The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers
The Greatest story in cinematic history just keeps getting better and better
Peter Jackson and company return to continue the epic story. Based off a series of novels by Tolkein, the film essentially picks up where the first one left off. Frodo (Elijah Wood) and Samwise (Sean Astin) are on their way to Mordor to destroy the ring before Sauron can get a hold of it and take over the world. Along the way, they bump into a suspicious character, Gollum (voiced by Andy Serkis), that also has his eyes on the ring, so he tries to manipulate our two heroes to reclaim it. Meanwhile, Aragorn (Viggo Mortenson), Legolas (Orlando Bloom), and Gimli (John Rhys-Davies) continue their search for Merry (Dominic Monahagan) and Pippin (Billy Boyd) after they were kidnapped by Orcs in the last film. After the two naive Hobbits escape, Aragorn, Legolas, Gimli, Merry and Pippin discover that Sauron plans on weakening the human kingdom of Rohan by controlling their king. However, once Gandalf (Ian McKellen) saves the king from Sauron's spell, it's then that our heroes discover that Rohan is about to fall to a much more bleak situation. Aragorn, Legolas and Gimli try to lead mankind's final kingdom against insurpassable odds in numbers, against Sauron's forces, while Gandalf, Merry and Pippin search for reinforcements. The action choreography blends beautifully with the special effects. Making it a visual masterpiece. The storyline keeps getting darker and more intriquing as the series goes on. However, as great as this film is, it just feels like one big tease. Building up the story to a point where the viewer is gasping for more, but it ends abruptly like most season finales on T.V. or even those "Back to the Future" flicks did. Sure, the story and character development is a lot deeper than the last film but as the film climaxes, it comes to an end. However, for those who loved the first film, then this should tie many of you over until fans have a chance to get to part three of this epic trilogy. "Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers" is still a visually stunning epic to remember.
Peter Jackson's approach to this film is reminiscent to George Lucas' approach on the "Empire Strikes Back". In which the first films were epics in their own right, and both take new ground by taking a more darker theme. However, unlike "Empire Strikes Back", there isn't a whole lot of closure to it. I know this film was obviously meant to be part of a trilogy, and it wasn't going to show full closure until the last film. However, there were plenty of films that did what Peter Jackson was trying to do a lot better such as "Back to the Future" (first one that is) and the first two "Star Wars" films for instance. For example, at the end of "Empire Strikes Back", the viewer was able to see the characters plight a lot more clearly as the irony of the situation grew and laid out the road ahead for them. Where as this film, it'll lead the viewer into a more darker side of the characters as they face their own fears of greed, cowardice and even death. But just as the epic battle gets more interesting, it comes to a sudden halt. Rohan engages into an all out war with its' new found help against the Orcs, thus keeping everyone in suspense while Gollum mentions a plan to kill Frodo and Sam. Just as your on the edge of your seat wondering what'll happen after seeing this, the credits show up, and the film is over. The only thing missing was a "to be continued" label at the end. That's not to say that this film wasn't any good, but it just makes it the weak link between the three films.
Of course as you'd expect, the eye candy and choreography are good, but there were moments when I had to remind myself that the CGI was fake; especially when it came to Gollum. Generally in all films, it's easy to tell which characters are CGI, but Gollum had somewhat of a human quality to him. The way his skin sweated and the way he breathed almost seemed to real to believe. Plus, when you have a guy like Andy giving the character more of a believable psychotic personality, it becomes easier to actually see Gollum as a human. Unlike most CGI characters where they're just brutes that beat things up in other films like "Jurassic Park" or "Hulk", the added personality to the character makes Gollum into a key character in this epic.
As for the rest of the actors, the only two that stood out for me was Elijah and Viggo. That's not to say everyone else wasn't that great, but these two had the most significant impact on this one. Viggo's confliction in the movie is so deep that viewer is able to see that even though he's scared to fail, he won't run away from standing up for the ones he cares for. Elijah's character grows weaker as the film goes on; both mentally and physically. The burden of carrying the ring reigns on him heavily as the audience is able see how this burden has taken a toll on his spirit. Thus allowing the audience to buy into Frodo's sympathy for Gollum even though he tries to kill them. Because Gollum was once burdened with the ring. This gets in the way of Frodo's relationship with Samwise as Gollum tries to split them apart. The confliction and fatique in Elijah's eyes are just too believable as he plays this role to perfection.
Indeed, Peter and company have return to finish what they started. Blending perfect acting and choreography with groundbreaking effects. Although it is a bit of tease for many viewers, it'll still keep many "Lord of the Rings" fans entertained. An epic to remember.