The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers Review

The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers is a 2002 epic high fantasy adventure film directed by Peter Jackson, starring Elijah Wood, Ian McKellen, Liv Tyler, Viggo Mortensen, and Sean Astin.  It is the second installment in The Lord of the Rings series, the plot following Frodo and Sam continuing their journey towards Mordor to destroy the One Ring, Aragorn, Legolas, and Gimli who reunited with Gandalf to join the Battle of Helm’s Deep, and Merry and Pippin who join the Ents to help plan an attack on Isengard.


Positives:

  • Great characters
  • Great performances
  • Great visual effects
  • Great make-up effects
  • Great practical effects
  • Terrific score
  • Great, compelling story
  • Great direction
  • Great action

Negatives:

  • n/a

Plot:  Continuing the plot of The Fellowship of the Ring, the film intercuts three storylines. Frodo and Sam continue their journey towards Mordor to destroy the One Ring, meeting and joined by Gollum, the ring’s former owner. Aragorn, Legolas, and Gimli come to the war-torn nation of Rohan and are reunited with the resurrected Gandalf, before fighting at the Battle of Helm’s Deep. Merry and Pippin escape capture, meet Treebeard the Ent, and help to plan an attack on Isengard.

The story goes at a good pace, showcasing different stories that help keep the overall story complex.  The story has more than its fair share of surprises that help to flesh out the world as well as the characters.  There are some surprising developing arcs, especially with the characters Merry, Pippin, and Gollum.  The climatic Battle of Helm’s Deep is an epic and the different plots do leave off on a great cliff hanger. (4 out of 5)

Characters:  Many of the awesome characters from the previous film, return including Gandalf, Frodo, Samwise, Aragorn, Legolas, Gimli, Merry and Pippin. I really liked this friendly rivalry between Legolas and Gimli.  There are new characters to add to the roster.  Perhaps the most prominent character is Gollum, the former owner of the Ring.  Despite being completely obsessed with the Ring, he shows a lot of depth, sharing this bond with Frodo over the familiarity of the Ring.  Theoden is the king of Rohan, and after being released from Saruman’s influence, he has this great presence and it’s easy to see why his subjects respect him.  There are characters like Faramir and Eomer, who are pretty cool.  Another awesome guy worth mentioning is Treebeard, who is surprisingly an interesting character who aids Merry and Pippin.

The film features several antagonists, including Saruman the White, Grima Wormtongue, and the Nazgul.  Saruman is just a straight up douchebag, siding with the villainous Sauron, to vanquish his enemies and return to him the One Ring.  Wormtongue is chief advisor to King Theoden of Rohan and henchman of Saruman who is manipulating Theoden to weaken the kingdom against Saruman’s forces.  There is also the awesome Nazgul, which are these badass black knights, going around and intimidating everyone searching for Frodo and Sam. (4 out of 5)

Cast: The casting and performances are just terrific. The main cast includes Elijah Wood (Frodo), Ian McKellen (Gandalf), Viggo Mortensen (Aragorn), Sean Astin (Samwise), John Rhys-Davies (Gimli), Andy Serkis (Gollum/Smeagol), Billy Boyd (Pippin), Dominic Monaghan (Merry), Orlando Bloom (Legolas), and Bernard Hill (Theoden).  Supporting cast includes Hugo Weaving (Elrond), Christopher Lee (Saruman), Miranda Otto (Eowyn), Cate Blanchett (Galadriel), Liv Tyler (Arwen), David Wenham (Faramir), Brad Dourif (Grima Wormtongue), and Karl Urban (Eomer). (5 out of 5)

Visuals: This is definitely a great looking movie.  The set pieces are just beautifully constructed and the creature designs look great.  The Ents look realistic with a lot of attention to detail.  For those characters with less CGI use, the make-up and clothing design is phenomenal.  The cinematography when it comes to wideshots of the cities, forest, and landscapes are just beautiful.  Perhaps the most impressive shots are of the Battle of Helm’s Deep which features just this massive army, some well shot action, and a dark, isolated theme that emphasizes the characters having to deal with this overwhelming threat. (5 out of 5)

Score: Howard Shore does a fantastic job with the score.  There is definitely a grand scale feeling that makes the small moments feel magical while the large scale feel completely epic. One of the best sequences of the film, “Battle of Helm’s Deep“, has some awesome themes both on the side of the good guys and bad guys. (4 out of 5)

Writing: Peter Jackson does a fantastic job of bringing this film together with its presentation.  Not only does he manage to flesh out the characters but also keep the over-all pacing great with all the various plots going on.  The overall writing is pretty complex but are handled with care. I really like the dialogue as well.  It’s definitely fitting of the world and actually sounds authentic. This is a pretty serious movie although there are a few moments of emotional drama and small scale humor, especially with the relationship between Merry and Pippin as well as Gimli and Legolas.  When it comes to the politics, camaraderie between characters, humor, and action it is all spaced out enough just to make the film well balanced.  There are a number of sequences that are standout but perhaps the most memorable is the Battle of Helm’s Deep sequence is just intense.  The execution of the editing, the score, and the awesome use of special effects keeps this a very intense scene.  I found little problem with writing. (4 out of 5)


The Verdict:  In the end, The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers is not only a great sequel but an epic fantasy adventure.  For fans of the series, this is a great experience.  The film has great performances, terrific characters, an awesome score, great action, great direction, and terrific visuals.  The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers gets 5 out of 5.

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