Movie Review: Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers (here be spoilers)

after the extreme qual­i­ty of the first movie in every aspect, this film was a vast dis­ap­point­ment for me. Hol­ly­wood had its dirty mitts all over the plot, adding sequences that were mean­ing­less for the sto­ry, chang­ing around the struc­ture and tim­ing of the sto­ry itself, mak­ing char­ac­ters behave in man­ners absolute­ly con­trary to the book. Bah!

The Goods

  1. The char­ac­ters: Gr ma Worm­tongue was an excel­lent per­for­mance by Brad Dou­rif. He man­aged to cap­ture all aspects, from the snivel­ing fear, the leech­like pres­ence, and the oily words that sway the minds of men. Alto­geth­er good. owyn was also true to the book, which was very nice to see.
  2. Gol­lum: could be put in the char­ac­ters cat­e­go­ry except that he is so much more impor­tant. I must say that Gol­lum is per­fect. They man­age to make him a sym­pa­thet­ic char­ac­ter so very quick­ly that it is astound­ing. His con­stant switch­es between Sm agol/Gollum are very effec­tive.
  3. Visu­als: Peter Jack­son got great art direc­tion for these films, every­thing is always beau­ti­ful. The sets remind me of some­thing you would expect from a the­atri­cal per­for­mance. This usu­al­ly doesn’t work too well in the fliks but it is appro­pri­ate and even com­pelling for this sto­ry. The spar­ing use of col­or in this film made the instances of hue and bright­ness much more stun­ning.
  4. Crit­ters: Wargs were absolute­ly amaz­ing. Din­gos on steroids and the brown acid from Wood­stock. The new mounts for the Ring­wraiths are also straight out of a John Howe paint­ing. The legs of the Ents were a lit­tle longer than I’d imag­ined but that is just nit­picky after all entstrides are long, they were hoary as all get out and their eyes were just right.

The Livable Changes

  1. The char­ac­ters: Gim­li is just com­ic relief. Short jokes abound. I’d much rather have him be the loy­al, poet­ic badass that he is in the books, but I guess I’ll have to set­tle for watch­ing him bench­press two wargs and an orc and fight­ing with Aragorn on the cause­way into Helm’s Deep. omer’s actions aren’t quite the same as in the books but the he is the same in spir­it.
  2. Gol­lum: The par­al­lels between him and Fro­do, and Frodo’s recog­ni­tion of what he could become are mere­ly implied in the books, but are quite effec­tive in the film ver­sion. In fact, I might even like it bet­ter.
  3. Visu­als: Why the hell is Rohan so rocky? It is horse coun­try dammit. Oh well. Also, the end­less num­ber of vista shots using cranes and copters got to be a lit­tle too much but they were still beau­ti­ful.
  4. Gan­dalf: The whole exor­cism of Th oden was dif­fer­ent but not nec­es­sar­i­ly wrong. I’d nev­er looked at it from the per­spec­tive that Saru­man was lit­er­al­ly pos­sess­ing him. I’d always looked at it as if he was just real­ly para­noid and afraid after being sucked upon by Worm­tongue

The Atrocities

  1. The char­ac­ters: Faramir. Total­ly abhor­rent­ly incor­rect. The whole point for his pres­ence in the book is to serve as the oppo­site of Boromir and to point out that there are good and noble men left in the world fight­ing an unpraised and unno­ticed fight against Sauron. Aragorn is not the only nobil­i­ty left. Instead the film makes Faramir a weak­er ver­sion of Boromir who is too sus­pi­cious to make his own deci­sions. He is not Dun dain, he is a chode. Th oden. Since when is the King of Rohan an impo­tent defeatist wastrel? Since when was his deci­sion to pro­tect his peo­ple a bad one. In the film he has 300 arms­men and yet is encour­aged to ride out and face cer­tain anni­hi­la­tion by 10k Uruk-hai. He was a smart man to go to the Deep­ing Coomb. Jack­son overem­pha­sized the dis­par­i­ty in num­bers between men and orcs. even if Th oden had 1,000 men the odds would still have been 10:1.
  2. Plot changes: Haldir show­ing up at Helm’s Deep with a cou­ple hun­dred elven archers is nice and all but it nev­er hap­pened. the elves are leav­ing for a rea­son, because it is time for man to grow up and take con­trol over their world. I don’t like the whole intent behind them show­ing up. The whole scene where Aragorn gets tossed off the cliff is unnec­ces­sary and is only there to moti­vate the weirdo dream sequences with Arwen which in turn are only there because Liv Tyler want­ed Arwen to have a larg­er part. She-elf is just sup­posed to be pret­ty and elvish. owyn is sup­posed to be the badass one. The tim­ing of the whole thing is cat­ty­wam­pus; omer is not 300 leagues away (900 miles? my ass.) What about Erken­brand and the rise of the East­fold? There are THOUSANDS of Rohirrim not hun­dreds. The film ends halfway through the Two Tow­ers. What about going to Isen­gard and con­fronting Saru­man? What about Aragorn, Gim­li, and Lego­las reunit­ing with Mer­ry and Pip­pin? What about the Ent­draughts? What about the Huorns destroy­ing Saruman’s army as it flees Helm’s Deep? Osgiliath???????? WHEN IN THE FUCK DO FRODO AND SAM GO TO OSGILIATH? Where is Minas Morgul? The Two Tow­ers are not Barad-d r and Orthanc, they are Minas Morgul and Orthanc. Why is the Witch-King not a sen­tient force of evil and instead just a vehi­cle of fear on a cool winged lizard?

In sum­ma­ry, despite the extreme­ly well done aspects of the film, the unnec­ces­sary and unmo­ti­vat­ed plot changes mere­ly give evi­dence to the Hol­ly­wood ten­den­cy to overem­pha­size. The result is a world where extreme­ly few men and most of them dis­cour­aged and sus­pi­cious except for say Aragorn are pit­ted against the ginor­mous might of Sauron. This is turn puts much more empha­sis on the suc­cess of the Ring­bear­er at the cost of devel­op­ing the com­ing final stand of the Men of the West. final grade: B