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

Thursday, 19 December 2002

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

I’ve Got to Move Out of This Neighborhood

Friday, 22 November 2002

Before we get to the mp3 i’ve got some news. my good friend Meagan painted me this sweet ass wa­ter­color from Lord of the Rings, Its when Sam helps Frodo out of the wa­ter af­ter Old Man Willow has en­tranced them. Its fark­ing badass. I have one and you don’t so there.

also, here are some pics from my film shoots and from the trip to Penn State.

The Friday mp3

I’ve cho­sen a song by B.B. King this week. I’ve Got to Move Out of This Neighborhood (Nobody Loves Me but My Mother). If you know any­thing about the blues I don’t need to say any­thing. If you know noth­ing about the blues…listen and learn.