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