“The Lord of the Rings” continues it’s epic quest in this second installment of the trilogy, as the original fellowship is disbanded and it’s various members must continue the good fight. While Frodo and Sam pursue their mission to Mordor, Pippin and Merry manage to escape the Uruk hai into the Fangorn Forest and their own adventure with the Ents. Aragorn, Legolas and Gimli traverse the Riddermark into the realm of Rohan.
The One Ring begins to deepen it’s spell over Frodo who questions his worthiness and stomach for the mission. This facet of his character allows Sam (Sean Astin) to portray his devotion and loyalty to his master, particularly when Gollum makes his appearance and becomes their guide. Gollum’s looks are rivaled only by his treachery, and the duality of his personality is given emphasis in the tortured conversations he has with himself. I was a bit surprised at the way Gollum was portrayed in “The Two Towers”; his cameo appearance in the first film as a slinky black cave denizen more closely resembled Tolkien’s description and corresponded to the mental image I took away when reading about it. At the same time though, there was almost a comic element to it, whereas his physical features presented here more accurately allowed for a menacing but tortured creature.
Even more fantastic creatures find CGI life in the film; I found the presentation of the Ents to be masterfully done. The “olyphants” were a neat touch and I was happy to see them included. Of course the orcs, wargs and Uruk hai all personify the evil that befalls Middle Earth in this dire time, and their presence instills fear and dread for the heroes all along the way.
There’s a lot going on in the film, and repeated viewings are helpful, along with an understanding created by reading Tolkien’s story. Though not entirely necessary to enjoy the movie, I feel it grounds the viewer in the rich background of the characters and locations. Actually, the books and the film complement each other nicely, even though the movie of necessity must leave out some elements.
There is no doubt that “The Lord of the Rings” has earned it’s reputation as one of the greatest epic films of all time and the best fantasy film of them all. At the same time, it does a wonderful job of examining such themes as honor, loyalty, friendship and love as it’s characters interact with each other and find common ground against a threat to their very existence.