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