The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers
For this week’s Saturday Replay, I’m taking up the next chapter in Peter Jackson’s epic fantasy series, with The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers, (free hugs to anyone who can guess what next week’s installment will be).
Unlike with Fellowship of the Ring, I don’t have an elaborate story about the first time I saw the trailer or anything like that. This is probably because I started impatiently anticipating this movie’s release the moment the credits started to roll on my first viewing Fellowship. When I did finally get to see the film it was, of course, well worh the wait, but I was also once again left wanting more.
Once again, I’m not going to waste your time describing the plot or the actors in this movie, instead I thought I’d just share a few thoughts.
While many consider The Empire Strikes Back the best movie in the Star Wars trilogy, The Two Towers is somewhat the unloved middle child in The Lord of the Rings. I think that this is because the whole thing is really one big film, so the whole film is really something of an extended middle act. The world has been built, most of the characters have already been introduced, and the plot has been set in motion, so this movie is mostly about moving everybody to where they need to be for the final epic chapter. This isn’t to say that The Two Towers isn’t a fantastic movie… it is. However, it is something of the shortest giant.
There are really two things about this movie that really stand out for me in this movie. The first is Andy Serkis’ amazing voice and motion-capture performance as Gollum. He really makes Tolkein’s creature come to life as a simultaneously sympathetic, pathetic and menacing creature.
The other unforgettable thing about this film is the unforgettable Battle of Helms Deep. It’s definitely the best battle scene in the trilogy, certainly in contention for the best battle scene in cinematic history. Looking at the other battles in this series, certainly the epic battle at the end of Return of the King is bigger, but the confined space of Helm’s Deep seems to add a sense of intimacy to the whole battle.
Only slightly less memorable for me are a pair of moments that come pretty close together, both involving surprising “reveals” of good news for the characters. First is the moment when Aragorn (Viggo Mortensen) discovers that the two “other” hobbits, escaped the massacre of orcs, then a short time later when Gandalf (Ian McKellen) is re-introduced to the series as the new White Wizard. I’m always a sucker for “surprise good news” scenes, and these two are masterfully executed.
There’s plenty more to like about this movie, more than I’d want to mention here, (or at least more than anyone wants to sit and read through,) and even though I’d still rank it as my third favorite film in the trilogy, it’s still an absolute must see.