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Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers

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  Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers Review
Tookey's Rating
10 /10
Average Rating
8.26 /10
Frodo: Elijah Wood, Gandalf: Ian McKellen (pictured right), Arwen: Liv Tyler
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Directed by: Peter Jackson
Written by: Fran Walsh, Philippa Boyens, Stephen Sinclair, Peter Jackson . Based on the book by: J.R.R. Tolkien

Released: 2002
Origin: US
Colour: C
Length: 221

MIXED Reviews

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"It is not faithful to the spirit of Tolkien and misplaces much of the charm and whimsy of the books, but it stands on its own as a visionary thriller. I complained in my review of the first film that the hobbits had been short-changed, but with this second film I must accept that as a given, and go on from there... What one misses in the thrills of these epic splendors is much depth in the characters. All of the major figures are sketched with an attribute or two, and then defined by their actions. Frodo, the nominal hero, spends much of his time peering over and around things, watching others decide his fate, and occasionally gazing significantly upon the Ring. Sam is his loyal sidekick on the sidelines. Merry and Pippin spend a climactic stretch of the movie riding in Treebeard's branches and looking goggle-eyed at everything, like children carried on their father's shoulders... The Two Towers will possibly be more popular than the first film, more of an audience-pleaser, but hasn't Jackson lost the original purpose of the story somewhere along the way? He has taken an enchanting and unique work of literature and retold it in the terms of the modern action picture. If Tolkien had wanted to write about a race of supermen, he would have written a Middle-Earth version of Conan the Barbarian. But no. He told a tale in which modest little hobbits were the heroes. And now Jackson has steered the story into the action mainstream. To do what he has done in this film must have been awesomely difficult, and he deserves applause, but to remain true to Tolkien would have been more difficult, and braver.”
(Roger Ebert)
“In some respects a more impressive film than its well received predecessor. Marked by nonstop conflict and a gargantuan climactic battle that Akira Kurosawa would have envied, the new picture has a sharper narrative focus and a livelier sense of forward movement than did the more episodic Fellowship... At least for non-Tolkien fanatics, the two Rings thus far lack that essential bit of magic to transport one to another world and make the leaving difficult; despite the vision, organizational skills and assurance Jackson and his talented team have marshaled on behalf of this sprawling undertaking, there is something slightly laborious and unenchanting about the projects that prevents total surrender to them. All the same, it's hard to imagine a much better version of this material onscreen.”
(Todd McCarthy, Variety)
“A year ago, when the first installment of Peter Jackson's three-part, $300 million adaptation of the J.R.R. Tolkien trilogy was released, its elemental vision of good and evil locked in cosmic battle was said, by many, to echo moviegoers' post-9/11 feelings about the state of our own world. That same dynamic may turn out to be even more true of the sequel... Packed with awesome mountains and glades, swooping God's-eye camera movement, and enough chatty forest oddballs and light-show apparitions to send every other scene skittering off in a new direction, 'The Two Towers, as a visual pageant of sorcery and action, all but surpasses 'The Fellowship of the Ring. This one too, though, is mired in the wooden grandiosity of Tolkien's ponderously literal-minded medieval imagination. There's one character who breaks out of the box of chivalric stuffiness, and that's Gollum, the desiccated elfin beastie in a loincloth who becomes the captive comrade of wandering hobbits Frodo and Sam (Sean Astin). It's not every day that a special effect turns in a splendid performance (E.T. comes to mind), but Gollum, voiced in a slithery hiss-whisper by Andy Serkis, whose movements also provided the basis for the CGI wizards, has a cackling, maniacal, yet weirdly forlorn charisma. ...The Two Towers' conjures an illusion of the gravity that you want from an emotionally charged storybook epic. Really, though, what it comes down to is superbly staged battle scenes and moral alliances forged in earnest yet purged of the wit and dynamic, bristly ego that define true on-screen personality. Viggo Mortensen has a livelier aura of derring-do this time around, but his token flirtation with Liv Tyler only ends up calling attention to what a desexualized cosmos Tolkien created. The film keeps tantalizing us with the prospect of Mordor, the land of darkness that harbors the mountain of fire where Frod must cast the Ring in order to destroy it. Will he find anything that truly shakes him up there? In ''The Two Towers,' evil is omnipresent yet finally too weightless to be memorable, and so, too, is a hobbit whose ruling quest is to destroy the one thing that tempts him most..”
(Owen Gleiberman, Entertainment Weekly)
“As before, most of the dialogue (when it's audible) is fairly dopey, and needs an Ian McKellen (or a Brad Dourif, who is outstanding in his brief appearances here) to make it sound good. Worse, there's once again some very dubious ideological stuff underpinning it all. The battle between 'good and evil' (which is extremely simplistic on both sides - just when the world doesn’t need an injection of Manichean dualism) is, in effect, a battle to retain an aristocracy based on serfdom. It's not quite as bad as the animated Anastasia blaming the devil for the Russian revolution (via Rasputin), but it's not that far off - Jackson even has the Klingon-like Uruk'hai talking (absurdly) like Cockney gangsters. There's especially cringe-making scene where picturesquely scruffy-but- happy peasants bow and scrape before their king. And this time the bad guys' activity is actually referred to as ‘industry’ - a bit rich, considering the amount of 'industry' that goes into any work of cinema, especially one on this scale. On the level of sheer movie-craft eye-candy, however, The Two Towers delivers extremely strongly - lots of sweaty-palm stuff in the tense bit and some genuinely magical moments all the way through: even the throwaway background details are sometimes breathtaking - watch how Legolas mounts his horse. But big is, for Jackson, the most beautiful: the Ents striding towards Isengard (Birnam-wood style) - then, during the battle, bracing themselves to withstand a flood... perhaps the most remarkable single image in cinema this year.”
(Neil Young, Jigsaw Lounge)
“Disjointed and overreliant on a familiarity with not only the first film (which is essential), but also the Tolkien source material. Furthermore, the first cracks in Jackson's conversance with CGI begin to show in the entirely animated Gollum character (a creature that bears an uncanny resemblance to Steve Buscemi), and too much time is given over to characters standing around looking at digital phantoms. Unlike its predecessor (The Fellowship of the Ring), The Two Towers feels too long by half despite the elision of key scenes from the source tome; the picture only picks up during its last ninety minutes, and then only as an unusually well-crafted action spectacle largely lacking in the nuance, pathos, and sharply-drawn characterizations of the first film... The Two Towers is a deeply conflicted picture that soars when it works, and plods along sincerely when it doesn't - a dark, violent, frightening vision of a world in transition with the acts of a heroic few deciding the destiny of all. The scale is right, it's the minutia of the execution this time around that gives pause.”
(Walter Chaw, Film Freak Central)
“First the good news: The Two Towers isn't necessarily better than The Fellowship of the Ring but everything great about the first film has been dutifully amplified here to umpteenth degrees. Now the bad: everything less than stellar about the first film has also been magnified. Director Peter Jackson's understanding of J.R.R. Tolkien's crucial themes is still near transcendent - if The Fellowship of the Ring was alive with Christian hope, then Two Towers is dignified by an impressive and overwhelming sense of godlessness. Two Towers may be the most sinister Hollywood epic ever made, a stirring account of lands on the brink of desiccation... The film’s greatest strength is how Jackson brings to life the haunting conflict between Gollum and Smeagol. Jackson evokes the split between personalities most fabulously with a tree bisecting the film's frame. Of course, Andy Serkis's performance here is also crucial to the success of these scenes. Sam (Sean Astin) doubts Gollum but Frodo (Elijah Wood) believes in the diseased monster's ability to do good and give himself completely to Smeagol. Wood's casting makes more sense than ever - it is in his clammy white skin and big eyes that we see a future Gollum in the making.”
(Ed Gonzalez, slant magazine)
"Another stunning technical achievement for director Peter Jackson ... [but without] the enormous emotional impact of the first film."
"Hosts much to point out as inferior, but also a great deal to praise and marvel over. As a result, the film averages to a weak B+ with the recommendation to show up late."

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