The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers Review
Thankfully, the wait for The Two Towers isn't as long as the wait in between George Lucas' Star Wars animation prequels, and the second instalment of Tolkien's epic masterpiece arrives with fans still indulging in the abundance of riches that was the four disc Extended Edition DVD. Many people assumed that the sequel to Fellowship Of The Ring would rank as one of the greatest sequels ever, and although The Two Towers is a mighty accomplishment, it falls short of being totally astonishing.
The plot picks up where Fellowship Of The Ring left off, without a recap or "previously" segment, which clearly suggests from the outset that audiences will need to be familiar with the first segment. At times, the plot is heavy going, with yet more names and locations for the mind to store in and allocate relevance to, and at other times the action of the on-screen proceedings is far too relentless to contain all at once.
Still, the film certainly maintains the original’s overwhelming fantastical atmosphere, probably because director Peter Jackson wisely shot the three segments of Tolkien’s novel back to back. Acting wise, the cast perform to their usual Fellowship standard. Bernard Hill and Brad Dourif contribute welcome cameo appearances, and it’s refreshing to see Gimli, as played by John Rhys-Davies, given more comic relief. Viggo Mortensen’s Aragorn is given more of the lead protagonist share than Elijah Wood’s Frodo. In some respects, you sense that Jackson is more preoccupied with Aragorn’s strand of the plot as compared with Frodo’s, as if he is dying to get quickly to the famous Helm’s Deep battle segment.
As for the battle itself, it certainly is very exciting and mammoth in size and scale, and yet something still feels lacking from the overall presentation of it, either because of too high an anticipation/expectation level or because The Two Towers seeks to just continue the quality level of Fellowship without topping it. Some of the CGI effects sequences are very ropey in terms of the action events of the film, and this is all the more surprising considering the fantastic achievements the Visual Effects department achieved on the character of Gollum.
Gollum is a CGI incarnation that for once looks totally convincing as a real character, and deserves an Oscar purely for his own cinematic construction. Brit actor Andy Serkis contributes such a terrifically characteristic and synchronised performance as Gollum that there is an outside chance that Serkis will become the first actor to be Oscar nominated for playing a CGI character. His performance, along with the visual motions of Gollum, are so impressive that it is easily the standout aspect of the film, and worth the trip to the cinema just to marvel at how Lucas should have done it but didn’t.
In short, you know what to expect with The Two Towers - more of the same ambience and style with a few tiny tinkerings with Tolkien’s novel. Although we have to wait another year for The Return Of The King, Peter Jackson has earned enough faith with the first two segments that ensures the final chapter will definitely be a worthy epic.