In December, the long-anticipated second part of the Lord of
the Rings, The Two Towers opened on thousands of movie screens
across the nation.
Part one, Fellowship of the Ring, was a financial and critical
success, so there were inevitable concerns about the quality
of the sequel. Of particular concern were the millions of J.R.R.
Tolkien fans who could prove either an enthusiastic movie audience
or vicious critics. Well, they will probably be both. The Two
Towers both delivers and disappoints, at times offering too
much, at times not enough, occasionally confusing but overall
of the Rings
Like its predecessor, The Two Towers makes good use of the
lush diversity of the New Zealand countryside, offering a backdrop
both grand in scale and pleasing to the eyes. It is an epic
film using grand sets and thousands of extras, culminating in
the climatic Battle of Helmís Deep. A combination of computer
graphics and photographic artistry provides enough special effects
to satisfy the most dedicated of action cinema fans.
In Two Towers, director and co-screenwriter Peter Jackson takes
more liberties with the original novel, adding scenes, characters,
and dialogue. In some cases, this was accomplished successfully,
such as developing the complex relationship between the human
Aragorn and the elvish princess Arwen or detailing the tragic
self-doubt of Theoden. Less successful was Jacksonís decision
to portray the activities of the hobbits Frodo and Sam and their
quest to enter Mordor in counterpoint to the efforts of their
friends to turn back the renegade sorcerer Saruman. While clear
enough in the novel, the effect here is an often-confusing muddle
not helped by ragged editing.
Yet, for all that, Jackson remains consistently true to Tolkienís
themes of mythical heroism, loyalty, friendship, and courage.
Conveying these are some fine dramatic acting performances,
including that of the long-suffering ring-bearer Frodo, played
by Elijah Wood, and the uncomplicatedly loyal Sam, played by
Sean Austin. Perhaps the most surprising acting is provided
by Andy Serkis, the human model for the CGI-generated character
Gollum. Serkins does a remarkable job of giving a sense of self-tortured
madness to what would otherwise be a mere animated character.
Two Towers has a running time more than three hours, and there
are moments when we feel that length. Nevertheless, like last
seasonís The Fellowship of the Ring, The Two Towers combines
artistic and technical quality with action-oriented popular
cinematic appeal. While not without flaws, it should prove both
a financial and critical success, paving the way for the climax
of the trilogy, 1993ís The Return of the King.