ninth symphony films - movie reviews


DIRECTOR  -  peter jackson

RATED  -  pg-13

GENRE  -  fantasy

LENGTH  -  179 minutes

RELEASED  -  18 december 2002

DISTRIBUTOR  -  new line cinema

OFFICIAL SITE  -  the two towers

ESTIMATED BUDGET  -  $94,000,000
the lord of the rings: the two towers - a shot from the film


buy the dvd from the lord of the rings: the two towers at

buy the dvd from the lord of the rings: the two towers at

frodo and sam continue on to mordor in their mission to destroy the one ring. whilst their former companions make new allies and defend a human stronghold at helm's deep.

filmed simultaneously with its predecessor and sequel.


picture from the lord of the rings: the two towers

picture from the lord of the rings: the two towers

picture from the lord of the rings: the two towers

picture from the lord of the rings: the two towers

picture from the lord of the rings: the two towers

picture from the lord of the rings: the two towers


four out of four possible stars

It is unfortunate that there exists no word larger in scope and meaning than the word "epic" to describe this film, because The Two Towers is so much more than an epic. Though director Peter Jackson might have benefited from the fact that all three Lord of the Rings movies were filmed concurrently, he has still accomplished what no film director has ever achieved. And although it is tempting to refer to this chapter in the Rings saga as a sequel, it is much more of a necessary continuation than a sequel.

And Jackson and his editor don't wait a second to roll right into the story of this film with the beginning frame and the narrative is better for it. While it is certain that ninety-nine percent of the people in the audience for this film will have seen its predecessor, there is just so much to tell in Tolkein's middle chapter that pausing for a recap probably would have stalled the film. As it is, the three full hours this film encompasses has a story that progresses at a rate twice as fast as did The Fellowship of the Ring. The audience knows each member of the Fellowship and the only dawdling in this movie comes from the introduction of characters new to the story.

And really, the movie never "dawdles" enough to introduce them for too long anyway. While the first film really made a lot more stops along the way to pick up characters important to the story, The Two Towers doesn't even pause for too long to involve new characters. And there are a host of new faces to contend with in this film. So many that the phrase "a cast of thousands" quite accurately describes the major characters. Sure, there are 10,000 angry, seething, and foaming Uruk-Hai in the movie, but those characters only make up about half of the cast. This film is truly an ensemble film in that it is not just one character's story.

And on an aspect totally unrelated to story, Jackson and his crew should be heartily congratulated for having made a film with a budget of only around 100 million dollars (no, really, I mean that seriously!). Although the three films together were budgeted at about 300 million dollars, the fact that Jackson has thus far created six hours of screen time for 200 million dollars is possibly one of the most incredible financial feats of the last century. While some epic films take 120 million dollars just to create a two-hour movie, Jackson has done almost double that. Twice.

Because with The Two Towers, Jackson has again created one of the most visually stunning and technologically advanced feature films ever constructed. Even the completely computer animated character, "Gollum," voiced by Andy Serkis, is a feat in and of itself. While comparisons could be most readily made to the much maligned Star Wars character, "Jar Jar Binks," the only real commonality between the two is the fact that they're both entirely CGI. With his very unique voice, Serkis has made a character that exists only on a computer's hard drive seem as real as any of the flesh and blood actors of The Two Towers.

Another actor whose presence in the film was a welcome addition is that of American Brad Dourif. Often known by the wild eyes his characters sport, Dourif plays "Gríma Wormtongue," an evil man in league with the powerful fallen wizard, Saruman. The moniker of Wormtongue notwithstanding, Dourif's portrayal of the creepy character is one of the most frightening in the film. No, scratch that. He's the most frightening. Though the orcs and other assorted baddies will give the audience the shivers, Dourif just makes his character look so evil. And this without the benefit of a full-face mask (like the orc actors).

Among the returning characters (just about every character from the first film show up in this one), each diverse actor gives just as engrossing a performance as he or she did in the first. Some genius decided that Orlando Bloom (playing the lithe elf, Legolas) and John Rhys-Davies (playing the feisty dwarf, Gimli) should between them have twice as many lines as they had to say in the first movie and the film benefits greatly from both their performances. The comedy and drama present in both their characters makes for some entertaining exchanges amidst the giant battle that encompasses the final hour of the film.

In point of fact, the reason the epic scope of this film works so well is because there are so many wonderful performances. Every single performance is so strong that it is hard to single out any one of the actors for his or her effort because everyone is so at home in their roles. Veteran actors Elijah Wood, Ian McKellen, Viggo Mortensen, Sean Astin, Billy Boyd, Liv Tyler, Dominic Monaghan, Christopher Lee, Hugo Weaving, and newcomers, Bernard Hill and Miranda Otto each deserve a mention, though listing this group's many successes would take a megabyte or three. Perhaps this second film includes mostly footage from the end of the thirteen month shoot when the actors were doubtlessly more used to portraying their respective hobbits, humans, and elves.

Of course, some of the credit for the strong performances should go to Peter Jackson whose dedication to bringing this series to life will have claimed an entire decade of his own life by the time the third picture is released in 2003. The most difficult aspect of creating this second chapter is that the story neither begins nor ends. It starts in the middle and isn't finished when the credits start to roll. And that Jackson has made the picture as strong as it is without the curse of the sequel falling upon him (excepting The Empire Strikes Back, have you ever seen a sequel that was better than the first?) is something he should be congratulated for.

It is only fitting that a native New Zealander should have been the one to make this film, as that wild country is the only place on Earth diverse enough to show Tolkien's world to its full potential. The special effects are stunning. The story is fast paced and multi-faceted. The characters are fully three-dimensional (whether they're CGI or flesh and blood). And the cinematography and music fit the scope of the movie like a glove. As a fantasy adventure movie, this film cannot be topped. Except, perhaps, by the third installment. Is it possible that Peter Jackson can go three for three?

Review by Kelsey Wyatt.

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