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    Lord Of the Rings: The Two Towers, The [28]

    Movie Reviews
    I spent all of 2002 looking forward to this movie. It was the first 2002 appointment I made on my calendar. The Fellowship of the Ring [FOTR] pretty much ended up being the movie rendition of the Tolkien story that I wanted to see. So of course, this movie was going to be just as good.

    The movie has two problems. The first one is, it picks up right where Fellowship leaves off. There is no opening crawl or exposition. Instead, wham! You are right in the middle of the plot. The second problem is, the movie has to end by only having advanced the characters to prepare them for the third movie. This is a middle chapter and essentially bulks the story. It is up to the moviegoer to decide if it is necessary. At the beginning of the movie, Frodo the Hobbit is on his way to Mordor to dispose of the One Ring in the fires of Mt. Doom. At the end of the movie, Frodo is STILL on his way to Mordor, not having quite reached it yet. The only plot advancement is that Frodo and Sam have picked up Gollum, a wretchedly deformed 400 year old Hobbit, and are using him as a guide.

    The necessary part comes in where we need to set up the Return of The King, Aragorn. Aragorn has to return as king of Gondor in spectacular fashion. To do so, he will need some help. The help comes in the form of the Riders of Rohan, which is a tributary kingdom of Gondor. We need to get rid of Saruman (well played by Christopher Lee) the traitor wizard. And we need Gandalf, the fearless leader, back in the company.

    So this movie sets out to accomplish all that. Saruman hopes to get the one ring for himself, to rule middle earth. The back story, not explained in the movie, explains that Sauron, Gandalf, and Saruman are really celestial beings of the same order. Tolkien calls them Maiar in his book, The Silmarallion. From the Encyclopedia of Arda

    Of the many spirits that descended into Arda at its beginning, there were those of lesser stature than the Valar (though they were still powerful) who were known as the Maiar. Each of the Maiar was attached to the 'people' of a particular Vala. So, for example, the Maia Ossë, as a spirit of the sea, belonged to the people of Ulmo, while Curumo, the Maia who came to Middle-earth as Saruman, belonged to the people of Aulë the Smith. In the Third Age, there were still Maiar in physical form to be found in Middle-earth. The most important of these were Saruman, Sauron (originally also of Aulë's people), and Olórin, known as Gandalf, who belonged to the people of Manwë and Varda.

    So Gandalf and Saruman were sent specifically from “The West”, or Heaven as might be, to defeat Sauron. Saruman has fallen from the path, and craves the power, perhaps from being a former peer of Sauron’s back in the early days?

    The destruction of Saruman is accomplished, along with the defeat of his army. So now ROTK can finish off Sauron’s army.

    The two-part battle scene where Gandalf defeats the Balrog was excellently done. As I remarked in my review of FOTR, the Balrog was conceived by Tolkien calendar illustrator John Howe. Gandalf’s return signifies (and is announced by him, if any in the audience had fallen asleep at this point) the turning point of the movie. The good guys have been running and hiding. Now is the time to start kicking ass and taking names.

    The Shadow of the Past battle in FOTR was quite extravagant and cool. I expected that the battle for Helm’s deep would be as spectacular. Helm’s deep is where the men of Rohan make their final stand against the Orcs, Uruk Hai, and men sent by Saruman. I was not disappointed. In fact the battle was even more realistic than the Shadow of the Past battle, in that there seemed to be fewer digital characters and more real costumed actors. If these two named battles are any indication, the Battle for Pellannor Fields in ROTK figures to be spectacular.

    Obviously a movie has to follow the economy of characters compared to a book because of the number of actors involved. And there has to be a substantial amount of plot compression to keep the movie under three hours. So I cannot fault director Peter Jackson for making executive decisions to alter some plot details. One plot point, which still does not make sense to me, is why did the elves from Lorien come to Helm’s deep to fight? My speculation is that it was the only convenient way to show that the elves had some “stake” in the final outcome. A characterization change that also baffled my was how Faramir comes under the spell of the Ring and captures Frodo and Sam. In the books, Faramir is a very noble character, who would not pick up the ring if it lay in the road. Speculation once again was that we needed to advance Frodo to Osgiliath and Faramir to Gondor to set up for Return Of The King.

    In the end, this movie brings us exactly what we needed, a fresh dose of Tolkien to tide us over for a year, and a step closer to the final battle in 2003. Peter Jackson has done a spectacular job turning this complicated story into a movie that will endure as long as peer to peer file sharing exists. {BB}

    Added: December 24th 2002
    Reviewer: BB
    29 Point Scale Score: 28    [28]

    Related Link (IMDB): IMDB
    Hits: 2828
    Language: english


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