As the middle movie in a trilogy, The Two Towers exceeds our expectations. Kicking things off with Frodo's troubled dreams about Gandalf's demise on the Bridge of Khazad-dum and transitioning to the grand Battle Of Helm's Deep, each scene will have you at the edge of your seat. It makes every moment of its 179 minute run time count, balancing heroics with heartwarming scenes such as the bittersweet exchanges between Aragorn (Viggo Mortensen) and Arwen (Liv Tyler) or the dramatic reappearance of Gandalf (Ian McKellen) as Gandalf the White.
New From Rohan
While the returning cast members are pretty much established at this point, there are a few newcomers whose stellar performances add a little something special to the timeless tale. Eowyn (Miranda Otto), shieldmaiden of Rohan has her eyes on Aragorn. Yearning to prove her worth in battle, she decided to disguise herself as a man to accompany the Rohirrim soldiers to Minas Tirith. Otto has the tough chick persona down pat. Subtle glances make the unrequited love subplot simply irresistible. And by the time she meets Faramir (David Wenham) you can't help but feel elated.
Although in general, the acting is pretty solid, kudos goes to the folks at Weta Digital for their astounding work on Gollum (voiced by Andy Serkis). Tormented by his proximity to the object of his obsession, his increasingly tormented inner monologue provides a glimpse into the extent of the One Ring's ill effects. Weta Digital's technical prowess combined with Serkis' masterful acting, every emotion comes through. This is especially true during close-up moments where we can appreciate the his mo-cap expressions to the fullest.
And then there are the Ents. Having an ancient race of sentient, slow-walking trees grace the screen just adds a sense of whimsy to the otherwise intense upcoming battle. Now, if that's not enough to impress you, then the sheer magnitude of the climactic sequences in Helm's Deep will. Never before have we witnessed a cinematic war on such an ambitious scale, with tens of thousands of horrifying creatures, countless human refugees fighting to survive, the generally mild-mannered tree guardians exacting vengeance against those who have been cutting down their brethren with wanton disregard and hideous orcs -- there's something to behold in every frame.
Old School Filming
No film is without its share of flaws. At least in the case of The Two Towers, it's likely that only those with eagle eyes will be able to spot them. At times there are "halo effects" around hair resulting from the unavoidable use of green screen technology. Compositing takes can make shadows look off or result in characters looking flat. Gollum himself sometimes suffers from bouts of choppy movements, most obvious during wide shots. Yet despite those issues, the film ends up a digital marvel for its time.
The Thundering Hooves of Success
The Two Towers makes up for the lack of character driven, dramatic flair with plenty of never before seen action sequences. Be it the silly shield-boarding scene on the stairs with fan favorite Legolas or the Treants forcing their way into Saruman's lair, Peter Jackson's movie adaptation is anything but dull. Though dark, the landscapes are undeniably breathtaking. The acting is brilliant, with Serkis' Smeagol-slash-Gollum stealing the limelight a few times with his tormented, split-personality monologues. The pacing is consistent with the first movie and builds up to the final movie smoothly. So basically if you're into the genre, then it's a film you'll regret not seeing. At the very least, it's worth a watch if only to follow Frodo's journey from start to finish.