve Frodo and Sam getting sidetracked to the last surviving human city of Gondor where they must win over their slain comrade Boromir's brother Faramir (David Wenham); and important and moving flashback interludes expand upon Aragorn's seemingly hopeless romance with the immortal elf princess Arwen (Liv Tyler) whose father, the elegant and imperious Elrond (Hugo Weaving) emphatically disapproves of this union.

      The Two Towers, darker, more intense than The Fellowship of the Ring, satisfyingly expands upon familiar friends and foes from the first film while introducing memorable new characters. Although this means less screen time for such favorites as Gandalf, Saruman, Merry and Pippin, their parts remain vivid and significant while the newcomers quickly create indelible impressions with Theoden, Faramir, Eomer, Eowyn, Wormtongue and Treebeard all standing out with Gollum eclipsing them all, stealing every scene he's in - a CGI creation so believable its mind-boggling! Although director and co-screenwriter Jackson took dramatic license with the plot, diverging it from the books to some degree, it works cinematically, delivering dynamic pacing and character-driven, emotional intensity while still remaining true to the essential spirit of the source material in Tolkien's works. Also true to Tolkien, are underlying themes concerning the nature of the heroic quest, the folly of war and its devastating social/ecological consequences, the inevitability of change and melancholy over its attendant losses - all enriching the film without ever intruding on the narrative flow.

      The movie also slathers the viewer with stunning visual treats: more magnificent Middle Earth (actually New Zealand) scenery; wonderfully detailed props, costumes and make-ups; eye-popping new locales - Rohan, Gondor, Fangorn Forest and its delightful if somewhat cartoonish arboreal Ent inhabitants; more glimpses of the eponymous towers of Isengard and Barad-Dur; plus amazingly convincing CGI wargs, ringwraiths, nazguls, oliphaunts, and hordes of scary Orcs and Uruk-Hai with admittedly disturbing racist undertones in the depictions of these supernatural creatures and of Saruman's mercenary troops as analogs of Arabs and Asians. This negative being minor, it gets balanced out by the positives mentioned above and the awesome Battle of Helm's Deep, possibly the most epic medieval-type war ever seen on film. The rhythm of the shifts between the intertwined narrative threads that effectively built up to this riveting sequence and its parallels, the combat between Saruman and the Ents and the Siege of Gondor, lead to some closure but with the most significant storylines left tantalizingly hanging until the conclusion one year hence in The Return of the King. What an interminable wait!

      The Two Towers is a magnificent triumph of filmmaking and film scoring, for Howard Shore's glorious music perfectly complements the proceedings, reiterating and expanding upon themes from the first outing. This production continues to set the groundbreaking standards by which all future fantasy pictures will be measured. Genre buffs and cineastes in general must not miss this towering achievement of movie magic - a classic film opus to match Tolkien's literary legacy.








      [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
    • Amy Harlib
      Dear Group, Allow me to share this review before it gets posted where I usually contribute online. Holiday Cheer! Amy The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers
      Message 2 of 5 , Dec 26, 2002
      • 0 Attachment
        Dear Group,
        Allow me to share this review before it gets posted where I usually contribute online.
        Holiday Cheer!
        Amy


        The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers (New Line Cinema, 2002). Directed by Peter Jackson. Written by Fran Walsh, Philippa Boyens, Stephen Sinclair and Mr. Jackson, based on the book by J.R.R. Tolkien. Music by Howard Shore. Running time: 179 minutes. Rated: PG-13.
        http://www.lordoftherings.net/

        The eagerly anticipated second part of director Peter Jackson's unprecedently monumental movie version of Tolkien's classic heroic fantasy trilogy, The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers, arrives exactly one year after its predecessor and fully lives up to expectations as it should since the entire trilogy was filmed in one go expressly to keep the quality consistent. Faster paced, darker, more action-packed without neglecting character development; loaded with dazzling visuals blending live performers and CGI with astonishing state-of-the-art finesse - The Two Towers holds audiences spellbound for its 3 hour length while time flies by.

        The Two Towers assumes familiarity with the subject matter and without preamble begins promptly where the first film ended with the Fellowship sundered and three parallel plotlines needed to follow the protagonists. Astounding from the get go, the opening scene exemplifies this, setting the stage for thrills to come in its depiction of Gandalf's (Ian McKellen) free-fall battle with the demonic Balrog, a struggle which the wizard survives to play a major part a bit later on in the story.

        From there, we cut to best buddies Frodo (Elijah Wood) and Sam (Sean Astin), the two Hobbits struggling to find their way to Mordor, the realm of that seeker of world domination, the Dark Lord Sauron. The intrepid, small-statured heroes must undertake this journey in order to destroy the Ring of Power in Frodo's possession in the only possible place to achieve this end, at the place it was forged, in the fires of Mt. Doom. The former owner of the coveted circlet comes to Frodo and Sam's aid, an unlikely guide called Gollum who catches up with them, willing to lead the way. The most perfect CGI creation to date, inspired by the on-set performance of his vocal source, Andy Serkis, the emaciated, twisted, schizoid, sniveling and sneaky Gollum (AKA Smeagol, a former Hobbit corrupted by the Ring), arouses Frodo's pity while Sam mistrusts the creature, fearing that he will find a way to trick them and re-possess his "precious". Henceforth, Frodo must endure an arduous trek before it destroys him.

        Meanwhile, the other two Hobbits from the original quartet, Merry (Dominic Monaghan) and Pippin (Billy Boyd), remain captives of the goblin-like Orcs who intend to deliver them to Isengard, stronghold of Sauron's main minion, the renegade sorcerer Saruman (Christopher Lee). Merry and Pippin finally, fortuitously manage to escape into the ancient, forbidding Fangorn Forest. There they encounter and manage to ingratiate themselves with a sentient, mobile, tree-like being called, an Ent, whose kind serves to guard the woodlands. This particular specimen, Treebeard (voice of John Rhys-Davies), a leader among his compatriots, agrees to protect the pair of Hobbits. The combination of Merry and Pippin's exhortations and their twigging (pardon my pun) onto Saruman's ghastly, wholesale deforestation to fuel his war machine, rouses the normally aloof, ponderous and slow-moving Ents who, now concerned about events in Middle Earth, get energized to play a seminal role in events to come.

        Finally, we find elf Legolas (Orlando Bloom), the dwarf Gimli (John Rhys-Davies in the flesh) and the human Aragorn (Viggo Mortensen) hot on the trail of the Orcs who have taken their friends prisoner. Seeking help in their rescue mission, these three journey to the land of Rohan famed for its beautifully bred horses and skilled riders. There, much to their delight, the trio find a very much alive Gandalf, now known as Gandalf the White, victorious over the seemingly insurmountable now destroyed Balrog demon. Gandalf, informing the threesome that the Hobbits are unharmed and faring well, redirects them to deal with Rohan's ruler, King Theoden (Bernard Hill) whose mind has been ensorcelled by Saruman operating through his henchman Grima Wormtongue (Brad Dourif) who has insinuated himself into the position of chief advisor. Legolas, Gimli and Aragorn become Theoden's close allies after Gandalf "exorcises" the King and expels Wormtongue who flees back to his master.

        All too soon, Saruman's huge armies threaten Rohan, forcing Theoden, accompanied by the trio; his nephew Eomer (Karl Urban), the chief Rider of Rohan; and his proud, spirited, young niece Eowyn (Miranda Otto) - to lead his people to seek refuge at The Fortress of Helm's Deep. There they must make a final stand in which a few hundred must confront a force totaling ten thousand comprised of Orcs and battalions of mercenaries. The climactic battle here becomes pivotal in the war with Sauron. Leading up to this rousing finale, additional significant plot strands involve Frodo and Sam getting sidetracked to the last surviving human city of Gondor where they must win over their slain comrade Boromir's brother Faramir (David Wenham); and important and moving flashback interludes expand upon Aragorn's seemingly hopeless romance with the immortal elf princess Arwen (Liv Tyler) whose father, the elegant and imperious Elrond (Hugo Weaving) emphatically disapproves of this union.

        The Two Towers, darker, more intense than The Fellowship of the Ring, satisfyingly expands upon familiar friends and foes from the first film while introducing memorable new characters. Although this means less screen time for such favorites as Gandalf, Saruman, Merry and Pippin, their parts remain vivid and significant while the newcomers quickly create indelible impressions with Theoden, Faramir, Eomer, Eowyn, Wormtongue and Treebeard all standing out with Gollum eclipsing them all, stealing every scene he's in - a CGI creation so believable its mind-boggling! Although director and co-screenwriter Jackson took dramatic license with the plot, diverging it from the books to some degree, it works cinematically, delivering dynamic pacing and character-driven, emotional intensity while still remaining true to the essential spirit of the source material in Tolkien's works. Also true to Tolkien, are underlying themes concerning the nature of the heroic quest, the folly of war and its devastating social/ecological consequences, the inevitability of change and melancholy over its attendant losses - all enriching the film without ever intruding on the narrative flow.

        The movie also slathers the viewer with stunning visual treats: more magnificent Middle Earth (actually New Zealand) scenery; wonderfully detailed props, costumes and make-ups; eye-popping new locales - Rohan, Gondor, Fangorn Forest and its delightful if somewhat cartoonish arboreal Ent inhabitants; more glimpses of the eponymous towers of Isengard and Barad-Dur; plus amazingly convincing CGI wargs, ringwraiths, nazguls, oliphaunts, and hordes of scary Orcs and Uruk-Hai with admittedly disturbing racist undertones in the depictions of these supernatural creatures and of Saruman's mercenary troops as analogs of Arabs and Asians. This negative being minor, it gets balanced out by the positives mentioned above and the awesome Battle of Helm's Deep, possibly the most epic medieval-type war ever seen on film. The rhythm of the shifts between the intertwined narrative threads that effectively built up to this riveting sequence and its parallels, the combat between Saruman and the Ents and the Siege of Gondor, lead to some closure but with the most significant storylines left tantalizingly hanging until the conclusion one year hence in The Return of the King. What an interminable wait!

        The Two Towers is a magnificent triumph of filmmaking and film scoring, for Howard Shore's glorious music perfectly complements the proceedings, reiterating and expanding upon themes from the first outing. This production continues to set the groundbreaking standards by which all future fantasy pictures will be measured. Genre buffs and cineastes in general must not miss this towering achievement of movie magic - a classic film opus to match Tolkien's literary legacy.








        [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
      • Jessica Rydill
        Hi Amy, Totally splend. review, am dying to see the film...I need someone in Bath UK who likes fantasy! At risk of being accused of spam, am terribly tempted
        Message 3 of 5 , Jan 2, 2003
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          Hi Amy,

          Totally splend. review, am dying to see the film...I need someone in Bath UK
          who likes fantasy!

          At risk of being accused of spam, am terribly tempted to plug me book, which
          is being published in the USA in Feb (shriek, scream).

          Not to mention my sister's book which is being...etc etc

          I am also dying to read The Other Wind by Ursula le Guin, got this for my
          sister for holidays.

          Anyway, a Happy Noo Year! Wheee!

          Jessica
        • H. Mazarakis
          Message 4 of 5 , Jan 2, 2003
          • 0 Attachment
            <At risk of being accused of spam, am terribly tempted to plug me book, which is being published in the USA in Feb (shriek, scream).

            Not to mention my sister's book which is being...etc etc>

            Hey, plug away! I plugged my cousin's book and nobody killed me (yet).



            Helen M.

            -----------------------------------------------------------------

            Against the disease of writing one must take special precautions, since it is a dangerous and contagious disease.

            Peter Abelard
            --Letter 8 to Heliose



            [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
          • Beth Urai
            I just saw the Two Towers the other day and thought it was fantastic. I m actually just now starting to read Lord of the Rings but it s going to be slow
            Message 5 of 5 , Jan 3, 2003
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              I just saw the Two Towers the other day and thought it was fantastic. I'm
              actually just now starting to read Lord of the Rings but it's going to be
              slow going. I love to hear about new books coming out so I don't mind if
              you want to plug yours

              Love,
              Beth
              -------Original Message-------

              From: Fantasy_Books@yahoogroups.com
              Date: Thursday, January 02, 2003 19:43:01
              To: Fantasy_Books@yahoogroups.com
              Subject: Re: [Fantasy_Books] What I just saw: The Two Towers

              Hi Amy,

              Totally splend. review, am dying to see the film...I need someone in Bath UK
              who likes fantasy!

              At risk of being accused of spam, am terribly tempted to plug me book, which
              is being published in the USA in Feb (shriek, scream).

              Not to mention my sister's book which is being...etc etc

              I am also dying to read The Other Wind by Ursula le Guin, got this for my
              sister for holidays.

              Anyway, a Happy Noo Year! Wheee!

              Jessica

              [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
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