Sophomore effort shines as brightly as the first

After Fellowship, the world wondered if Peter Jackson could sustain the momentum. The Two Towers is the shortest segment and the story is split into parallel tales. More characters enter the story, including one of the most important. Can Jackson do it? Of course he can.

Spoilers: Two Towers sustains the magic of Fellowship, while expanding the scope of the story. Gollum enters the picture, in full view not shadow, and is a triumph to behold.

The story cuts back and forth between Merry and Pippin’s encounter with Treebeard and the Ents; Gimli, Legolas and Aragorn and their attempts to locate the hobbits and free them; and Sam Frodo and Gollum as they move closer to Mordor. Each aspect is well covered, without losing track of the other story. Rohan provides the setting for the first great battle (aside from the prologue in Fellowship) and what a battle it is. Gandalf returns, much changed from his encounter with the balrog. The evil of Wormtongue appears, and Theoden, Eowyn and Eomer take the stage.

There are many great moments, from the mounted battles to Gollum and Smeagol’s dialogue, Legolas’ surf archery to Theoden’s cure. Helm’s Deep is a spectacular segment that takes one back to the epic films of the past. Darkness looms for Frodo and Sam, as Frodo slips deeper under the spell of the ring. He finds new, and sometimes strange, allies; as well as new foes. His journey becomes more difficult with each step.

The quality of the production continues. The Rohirrum are a sight to behold and do conjure images of the lost Anglo-Saxons. The battle scenes are engaging and terrifying. War is depicted with all of its consequences. Your heart is torn as you see the young separated from their parents, innocents are killed, and destruction abounds. At the same time, strength and hope come to those in desperate need and courage comes in the unlikeliest of moments. You find yourself in the lowest depths, as all seems lost; and then your heart soars, as hope comes at the last moment. This is storytelling at its finest.

This is not a sequel, it is another chapter in an epic saga. As such, it builds on the previous chapter and advances the story. The pace quickens as the conflict rises. The stakes are higher and the danger greater. The audience is on the edge of their seat, as darkness looms, while the threads of hope begin to weave together. The stage is set for the final battle.