The Sequel That Dwarfs Its Predecessor..

The Lord of the Rings – The Fellowship of the Ring was a fantastic start to Tolkien’s epic tale. The only true weakness of The Two Towers — if you can call it a flaw — is that the film is the middle-child, in that it has no beginning and no end. Though it starts out where the first ended, The Two Towers begins with a recap of Gandalf’s battle with the Balrog as we continue to see their fight as they plummet thousands (if not miles) of feet through gaping chasms in the Mines of Moria.

The acting is just as great as the first, and with the addition of new characters, the film’s atmosphere has gone from “new and wondrous” to “grim and hopeless”. Needless to say, Andy Serkis as Gollum is one of the best performances of the new decade. Bernard Hill does a wonderful job as Theoden, as well as Miranda Otto as Eowyn. Karl Urban is a nice choice as Eomer, nephew of the king. Possibly the best of the new characters is Faramir, played by David Wenham. Unlike the passive-type as portrayed in the books, this Faramir is more troubled and only corruptible by the Ring because of his desire to be accepted by his close-minded father — a nice change made by the writers. The character Treebeard is a reflection of the greatness of the CG work on Gollum; both are exquisite.

The writing and directing equals The Fellowship of the Ring, in that the continuity remains, never feeling like we missed any key moments in the plot. The only real flaw, which is mainly due to pacing and events leading up to The Return of the King, is the vast expansion of Frodo and Sam’s journey to Mordor, aided by the insidious Gollum. The changes and omissions were once again necessary to provide a decent pace and focus on the ever-rising tension of what all leads up to: the battle at Helm’s Deep. Yet, with the massive battle near the final 30-40 minutes of the film, there’s plenty more to keep a viewer attached to the screen.

Fully seeing the MASSIVE software at work, the special effects incorporated with the miniatures/bigatures still dazzle the eyes in flawless execution, as 10,000 Uruk-hai soldiers lay siege to a seemingly impenetrable fortress. From the Mumakil (elephants) to the Fell Beasts upon which the Ringwraiths ride, we are given the introduction of creatures that play major roles in the following film.

Howard Shore’s evolution with the leitmotifs he created from the first film have now been shifted towards a more explosive composition. Equaling The Fellowship of the Ring, the music for The Two Towers is nothing short of awe-inspiring. From the theme of Rohan to the thundering might of Isengard, The Two Towers is full of rousing composition. There’s also beautiful moments between Aragorn and Arwen, as well as some wonderful choral work for the last march of the Ents.

Overall, while different from the text in terms of time-line, The Two Towers is an extraordinary sequel to a “trilogy” destined for greatness. While the film ends before the events in Shelob’s tunnel, there’s no doubt one will be amazed in what is to come. One must see this film.